Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lessons for girls: trust your instincts

Historiann, Dr. Crazy, and Profacero have a series of excellent posts that Historiann has grouped under the title "Lessons for Girls."

I have one more: trust your instincts. By that, I mean judge people based on how they treat you, not based on hypothetical models of how people behave.

For example, as a feminist, I believe that women can and do help each other, can fight against injustices, can support each other against exploitation and harassment, and so on. But people are individuals, and individuals have their own flaws and their own agendas.

[I redacted the rest of this post because, upon reflection, it didn't fairly reflect the person I wrote about--sorry.]


Anonymous said...

Exactly. And I've had a related experience.

And it is amazing how abusive people will try to explain to you in abstract terms how what happened was not abuse or did not happen.

I have made this observation: if I don't want to read mail from someone, or if I only want to glance at it to make sure it doesn't contain something I really need to know, it is because I know at a gut level that if I do, I risk being swept into some sort of vampirism or else outrage at their attempt to do that. It's my own reaction I fear more than what they say.

Because what they say will be in essence a pitch for me not to trust my instincts.

historiann said...

Love this--thanks Undine!

I think just about every mistake I've made in my professional (and personal!) life stems from the fact that I *didn't* listen to my instincts and I went ahead and played/worked/continued to be intimate with someone who turned out (surprise!) not to have my best interests at heart.

I think this is a vitally important lesson for girls. If something doesn't feel right--disengage if you can, to the extent that you can. Always keep in mind that (as you said so well) "people are individuals, and individuals have their own flaws and their own agendas."

undine said...

profacero, that's a good plan. I didn't feel abused by Dr. Nurturing, but I was a little angry and more than a little amused that despite all the posturing and rhetoric about collaboration, the message really came down to "ur doin it rong."

historiann, thanks for starting this series and for linking to this post. I've had the same experience and would also advise disengagement. The only corollary I'd add is also from observations: the more invested someone is in a particular ideology of any sort, the less likely the person is to live up to the precepts of that ideology when it comes to treating people well.

Garage Door Installation said...

Quite interesting and informative. Thanks for sharing.

The History Enthusiast said...

Thank you for your contribution to this great series! As a 27 year old I've learned some of these, but I still have a ways to go.

undine said...

Thanks, History, and thanks for stopping by!

Successful Researcher: How to Become One said...

How true!