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  1. Soubrette
    Soubrette June 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm |

    Brilliant, Caperton! I am 22, and currently out of college because of my chronic illnesses (organ involved Lupus, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Hashimoto’s Disease, and POTS) getting out of hand for a bit, and I’ve had to deal with the attitude and assumption that I am somehow less intelligent and capable than my peers because of my lack of degree. Especially in comparison to my peers without disabilities who have recently graduated, and have no disabilities or illnesses in sight which limit their achievements. It’s very frustrating; a degree can signify a certain degree of intelligence, certainly, but there are people out there who can be plenty brilliant without it, too!

  2. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe June 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    LOL, been there. I dropped out of high school my senior year, but went back and got my diploma at age 26. I own my own home, have a good job, and, at least in my opinion, can converse on a wide range of subjects. I’m a news junkie, a foodie, ski, golf, and love to travel. I’ve owned my own business, drafted contracts, worked in the medical and legal fields, and done analysis and design for almost every federal agency. The biggest hurdle I have when dating a women with a degree, or especially a graduate degree, is them getting over the fact that I didn’t go to college.

  3. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet June 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    I love this piece. Thank you, Caperton.

    I went to college. My boyfriend didn’t. (We both enjoy pot and tomato soup, though!) The obnoxious questions we get from all sides are just amazing.

    “But what do you guys talk about?” Everything. He’s the most inquisitive, curious person I know. He reads newspapers in two languages every day, works with aquariums and other small animals for a living, and knows more about the world than every pre-law/med/business/whatever asshole I suffered through dates with in college. Every guy I’ve been out with who was just as educated (or more so) than me always felt the need to put me in my place intellectually.

    It really blows people’s minds to find out that he’ll probably always make more money than me and my liberal-arts degree. If he held it against me, then he’d be an asshole, and that’d be a dealbreaker too.

    Anybody care to start a pool for how long it takes a commenter to suggest that refusing to date people with nothing in common with us makes us all misandrists/bad people/problematic?

  4. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm |

    >.< Oh, for fuck's sake.

    My wife doesn't have a degree. She's also the second-smartest person I've met, with creepily encyclopedic knowledge on a whole bunch of things, and very well read and artistic.

    My grandmother doesn't have a degree. Doesn't even have a 12th-grade education. She also knows four languages fluently, is a published translator, was an athlete, and supported her family alone for 15 years at a time when Good Indian Women weren't really supposed to be working.

    I've only recently registered in college, and I finished HS at 16. I’m also twice published (translation/kidlit), speak five languages fluently and two messily, and read with the voraciousness of a Sarlacc.

    Honestly, given my life, my real dealbreaker is someone who cares how many pieces of paper people have acquired rather than what’s between their ears. Degrees are relatively easy. Intelligence is fucking rare.

  5. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |

    “But what do you guys talk about?” Everything. He’s the most inquisitive, curious person I know.

    Lol, I so get this. My wife’s brain terrifies me sometimes.

    And the last time we got fairly drunk together we wound up having an intense debate on whether Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium was an authentic representation of the Byzantine empire or not, and whether his obvious idolisation of Justinian was, at the risk of a bad fun, justified, while our friends cracked up in the background.

  6. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 June 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm |

    Oh, come on. How can you not love a pretentious graduate student?

  7. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm |

    Oh, come on. How can you not love a pretentious graduate student?

    Very, very easily. >_> Grad students are fucking obnoxious.

    (Oh and because I forgot to add: Sailing to Sarantium is historical fantasy, so it was authenticity of parallel we were discussing.)

  8. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen June 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm |

    The former governor of Alaska has a bachelor’s degree, but I’m not sure it’s possible to have an intellectual conversation with her. Same goes for that law degree-enabled legislator from Minnesota, who thinks HPV vaccines cause “mental retardation.” A degree is hardly a marker of intellectualism… or intellect, for that matter.

  9. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet June 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm |

    And the last time we got fairly drunk together we wound up having an intense debate on whether Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium was an authentic representation of the Byzantine empire or not

    LOL, I so want to hang out with you two. The biggest fight he and I have gotten into was over the accuracy of the Arthurian literary tradition. Our friends were confused the next day, to say the least.

  10. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    *applause*

    Mr. Shoshie and I collect degrees like Pokemon cards (soon to be 6 between us), but all that’s shown me is that degrees do not equal intelligence and having a degree doesn’t make you a more interesting person or less of a douchenozzle. In fact, both of us are in favor of de-emphasizing college degrees in favor of promoting technical degrees that, y’know, prepare people for jobs and such. And then offering lots of lifelong learning opportunities through community colleges, because who wants to stop taking lit or psych classes after age 22 (or whenever one finishes their formal education)?

  11. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm |

    Grad students are fucking obnoxious.

    :(

    I promise I won’t talk endlessly about inorganic chemistry if you’re not interested! Nor will I think less of you if you have absolutely no interest in chemistry at all!

  12. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm |

    LOL, I so want to hang out with you two. The biggest fight he and I have gotten into was over the accuracy of the Arthurian literary tradition.

    OMG geek love!

    I made my wife watch the BBC series Merlin (in my defense I was undereducated about the Arthurian literary tradition at the time). She still hasn’t forgiven me two years later.

  13. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm |

    Uh…why am I automatically going into mod now? I didn’t swear and my comment centred largely on BBC’s Merlin.

    (If this is about the quality of “Merlin”, I totes understand, though.)

  14. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm |

    :(

    Eep, no, I didn’t mean it that way! Sorry, too much annoyance with my parents’ elitism right now! They looked down on my wife bigtime, until they started talking to her like a Real Human and she was scary smart at them.

    (I actually think it’s a student insecurity thing with grad students, the looking down on everyone? I can forgive it if it’s a student insecurity thing….okay, not forgive, maybe, but overlook until they know better, like kids with the poop fascination.)

  15. sillyme
    sillyme June 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm |

    This was so appropriate; a friend of mine just texted me twice during her date (who texts during a date anyways?!). The first about how awesome the guy was and how they have shared interests. The second to say it wouldn’t work because he didn’t have a college degree. I’m reevaluating our friendship now too.

  16. Mxe354
    Mxe354 June 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm |

    Duke had a learning disability, dropped out of school at age 16, and had no interest in finishing high school or starting college. But as time passed, Jeltsen became concerned with Duke’s lack of intellectual vigor.

    Did she forget the fact that he has a learning disability? People these days…

  17. Cade DeBois (@lifepostepic)
    Cade DeBois (@lifepostepic) June 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

    Can’t share your righteous anger over this. A college degree/having attended college can mean different things to different people. For me it means a shared experience of academia. I spent bleeping 9 years at university between my undergrad, post-bacc and grad work. Almost a whole decade of my life and hell yeah, that matters. It made me who I am. In that decade I met some most of the most important people in my life so far, including people from the awesomest Gwendolyn Brooks, gave me some of the best advice a woman writer could ever hope for as well as her blessings and encouragement, to the one professor who made me feel for the first time in my life that being an intellectual women did not mean I was a second-class student in his classroom. It’s big shit and it matters. To me at least. And whomever I am going to spend my time with needs to get that. I want someone who can appreciate my academic experiences and accomplishments and relate to me on that level. Is that so wrong?

    Besides, I did try to date guys who didn’t have any college experience. One stalked me and threatened to kill me after I dumped him for hanging out with coke-using gangbangers, a second was a closeted homophobe with extremely limited life experience beyond not being well-educated, so *everything* beyond his sheltered world made him apoplectic, and a third, well, can’t say much about him because it was blind date and he skipped out half-way through. He later told the friend who set us up that he found me “intimidatingly intellectual” and couldn’t go back after he excused himself to go to the restroom, so he left me with the entire bill. Never had these problems with college dudes. I’m sticking with them, if that’s OK with you.

  18. Brooke
    Brooke June 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

    I agree that she’s obnoxious and creates a bad rep for those of us with degrees in the dating world. I dropped some friends who could only talk high-brow even in the lowest-brow of environments (aka my living room) because sometimes you just want to have a beer and talk about the Kardashians without getting into commentaries on race, gender and SES. I’d also round out this post, though, with examples of folks-who-don’t-have-degrees-thinking-that-you-aren’t-into-them-because-you-have-one (or more). I have dropped a few guys because they were insecure about my education or professional world and would comment on it frequently. Eventually it just got to the point where I had to say, “Yeah, I needed a masters to do x, but I don’t care if you don’t to do your job. I just enjoy your company.”

  19. Matt D
    Matt D June 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm |

    Shorter version: “Guys, really, I’m so awesome that sometimes I actually feel bad about how awesome I am.”

    It’s kind of a shame, because I feel like there is an interesting and worthwhile story in there peeking out from behind all the fake contrition and self-congratulation.

  20. Milquetoast
    Milquetoast June 5, 2012 at 4:31 pm |

    Preface this all by saying this is just a generalization. There are many great people in all graduate schools:

    a student insecurity thing with grad students

    Depends on the graduate student and the discipline. For instance, in my experience, when a graduate student in engineering, medical, or law school is jerk, they’re often talking down to somebody. Having or seeking a secondary degree in a field that is highly marketable does create an elitism that is ugly (jerky attitude is multiplied if the person attended/attends a notable university).

    However, when a grad student in one of the less “marketable” areas of academia–anything from liberal arts to social sciences–acts like a jerk, it’s often a product insecurity. It’s a product of insecurity created by people chortling “good luck finding a job” or the more genteel “what do you plan to do WITH THAT?”, politicians aiming to downsize your discipline, fostering overspecialization that leads to consistent ideological and turf battles, and being ground down as cheap labor for universities or individual professors. Not excusing shitty behavior, but grad students are often really unhappy, stressed out folks.

    Or the person could just be an ass.

  21. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

    Meh, I think some grad students being jerkfaces has to do with us, as a population, being overworked and unhappy. So you have to feel like it’s for SOMETHING, and therefore you can convince yourself that you’re totally superior for being a martyr for SCIENCE! or something.

    But I try to maintain work/life balance and to not be a jerkface.

  22. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 4:57 pm |

    Milquetoast, Shoshie, I think you’re spot-on there. Sorry for overgeneralising. >.>

  23. matlun
    matlun June 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm |

    I think I am with Melissa Jeltsen on this.

    Not going to college would not necessarily be a dealbreaker, but I could not see someone I did not consider an intellectual peer as a partner. This does not map exactly to “did not go to college”, but a lack of intellectual ability or curiosity would certainly be a serious issue.

    At least sort of. I like cats.

  24. seisy
    seisy June 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm |

    Degrees do not equal intelligence, and intelligence does not equal degrees, but I can’t pretend I don’t miss being surrounded by people with/working towards advanced degrees. Yeah, there were the pretentious pseudo-intellectualists, the elitists, and a hundred other negative things, but there were also a lot of people who cared deeply enough about some facet of the world to devote their lives to it, and who celebrated being passionate about learning and discovery and interested in the world instead of looking down on it as some bizarre fetish for weirdos.

    I know that those inquisitive, passionate, and clever people exist in the ‘real world’ but they can be really hard to find. The whole college/grad school milieu is just an easy flag. This isn’t a defense of the original article at all- eugh, couldn’t if I wanted to- but I guess I am just envious of the other commenters? I don’t really seem to know how to find people without the flag.

    I am going a little crazy from the lack of good (in person) conversation. I know a lot of really great, nice, fun, people but they do have a tendency to side-eye the hell out of intellectual enthusiasm, debates, and interests, so the relationships (platonic and romantic) remain fairly shallow. (Shallow because those things are a huge part of my personality, and any relationship that relies on a giant facet of oneself to be utterly off the table is by nature not a very strong one.)

  25. Past my expiration date
    Past my expiration date June 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm |

    I wanted an intellectual match. Duke wanted a cat.

    I want an intellectual match and a cat. A college degree doesn’t seem necessary for either.

    (So IS Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium an authentic representation of the Byzantine empire?)

  26. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe June 5, 2012 at 5:19 pm |

    I want someone who can appreciate my academic experiences and accomplishments and relate to me on that level. Is that so wrong?

    I’m going to get really spanked here for this: But, while both men and women have this attitude, I find the majority to be women. This is not scientific, but with both in-person and online dating services, I get the same response. One dating counselor for a service told me the degree requirement excluded me for most of the college women using her service. Brains didn’t factor into it.

  27. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 5:24 pm |

    So IS Guy Gavriel Kay’s Sailing to Sarantium an authentic representation of the Byzantine empire?

