Cross-posted at my blog. I don’t usually post here, but some things deserve an in-depth rebuttal. Admin should feel free to keep/remove my “more” tag. Before I get down to business, though, I am very curious about what specific causes, biological or otherwise, that cause fewer females to nominate themselves than males for class officer roles.

Let’s compare the WSO post and David’s post. The WSO post states that seeing one candidate for speaker made her curious, and so she found that there have been no class speakers since 2003. She also found that only 3 out of 24 speakers are female, and that only 1 of the elected speaking roles is female. This causes her to be uneasy. So we have a series of facts, and a single statement of one emotion.

David’s response is that “uneasiness” is a flat-out wrong thing to feel, and that a smarter, more educated person would immediately understand that biological differences between men and women are the cause of the gap. Why? Because “men and women are biologically different.”

What David misses entirely is that the WSO poster never said the differences weren’t biological; indeed, she didn’t say anything about biology, or even anything opinion-related whatsoever. David takes this as a permission slip to imply that she is “deeply uneducated,” and as a bonus, “probably” blames Williams College for this deficiency. David further takes this as an opportunity to reference Larry Summers.

The problem, of course, is that even if there are still biological differences between women and men that affect the selection process for speaking roles, it’s still perfectly appropriate to feel uneasy about the gap. Thus David’s entire post is falsely premised on an imagined deficiency in the WSO poster – assuming ignorance where ignorance may or may not have existed.

But let’s take it a step further. David just wrote a post about biological differences between men and women at Williams. Just as he assumed the WSO poster was unaware of these, I will also assume that David doesn’t know anything about them, given that he included absolutely no references, supporting documentation, or citations of any kind.

And since he doesn’t seem to think that citations are important, I have justification under his ground rules to state that he must be “deeply uneducated” to miss such an obvious fact, right?

And the kicker: I’ve been in touch with the WSO poster, and she understands all of this, even if David didn’t expect her to. Pity she’s now going to be less willing to make a perfectly reasonable post on WSO, given that idiots from the wider Williams community will quote her, make assumptions about her, and attack her. I certainly post on WSO less because of the fear that David will take my words and twist them around.

People talk sometimes about how women are “silenced” in society sometimes. Well, if making assumptions about someone’s knowledge, insulting them without grounds, and stating that Williams has failed her, all while failing to provide any sources that can be checked/refuted, thereby preventing any responsible discourse doesn’t count as some sort of “silencing,” I don’t know what does. Because the ultimate point of David’s post isn’t that Williams is under-educating people. It’s that factually pointing out a platform with apparent male privilege (and feeling uneasy about it) is out-of-bounds, and makes one worthy of condemnation. And that is, in itself, condemnable.

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