Guest Post: Does Sexism Exist for Everyone?
By Becca Lee Ogden
Serious and not-so-serious questions for all you working women (and men?) out there. (So all the people? Sure, Becca. Yes.)
As a writing teacher, I used to teach stasis theory. This was a good way to help my students figure out what, exactly, they needed to sharpen their pencils for. It helped them see where to start arguing, and where not to start.
Stasis theory goes like this:
1. Fact: Is there a problem?
2. Definition: What is the nature of the problem?
3. Quality: How serious is the problem?
4. Policy: What do we do about the problem?
I find myself thinking about stasis theory when I catch my son doing something wrong.
Me: Did you wash your hands?
Leo: You mean right now?
Me: Yes, right now. After you went to the bathroom. Like a civilized human.
Leo: I did.
Me: Did you really?
Leo: I might’ve forgot.
Leo: I’ll just do it again, just to be safe.
In this case, we were on Fact: Did you wash your hands, yes or no? (No, in this case, which is sadly typical.. and super gross).
But sometimes I find myself jumping ahead.
Me: You didn’t wash your hands, did you? I’m going to take away a Pokemon card.
Leo: What? No! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
Me: Well, did you wash your hands?
Leo: Yes! They’re still wet you can feel them! Feel them feel them!
Me: Ok, stop touching me. Good, you did wash them. Good job. You can keep your Pokemon card.
In this case I launched way past Fact: Is there a problem? all the way to Policy: What do we do about the problem?
You can see how difficult it is to argue when we’re both at different points in the argument. It’s hard to have real understanding, and it’s even more difficult to come up with good solutions.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about stasis theory and how it relates to the issue of sexism.
Most of the women in my life are at stage 4. What do we do about sexism when we encounter it? What are strategies we have to overcome it? How can we teach our children not to be sexist?
Many men (and women, admittedly) seem to be stuck at 1, debating whether the problem even exists.
This seems to be true of other social ills as well (racism comes to mind, as does homophobia).
The question I have is, how can we progress as a society when we’re arguing from different sets of assumptions? How can we talk solutions when some of us are still stuck on the bare facts of whether a problem exists?
Also, unrelated, how does somebody get a 6yo to remember to wash his hands?
Becca Lee Ogden graduated from BYU with an MA in English literature and an MFA in creative writing. She lives in Provo with her husband, two sons, and one ornery cat named Draco Meowfoy.