Genii Weblog

Badly-behaved women rarely make history either

Wed 29 Jul 2009, 11:21 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
...but they probably have more interesting stories to tell when you invite them to a party.

Note: Since my comment seems to have been misunderstood by one or two, I should clarify.  My point is not about gender politics or anything of the sort.  It is a point about language, as I am a writer (when not developing software to pay the bills).  There are comments such as "Well-behaved women rarely make history" which sound so good, they are repeated over and over, but do not really mean what people think they mean.  A more correct statement would be "Women who make history are rarely well-behaved women." but it just doesn't roll off the tongue the same way.  Nonetheless, it makes a lot more sense.  Very few people, women or men, make history, and that has little to do with their behavior.

Copyright 2009 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

845.1. Nathan T. Freeman
(07/30/2009 05:37 AM)

Joan d'Arc? Susan B. Anthony? Rosa Parks? Virginia Wolfe? Harriet Tubman? Elizabeth I? Cleopatra? Catherine the Great? Ayn Rand?

Oh wait. *smack* You were going for irony. Sorry. ;-)

845.2. Ben Langhinrichs
(07/30/2009 02:27 PM)

There have been plenty of women who have made history, and they may have even mostly been "badly-behaved" but my point is that very few women get to make history, whether well behaved or badly behaved. The bumper stick always seems ironic to me because it implies that badly behaved women often make history, which is silly.

845.3. Rodney Scott
(07/30/2009 05:35 PM)

Ben, thus far I have done you the favor of never publicly agreeing with you when you're correct. Well, no more. Although it's possible that Palin might make history for being fanatically behaved. And I should've asked this on the coordination post, but thought of it too late. Sorry. In a sense, when you decided to claim your wife's name, her family became yours. For the purpose of avoiding any creative answers, referring back to childhood before you met her (so her family's out of the equation), were any kids in your family adopted? I know it's a personal question, so just wondering "yes" or "no". I have this odd theory that if a family's too much alike, it actually indicates adoption. Possibly reading too much into "remotely related to me".

845.4. Ben Langhinrichs
(07/30/2009 06:12 PM)

No, nobody in my family of origin was adopted. As far as I know (one doesn't ever know for certain, I guess), we all four share the same parents. And we are all big, strong and uncoordinated.

I do have nieces and nephews who were adopted, and they seemed to have avoid the same fate. Some are tall, some are short, but all seem more coordinated than the non-adopted members of the family.

845.5. Nathan T. Freeman
(07/31/2009 06:38 AM)

Wait, Ben... you took your wife's name when you got married? I mean, I look at your last name and think "what was it before? Supercalifragalisticexpealiditor?"

I'm not familiar with the bumper sticker, but I can infer. And yes, I agree with your point that saying A is a small subset of C when C is incredibly rare is an apples-to-oranges that Don Draper would love!