I've realised a few things about tootstorming.

1. It's ... possibly frighteningly ... fun. Once you get on a roll, you're marshalling your thoughts in 500 character, roughly 80-word, nuggest.

2. That's about the same size as one of my 4x6 index cards, filled out fully.

3. Which means it's a bit like outlining an essay, though of course, Timelines and stuff mean that everything is strictly sequential.

4. People can respond to individual cards, either boosting, favouriting, or commenting.


@dredmorbius About tweetstorms, politics and gender: npr.org/sections/alltechconsid

Someone coined the term "mantreading" when several male tweeps discussed US politics via tweetstorm, but this might miss the point. Tweetstorms have always been popular among female users as well (and they might have invented the technique): twitter.com/sarahkendzior/stat

@stefanieschulte Interesting article. Though I've got a whole bushel of problems with terms like "mansplaining" and "manthreading" being tossed around casually. Even /where/ accurate, they are terms which have a great deal of opportunity to make a situation worse, and little to improve, defuse, or prevent it.

That's not a denial of privilege or behaviour, but its /also/ a reflection on dynamics of such discussions. There's an essay on the topic I may need to write.

The thread/form bits...

@dredmorbius I think "mansplaining" is more about the receiver than about the sender: Most people seem to be much more patient when men act that way than when women try the same. In real life, I have a tendency to ramble, too, but people usually interrupt me quickly.

I don't think this is the same in social media: Women's tweetstorms don't seem to be received less favourably than men's, at least in my experience.

@stefanieschulte Specific instance comes to mind: someone had posted about a gym/workout issue, being worse at a particular lift than they wanted to be. I responded with some pretty commonplace, though effective, advice. I'd had no idea if the poster was a man or a woman, and didn't much care, I'd followed them for a year or more. The response was that I was "mansplaining'.

I pointed out the several issues with the claim, and tried to return the matter to workouts. It didn't stay there.

@stefanieschulte At which point I elected to delete my contributions to the thread and block the user.

If the first assumption coming out of the gate is that some pseudonymous profile writing in good faith is mansplaining...then productive discussion seems unlikely to happen. I don't have the cycles for that fight.

I've been trying really hard not to cheer loudly in agreement with @maiyannah's recent thread about the privilege knapsack. But her views are refreshing.

@dredmorbius @maiyannah Counterpoint: In real life, I often have to listen patiently to men rambling on and on about topics I'm more knowledgeable about than they are, but they don't let me get a word in edgewise, no matter how hard I try. This behavior is socially acceptable.

If I tried to act the same way, that wouldn't go down well. It's not socially acceptable.

This is why this remains a sensitive issue to me, although I do experience it less on social media.

@stefanieschulte @maiyannah I get that. I /don't/ think it's socially acceptable, or more clearly, it shouldn't be.

I think ultimately this is more fundamentally a /power/ thing than a /man/ thing, though yes, men quite frequently have power.

It does happen to me, at least at times, and it can be phenomenally annoying.

Discussion of the Charlie Hebdo shootings a couple of years back raised the point of punching up vs. down. That's a very strong point.

@dredmorbius @stefanieschulte One also learns to be assertive rather than aggressive or passive.

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte As I've hinted (loudly) a few times, I find you easy to agree with.

I've learnt that being assertive helps define boundaries. Though that comes with a whole mess of the standard cultural freighting. I'm aware of that.

@maiyannah I think that works on social media, when power is distributed fairly evenly. In real life situations with power imbalances, as @dredmorbius described them, this often fails.

There are some good social media examples of "mansplaining", but they seem hilarious precisely because the woman isn't powerless anymore, see e.g.: nytlive.nytimes.com/womeninthe

@dredmorbius @stefanieschulte I should note, I only speak for my own lived experiences and the occasional study or anecdote I have read.  I find it distasteful to try to speak as if my experiences should be anyone but my own's.  But I can tell you what worked or did not for me, and in several corporate environments, this worked for me.

@stefanieschulte @maiyannah The case of someone, /in light of obvious and demonstrated qualifcations and/or capabilities/, *continuing* to fail to acknowledge an error, is ... ultimately, sad.

I think in terms of brains with patterns so firmly established that they resist all effort at change. In a world-models view, a badly broken, and yet unrepairable, non-disposable, model.

There are all kinds of times I've talked to experts in fields w/o realising it initially.

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte I try to fix that error as quickly as possible.

On G+ and Reddit, I've got a category for specifically addressing "That Time I Was Wrong".

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte Actions which are acceptable when directed at equals, or upwards (truth to power, etc.), have a completely different dynamic when directed /downward/.

Mind that those power relations can vary tremendously with time.