    Culturally (Fantasy Counterpart tropes taken into account) it’s fairly accurate, and he did some fascinating work wrt characters’ internal mindset, and didn’t indulge in the temptation to create an anachronism stew. But the events themselves… eh, Justinian was kind of a huge asshole (though pretty adept at manipulation), which is probably why Kay focused really intensely on how awesome he was with Exactly Six People. It’s easy to round people up to Awesome Heroic Character when the grand scheme of their lives isn’t taken into account.

    >_> Or so I concluded. My shiny still thinks he came off better than that.

  28. konkonsn
    konkonsn June 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

    I can get where you’re all coming from, but at the same time, a lot of the examples here in the comments are still about how, despite not having a formal education, people are still smart on subjects that we consider to be intellectually worthy.

    I mean, my mom never went to college, and she sucks at holding her own in political debates with my dad and I. She reads dime store novels, and we can never watch movies together because she just wants to enjoy it, and I can’t consume any media without overanalyzing it. Honestly, she doesn’t have a lot of hobbies or interests that would fit under the typical qualifications for smart.

    But, you know, she worked in a deli for 23 years and can decorate cakes and make the best icing from scratch. She’s always open minded to what I have to say even if she doesn’t always understand it. I feel like a kindergartner writing an essay while typing all this or like I’m making some Hallmark greeting card about how my mom is the best mom ever…sorry. I know she’s not better (or worse) than any other mom. I’m just saying, my best friend doesn’t understand half of the stuff I’m studying, and we don’t get into political debates, but he and I can trade internet memes back and forth for hours, and I find that kind of discussion important as well.

  29. seisy
    seisy June 5, 2012 at 5:27 pm |

    @Joe

    Brains do factor into it, but my guess is that a) the degree is just an easier thing to see and b) many women are used to the idea that guys resent it (or are intimidated) when women they’re seeing are better educated than they are.

  30. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue June 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm |

    konkonsn, I don’t think anyone is saying that people who don’t enjoy topics we consider more intellectual are bad or lesser people. I think what people are saying is that if you enjoy intellectual topics and what you want in a partner is someone who can discuss them with you, there are plenty of people without degrees who fit that bill.

  31. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm |

    I can get where you’re all coming from, but at the same time, a lot of the examples here in the comments are still about how, despite not having a formal education, people are still smart on subjects that we consider to be intellectually worthy.

    konkonsn, I get your comment, but I think what most of us were addressing was the idea that the college degree was the dealbreaker for her, not the lack of an intellectual match. To want an intellectual match is fine; to conflate that with a college degree is not. Hence our examples.

    I think the main problem here (for me, anyway) is deciding that it’s okay to look down on/judge people just because they haven’t been formally acknowledged for their talents. If your dad were to shit all over your mother’s cooking because she didn’t take enough classes to suit his taste, despite the fact that she makes the most awesome icing from scratch, that would be comparative, y’know?

  32. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |

    I’m going to get really spanked here for this: But, while both men and women have this attitude, I find the majority to be women. This is not scientific, but with both in-person and online dating services, I get the same response.

    I have to second seisy and say this. I’m not doubting that some of it is elitist bullshit, but it’s as likely to be preemptively eliminating people who are likely to be assholes about educated women. I didn’t even bother dating guys in India because most of the pool was either looking down on me for not having certificates or resenting the shit out of me for being intelligent.

  33. Donna L
    Donna L June 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm |

    There are all sorts of reasons why intelligent, inquisitive people don’t have college degrees. I have trouble imagining rejecting someone for that, especially given the fact that my parents were the first people ever in their families ever to go to college, but were otherwise no different from their families. My father’s father had to drop out of school at 13 to go work in a garment industry factory on the Lower East Side when his own father fell ill, but eventually learned enough on his own to be a bookkeeper. And so on.

    On the other hand, I’ve known a lot of people with undergraduate — and graduate — degrees from Harvard and Yale and other notable institutions, whom I not only wouldn’t go out with, I wouldn’t want to spend five minutes in a room with them. (Especially if they’re lawyers. Ugh!)

    And as long as someone shares a basic knowledge of popular culture with me, and enjoys reading, and has an idea of what’s going on in the world, do I really care about their academic training anyway? No. It’s not like I like to spend a lot of time engaging in intellectually-taxing conversations anyway. I get enough of that at work.

  34. Pamela Foster
    Pamela Foster June 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm |

    People are enjoyed best when we accept them right where they stand. Or walk away with a few decent memories.

  35. Chataya
    Chataya June 5, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

    I should introduce her to one of the neurologists at work. He’s completely uninterested in politics (as long as they don’t try to take away his hunting rifles), his conversational skills mostly consist of tired old sexist jokes and hunting stories, and he hasn’t read a book in 15 years.

  36. Marksman2010
    Marksman2010 June 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm |

    What I find even more annoying is that certain people expect you to make millions at a great job if you hold any degree whatsoever.

    Is it difficult for these individuals to grasp that some of us attend a university to be educated? If this education results in a well-paying job, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine too.

    Duh…

  37. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm |

    Oh yay! I’m gonna dump my beloved right now! I mean, my passion in life is embroidery and he has no interest at all in it. Embroidery is a dying art and that makes me special. Iwill never date another guy who can’t stitch again. NOT.

    I can understand wanting to be with someone who shares your passions. What gets me is demanding that your partner shares exactly the same passions.

    The “people like me” attitude came through quite loudly. Honestly, I think he dodged a reaL bullet there. I know I wouldn’t want to be with someone who was ashamed of who I am. I’ve had guys who immediately lost interest in me the moment they heard the types of job I do for a living (food service). And you know, that’s fine. It may be that the guy really wants someone who understands what they do for a living, or they don’t want to be the one carrying the financial burdens or they don’t want to deal with family who won’t approve of the match. In my opinion, people should be together because they love the person, not their job title or diploma. No matter how you look at it, you have a relationship with a person, and it their values, beliefs and traits like kindness that determine the relationships success not their social class or bank account.
    My guess is that she was thinking of where she wanted to be in life and felt embassed when she tried to fit the boyfriend into the picture.

    And by the way, despite the gross liberties taken with the Aurthurian legend, Merlin is awesome (for fluffy entertainment)

  38. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 7:00 pm |

    And by the way, despite the gross liberties taken with the Aurthurian legend, Merlin is awesome (for fluffy entertainment)

    I totally agree with you myself, just can’t mention that to my shiny How dare you!!!!!!!!!! LITERARY AUTHENTICITY RARRRRRGH

  39. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm |

    Can you imagine how toxic for the boyfriend that relationship would have gotten if they had stayed together? She might be an insecure grad, given the degree she pursued but I can imagine that she was jumping on a very tender spot for him as well. With an undiagnosed learning disability, its quite probable that he’s struggled with thinking himself stupid for far too long. And there she was rubbing salt into the wound. Cruel. And possibly abusive.

  40. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet June 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm |

    Macavity, pillow…it’s not you, it’s me, but…I don’t think we can go out anymore. We’re just not on the same Arthurian wavelength and somebody who hasn’t taken a single class on Celtic Romanticism just isn’t someone I can spend my life with.

    Just kidding! People with wildly divergent interests can have happy lives together sometimes, and I still love you guys even though Merlin was godawful.

  41. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 5, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

    They have classes on Celtic Romanticism?

    And that’s okay violet, cause I can’t be with anyone who can’t embroider period pieces from that time…=p

  42. Li
    Li June 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

    Personally, having dated someone who was academically successful but who repeatedly felt the need to tell me to “pull myself through it” whenever I complained about having trouble with assignments or class because of my anxiety/depression, I’m now going to restrict myself to fellow university dropouts.

  43. shfree
    shfree June 5, 2012 at 7:56 pm |

    Hah, I’m just glad that I don’t even have to worry about doing the dating thing, because if it’s hard enough to be judged for not going to a fancy pants university, imagine what it would be like for someone with an associate’s from a community college and essentially unemployed. (I don’t care what you say, crappy chain grocery store, 10 hours a week is NOT employed) Woo, economy!

    Also, given that right now discussing politics + healthcare + economy + world stage = a shfree that stays up all night, staring freaked out at the ceiling, when I’m away from the internet I don’t WANT to have long, in depth discussions about such things much of the time. I’m a lot less patient with people in real life, outside of work, and I can’t immediately open a window to listen to some music or watch a cat video to ease my soul.

  44. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 8:02 pm |

    Macavity, pillow…it’s not you, it’s me, but…I don’t think we can go out anymore.

    But….but we just started to hang out I BARELY KNEW YE

    *shower of tears*

    Just kidding!

    *phew*

    *grin*

  45. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 8:06 pm |

    Personally, having dated someone who was academically successful but who repeatedly felt the need to tell me to “pull myself through it” whenever I complained about having trouble with assignments or class because of my anxiety/depression, I’m now going to restrict myself to fellow university dropouts.

    That is massively asshole behaviour.

    I sadface at your dating criteria, as shoshie did above. (Then again I dropped out of preparing for my 10th-grade exams, whcih are a Big Deal in India, because someone said “Good, good, get a degree soon so you can get a good husband”, so maybe I shouldn’t be talking….)

  46. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 8:28 pm |

    Note: Your argument kind of falls apart if the headline was any different. Since writers almost never write the headlines—editors do—judging this writer for the headlines is really unfair.

  47. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm |

    I feel you want to judge this woman for not wanting to be with a guy who doesn’t do it for her intellectually, and your half-hearted hat tips to the concept of enthusiastic consent aren’t very convincing. Women’s hearts and bodies aren’t a democracy. If our hearts aren’t set afire by men who don’t share out interests in politics and literature, that doesn’t make us bad people. It doesn’t make us “elitists”.

    There’s enough pressure on women to ignore what we really want from life and love and instead offer our bodies and our hearts up selflessly, giving up the hope of real satisfaction so as not to be “bad” girls who care about “shallow” or “elitist” things like what will make us happy. Sad to see a feminist blogger double down on that pressure.

  48. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet June 5, 2012 at 8:39 pm |

    Actually, Amanda, I think Caperton was just calling her an asshole. Several commenters have popped up to say that women with degrees receive the exact opposite pressure when we do date people without degrees, which is why it’s so important to change the framing from “degree” to “compatibility.” Women can’t win regardless of who we date, but we should at least have the right to point out someone being a total classist choad.

  49. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue June 5, 2012 at 8:44 pm |

    My problem isn’t that she wanted someone who was a match for her intellectually; it’s that instead of dumping him and finding someone else she pressured him into going to college, something he didn’t want to do and apparently resented.

  50. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 8:45 pm |

    If our hearts aren’t set afire by men who don’t share out interests in politics and literature, that doesn’t make us bad people. It doesn’t make us “elitists”.

    Amanda, I think the elitism here is in conflating intelligence with degrees. I would be fine with someone going “I want someone to geek out with”. I find people who say “I want someone with an engineering degree to marry” skeevy, on the other hand. But perhaps that’s my distaste for the Indian marriage-market-style “boy-grading” coming through.

  51. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm |

    Did you actually read the piece?

    Duke was not like me: He was a reclusive Boston native who didn’t read, wasn’t political, and didn’t even own a computer. I grew up overseas, devoured newspapers, and felt happiest surrounded by lots of my friends, debating into the night. But our connection ran deep and easy.

    And:

    And when I came home at night, I wanted to keep talking—about literature, history, art, culture, the world outside of our little windows. I craved someone to help me parse new ideas, encourage me to think differently, question my views. Duke and I were rooming with another English major at my school, and the two of us would stage nightly kitchen table conversations about Whitman and Vonnegut, Shakespeare and Keats. Duke always drew quietly in his notebook or stepped out the door on his skateboard.

    Oh, and:

    I felt guilty and embarrassed for pushing him into a path that satisfied my interests, not his. School became I topic I learned to avoid at home—both his failed experiment, and my own developing intellectual life.

    She didn’t leave him because he didn’t have a degree. She left him because she felt that they didn’t have much in common. She felt she couldn’t even talk about what she found interesting. She also felt that it was wrong to pressure him to change to create compatibility.

    In other words, the only thing she did “wrong” was believe that she—despite being female and expected to sacrifice her own desires in order to please a man—should be able to have a relationship with someone who actually shared her interests. She wanted to have a home where her interests were welcome. She wanted what men are entitled to have, criticism-free.

    I can’t believe, actually, that a feminist shamed a woman for wanting something all women, like men, are entitled to, which is the basic right to self-determination in love as in life.

