Capstone Final Project

Tribal Thinking: Uses & Warnings

Like any good Millennial, I was scrolling through Facebook when I found a video that captured my eye and actually changed my perception of how I think in heated discussions.

Here is the original Video below:

The reason I find this video worth of my sharing (something that I admittedly do not do very often, even with my content) is that I was able to put the ideas presented to use.

The Scenario

Recently, I went to the Gaylord College convergence lab, as I will continue to do until I graduate, to work on projects. I had just come from filming at a restaurant, where the owner comped our meals in exchange for promoting his shop. I had left overs that I no longer wanted.

There two of my male colleagues were sitting in the lab and discussing things I couldn’t hear. I walked up and offered them my food, saying it was free from the restaurant and I didn’t want the rest of it.

They declined, one asking why I had the food.

I explained that I received the food for filming at the restaurant and detailed the basis of my new television show, where women athletes and women in the sports industry are spotlighted and discussed.

One of the men shook his head in frustration. “I don’t understand why that is so important.”

Taken aback, I simply asked why he thought so.

The man continued explaining how no one bats an eye when there is an all female newscast at our school, yet all of our (male) professors ‘go ballistic’ when an all male newscast is a possibility.

The full extent of his points would be impossible to dictate fully but some of his main complaints included:

  • Women expect men to do all the hard (physical work) and get all the benefits (i.e. men set up the broadcast equipment, yet women get the head positions)
  • Men are expected to pay for dates, even with feminists.
  • White men are so pushed down by the full force of women ‘taking over’ that they are leaving the broadcast industry.

Please note that these are non-extensive and extremely simplified points and do not fully reflect the conversation nor the person.

When my colleague said these things, my first instinct was that of the tribal instinct. I wanted to call him sexist, leave the conversation, call him stupid for even considering things like this an issue.

However, I remembered this video with the idea of making the other person feel like he is a part of my tribe. When he made statements that I felt diminished who I was as a woman and feminist, I instead found the points in which I agreed with him and repeated the phrase ‘I understand you frustration.’

The moment that sticks out the most to me in that conversation is when he spoke about how the faculty almost forces men out of positions in the newscast. Instead of saying ‘now you know how most women feel,’ I explained on how it’s not a forcing out of men, but a creation of places for women.

Half knowing what I was talking about, I related it to New Deal era economics, where jobs were created as a push back solution to the Depression. In this case, a creation of places for women is a push back against the thousands of years of saying women have no place.

I explained how the hundreds, thousands of years of  white men in a certain positions affect modern jobs, such as his Anglo-Saxon sounding name subliminally gives him a better chance at a job than a non-Anglo name.

After getting my piece in, he looked down, mumbling something about getting it.

The Problem

In this case, I used tribal logic to get around this fiery frustration a male in a still-male-dominated-yet-slowing-more-female industry was feeling. Many things I wanted to say were left unsaid, such as the quote When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression”, under the guise of trying to change someone’s mind.

I had a feeling I had at least changed my colleague’s mind a little. But such little progress was made at the price of me compromising and holding my tongue. Beliefs that I fervently disagreed with were stated and left by the wayside of the conversation.

My biggest issue with tribal logic in political conversation is the fact that I had to sacrifice most of my ideas to the comfort of the other side. However, I left the conversation with this from my friend.

“It’s nice to have an intelligent discussion about this, for once.”

 

Have you ever used tribal logic in a heated political discussion? What were the issues? And do you think you might have changed someone’s mind?

“You should’ve known…”

When A Fuss Isn’t Worth It

With the many sexual harrassment allegations flying around and attempts at victim blaming equally as common, as women we need to recognize within ourselves when we are the problem.

This past weekend was a fun time of football, fathers and friends. OU’s Dad’s Day weekend with the TCU football game meant of small talk with family friends and a lot of drinking for me. At one point, I met a lovely friend of a friend of my parents. Years of talking to distant family relatives have trained me for moments like this.

This woman was a professional woman in the area, working athletic wear. Let’s call her Carla.