I try to be conscious of my own relationships, though I know I'm far from perefect. I'm far more conscious of it when I perceive (correctly or otherwise) I'm the less powerful.

Power is also also aware of its own fragility.

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte So sometimes the response is one of fear (a frequent motivator).

Sheer ignorance or obliviousness is another option.

And some people are simply drawn to, and seek to fully exploit, power.

@dredmorbius @stefanieschulte When I was an executive I found more than anything the line was between aggressive and assertive personalities, and passive ones.  Aggressive ones in particular (part of the distinction) will often actively exploit the passive ones.  Many of them don't speak up for fear of losing their job.  My own view was if I was doing a good enough job they wouldn't have a means with which to fire me and if they did anyways it would look very poorly on then since I am a woman and a disabled person.  And if I wasn't doing a good enough job, well, that is on me.

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte That presumes a requirement for cause. In places there's no such thing, and a regular practice of more-or-less arbitrarily removing staff is itself a control tactic. See discussions of stack ranking.

Agree on assertive vs. aggressive. Assertion is born of confidence (or equanimity). Aggressiveness of fear, or a lack of a sense of control.

Sometimes you can address the causes.

Alain de Botton's School of Life videos touch on this.

@stefanieschulte @maiyannah They can be somewhat oversimplified, but for what he's aiming to do, and often without any qualification, they're exceedingly good.

@dredmorbius @stefanieschulte Aggressive personalities just in general comes from a place of feeling threatened.  Learning why they feel threatened can be very informative.

@maiyannah @dredmorbius Again, it is partly down to power relations, I think. During my eight years as a reporter at a fairly reputable financial newspaper, this was rarely an issue for me. I always had the power to "ask questions".

Now, as a PR officer, I find myself in situations where I have to endure "mansplaining" much more often. It is quite eye-opening (and for that reason, I sometimes miss my time in journalism).

@stefanieschulte @dredmorbius Oh definitely.  Each company I worked at had it's own power dynamics and a lot of time the PR people in particular walked on eggshells because they were considered very replaceable.  The fact of the matter is though, people respect you more if you don't, generally.  Lead PR for my team at IBM when I worked there was a bull, and she had a reputation: she didn't take shit from anyone.  And people respected her for it.

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte @dredmorbius Loving this thread - oh how it resonates.
I was the first girl deck cadet in the 1970s, in Shell Tankers, then the only female continership planner in the UK. I've had a lifetime of mansplaining...
sometimes I took it - as the sefaring officer was senior to me, now, sometimes I call it out, mostly I ignore it....

@eileenb @stefanieschulte @maiyannah Damn! You've been around.

We'll have to get you to tell some sea stories sometime.

@dredmorbius @maiyannah @stefanieschulte I have a few sea stories - good - and bad. and a lot of bad stories from corporate life.

not to be shared in a public forum though... ;)

@dredmorbius @maiyannah As a journalist, I never had to act "aggressively" (at least in my own perception). It was usually sufficient to politely state my point, and to ask good questions. I rather had to be careful not to scare people by being too assertive (because people tend to be nervous around journalists).

Today, I'm sometimes being outright ignored when I try to act the same way.

@stefanieschulte @maiyannah There are a few personality tropes in addressing inequality. There's the studiously calm competence -- think Barack Obama.

There's studied non-violence: Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi. The Dali Lama.

There's assertive opposition: labour unionism is probably among the prominant examples.

There's telling truth to power: good journalism, satire, parody, folk music. Orwell, Sinclair, Huxley, Roger Moore.

There's some choice here.

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte Another element of the interruption / blathering thing I'm trying to sort out: what is it about some conversations that flow (the ones I've had with each/both of you over the past few days in particular), and those which are a constant struggle of trying to understand, trying to be understood, having the obvious obsessed over at length, the obscure flitted over, utterly random and inexplicable responses, etc., etc. That's /so/ wearing.

@stefanieschulte @maiyannah I'm suspecting psychological mechanisms at work. Our brains try to make sense of the world. Part of that world is other brains. Two brains running different rulesets (or with different, possibly defective mechanisms or training data) trying to make sense of each other results in a constant case of model/feedback mismatch.

Getting a prod in a new direction can be useful. Being assaulted with noise, at all times, is confusing.

@stefanieschulte @maiyannah The notable cases for me come from those with little education, occasionally with /very/ different life experience. From idealogues of all stripes. And in more than a few cases, those with some organic dysfunction, either congenital or acquired. I'm close to a case of the latter now, and comparing notes with others, my impressions seem reasonably well founded. Anti-gaslighting myself is part of the challenge.