  52. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm |

    I feel you want to judge this woman for not wanting to be with a guy who doesn’t do it for her intellectually

    Nope, just for concluding he doesn’t do it for her BECAUSE he didn’t go to college, rather than because they weren’t a good match intellectually. I think most of us here who piped up about our partners made the exact opposite point, in fact: that we found people who totally did it for our brains, the degree (or lack thereof) was a non-factor.

  53. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 8:50 pm |

    I realize that even feminists have internalized the sexist message that women should be so flattered that any man will have us that we should take him, as long as he’s “nice”. I realize that makes it easy to get angry at women for rejecting men because they don’t feel love, they don’t feel sexual attraction, or they don’t feel intellectual connection. I realize that we’re told day in and day out that women are wrong for having standards and we should be grateful that any man will have us at all. I realize even feminists aren’t immune to the easy fun of yelling at a woman for rejecting a man because he doesn’t do it for you, because after all, women should be grateful that any man will have us.

    Doesn’t make it right.

  54. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 5, 2012 at 8:54 pm |

    Amanda I’m all for women making choices about whatkind of partners make us happy, but the fact remains that she knew she was dating someone who didn’t share her interest and pressured him into college despite his lack of interest and a learning disability. In doing so, she rubbed his “apparent” lack of intelligence in his face. If the situation were reversed, you’d be talking about how there should be acceptance and that this kind of behaviour shows enormous disrespect and potentially abuse. She set him up to a task she knew he would either struggle with immensely or fail, and he was pressured into it through fear of losing a woman he loved or cared about.

  55. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm |

    I’m sorry, but “Yeah, yeah, women have a right to date who they want, but” doesn’t cut it with me. It sounds a lot like, “I’m not a racist, but” or any variation.

    I realize that it’s like a warm jacket judging women for wanting partners who actually make them happy, instead of just sucking it up and being grateful that someone will have them. Even feminists are clearly not immune to that social pressure. But we should resist, instead of rationalize.

    It seems to me that if there wasn’t a constant drumbeat of messages to women that we’re “shallow” and “elitist” “bitches” if we want more out of our relationships, she would have cut the string sooner. The attempts to salvage the relationship strike me very much as a reaction to the fear that she would be judged for not wanting him because he didn’t share these interests with her.

    Her fears were obviously correct. Even feminists can’t be feminist enough to believe women have a right to want a partner who shares their interests, on top of being nice enough.

  56. Donna L
    Donna L June 5, 2012 at 9:08 pm |

    She also felt that it was wrong to pressure him to change to create compatibility.

    She may have felt it was wrong, but she did it anyway. That’s what people are objecting to. Not her desire to be with someone intellectually compatible.

  57. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 9:11 pm |

    She didn’t leave him because he didn’t have a degree. She left him because she felt that they didn’t have much in common.

    I did indeed read it. Honestly, she knew before she got involved with him that he wasn’t intellectual. Her immediate response to realising that wasn’t goign to miraculously change was “college will fix it”. Which she knew damn well that was what was going on, because she was pushing him into her path rather than his own. Why bother with the pushing? If accepting your own desires is key, go for it. It’s when you start to sadface at your partner with disabilities because they’re just not interested enough in a place that learning disabilities makes incredibly difficult that you’re becoming manipulative, and she recognised it. When she recognised it, she got out. Good on her, and I applaud her decision to leave! They clearly weren’t right for each other, and neither partner needs “fixing” in terms of taste. Doing a personality makeover on your partner isn’t really an attractive thing, it speaks more to your own prejudices than anything, and I didn’t judge her for deciding that finding someone who authentically adhered to her ideals/tastes was what she needed. That was a better decision than trying to pour him into a College Degree mold like disobedient Jell-O.

  58. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 9:18 pm |

    Well, if you guys want women not to exert pressure on partners to become more exciting for them, the first step is not to police and shame women for saying no to a man. The across-the-board message that no man is entitled to a woman’s love—even if he’s vegan, even if he’s punk, even if he sounds cute from afar, even if he’s nice—is the only way. The policing that’s going on here makes women feel guilty. It makes us think, “Gosh, even those feminists think I’m a bad person because I don’t want a relationship with a guy I don’t have anything in common with.” And instead of dumping that guy, to prove we’re not shallow, we’ll try to make it work. Which will involve the pressure that is creating the excuse to police and shame a woman for wanting a partner who shares her interests.

    Sorry, but this is non-negotiable for me. The reason that women do fucked up shit like try to make failing relationships work or saying “yes” to sex when they mean no is because of the shaming and policing of the sort I see in this post and thread. The only way women will get out of those toxic patterns is if they aren’t being told every time they turn around—even by so-called feminists—that they’re bad and shallow people for having their own desires when it comes to love and sex.

  59. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 9:19 pm |

    Plus, honestly, I don’t get women who are mad that another woman doesn’t want a guy you think is hot. If she doesn’t want him, that means that much less competition. Be happy, instead of shaming and policing.

  60. Alexandra
    Alexandra June 5, 2012 at 9:25 pm |

    I am a two-time college dropout, once again working toward the degree slowly and, I hope, surely. I have no problem with non-trads – people for whom college didn’t mean four years between 18 and 22, and then maybe professional or graduate school after. Neither of my parents did it in four years (my mother switched schools, my father dropped out of U Mich and joined the Army) and it looks like my little brother will be the first one in the family to do it the “regular” way.

    That said, it is hard, hard, hard to find people with similar intellectual passions as me while using college as shorthand; ignoring college would make it even harder. I am not going to date someone who isn’t passionately interested in an intellectual pursuit and who doesn’t enjoy wide-ranging discussions about philosophy, politics, science, mathematics, psychology, and so on. I have met people who have nontraditional education who are smart in those ways, but by and large they have been older than me considerably, and not necessarily compatible by personality.

    My main avenues for meeting people are in class or online, and online I sort people based on their education, using education as a shorthand for “cares about learning.” It is what it is.

  61. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 5, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

    O what now Amanda, you’ll use the old angry we can’t get a man line? Very feminist of you.

  62. Milla
    Milla June 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

    I’m a grad student in a Totally Useless Field (TM) and while I love intellectual discussions and having things in common, pretentious blowhards who act like a degree that’s all that matters are among the most irritating people alive. Sometimes all I want to do is run away from the people in my department and just watch The Avengers and eat ice cream cake or something (luckily there are people also in my department who feel the same way).

    Some of the dearest people in my life have degrees. Some don’t. My mom, who has a master’s degree, usually wants to talk about sales or gossip and can’t follow a movie to save her life (there’s a lot of “who’s that?” or “what’s happening?”). My dad, who didn’t finish his undergrad, follows politics far more so than I do, reads extensively, and loves to talk about media.

    That being said, I hate the inevitable strand of anti-degree thought that creeps up in threads like these— degrees are easy! they give them out like candy! Because they kind of aren’t. They’re certainly not the only way, and, in a lot of situations, aren’t even the best way to do things, but they’re a valid way that requires a lot of work. It’s possible to talk about an elitist jerk without dismissing a degree as something that comes in a Cracker Jack box.

  63. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet June 5, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

    At least we won another dollar in the “I can’t believe this is on a feminist blog” pool. At this rate, we’ll be able to buy Feministe a frozen margarita machine for summertime.

  64. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 9:37 pm |

    @61: Strawman. I didn’t say that. I said that society makes it very easy to enjoy ourselves for shaming women for not snatching up a guy because he’s nice, and to call them shallow bitches for wanting things like sexual attraction and intellectual/emotional satisfaction.

    This story can be summarized as, “I started dating a person that was fun when I was young, but as I got older, our interests diverged. We tried to make it work by exposing my partner to my interests, but my partner found it didn’t work out. So we parted.” If a man wrote this story, you’d all be slobbering over what a mensch he is. Sad to see feminists fall into such an easy, sexist pattern.

  65. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 9:42 pm |

    Perhaps Tracy McMillan can add, “Because you’re an elitist bitch who wants a man who cares about your intellectual interests” to her list of reasons you’re not married yet, and instead of being angry with her, feminists joins the MRAs in applauding her for putting uppity women in their place.

  66. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 9:44 pm |

    Sorry, Caperton, but she left. Which, if you believe in enthusiastic consent, should cause you to applaud her, and analyze the pressures on women to stay in failing relationships that caused this one to drag out longer than it should.

    Instead, you pulled a Tracy McMillan power trip, shaming a woman as an “elitist” for wanting to get something out of a relationship beyond just having a man who’ll have you.

  67. Amanda Marcotte
    Amanda Marcotte June 5, 2012 at 9:47 pm |

    And frankly, I think it’s appallingly illiberal to have so little compassion for a person that you can’t grasp that some times people linger in failed relationships because they can’t admit they’ve failed. It’s just plain anti-feminist to do so to shame women because they’re struggling with a sexist mandate—which you’re currently enforcing—that holds that women who want more out of a relationship than “is nice and will have me” are shallow and elitist.

    Maybe post this under a male name on an MRA thread and see how many upvotes you get for calling a woman elitist for not wanting a guy that doesn’t do it for her intellectually. I’m guessing a ton.

  68. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 9:50 pm |

    Hey, Amanda, I’ve got one for you!

    Yeah, yeah, women have a right to date who they want, but they don’t have the right to demand their partner change their entire life – particularly in a way that might be impossible due to their disabilities.

    Please do try to justify that in a way that doesn’t involve victim-blaming and abuse apologia.

    “Gosh, even those feminists think I’m a bad person because I don’t want a relationship with a guy I don’t have anything in common with.”And instead of dumping that guy, to prove we’re not shallow, we’ll try to make it work.

    Oh BAWWW. waaaah. abloobloobloo.

    From Caperton’s post: “Not having stuff in common is a perfectly reasonable dealbreaker. ” Nobody told her to do anything but dump the guy and find a smart one; no one suggested making it work somehow and were fairly clear it wouldn’t. The only point raised was “don’t conflate (having no) degrees with (having no) intelligence”. That’s not a gendered statement. As Joe pointed out, if anything it seems biased in the opposite direction. (Insert status statement arguments here.)

    Don’t like the guy? Dump the guy. It’s a hell of a lot more feminist than emotional abuse/manipulation that makes the manipulator feel like shit, let alone the subject of the Life Makeover. That shit’s only hot in Disney Movie World.

    Plus, honestly, I don’t get women who are mad that another woman doesn’t want a guy you think is hot. If she doesn’t want him, that means that much less competition.

    \

    Because clearly all this homoflexible lady with a wife wants is MOAR COCK. o_O WTF?

    Okay, I know you were asking if we read the article being discussed, but did you read the thread? Because you’re pulling an awful lot out of your ass considering nobody talked about anything remotely like what you’re crusading against.

  69. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 9:53 pm |

    Comment in mod addressed to Amanda’s extended baww.

    Who is she, anyway? I recall that I’ve heard her name chucked around in feminist/womanist circles before, usually in negative light, but don’t actually have context. One of those professional fringe troll types? Anyone know?

  70. Claire K.
    Claire K. June 5, 2012 at 10:11 pm |

    Mmm, you can see from the way the article’s author talks about going to college because it’s “expected” that she’s speaking from a place of privilege, but I agree with Amanda Marcotte that the title is the worst part and was probably not the writer’s choice. There is pressure on women not to have standards, and it does seem that fear of being labeled a cold-hearted elitist was probably part of why the writer wanted to make her relationship with this guy work instead of leaving him. I also think it’s interesting how “intellectual” is being used –in the original piece and on this thread– to overlap with “politically involved,” so that “Not everything needs to be intellectual” slides into “Not everything needs to be politically analyzed.” Which, in a round about way, suggests that sometimes it’s better in relationships to leave one’s feminism at the door.

    To sum up, it is classist to assume that someone without a college degree can’t have intellectual and political interests. But, given that the original article was about a guy who wasn’t interested in political and intellectual discussion anyway, the existence of a whole thread on how unpleasant or even “abusive” the writer must be –interspersed with comments about how it’s more fun not to make everything intellectual/political– does read as a judgment of the writer for wanting an intellectual partner, under the veneer of “We’re not judging her for wanting compatibility, we’re judging her for using college as a shorthand for compatibility.” I don’t mean that anyone on this thread was explicitly thinking that the writer didn’t have a right to standards, but I think the existence of a 60+ comment thread criticizing a woman for valuing her intellect and wanting a partner willing to engage it shows the more stringent standard that women face in maintaining relationships, and the anger that rises up when they fail to uphold that standard.

  71. Claire K.
    Claire K. June 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm |

    Adding this after seeing some more comments that appeared while I was typing: everyone agrees it was an unhealthy relationship and she should have left sooner. It just seems that a feminist response would be to look at why she felt she had to stay, while calling her an “elitist” and, now, even taking it for granted that her boyfriend’s experiment with college is evidence that she was abusing him feels more MRA-like.

