1. Conversation develops best when individuals bring a sense of curiosity about another’s point of view rather than a desire to advance one’s own agenda. When discussion is reflexive rather than reflective, when the goal is to win the point rather than engage in the process, conversation dwindles. Keats advocated the concept of negative capability–the need for poets to be present in any given moment without needing to categorize or prescribe what might have been, could have been, or should be. He expressed it as “when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason”, in other words, keeping an open mind to the complexity of being human. My friend Laura Minato phrased it another way: Sometimes, you just have to sit with your bad feelings. I’m all for direct speak and blunt talk when I have something to say. But I’m also genuinely curious about what makes others tick. I try to remember that in order to hear them, I need to shut up and listen. To sit in the discomfort of wanting to blurt, explain, or counter, and just be present with them and their ideas, however much I disagree.

  2. I hate how polarized Americans have become. I think it has much to do with how our news is covered or not covered. We used to have more diversity in the news before the protections against monopolizing it were gotten rid of. I listen to people but do get impatient when I hear blurbs and no depth.

    1. I agree, Mary. And I sincerely think so much of our violent ways have to do with not being able to express ourselves to one another without worrying about who will be offended.

  3. Not trying to advance my own agenda has taken YEARS AND YEARS and I’m still not even there. Half of it is that I’m tired. I wish I could say the whole process is me REALLY wanting to better myself. But I think this is one of the reasons why I have so many different kinds of friends. I just don’t feel very satisfied being on the same page constantly with people

  4. Well said. I despair at the current state of play with regards the quality of the ‘conversation’ with regards to just about any topic related to gender – a crowning example being the recent attempt by Janice Fiamengo to address students and staff at a Canadian university.

      1. and here’s another good article here -http://www.spectator.co.uk/australia/australia-features/9187741/the-slow-death-of-free-speech-2/

  5. Women are an evolutionary mistake. But soon with new technology like artificial wombs and female sex robots, we will no longer need human women for either sex or reproduction, and thus human women will go obsolete.

    1. This feels like a test so I’ll play along.

      If I were to be reactive I would say, “Point to the place on the doll where Mommy hurt you.” Then I would dismiss you as part of the MRA contingent and move along.

      To be constructive, I would recognize that you mentioned evolution, which means I have more in common with you than I would with a creationist. You also see the importance of wombs, sex, and reproduction. I like those things, too! I would appreciate the fact that you said “obsolete” instead of “extinct.” We get to live!

      I would ask if you think women have more to offer than the parts of their body that men find necessary for sex/reproduction. Regardless of your contempt for women, can you acknowledge their role in society, even if it’s just to cook for you and take care of your kids? To clean up after you and bring you a nice drink when you get home from work? Or do you believe a robot could do those things, too?

      That might be a nonstarter, but it’s better than an outright dismissal. I’ve set aside my own beliefs, albeit temporarily, in order to establish common ground, gray areas, a potential conversation. What you choose to do with it reflects your willingness to contribute productively to a discussion to which you were invited.

      1. Seems like this person just took the general premise of recent Huffington Post articles discussing the “obsolescence” of the male gender due to the noted success of a lab-based synthesis of the y chromosome.

        The original title, verified by Google Cache, was “Are Men Obsolete?”


        You have been tested to see if you understand how males are trivialized/discussed flippantly in todays society. How do you think you fared?

        1. The original title was offensive. Click bait, if you will. But shouldn’t this disclaimer address some of the flippancy you mention?

          “While this is alarming news for most men, it is promising news for men dealing with infertility.”

          Infertile couples have used surrogate mothers, donor eggs, and sperm donors for years (the first two affecting potential mothers, the second affecting potential fathers). This is medical science designed to help couples who want to have kids but can’t do it on their own. I don’t believe the research is intended to render men obsolete, but I can certainly see how it might be perceived as a threat.

          EDIT: Thanks for the context, btw. I don’t read HuffPo unless I know the author, but if I did, I wouldn’t click on a title that obnoxious.

  6. My stepmother often laments that we’re no longer willing (or able?) to have civil face to face discussion on controversial topics. At one time dinner tables rattled with uncomfortable debate and friends were (largely) civil, many even found surprising common ground (e.g. reduce abortions by promoting teen abstinence AND sex ed/birth control). Now we default to defensive divisiveness on what we THINK are “all or nothing” issues (e.g. abortion, gun control, our next president). Admittedly, I prefer online (vs face to face) dialogue with people with opposite views because online I have time to exhale (critical), think, research and then respond. I’m an activist from the safety of my keyboard. As a rule, I don’t name call or scream. I regularly post controversial topics on Facebook and as expected friends rarely respond. When I post light, funny, inspirational quotes or pictures the “likes” come flying. Friends tell me all the time “I love your posts” and yet, they don’t comment at that moment OR online (only a few and mostly people who agree). Yes, we have to first acknowledge our own discomfort with AND others’. It’s impossible to advance society, to find practical actionable solutions without stepping into the others’ perspective / problem. My favorite example to this point is a story from our local newspaper. Columnist Scott Maxwell wrote about his support for same sex marriage, ranting against our state’s historical conservative stand, etc. A reader called and left him a vicious voice mail, “I hate you, your views, you should just die….” Scott called the guy back and calmly talked to him. After a few minutes of expected uncomfortable exchanges, the (older) man told Scott, “I don’t hate gay people, never have. I’m just afraid of all this change, of how things were and how things ARE. What will this mean for my grand kids?” Sounds wildly stuck in the mud and paranoid to me, but to move society forward we HAVE to at least meet people where they stand (which I’ll do up until your stand blocks legislation on equality, practical gun control etc). Neither guy changed his POV but each moved closer to a new understanding of WHY the “other” felt this way. Progress by inches. No one HEARS when everyone is yelling.

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