@dredmorbius @stefanieschulte Being aware of ourselves, how we think and what sets us off or presents our impediments, is just (IMO) part of good mental hygiene.  With that understanding we're better equipped to deal with the people around us who may not be so understanding or considerate of us, nor as self-aware.
@maiyannah @dredmorbius @stefanieschulte

Not saying that this is the case here, but another angle for why people prattle on is that they might be nervous, or trying to fill up the space. Or they might be extroverts, people that are used to being loud and talking, even if they get it wrong. They might come from a big family where you had to be as well. It's not necessarily malicious in nature. I think I've met a few people like that before. Sometimes people also don't realise they are talking a lot, because there isn't that measure of time. I'm much more of a listener, although given how much I've ranted lately you wouldn't think it...  so I've seen all sorts. I certainly do not appreciate people saying a man is manexplaining. (I have to go now so I can't elaborate.)

@sim @dredmorbius This is why I said in the beginning that mansplaining might be more about the receiver than about the sender.

In real life, I have a tendency to ramble as well. However, I'm usually getting interrupted quickly when I try to do that.

At the same time, it's usually considered "normal" to politely listen to men when they are acting the same way.

@stefanieschulte @dredmorbius

I'm guessing that we come from different cultures then. Because I was taught that it was impolite to interrupt anyone speaking (There was an emphasis on respecting older people or authority too)... this is why I will wait until someone stops talking before speaking. When they ramble, it makes things harder for me... because I have to concentrate on what else they are saying, and end up forgetting what I want to add in about one part or I miss the point that leads to it. I usually just leave people to ranting these days. If they want my input, they'll let me know. 

I think guys have a tendency to interrupt each other particularly in debates, and it's become more acceptable to interrupt women given equality. If that is what they are used to doing with other men, it makes sense that they do that with women now too. I've seen women jumping to interrupt as well. Especially when it becomes a shouting match. It depends on your personalty type, maybe. I think it is easy to interrupt me because of mine. 

@sim @stefanieschulte Likewise. A few things I've noticed:

Mutual trust and respect help. A lot. Which is to say, exchanges amongst peers.

/Some/ dimension of deep commonality. I've never met @maiyannah or @stefanieschulte before this week, and @woozle is someone else I know only from online, though over 4-5 years now. I've had great conversations with each.

There are also childhood friends with whom there's a strong bond.

@sim Because we've got so much common experience, at least in cases, there's that depth. Not always, but sometimes.

Perceptual challenges can get in the way. One good friend has been losing sight and vision. He's pretty good with his hearing aids, but registers few visual gestures, especially facial expressions -- smile, frown, nod, etc. Those implicit or gestured elements of conversations have to be verbalised.

@sim Being able to gesture, raise a finger, or quickly interject something, /and be acknowledged for it/, helps.

I've mentioned the cognitive faculty part -- productive conversation with someone losing their marbles is hard. And re-calibrating to the present state of embarbledness constantly is difficult and tiring.


Yep. I'm much more of a listener... very quiet. I don't have a lot of input to add in person. I react differently online, text provides the perfect breaks to add my thoughts. I can respond at my own pace and re-read what I need to. But it's actually difficult for me in person, because I really have to concentrate on what you are saying, and try to process it. It's very easy for me to zone out or get caught up on something, so my mind wanders. I can't concentrate for long. So everyone here would probably be that type of person for me... where they would ramble, and I would want to add something only to lose that opportune moment and give it up in favour of listening to the rest. Or my mind wanders, and I leave them to it. But then I look bad, because I'm not able to really listen. ._. But I agree, another thing I would add... is that if you want a conversation, you need to read other peoples cues and give them ample opportunity to speak their mind, to engage them. Otherwise it is just a rant and ramble, and you lose people.

@sim @stefanieschulte I know someone, a woman, as it happens, and an exceedingly competent sysadmin, who came from a family like that, and whose response was, if she had something to say, she opened her mouth and started saying it, whether someone else was talking or not. This drove me nuts -- I really hate fighting for airtime.

I had a male coworker who would finish my sentences, incorrectly, always. Also maddening.

That at the same gig where I met my long-lost brother.

@stefanieschulte @sim Totally different appearences, but absolutely on the same wave, and very complementary personalities. Both of us more interested in getting things right than /being/ right. And a mutually awful sense of humour (for anyone in earshot).

@dredmorbius @stefanieschulte

I've heard it said that if you didn't say anything, then you didn't get heard... and that habit passes on. It's hard to drop later on, even when you don't have to shout at people or whatever. It's certainly worth asking people why they respond as they do, it's very revealing about them and as you've shown, it could lead to a discussion where you understand each other and try to come to a compromise so you both get to say what you want. But you may still need to remind them until it becomes a habit for them.