  72. mim
    mim June 5, 2012 at 10:25 pm |

    I went through this whole fucking thread before I finally saw anyone making any sense, thank god for Amanda.

    Having been in a similar relationship to the one described in the article, I’m going to second the person who pointed out that the headline (which is crappy) and the article have very very different meanings. She didn’t leave him because he didn’t go to college, (That’s what the headline says and if you’re being intellectually cheeky you can conclude that) She left him because they had nothing to talk about. And people are criticizing the straw man headline.

    To all the people who are saying: OMGZ guys she’s a bad person because she wanted to CHANGE him and she shoulda just known he can’t be changed!!!! How many of you knew everything about your partner from the very first fucking moment you met them. Or even a few months into the relationship? It can take years to figure out that the incompatibility that you feel is caused by x factor, and sometimes, people don’t feel like giving up. They feel like fixing it- she didn’t FORCE him to do anything, she tried to introduce him to the world that she loved. While she mentions his learning disability early, on, she mights not have known about it until AFTER he even enrolled in his classes! He might not have shared that with her for a long time. So I get that it’s really easy to get on the high horse and judge the shit out of people, but seriously, take a second to actually think about it.

  73. Alexandra
    Alexandra June 5, 2012 at 10:33 pm |

    Man, can’t their be a middle ground? That there were intersecting privileges in this relationship? On the one hand the punk-rock boyfriend was a man, and this may (may! – we don’t know these people) have influenced Ms Jeltsen to feel she was responsible for the relationship, she was responsible for making it work, and therefore influenced her to stay longer than she wanted to.

    AND also Ms Jeltsen, as a presumably neurotypical person with the means to attend not only college but also graduate school, had some privilege over her boyfriend who was not fast-track to the middle class, and who had a learning disability. She may have thought she was obliged to salvage their relationship by pushing him into college, and he may have felt pressured into going to classes he knew he’d get nothing out of — and which probably cost him money, time, and perhaps a little self-esteem.

    Relationships aren’t simple. IME, there’s no one person who’s at root for a relationship’s problems, and well-meaning people who love each other hurt each other all the time because of the inevitable blindnesses and weaknesses that come with being human.

  74. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 10:34 pm |

    I think the existence of a 60+ comment thread criticizing a woman for valuing her intellect and wanting a partner willing to engage

    The flying fuck? The first ten comments were all about how we had awesomely intellectual partners with/out the existence of a degreee. o_O How do you extrapolate from that to “criticism for valuing intellect”?

    \Gratuitous_violet at #3:

    I went to college. My boyfriend didn’t. (We both enjoy pot and tomato soup, though!) The obnoxious questions we get from all sides are just amazing.

    “But what do you guys talk about?” Everything. He’s the most inquisitive, curious person I know.

    Me at #4:

    My wife doesn’t have a degree. She’s also the second-smartest person I’ve met, with creepily encyclopedic knowledge on a whole bunch of things, and very well read and artistic.

    Pillowinhell at #37:

    I’ve had guys who immediately lost interest in me the moment they heard the types of job I do for a living (food service). And you know, that’s fine.

    Me again, at #31:

    To want an intellectual match is fine; to conflate that with a college degree is not. ….I think the main problem here (for me, anyway) is deciding that it’s okay to look down on/judge people just because they haven’t been formally acknowledged for their talents. I

    Sophia at #39:

    My problem isn’t that she wanted someone who was a match for her intellectually; it’s that instead of dumping him and finding someone else she pressured him into going to college

    Yeah, I’m not seeing the criticism of her intellect here.

    Claire, you may be new to ableist narratives: “You can do it if you just try!” is one of them. Note: I have fibromyalgia that attacks my hands really badly. nothing wrong with my mind except the effects of 23 years of people refusing to give me writing accommodations because all I had to do was TRY HARDER to do something I just couldn’t. The second I got accommodations, my grades went up two letters. It is absolutely abusive to make someone feel unworthy and “less” because of their mental disabilities. Maybe that isn’t what she was consciously doing, but the end result was the same, yes? As I said before, I applaud her for recognising that and getting out. She needed someone more intellectual, clearly.

  75. Brennan
    Brennan June 5, 2012 at 11:00 pm |

    That being said, I hate the inevitable strand of anti-degree thought that creeps up in threads like these— degrees are easy! they give them out like candy! Because they kind of aren’t. They’re certainly not the only way, and, in a lot of situations, aren’t even the best way to do things, but they’re a valid way that requires a lot of work. It’s possible to talk about an elitist jerk without dismissing a degree as something that comes in a Cracker Jack box.

    Milla, in the 61 comments that preceded yours, not one person implied that degrees were easy or given out like candy. Even if you remove all the Amanda-is-outraged comments, that’s about 50 people who discussed it without dismissing the difficulty of getting a degree. Some have said that people without degrees can be intelligent and interesting, others have pointed out that people with degrees won’t necessarily be either, but no one has implied that the act of getting a degree does not take hard work. In fact, Jeltsen’s pressuring Duke to get a degree is being likened to abuse in part because it is so effin’ difficult.

  76. gratuitous_violet
    gratuitous_violet June 5, 2012 at 11:22 pm |

    1. I did read the piece. I actually thought it was really well-written and I’ve always enjoyed the dealbreakers series.

    2. I never said she didn’t have the right to do things! Are we seriously having this conversation again, where being feminists also means that we all must be free from criticism at all time? I think we’ve had a thread or two hundred about that around here.

    Because I do have sympathy for her, in general. Finding out what we want in relationships is hard. But you know what raised my hackles? This part:

    For the first time in our relationship, we fought

    The fact that it comes at the end of her story, specifically. Because you know what that sounds like to me? Neither one of them bothered to try and have an adult conversation with each other, and they both silently resented each other the whole time. Also this:

    I loved the broke bohemian lifestyle we shared, but the reality of my post-grad life loomed.

    Slumming it with someone with real problems because you love the “lifestyle” also kind of makes you an asshole. But good news! I think he sounds like a jerk too! And I’m glad they eventually broke up! I don’t think I ever said anyone sounded abusive.

    3. Anyone who disagrees with Amanda Marcotte isn’t suffering from internalized sexism or false consciousness, for fuck’s sake.

  77. Daniel Schealler
    Daniel Schealler June 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm |

    One thing that could be throwing critics is the phrase ‘pseudointellectual elitist’.

    In the case of the article above as presented, the use of the phrase is justified.

    But it’s also commonly used in other circumstances as a way for someone to undermine the confidence of someone who is educated – typically more educated than the underminer themselves. I get the following a lot:

    Creationist: Argument A, B and C.
    Me: Refutation of A, B and C citing research and evidence.
    Creationist: The fool has said in their heart there is no God, so you’re really just a pseudointellectual elitist that wants to raise yourself to the level of God.

    That kind of thing.

    My knee jerked a little when I read the title, but I calmed down after reading the context – in this case it’s justified.

  78. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm |

    macavitykitsune, you don’t know who Amanda is?

  79. Becky
    Becky June 5, 2012 at 11:49 pm |

    Who is she, anyway?

    Amanda Marcotte? Feminist blogger. You can see her blog by clicking on her user name.

  80. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 11:54 pm |

    Amanda Marcotte? Feminist blogger.

    Oh, fuck, is she the one who plagiarised Brownfemipower? I remember her now, don’t need to look her up anymore, but thanks. Must have blocked her from my brain. Schwyzer supporter too, isn’t she? Well, what a barrel of chuckles.

  81. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 5, 2012 at 11:55 pm |

    ETA: allegedly plagiarised, anyway. I don’t recall how that turned out.

  82. White Rabbit
    White Rabbit June 6, 2012 at 12:03 am |

    So, I’m the same White Rabbit who commented (in an admittedly knee-jerk fashion) on the original article over the weekend. I was thrilled to see this post from Caperton, as I am an “uneducated” intellectual and was very curious to see what the reactions would be within this community. I’ve been lurking and learning for a few months now, and I have mad respect for many of the commenters here.

    First off, while I agree that whether or not the author actually wrote the headline makes a difference in this case, as a reader, without having definitive reason to believe otherwise, I will assume that the author is responsible for the accompanying headline. With regard to Amanda’s scathing critique of the commentary here, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize others’ comments whilst ignoring that their commentary is likely based on a different fundamental interpretation – in this case, the difference being whether or not the author is responsible for the headline. This seems to have resulted in a fair amount of arguing past each other.

    Also –

    71 wrote:

    “…does read as a judgment of the writer for wanting an intellectual partner, under the veneer of “We’re not judging her for wanting compatibility, we’re judging her for using college as a shorthand for compatibility.”

    Ugh. A big, definitive NO from me, and I also didn’t get that from the other commenters.

    I have no problem with the fact that the author eventually figured out that she and her boyfriend didn’t share enough common interests to sustain their relationship and moved on. What I take issue with is that the “dealbreaker” in this case has been identified as, “He Didn’t Go to College.”

    I have spent my entire adult life being the adverse effect of the kind of misguided shorthand reflected in the piece (lack of college degree = lack of intelligence). It’s real, it happens all the time, it holds otherwise capable people back in many ways and is thus infuriating (ahem), it is often wielded in hurtful ways by the ignorant and privileged, and I for one will call it out when I see it.

    My story in a nutshell: Grew up with extreme domestic violence and child abuse. Was a straight-A honors student. Couch-surfed as a teen to stay safe and moved out promptly at 18. Zero support from parents meant I couldn’t afford college (therein lies a whole other discussion about privileged ignorance, but I digress). Worked my a** off to build a career. Now in my early 30’s, I have a solid career as a sales manager at a corporation focused on green initiatives. I handily out-earn most of my “educated” friends, and I have zero debt and substantial savings. I entertain myself by reading the likes of Paul Krugman, volunteering for political candidates such as Elizabeth Warren, visiting museums, traveling, and donating time and money to social justice causes I care about.

    None of the aforementioned context, accomplishments, or character seems to matter to most of the new people I meet – as soon as they learn that I didn’t obtain a degree, many start acting awkward and lose interest in me as a person. (It doesn’t help that I live in Boston and every other person I meet seems to have a graduate degree from MIT.) My closest friends didn’t believe how judgmental and dismissive people are about a lack of formal higher education until they witnessed it for themselves. It’s almost as if having a college degree now functions as a status symbol, and people fear that associating with the “uneducated” will somehow bring down their own status. (Am I being too cynical??)

    Given the skyrocketing cost of education in the U.S., educational elitism becomes a particularly glaring form of privileged class-ism. I’m already concerned about the growing inequality from a conceptual standpoint, but it impinges just that much more when I’m the direct adverse effect of prejudiced generalities. So again, I am going to speak up when I encounter this attitude.

  83. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 6, 2012 at 12:06 am |

    My knee jerked a little when I read the title, but I calmed down after reading the context – in this case it’s justified.

    Yep, I had the same reaction. Then I read the original article and positively frothed, for reasons I outlined in the first comment. (And the like 15 that followed because Marcotte was six kinds of not getting it.)

  84. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 6, 2012 at 12:07 am |

    Ah, you are new.

  85. Alexandra
    Alexandra June 6, 2012 at 12:11 am |

    Plagiarized is too strong. The scandal had more to do with Marcotte in particular and white feminist writers in general borrowing concepts and positions from WoC bloggers without giving credit or acknowledging those who had pioneered prison reform (I think that was the issue disputed).

    Marcotte was also involved in a firestorm when she published a book (I think through Seal Press) which used ‘ironic’ images of 50s-era comic book women in leopard skins running from spear-chucking natives. These two issues combined have led to many cutting her off for racism. She’s also frequently inflammatory and Never. Ever. Ever. backs down.

    She sometimes has interesting things to say, though.

  86. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 6, 2012 at 12:18 am |

    Ah, you are new.

    Oh, I am. Did my commenting history of, like, fifteen days not come to your notice? I tend to wander about on Shakesville and lurk at Womanist Musings, What About The Menz and Racialicious of late. Thus, I am underexposed to particular feminists the womanist movement practically crosses itself and chucks salt over its left shoulder when mentioned. I tend to write those off as at least passively racist and not really bother to look further.

  87. Alexandra
    Alexandra June 6, 2012 at 12:18 am |

    Bagelsan, I’ve not had a problem with you for most of this thread, but that was some condescending shit right there. Not reading every feminist blogger or knowing every shitstorm doesn’t keep someone from having legitimate opinions, and the ‘lol n00b’ attitude might be fine on the Bioware page but it’s not appropriate here.