Eventually, my family and party started wandering around the various tailgates and I engaged small talk with Karla, who knew only one other person in our group. I asked what she did at work, and she told me about her time in athletics wear.

I then replied that I was working in sports media, and in fact, working on a new TV show within my college about being a women in sports, on field and off.

I mentioned how we want to touch on the struggles women face in this particular workforce and Carla mentioned the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

“You know,” she said blithely, “I know there’s no excuse for that, but they had to have known. Like, seriously? He says to come to his hotel room?”

Had to have known. “Of course we know,” I thought. “Since when is that an excuse?”

Normally I would have said just that. Normally I would have responded with an aggressive “SO IT’S HER FAULT THEN BECAUSE SHE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN?”  Many can attest that I would have shouted it out.

But not today. Instead I laughed, and moved on to something else. Why? I didn’t want to make a fuss. I didn’t want to cause a rift and lose this networking opportunity. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my family, and frankly, I was tired and didn’t want to get into a debate about how that mindset is the reason women don’t report.

The ‘Let It Slide’ Mindset

Many women stay silent and even seem accepting of the victim blaming jokes in an effort to stay out of the “crazy femiNazi” accusations. They don’t want the ire of their peers pressuring them to keep their opinion’s to themselves, to hear the words ‘let it slide’ again.

While comments like Carla’s seem harmless, they are often repeated in the important areas, such as in police stations as a victim reports and among family members of the victim. Keeping a ‘let it slide’ mindset in one moment can only extrapolates into the moments where it should not slide, which has lead to the abysmal reporting rates and even worse conviction rates.

I let Carla’s comments slide despite knowing all this. What would you have done in my place?

Fears of Future Flack

I as a middle class white woman have no issue discussing feminism at a table full of peers, do not feel threatened by letting others speak on points of race and classism, and do not fear challenging someone on their beliefs in person. However, after starting and stopping and starting and stopping and starting once more on this blog, I recall the intense fear of placing any political analyzes on the front of the internet.

The internet is not a table of peers, or a forum of people, or a momentary confrontation. The internet is database of conversations, nothing ever truly exchanged or forgotten. Over the years, I have witnessed countless and fruitless fights on FaceBook. Insensitivity and ignorance from a range of people. Anger and superiority littering any post.

I wanted to discuss an article from The Atlantic where a group of liberal students crossed the line in their protests from demanding more diversity for an intro course to purposefully ignoring the desires of those in the intro course. However, I was too afraid to discuss racial issues as a white woman for fear of speaking in a conversation I had no place in. I wanted to discuss how I as a liberal cannot disregard the beliefs of another simply because they called themselves a conservative. However, I was afraid of words attacking me later in life for defending bigots, racists, sexists.

My own confidence falters on the internet for its permanence. In a (respectful) conversation, one is required to listen to the other and think of a response. On the internet, you merely project your thoughts and others fire their response with as little or as much restraint as they please. There is no wait time, no thoughtfulness, only wrong or right, and you are never right.

When the internet seems like a lion’s den for your opinion, how do you continue to create?

Every person has a voice, online and in person. However, current environments online make it seem better to be mute.

As a contributing member to the media and to society, my internet presence is as important as my physical presence. The fear of making an incorrect comment should not be so paralyzing that I cease any internet communication. However, I see articles everyday where a someone with a 120-character limit sends a career-ending tweet. A full length blog talking about my ideas on politics like digging my own grave.

Many students go back on their previous FaceBook posts and cringe at the immature voice permeating them. Some even feel so embarrassed they delete any evidence of their previous voice. Others choose to repost their previous online errors as a way to refute them.

I often chose to not post all together, keeping as much of my personal opinions from the digital audience. If a video or a long post written by others fully expresses ideas I agree with, only then will I share or express a sort of opinion.

What keeps me from expressing my opinions online is that a job could be kept from me for doing so. With my future within reach and a few clicks from destruction, I find myself keeping me fingers off the keys entirely.

What are your feelings about blogging, identity politics and posting online in the current digital environment?

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