@sim @stefanieschulte Someon I know and spend a lot of time with ... simply likes to talk. About the things of interest to themselves.

We're developing a better relationship and understanding about that, so it's getting to be a lot less one-way lectures. But that's been a long time coming.

@sim @stefanieschulte @dredmorbius

So, here's a good example of that: @Harena's brother Pete has been employed for many years as a full-time professional tax preparer. Her mom, however, likes to be the most knowledgeable person in the room on any topic. Whenever we ask Pete a tax question, HMom tends to interrupt his response as if she is the definitive expert.

(We call this "momsplaining".) (Point being: it's #notAlwaysMen)

@woozle @dredmorbius @stefanieschulte @harena

Yep. Some people just have to be right all the time, they don't like to be wrong or shown to be that so they will lash out if you challenge that. It could also be their way of feeling useful. It may be their way of validating themselves, because they are insecure on the inside.

@woozle @sim @dredmorbius @[email protected] That has occurred to me as well. I believe "womansplaining" is most common in traditionally "female" domains, however. Think the stereotypical mother-in-law and her unwanted advice about household, child-rearing etc. I think this is also because they are traditionally getting away with it (mother = position of power towards her adult kids).

@stefanieschulte @sim @dredmorbius @Harena FWIW, HMom has always been deferential to *me*, both before and after I came out as female; she only momsplains her *offspring*... and has no opinions at all about household matters (at least not recently; she never comes to our house anymore, so it doesn't come up).

I have had that kind of experience (a mominlaw who was also self-appointed interior decorator) in the past... but that's another story. >.>

@woozle @dredmorbius @stefanieschulte @harena

I've also noticed another trend amongst some women (And men) online... in order to win an argument with you, they will automatically assume that you are a cishet white male, and use that as an insult to dismiss any argument you make. Therefore, they are right and you are wrong. The amount of things that I am assumed as being because I don't share the same opinions is astounding. I've even had someone try to tell me that I'm 'mansplaining' to them. Whatever you can use as a scapegoat, that's now me. 
@sim I've long since realised that it's to my benefit if people start pulling that shit, they're revealing their prejudices and weaknesses in one go.

That is a good point. You quickly learn what their prejudices are when they pull that stunt.
@stefanieschulte @dredmorbius @woozle @harena

Then there is the whole gossip-sphere. I've also noted some female family members being busybodies, trying to give me advice that I didn't ask for about things like employment or relationships. I really don't need to hear lectures from any of them. I think they are branching out these days... like woozle's example with taxes. It won't just be traditional stuff. Sometimes, I'm sure they mean well or want to help... but as I said I don't need to hear lectures, and I don't always want to talk about whatever it is with them. 

@sim @[email protected] @woozle @dredmorbius Well, you can't "ban" mom (or dad) from your living room, no matter how badly they are misbehaving (except in very extreme cases). Intuitively, they know that, and some of them might adjust their behavior, even if their intentions aren't that bad.

My point: Most people feel the urge to behave in annoying ways sometimes, but how society reacts depends very much on power relations and context.

@stefanieschulte @sim @Harena @dredmorbius Ha! I banned my dad from lunches when his behavior became intolerable. (Long story.)

Mind you, I put up with it for about a decade first (I guess that qualifies as "extreme"?)... and it took ~6 months of whining from both of them before he really accepted it, I think.

But now they both know I will defend my boundaries. <looks steely-eyed>

@stefanieschulte @dredmorbius @woozle @harena

Well, it's not just mum or dad. It can even be aunts, or grandparents. But yes, these are annoying things that I can live with. No need to ban anyone. I think context and power relations do have a role to play here. School is the perfect example... you are taught to listen to adults, that your teacher is right and to behave yourself.
@woozle @dredmorbius @stefanieschulte @harena

With school? I don't think that I'll ever end up unlearning it. I think school traumatised me too.

@maiyannah @stefanieschulte All very true.

I'm most susceptible myself in instances where I feel threatened. Or where the assaults simply go on far too continuously. Again, watching someone in decline, coming to understand a whole history of interactions, realising that these are now being amplified and solidified yet further. It's sad, tiring, frustrating, and fascinating all at the same time.

@dredmorbius @maiyannah If your encounter was indeed with one of those truly toxic people, all bets are off anyway. They might play the "sexism" or "racism" card whenever they see fit, and even act in a racist of sexist way themselves elsewhere. In such a case, only a ban, moderation or some other community effort can help.

@maiyannah @dredmorbius And yes, whenever some political issue gains traction, such as feminism, some toxic people will pick it up and try to use it to further their own (sometimes very different) agenda. I think this is part of the reason why political debates can be so unpleasant.

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