    Sheesh.

  88. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 6, 2012 at 12:26 am |

    Ah, you are new.

    Alternatively, and to paraphrase Churchill, “and you are a raging moron. Someday, I will no longer be new.”

  89. Milla
    Milla June 6, 2012 at 12:32 am |

    @Brennan

    You’re right, although there was a mention of degrees as “relatively easy” early in the thread. My complaint stems more from having had this conversation multiple times in my home state, where people tend to insist that there’s nothing especially difficult or worthwhile in higher education— but then I live in a state that seems to be more or less stuck in 1962. Apologies for not making the distinction.

  90. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 6, 2012 at 12:34 am |

    Bagelsan, I’ve not had a problem with you for most of this thread, but that was some condescending shit right there.

    Thank you, Alexandra. This isn’t the only thread Bagelsan’s been an asshole on, I’m running low on patience. Also, going to stop feeding that troll from this point on.

    Now I’m just waiting for DoublyLinkedLists to object to my existence and/or call Donna an asshole out of nowhere, and my Feministe bingo is complete.

  91. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 6, 2012 at 12:40 am |

    You’re right, although there was a mention of degrees as “relatively easy” early in the thread.

    That was me, and I pointed out that gaining degrees is relatively easy – which I compared to the process of developing the intelligence required to earn them, as well as to accomplish things that people associate with people with degrees. I don’t think that denigrates degrees as much as elevates the years of work people put into getting the skillz they need to get those degrees (in school, life, at work, recreationally, self-directed education etc).

  92. shfree
    shfree June 6, 2012 at 1:04 am |

    Macavitykitsune I only think a Feministe bingo is complete when Politicalguineapig comes along and posts something wrong-headed and/or baffling. And yeah, that comment from Bagelsan was uncalled for.

  93. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe June 6, 2012 at 1:08 am |

    Brains do factor into it, but my guess is that a) the degree is just an easier thing to see and b) many women are used to the idea that guys resent it (or are intimidated) when women they’re seeing are better educated than they are.

    Siesy,

    i can’t disagree more. I knew someone here would say it’s the men. If college women won’t date guys with just H.S. diplomas or less, how do the men get a chance to resent it? When you look at the profiles of the college women on match and eharmony where 98% don’t want to correspond with men without college; how can the men be resentful?

    Real speed dating story: Woman: “Hi”. Me: “Hi, I’m Joe, nice to meet you. How are you?” Her: “Fine, so what do you do? Me: “I’m a business and computer consultant, and own rental properites” Me: “What do you do?” Her: “I’m a lawyer.” Me: “Nice, corporate, criminal?” She answers. Her: “Where did you go to school?” I give her the name of what obviously is a H.S. Her: “I see, where did you go to college? Me: “I didn’t” End of speed date.

  94. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue June 6, 2012 at 1:19 am |

    If college women won’t date guys with just H.S. diplomas or less, how do the men get a chance to resent it?

    1) Obviously not all college-educated women won’t date men who haven’t attended college, as evidenced by this very thread.

    2) Men don’t have to have actually dated someone with a higher level of education than them to resent the idea of their partner being more educated than them

    Also, you don’t think men resent their partners being more educated than them? It seems to me than heterosexual men resent the anything that could give even the appearance of their partner having some kind of advantage over them. See, for example, the “high-school cougars” thread.

  95. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 6, 2012 at 1:22 am |

    @Joe,

    Ugh, that sucks, and I’m sorry you went through that.

    Macavitykitsune I only think a Feministe bingo is complete when Politicalguineapig comes along and posts something wrong-headed and/or baffling. And yeah, that comment from Bagelsan was uncalled for.

    *grin* Okay, fair enough, I’ll add that in. And thank you.

  96. thinksnake
    thinksnake June 6, 2012 at 2:46 am |

    I’m currently deciding whether to drop out of uni and enrolin TAFE (technical and further education in Australia, I don’t know whether there’s a direct equivalent in the US). Many of the people I’ve been speaking to about this are all “But you’re smart! Why would you not just knuckledown and finish your degree!”
    Then I point out that I’ve been doing this for seven years, and haven’t got anywhere for the last three, and the process of essay-writing has become triggering in and of itself.

  97. Natalia
    Natalia June 6, 2012 at 5:35 am |

    I spent such a long time thinking about this piece, and the debate surrounding it, that I wrote down some thinky-thoughts!

  98. That one “Dealbreaker” piece on the college girl and the punky dude « Natalia Antonova

    [...] reaction to people who speak about their college experience this way. Still, considering the debate it has inspired, I’ve been moved to point out [...]

  99. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated June 6, 2012 at 7:58 am |

    The fact that the woman insisted he enroll in college without treatment of the learning disability, speaks for itself. We all want to share the things we love, but not, oh please, by force. Nothing was written about any resentment at being de facto excluded from conversations: was he patient? Non-sexist?
    In this end of the South, stuck in 1932, we may be dealing with people who quit school early to support impoverished families or to enlist in the military, but who are treasure troves of wisdom and experience. Degrees matter to degree-holders and to HR reps; doing without all sorts of things is second nature to many of us.
    On the other hand, the article infers that he had sort of given up on experience, but she had not. That is a genuine deal-breaker.

  100. Revolver
    Revolver June 6, 2012 at 8:12 am |

    Ah, you are new.

    FFS, all that’s missing is an emoticon.

    What’s going to be your next mode of dismissal? You’ve got gender/age and now history of commenting. I’m sitting on the edge of my seat to see what comes next.

  101. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists June 6, 2012 at 8:41 am |

    macavitykitsune, you are on every single thread over and over. You’ve decided that your voice is So Important that you massively influence the tone and direction of EVERY discussion on feministe at this point, and as you yourself say, you are new. There used to be a spread of different types of commenters on different articles depending on what the post was about but now it’s just Macavity. Kitsune. All. the Time.

    Every thread is an argument between you and whoever has DARED to disagree with you.

    It’s boring. You’re boring.

    You posted on this thread 27 times. That’s more than a quarter of all of the comments.

    Give it a rest.

  102. Revolver
    Revolver June 6, 2012 at 8:48 am |

    And now we have an assist from DLL with a “You’ve RUINED Feministe!” What will be next?? Stay tuned, folks.

    Macavity, I’ve been a lurker for at least 5 years. I truly appreciate the insight and perspective you have brought.

  103. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists June 6, 2012 at 8:54 am |

    Ruining it for me.

  104. Shoshie
    Shoshie June 6, 2012 at 9:07 am |

    DLL and Bagelsan-

    You guys are being seriously big jerks. This is why we can’t have nice things. I have found your comments FAR more irritating than Macavity’s. Please stop.

    1. Jill
      Jill June 6, 2012 at 9:30 am | *

      Also, everyone, you are welcome to disagree with the substance of what Amanda is saying, but you are not welcome to trash her personally.

  105. Natalia
    Natalia June 6, 2012 at 9:07 am |

    macavitykitsune, you are on every single thread over and over. You’ve decided that your voice is So Important that you massively influence the tone and direction of EVERY discussion on feministe at this point, and as you yourself say, you are new. There used to be a spread of different types of commenters on different articles depending on what the post was about but now it’s just Macavity. Kitsune. All. the Time.

    Every thread is an argument between you and whoever has DARED to disagree with you.

    It’s boring. You’re boring.

    You posted on this thread 27 times. That’s more than a quarter of all of the comments.

    Give it a rest.

    Um.

    Lolwat?

    1. Jill
      Jill June 6, 2012 at 9:28 am | *

      Macavitykitsune is a member of this community and we’re glad to have her as an active participant. She can comment as often as she likes.

  106. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 6, 2012 at 9:12 am |

    Oh, fuck, is she the one who plagiarised Brownfemipower? I remember her now, don’t need to look her up anymore, but thanks. Must have blocked her from my brain. Schwyzer supporter too, isn’t she? Well, what a barrel of chuckles.

    I dropped out of two colleges myself, but not before picking up a bit of Latin, such as ‘ad hominem.’

  107. matlun
    matlun June 6, 2012 at 9:14 am |

    macavitykitsune@91

    Now I’m just waiting for DoublyLinkedLists to object to my existence and/or call Donna an asshole out of nowhere, and my Feministe bingo is complete.

    DoublyLinkedLists@102

    Bingo?

  108. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 6, 2012 at 9:17 am |

    And over time, she became more interested in and inspired by intellectual discourse. “I craved someone to help me parse new ideas, encourage me to think differently, question my views.” Duke still wasn’t that person and never had been. But instead of cutting him loose and finding someone who would fill those needs for her, she held on and pressured him into starting college so he’d fit into some vision she had of the future for them. And when that failed, and she felt “guilty and embarrassed,” she still didn’t cut him loose and try to find someone who actually suited her. She didn’t leave until the smell of stale cat pee became overwhelming. How fair is that to either of them?

    I completely agree that it’s not fair, but the fact that she attempted to salvage the relationship should at least free her from the labels of ‘obnoxious’ or ‘elitist.’

  109. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune June 6, 2012 at 9:49 am |

    Steve, Jill, Caperton,

    I apologise for the comments about Amanda; they were not intended to hurt her. I only vaguely remembered her name and it was in relation to the controversy because that’s the sort of thing that sticks. I immediately corrected it to add allegedly, because I didn’t remember what the exact situation was or how it turned out, as I said. Alexandra promptly corrected me and I shut up about it. I won’t bring it up again.

    Thank you, Jill, Revolver, Caperton, shoshie and Natalia.

    DLL: I’m not participating (or have participated to the extent of one comment) on half the “most commented” threads. Have dropped out of two others. I’m not remotely interested in five out of eleven threads on the first page of the blog to the point of not having commented at all/one comment to ask a question unrelated to thread topic. So…

    ….deal?

  110. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 6, 2012 at 10:00 am |

    I’m not going to get into it all here, but the “you’re new” comment was because macavity obviously doesn’t know a lot of the people she is talking to and about, and should maybe brush up on that before going off half-cocked calling people trolls. Again. That’s all.

  111. Chiara
    Chiara June 6, 2012 at 10:18 am |

    I think every one needs to be calm and less like jumping at each others throats like that. Like the philosopher said: if we can’t all be friends, then like what good is anything at all?

    For what its worth I like macavatykitsune’s comments, and I also like what Amanda Marcotte writes on pandgon.

    On the subject of the article people can do some mean shit without intending to when they are trying to keep a relationship going after they’ve got past the first bit. That applies for men and women. She was wrong to pressure him into going to college, but I don’t think she did it out of meanness.

  112. Katya
    Katya June 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |

    First off, while I agree that whether or not the author actually wrote the headline makes a difference in this case, as a reader, without having definitive reason to believe otherwise, I will assume that the author is responsible for the accompanying headline.

    Actually, my default assumption is the opposite. Authors often don’t write the headlines–that is done by the publication editors, who are concerned with, not only inspiring page clicks or readers, but also space, layout, etc. (Authors also don’t usually choose the illustrations or photos that accompany a piece.)

    I think college degrees can be proxies for a number of real and important traits, but they are not perfect proxies, and you can really misjudge people if you think that no degree = less intelligent, or less motivated, or less able to converse about art/literature/politics/whatever. (Or conversely, that college degree = intellectual curiosity, etc.) People with and without degrees can be smart, intellectually curious, incisive, critical thinkers with a deep interest in history/art/literature/music/philosophy, or they can be mentally lazy people who don’t want to talk about anything except reality television.

    Some people, of course, just use a degree as an item on a checklist of other status items, which I think is even stupider, but hey, to each his/her own. To me, this piece was misheadlined, since it seemed that the objection was not that Duke didn’t go to college, but that their intellectual interests were wildly divergent, and Duke’s going to college was not going to change that, for a variety of reasons. There’s nothing wrong with anyone, male or female, wanting a partner who shares their interests. The writer’s mistake was that she didn’t accept this sooner and break up with the guy, rather than dragging out the relationship after it should have been clear that it wasn’t working.

  113. Amanda
    Amanda June 6, 2012 at 10:38 am |

    Ray Bradbury died today. He never went to college either.

  114. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 6, 2012 at 10:47 am |

    I’m all about discovering oneself during college–that’s part of what it’s for–but the thought of trying to expand your horizons using a person makes me really uncomfortable, at least if he or she isn’t onboard with it.

    Agreed. But when ze is onboard with it, I actually think that’s a very healthy part of a relationship in fact.

  115. samanthab
    samanthab June 6, 2012 at 10:54 am |

    Well, questions I would ask in reference to Amanda’s response is: how did Jeltson just know he had a learning disability if it was undiagnosed? How did Jeltson just know he wasn’t doing his classwork or going to class?

    She’s making fairly harsh judgments about the dude without having presented evidence for it, which makes it look like she’s operating from a point of bias rather than objectivity. Sure, she has a right to be classist and ableist. But she also doesn’t get special dispensation for her classism and ableist because she’s of the lady persuasion. I can still call her a classist and ableist asshole without sexist intent. For all I know, she did have evidence she’s not presenting, but that would make her a worse writer than she already appears.

    Perhaps Amanda has the luxury of ignoring rampant ableism, but, as someone with two severe learning disabilities, I really struggled with certain aspects of college. If someone had wanted to break up with me over that, fine, but they would have earned the label ableist. It’s well into ableist terrain when a dude’s getting judged as not having made enough effort just because he’s struggling. It does not follow that because he struggled, he wasn’t going to class. She’s made a really assholish leap there.

  116. melaka
    melaka June 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |

    I have a master’s degree, and my soon-to-be fiancee is graduating next week with an associate’s degree. She has supported herself and her family since she was 16 years old, and has held down a full time job at a coffee shop for 11 years. I, on the other hand, had financial aid, full parental support, and subsidies which allowed me to go to college. My parents paid for it when I slacked off. They paid for it when I graduated from grad school and couldn’t find a job for the first year. They gave me their first car. The point? I came from a place of privilege, while she grew up poor – a new pair of shoes every few years poor – and this has affected the decisions she has made in her life. She’s way awesome – she works harder in one day than I do in a whole week (yes, I do tend to be lazy), and has accomplished so much in two years. To look down on her would make me in the biggest asshole of all, and I would be missing out on the best relationship I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t be living with my best friend and future spouse.

  117. annalouise
    annalouise June 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    Can we not gloss over the fact that this dude also didn’t have a job and was completely supported by his mother? I’m note sure why it makes someone elitist and a snob to be unhappy with dating some loser with no job and no ambition to ever be self-supporting. And while it may be a mistake and probably not fair to this dude, to try and push him towards her version of ambition, thinking we can fix a relationships that we really can’t fix is a common human mistake.

    And one of the reasons women fall into the trap of staying with these dudes is that they internalize the message that they are “elitist” or “ableist” or “picky” or “mean” for wanting something better for themselves.

  118. Codi
    Codi June 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm |

    Seems to me that the overwhelming majority of people commenting here seem to think in this case–to put it simply–girl bad, boy good. So maybe she really IS a pompous jerk. Does that let him off the hook as the poor boy just used and discarded? Everyone seems to have completely given this guy a pass, when if fact, he was going along with the relationship himself. I personally think anyone who decides a relationship isn’t right–for whatever reason–is totally justified in ending it. Or do you think it would have been better for her to pretend she was someone else just to avoid hurting the poor boy’s feelings? My point here, is I don’t see a problem. They had sex, giggled, whatever, now it’s over. So what?

    Also, I know there’s no limit on the number of times someone can comment, but really, if you can’t say it in two or three comments, move on.

  119. samanthab
    samanthab June 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm |

    Annalouise, you can leave someone without writing about it later in ableist terms. Writing ableist pieces is not going to liberate women from bad relationships, as I would guess you well know. “Ableist” is a term that’s not used outside of social justice circles. Fear of the term ableist is not an overriding influence on women’s relationships in the year 2012. I guess you think your concern for one -ism (sexism) overrides my concern for one -ism (ableism, )but there’s this thing called “intersectionality.”

  120. annalouise
    annalouise June 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm |

    What ableism does she demonstrate?

    The belief that it’s not okay to live forever off your mother and your girlfriend, pursuing your artistic interests but never having a job or getting any additional education because you have an “undiagnosed learning disability?”

  121. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    He’d have to be pretty damn disabled to not be able to hold down any job or complete any college. I have a serious mental disability but when treated I’m not incapacitated to that extent at all because I work hard to do what I can. It sounds like he mainly just has a case of the doesn’t-give-a-shits.

  122. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

    Analouise, have you ever worked with people who have learning disabilities? Because I can tell you that several different oines makes it very hard to gain or maintain a paying job. And if its undiagnosed, then he may not have any coping strategies in place and he can’t explain to an employer what will help him perform better at work. So hi employer is likely to fire him for being slow or stupid or unproductive. He may well want a job, but employers aren’t very forgiving. n

  123. samanthab
    samanthab June 6, 2012 at 1:58 pm |

    Where is this in her piece, that he wants to live off his mother forever? You’ve manufactured that, annalouise. She writes with contempt about his lack of expansive vocabulary. She writes with contempt about his struggle with class assignments. She doesn’t actually write about his work ethic; that doesn’t seem relevant to her as she analyses the relationship, which is telling.

    Lots of people take time to find themselves at that age, but because he’s learning disabled and struggles with classes, he’s damned for life? And, Bagelsan, you’re learning disabilities don’t define the scope of experience.

  124. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

    Bagelsan, you’re [sic] learning disabilities don’t define the scope of experience.

    I don’t have a learning disability, I have a different set of disabilities that can affect my learning. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be hardworking or intellectually curious or successful at *something*, which it seems this dude is not.

  125. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm |

    Assuming we still trust women not to be automatic liars (we can, can’t we?), this bit: “Duke had never had a job, and he wasn’t particularly interested in getting one—his mother kept him supplied with enough food and cash to squeeze by.” says it all. No work ethic.

  126. Chiara
    Chiara June 6, 2012 at 2:16 pm |

    [sic]

    What are you like 15 or something? Grow up.

    I don’t have a learning disability, I have a different set of disabilities that can affect my learning. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be hardworking or intellectually curious or successful at *something*, which it seems this dude is not.

    Wtf you on. The guy seems pretty happy doing what he’s doing yeah. IMO if you can do stuff that makes you happy in life and have a good time, then you’re being pretty successful. But I guess you probably only define success in terms of how well people fit into mainstream society bullshit: having a boring ass job, getting a degree, etc.

  127. samanthab
    samanthab June 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm |

    You really don’t know that he’s not interested in anything, Bagelsan. He’s interested in punk rock and maybe lots of other things. Again, she writes about his lack of expansive vocabulary, his struggles with classes, and his lack of interest in Elizabeth Bishop. Is that all there is in the world? I mean, Elizabeth Bishop isn’t my favorite poet, and I struggled with classes. And I have a shit ton of curiosity. It really is possible!

  128. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm |

    Besides smoking pot and having sex, what is he apparently good at?

  129. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein June 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm |

    Jeltsen’s a bad person because she encouraged her boyfriend, whom she loved and assumed she would spend the rest of her life with, to go to college? He wasn’t willing to get a job. All he wanted to do was draw and be supported by his mother. She thought, quite reasonably, that higher ed might be a path to a drawing job. What a monster!

  130. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 6, 2012 at 3:01 pm |

    You know, I think I’ll just point out the obvious here. We only have her side of a very limited story. Given how she presents her boyfriend, we can all agree that the relationship was going nowhere. However, then going on to state that the guy is a good for nothing, freeloading loser is a bit harsh when you consider that we can’t hear about the relationship from his point of view or what his goals or ambitions were.

  131. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein June 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm |

    What we know about Duke: He refused to get a job of any kind, and lived off his mother and girlfriend. Maybe he had hidden talents or undiscovered enthusiasms. His girlfriend thought that college might be a good place to get in touch with his untapped potential. That sounds like a reasonable plan to me.

    So, he enrolled part-time in college and it didn’t work out. That doesn’t mean it was obviously stupid to try. It’s not like having a learning disability automatically means you’re not college material.

    Some students start out indifferent and get inspired, like Jeltsen. Some never really like school but they power through because it’s a means to an end. Duke might have fallen into one of those categories, and he would never know if he didn’t try.

    If Duke had been a tradesman, or a working musician, or just plain gainfully employed, I would question Jeltsen’s motives for pushing him towards college. But, honestly, what was she supposed to do? She assumed they would be together for life and she wasn’t looking forward to supporting him. Again, what a monster!

  132. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm |

    Can’t we just say that these two people weren’t meant for each other without all the blaming and name calling on either side?

  133. seisy
    seisy June 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm |

    @Joe –

    People date outside of online dating sites, you know. And because of the nature of the beast, extrapolating real-world dating preferences from online profiles is a shaky proposition at best.

    So just because a lady says she’s looking for a guy with a degree? Does not mean she has never dated anyone without a college degree.

    She may very well have personal experience with the whole “I resent you and your education” boyfriend drama! (To say nothing of such variants as having a job/making more money/any type of success).”

    Not to mention that it’s a theme that shows up all the time in popular culture as an *issue*.

  134. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe June 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm |

    Can we not gloss over the fact that this dude also didn’t have a job and was completely supported by his mother?

    Analouise,

    Understood. I think part of the problem here is that she brought up the college part at all. All lot of people here have correctly pointed out that they had little in common and no joint interests. And men and women have a just desire to have intellectual companionship. However, one might infer – and I have – that she’s conflating intellectual curiosity with attending college.

    Also, some have brought up the fact that some men have a problem with women who are more formally educted than them. True, but why would this be an assumtion by the majority of women? I don’t think it is. I would say the majority of guys have no problem with it. Also, I find the notion that the vast majority of women with degrees on the variious dating venues have the “college men only” button checked or filled out is because they assume the guy would resent them to be a complete rationalization. The very fact that a guy might contact them if they have the “doesn’t matter” button checked indicates he probably doesn’t have an issue with it.

    Yes, there are some women who a haved dated and even married guys with less eduction. I think more women would find very interesting, well read, well traveled guys out there if they would uncheck that college only box.

  135. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 6, 2012 at 3:37 pm |

    And there’s nothing wrong with moving on from a relationship because you don’t want to be the breadwinner. But the overall tone of her story is that his only redeeming qualities was that he was easy to talk to and the sex was decent. Meanwhile, he’s a deadbeat. I know that when relationships go south people tend to focus more on the negatives and discount the positives in their partners. She’s listed all her various interests, but hasn’t bothered to mention what he likes to draw or how he learned. Not only that, but some folks on this thread are falling into some very old narratives. If its perfectly fine for a woman to be ambitious and career driven then why is it necessary that every man must be a breadwinner? Why are we moving towards seeing him as completely worthless because he doesn’t have a job? In this economy? Perhaps his real ambition is to marry and stay home with the kids. Would it make sense that he get a higher education? She mentions a learning disability are there other factors preventing him from getting a job? University towns are a real bitch for young uneducated people to find jobs in. Many employers will hire students over low class workers because they think the schooling shows self discipline and reliability. She comes from a privileged background and likely has no idea of what lower class life is like or the problems lower class people face. So she may see him as sponging, when really there are other factors at play.

  136. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe June 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm |

    People date outside of online dating sites, you know. And because of the nature of the beast, extrapolating real-world dating preferences from online profiles is a shaky proposition at best.

    So just because a lady says she’s looking for a guy with a degree? Does not mean she has never dated anyone without a college degree.

    She may very well have personal experience with the whole “I resent you and your education” boyfriend drama! (To say nothing of such variants as having a job/making more money/any type of success).”

    I did mention speed dating and dating services as well. I’ve been a member of some pretty expensive dating services in my time, $3000 a year or more. And I’m also including person matchmaking.

    I realize some women have had bad experiences. But above 90%?

    As for the money, I got out of a relationship with a woman who made 50K more than me and know other guys who are in the same situation. NO problem with it.

    As for the rest: why the assumption. Why not have a date or a converstion and find out?

  137. Milquetoast
    Milquetoast June 6, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

    If Duke had been a tradesman, or a working musician, or just plain gainfully employed, I would question Jeltsen’s motives for pushing him towards college. But, honestly, what was she supposed to do? Again, what a monster!

    Maybe have a frank discussion about his goals? Maybe have an upfront, mature talk about where she felt their relationship was going, why it wasn’t fulfilling for her. She says that college was a way to push him toward a career in art or design, but why did it have to be at her college? Why did it have to be completely on her terms (go to my college, let me help you write your essays)?

    If he did successfully attend college that was not going to make him any more interested in helping her “parse new ideas, encourage me to think differently, question my views.” No matter what he did with his life, he wasn’t going to help her copyedit her essays or be a sounding board for her fellowship application.

    She’s not a monster, but she wasn’t honest with him about her wants and needs in the relationship, which was unfair to both of them.

  138. Tony
    Tony June 6, 2012 at 3:53 pm |

    Am I the only one who finds it strange to be presumably discussing the multi-year relationship of two complete strangers on the basis of a 1-page article? I mean, who the heck cares? I guess this is one of those problems with writing a personal stylistic piece in a public forum, where the implicit expectation is that every article “has a point”, hence the reason for making it public. If I were this author or her former boyfriend reading this, I’m pretty sure I would be like ‘Who the hell are you people? What the f— do you know?’ As Caperton pointed out at the beginning of this post, men and women can form and break relationships on any basis we want. It can be on the basis of what school you went to, yes. Or whether you went to school. Or where you live, or what is your height, what size your breasts are, what your face looks like, your race, your religion, your politics, your home state, your favorite sports teams. What car you drive and what clothes you wear. Or ‘he’s left-handed and your elbows bump into each other at the dinner table.’ That should be the end of it. I don’t see why, therefore, this post, after having made that good point, goes on to carve out a singular exception for ‘never went to college.’ It doesn’t matter that plenty of people who never went to college are smart and hardworking and you’re partner never went to college and you have a great relationship. It doesn’t matter that ‘college degree’ and being intellectually alive are not the same thing. If she wanted to end it solely for the reason ‘never went to college’, that’s no less valid than ending it because your elbows bump together at the dinner table. As for her pushing him to go to college, I see the problem with trying to pressure someone into being something that they aren’t– heck, most of the time it doesn’t even work when you do it to yourself, but that doesn’t seem to be the focus of the article, or of this post.

    I think what’s really trying to come out here is a discussion of “pseudointellectual elitism” but I don’t think these two people’s relationship is a good forum on which to have that discussion. As far as myself, I can easily say that no long-term friendships, let alone relationships, have ever worked out with a partner who I wasn’t connecting with intellectually in a fairly specific way. That obviously doesn’t mean that I think only people I connect with intellectually can be good people- I do keep up relations with my immediate family.

    What worries me about this article, if anything [and really it doesn't bother me too much because we don't know the facts here either and it's not our business], is whether the person being written about had given consent and is okay with being written about in this manner. Because yes, it happens a lot, especially to people who date writers, but I certainly want all my flaws thrown out in public like that without my consent.

  139. Lauren
    Lauren June 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm |

    I don’t know, it was interesting to me for a few social reasons that are probably more relevant than feminist blog dogma. Women are graduating from college in much greater numbers than men. The malaise the author described is a much-debated social problem that people are observing in all privileged western countries, where a generation of women are much more plugged-in and ambitious and interested in playing whatever game wins them earning power, and the same generation of men are more likely to be unplugged from any tangible interest in personal growth. A bachelor’s degree isn’t easy and it doesn’t quantify a person’s intelligence, but the truism is that a college degree is nearly a requirement in order to get a skilled job that pays a living wage in this economy. These social trends mean personal fallout for a lot of people.

    In my case, I married the guy and had kids with him. If we pay the bills this month, it’s because I was crafty and found a way to carry the load. In real life, it doesn’t feel very empowering and feminist and non-normative to be with someone who can’t or won’t pull their weight for whatever reason. It just sucks.

  140. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe June 6, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    That said, it is hard, hard, hard to find people with similar intellectual passions as me while using college as shorthand; ignoring college would make it even harder. I am not going to date someone who isn’t passionately interested in an intellectual pursuit and who doesn’t enjoy wide-ranging discussions about philosophy, politics, science, mathematics, psychology, and so on. I have met people who have nontraditional education who are smart in those ways, but by and large they have been older than me considerably, and not necessarily compatible by personality.

    My main avenues for meeting people are in class or online, and online I sort people based on their education, using education as a shorthand for “cares about learning.” It is what it is.

    Good point. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that college has to be ingnored completely. It’s great to use college as a short hand in a lot of instances. While I personally don’t do it – I’d be a hypocrite – it can be useful. It just may be counterproductive to use it as a tool to exclude almost everybody. If someone doesn’t read a profile, respond to an email, writes someone off, or doesn’t want to chat with a person at a party based on a college degree then they’re reinforcing societal preconceptions of people’s intellect.

  141. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm |

    Lauren, I think the stresses of being a primary breadwinner was something men tried to warn us about when women started fighting for equal pay and education opportunities. You’re right, it sucks. But at least its better than the alternative, being pretty much dependant on someone elses income foeverything other than your pin money. If you’re husband isn’t working, you can still make sure both of you are able to eat.

    For that matter, I don’t know too many men who come home from work feeling empowered either, when their wives stay home.

  142. Joe from an alternate universe
    Joe from an alternate universe June 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm |

    I don’t know, it was interesting to me for a few social reasons that are probably more relevant than feminist blog dogma. Women are graduating from college in much greater numbers than men. The malaise the author described is a much-debated social problem that people are observing in all privileged western countries, where a generation of women are much more plugged-in and ambitious and interested in playing whatever game wins them earning power, and the same generation of men are more likely to be unplugged from any tangible interest in personal growth. A bachelor’s degree isn’t easy and it doesn’t quantify a person’s intelligence, but the truism is that a college degree is nearly a requirement in order to get a skilled job that pays a living wage in this economy. These social trends mean personal fallout for a lot of people.

    Lauren, thanks for this. This is one of the most intellectually honest reasons for the degree preference I’ve read. I also understand the women who use it as a proxie or shorthand to find interesting guys. I personally don’t think it should be a hard and fast rule, but to each her/his own.

    While I understand that some guys have a power issue with more educated women, I find the argument that this represents the reason for most of the degree preference to be disingenuous. The argument for finding a guy using it as shorthand and finding a guy who will pull his weight is finally getting to the heart of the matter.

  143. femforlife
    femforlife June 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm |

    context ≠ ad hominem

  144. Li
    Li June 6, 2012 at 9:42 pm |

    I’m just going to point out that there are people reading this thread (ie. me.) who are unemployed and currently relying on their parents for support. I get that it’s fun for people to talk about how that makes us terrible losers and the worst crips ever because we’re obviously just not working hard enough and have no ambition, but maybe people could hold of the ableist judgements about dependency and employment status.

    In particular, Bagelsan?

    He’d have to be pretty damn disabled to not be able to hold down any job or complete any college. I have a serious mental disability but when treated I’m not incapacitated to that extent at all because I work hard to do what I can. It sounds like he mainly just has a case of the doesn’t-give-a-shits.

    Sorry we’re not all as good disabled people as you are. Guess I’m just pretty damn disabled.

  145. April
    April June 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm |

    I’m a repeat college dropout, myself. I’ve dated college grads non-college grads, and married an intellectual who was pursuing a degree but, like me, continually dropped out and eventually decided school just wasn’t his thing. While I really enjoy talking and debating with my grad-school and PhD-holding friends, I find myself much more drawn to the angsty creative types who, for whatever reason, had to or wanted to drop out of college because it didn’t suit them properly or match their interests (or because they just couldn’t afford it anymore). But that’s mostly because that kind of person is exactly like me, and not because they’re elitists. I’ve been lucky in that regard, though. The “I’m going to college forever” crowd that I hang around with is much more of the aforementioned “useless degree” types, while the college grads I knew and left behind from high school are the “going to college to get the degree someone told me I needed to get so I can get the job someone told me I needed to get” types. I think the reasons for attending or not attending college are much more important when considering potential dating compatibility than any kind of degree acquired.

  146. April
    April June 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm |

    All that’s really supposed to mean is that, like many other commenters here, I think the article and the position the author takes could have still remain intact without being absurdly elitist and patronizing if she’d just sorted out why it is she didn’t want to keep dating Duke. While there is certainly a sort of camaraderie and connection that comes from being in the academic community for so long, which sure affects who people choose to get romantically involved with, she should really know better than to think this comes from the acquisition of an expensive piece of rather useless paper (at least by today’s standards).

  147. Natalia
    Natalia June 7, 2012 at 6:14 am |

    Natalia, your use of the term “relationship tourism” in your post really jumped out at me and, in a way, helped me better define something that bothers about Jeltsen’s post. She just makes everything sound so quaint. She was a world-traveler, debater, and devourer of newspapers; he was a townie punk-rocker who appeared through their “perpetually unlocked door.” They lived a “broke bohemian lifestyle,” which would last four years, after which she knew she would return to the real world like a vacationer coming home after a summer at the beach. She would talk brilliant talks with her intellectual equals while he’d charmingly sit aside and draw.

    I’m all about discovering oneself during college–that’s part of what it’s for–but the thought of trying to expand your horizons using a person makes me really uncomfortable, at least if he or she isn’t onboard with it. While Jeltsen was defining herself and her needs (which sincerely is very important and every woman should be free to do), she was doing it at the expense of a person in her life.

    I think that “relationship tourism” can happen to anyone – any time that two people from substantially different backgrounds decide to pursue a relationship. I was certainly “a phase” for one of my exes, the one I spent nearly six years with, as well as an opportunity to “sow his wild oats.” These are not his words, of course, but that’s how our relationship was perceived by the majority of his friends and relatives, or so it seems to me now. How would I feel if he wrote about me in a similar vein? You know, he was into the finer things in life, and I was some chick who was born in Ukraine – if he publicly wrote that, would I be hurt? I don’t know. If anything, it would probably say more about him than it would about me. It’s true that in the end, he wanted someone “of his own kind” – and it wasn’t the money that was the ultimate issue, it was a combination of factors, I think. My inability to fit in in a conservative, upper-class, Arab society played a major role. When I knew that to be the truth, that he didn’t love me anymore – I was out the door. It sucked, but I don’t judge him for how he felt.

    At the same time, nobody owes one another a lasting relationship or a non-messy break-up. I don’t judge her decision to get out – or her previous attempts to stay, etc. It is not my place to do that.

    Neither would I want her to express any false modesty or requisite guilt on the issue, “Woe iz me! He didn’t satisfy me intellectually and I just couldn’t love him! I’m such a BAD PERSON!”

    Her piece just feels curiously incomplete, is all. I’d say that to her as a writer would to another writer.

  148. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 7, 2012 at 7:58 am |

    …nobody owes one another a lasting relationship or a non-messy break-up. I don’t judge her decision to get out – or her previous attempts to stay, etc. It is not my place to do that.

    Neither would I want her to express any false modesty or requisite guilt on the issue, “Woe iz me! He didn’t satisfy me intellectually and I just couldn’t love him! I’m such a BAD PERSON!”

    Her piece just feels curiously incomplete, is all. I’d say that to her as a writer would to another writer.

    Natalia, you hit the nail right on the head here, and summed my feelings about this article in a way that I haven’t been able to. (And BTW, I enjoyed your Guardian article about Euro 2012.)
    One one hand I didn’t feel she handled the situation as I would (surely no one has to do what I would do…I’m not Jesus…well, that’s not for me to say,) but on the other hand, I feel uncomfortable criticizing someone for a personal revelation, even one which admittedly does not show them in the best light.

  149. Lauren
    Lauren June 7, 2012 at 9:02 am |

    Natalia, I really liked the phrase “relationship tourism.”

    I also wondered about the “phase” bit of it. In my experience, especially with the bohemian/punk elements described in the article, there’s an element of ennui, don’t-give-a-fucks, and listlessness that’s kind of inherent to the scene (also, everyone in the scene was usually late teens and early 20s, which coincided with the age people are typically encouraged to attend college). Anyway, the fact that everyone was broke and didn’t know what they wanted to do when they grow up was just they way it was. But some of us figured it out or at least made strides toward this or that, and some of us were content to stay drunk, doodle, and couch surf well into our thirties.

    I think I’m making my point clumsily, but the gist is that I feel like it’s normal and common to not think much about money and ambition when your social norm is drink, smoke, fuck, and make/see art. But as you get older and those norms tend to push most kids into college and/or career in pursuit of the middle-class, gaps in ambition are revealed.

  150. Tracy
    Tracy June 7, 2012 at 9:08 am |

    To be truthful, the only thing that makes me extremely uncomfortable is the clincher – the “I wanted an intellectual match. Duke wanted a cat.”

    I can understand the figuring out your relationship and what you want and need out of it. I can even understand the attempts to ‘save’ the relationship by trying to get the other person to change to fulfill those wants and needs. But that ending feels fundamentally dishonest and unfair. Not only does she break off the relationship (as she should if it’s not fulfilling her wants/needs) but then she ALSO gets the satisfaction of blaming him for it in both ways. The first, that he wasn’t her ‘equal’ and the second in that she implies he chose a cat over her.

    Maybe he didn’t want the relationship at this point, either. Maybe he didn’t even want any relationship. But somehow I doubt it’s because he wanted a cat instead of a person.

    Plus, it’s also kind of ugly in the wordplay in that seems to imply that a cat is his intellectual equal.

  151. Lauren
    Lauren June 7, 2012 at 10:37 am |

    Lauren, I think the stresses of being a primary breadwinner was something men tried to warn us about when women started fighting for equal pay and education opportunities. You’re right, it sucks. But at least its better than the alternative, being pretty much dependant on someone elses income foeverything other than your pin money. If you’re husband isn’t working, you can still make sure both of you are able to eat.

    For that matter, I don’t know too many men who come home from work feeling empowered either, when their wives stay home.

    I hardly consider this liberation.

    Another thought: Women at large still don’t have the professional respect and income that men command. Sure, we’ve flipped the paradigm, but we’re trying to raise families on 50-75% of the money. And men don’t professionally suffer *for the duration of their entire careers* for being parents the way that women do.

  152. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 7, 2012 at 10:47 am |

    I won’t argue with you on that point Lauren. I’m just a little perplexed at all the happiness that was supposed to happen simply because we are working, even if its a chosen field. I usually choose to work in the restaurant business, partly because I don’t have a higher education and partly. Because I can’t stand cubicles. Most people go to work because its a job that pays rather than fulfillment. So I take the benefits of feminism on a more practicle level of being better able to support myself and my family.

  153. What’s Wrong With Classism? « Clarissa's Blog

    [...] say she is classist and seem to suggest that being aware that social classes exist is a huge sin. Others point out how anti-feminist and obnoxious is this discourse of picky women who need to lower their expectations and settle [...]

  154. Iany
    Iany June 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm |

    Oh gosh thank you. I was so bothered by this piece. It was like the author thought she couldn’t have a relationship unless she and her partner had read the same college-prescribed texts at the same time so they’d both be equally inspired to discuss them. I felt so sorry for this guy, they’d obviously broken up because of lack of shared interests, which has nothing to do with whether you went to college or not. It made me feel bad just reading it, classism disguised.

  155. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm |

    Sorry we’re not all as good disabled people as you are. Guess I’m just pretty damn disabled.

    So you’re agreeing with me; if someone is pretty damn disabled then they might live like Duke. Like you. Except there is no reason to think that he is pretty damn disabled. Having a learning disability doesn’t necessarily mean he’s severely disabled, yanno. And according to the article, there is every reason to think that he is lazy, intellectually and professionally.

  156. SophiaBlue
    SophiaBlue June 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm |

    I don’t understand why we’re having this argument about whether Duke was a “loser” or not. It doesn’t really matter; either way Duke and the author were incompatible with each other, and the argument (from me, and I think from most of the others on this thread) isn’t that she shouldn’t have broken up with him, it’s that she should have broken up with him a lot sooner, instead of trying to make him change.

  157. Bloix
    Bloix June 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm |

    Mrs. Robinson, I mean do you feel like telling me what were the circumstances?

    Not particularly.

    Was he a law student at the time?
    And you were a student also. At college.

    Yes.

    What was your major?

    Benjamin, why are you asking
    me all these questions?

    Because I’m interested, Mrs. Robinson.
    Now what was your major subject at college?

    Art.

    But I thought you… I guess you kind of lost interest
    in it over the years then.

    Kind of.

  158. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 7, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

    Thank you Caperton, those were the words I was looking for.

    Intersesting, how many people(I’ve been somewhere else) assume that the lower, non educated classes don’t seek to improve their intellectual knowledg at all.

  159. Li
    Li June 7, 2012 at 3:23 pm |

    So you’re agreeing with me; if someone is pretty damn disabled then they might live like Duke. Like you. Except there is no reason to think that he is pretty damn disabled. Having a learning disability doesn’t necessarily mean he’s severely disabled, yanno. And according to the article, there is every reason to think that he is lazy, intellectually and professionally.

    Except that people with disabilities are routinely portrayed as just being lazy. It’s a viciously toxic meme. If you asked my ex or my tutors they might tell you that I just didn’t try hard enough at uni. My ex would probably tell you that I made a big deal out of my disability.

    I’m also mainly just not willing to trust Jeltsen as a reliable narrator here: neurotypical people are rarely reliable narrators when it comes to other people’s disabilities, because, you know, ableism. And that means that without word from Duke himself I’m absolutely not going to throw what is a totally loaded set of terms in terms of disability at him, and I’m going to resist public discussions about how lazy some random guy you haven’t met and know next to nothing about is because obviously if he worked harder he would have a job and be at college.

  160. roymacIII
    roymacIII June 7, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    I honestly expected the article to be a lot worse, based on what’s being said.

    The title of the article is vomit inducing, but the titles of articles are often gross over-simplifications of more nuanced texts (and often aren’t written by the athor, though I have no idea if this one was or not), and the last line feels like an attempt at a pithy wrap-up and comes across as a cheap shot, but the rest of her explanation didn’t read to me as particularly cruel, and I didn’t see contempt for him in what she was writing. Hell, she admits that she was unfair in pushing him in a direction that wasn’t his own: “I felt guilty and embarrassed for pushing him into a path that satisfied my interests, not his.”

  161. Ismone
    Ismone June 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

    I do not understand why almost everyone (other than Natalia, thank you, Natalia) seems to know for a fact that she should have broken up with him earlier.

    How do you know the “right” time to break up with someone? Because if you dump someone the moment they show a flash of something unexpected, something you might not like, that is pretty cold and awful, IMO.

    Relationships are a process, and they don’t just stop working in an instant. Otherwise, if you take that view, might as well dump your partner if they have a bad day.

    Of course, I am not saying that you cannot. I am just saying that I would not, and thank god, neither have any of my partners so far.

    No ending is on time.

  162. Daisy
    Daisy June 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm |

    I agree with Amanda. And I don’t get the idea tha because she was with him it makes her a bitch to leave him. We all attempt to make different kinds of relationships work. If we made a mistake in hoping we could be satisfied that doesn’t mean we stay with that person forever in order to make up for it. Also the personal attacks on people in comments who disagree are a turnoff, chill

  163. Rae
    Rae June 7, 2012 at 9:24 pm |

    I wouldn’t date someone who didn’t have a degree and I’m not remotely ashamed of this deal-breaker. Actually, I probably wouldn’t date someone who only had a bachelor’s, either. It’s true that there are smart, curious people without degrees. I’m friends with a few people like that. But in a partner, I’m looking for traits in addition to intelligence and curiosity. I want someone who shares the central passion of my life, which is academic study. I want someone who understands the academic life at the gut experiential level, who will comprehend how much that prestigious job means to me or why it matters that I was published in that journal or how thrilling it is to get to work with this academic celebrity. I want someone who will not only not mind that I spend all my spare time reading academic books but also be able to recommend more to me. I want someone who can have debates with me about minute internecine left-wing academic disputes. I want someone who loves Continental philosophy. I want someone who will neither expect me to depend on him financially nor expect that I will support him financially, except in that temporary mutual give-and-take sort of way that’s unavoidable when life throws you a curve ball. Luckily I already have him, but I was fully prepared to be alone with my cats and my books if someone like him didn’t come along. There is absolutely nothing wrong with exclusively wanting to be with someone with formal academic training.

  164. EG
    EG June 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with exclusively wanting to be with someone with formal academic training.

    Except for the near-impossibility of ever getting jobs in the same city! (Joke)

  165. QLH
    QLH June 7, 2012 at 9:35 pm |

    And I don’t get the idea tha because she was with him it makes her a bitch to leave him.

    Amanda’s the one who introduced the word “bitch” into the discussion. No one called the author a bitch, so who are you arguing with?

  166. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 7, 2012 at 9:42 pm |

    Except for the near-impossibility of ever getting jobs in the same city! (Joke)

    That is not a joke. Or at least it’s one of those jokes that’s “funny cause it’s true!” My sister and her husband were very limited in their job choices and geographical choices due to being in academia. Now she has to commute to Rutgers while living in Philadelphia (my brother in-law teaches at Penn,) something she wouldn’t have been able nor would have wanted to do when her kids were young.

  167. Rae
    Rae June 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm |

    Haha, yes. You’ve accurately pinpointed the central drama of my relationship, EG ;-) There are definitely downsides, and I completely understand why other academic types have the opposite of my preferences.

  168. Milquetoast
    Milquetoast June 7, 2012 at 10:44 pm |

    Rae:

    There’s nothing wrong with any of your deal breakers; in fact, I rarely have any issues with anybody’s deal-breakers. Deal-breakers are good because they let us–and our partners–know what we want in a relationship. For me, honesty and agency make good bedfellows.

    Of course, your desire for someone versed in continental philosophers could cause tensions in your relationship (e.g. Levinas vs Heidegger, Deleuze vs Everybody). True story: I knew a couple who broke up a two-year relationship because one of them had a “return to Hegel.”

  169. Natalia
    Natalia June 8, 2012 at 3:14 am |

    I hardly consider this liberation.

    Another thought: Women at large still don’t have the professional respect and income that men command. Sure, we’ve flipped the paradigm, but we’re trying to raise families on 50-75% of the money. And men don’t professionally suffer *for the duration of their entire careers* for being parents the way that women do.

    Yes.

  170. samanthab
    samanthab June 8, 2012 at 7:41 am |

    Rae, the difference with your criterion from a “dealbreaker” as reflected in the piece is that yours are pre-set. I may disagree with them, but you’ve been honest and straightforward. In the piece, she’s really not taking a wholly candid look at the relationship. Any relationship you enter into involves a set of personal choices, and if you fail to examine those choices, you are skirting personal accountability and introspection.

    It’s a classic warning sign of an abusive personality that they blame an ex- for every failure in the relationship. I’m not saying that she’s a brutal abuser; my point is that it’s fundamentally unhealthy to avoid accountability for her role in the relationship. She’s completely derisive of someone she herself chose to be in a relationship with, and that does get into the terrain of verbal abuse.

  171. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein June 8, 2012 at 8:16 am |

    The title of the post implies that Jeltsen is an “obnoxious, pseudointellectual elitist” which is a way of calling her a bitch.

    If you read her essay carefully, it becomes clear that lack of a degree wasn’t her dealbreaker, per se. She doesn’t claim that only people with degrees can be smart, and she never says she’d only date a guy with a degree. There are plenty of self-taught geniuses out there. Duke was not one of them. His lack of education, formal or informal, became a barrier between them. His lack of direction in life was also a problem. Not only was he unwilling to hold a job of any kind, he was irresponsible with her money–buying a pet they could ill-afford to take care of.

    Jeltsen naively thought that his problem was a simple lack of education, so she pushed him to go to school. There’s a kneejerk assumption on this thread that any pressure from an SO is automatically bad. That’s ridiculous. If you find your life partner at 20, you two are going to do a lot of growing up together. Duke was in an untenable rut: no job, no marketable skills, minimal education. Jeltsen wanted Duke to get his shit together. He was still very young. It wasn’t totally unrealistic to think that he might still snap out of it. He didn’t, so she moved on.

  172. roymacIII
    roymacIII June 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm |

    It’s a classic warning sign of an abusive personality that they blame an ex- for every failure in the relationship. I’m not saying that she’s a brutal abuser; my point is that it’s fundamentally unhealthy to avoid accountability for her role in the relationship. She’s completely derisive of someone she herself chose to be in a relationship with, and that does get into the terrain of verbal abuse.

    Not being contrary, but I don’t see where you’re getting those things out of an article wherein she explicitly admits to feeling guilty and embarrassed about pushing him into something that met her interests instead of his. I also, honestly, don’t see where she’s particularly derisive about him. She admits to pushing him unfairly and describes how she worried about him and his future. I didn’t think she was laying all the blame on him. Recognizing that she wasn’t going to find what she needed in him isn’t the same as blaming him for it. For someone describing a former relationship, she’s actually really kind about it–there’s no “He was a lazy, stupid jerk.”

  173. piny
    piny June 8, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

    Jeltsen naively thought that his problem was a simple lack of education, so she pushed him to go to school. There’s a kneejerk assumption on this thread that any pressure from an SO is automatically bad. That’s ridiculous. If you find your life partner at 20, you two are going to do a lot of growing up together. Duke was in an untenable rut: no job, no marketable skills, minimal education. Jeltsen wanted Duke to get his shit together. He was still very young. It wasn’t totally unrealistic to think that he might still snap out of it. He didn’t, so she moved on.

    Exactly. “My partner is not self-reliant, and that doesn’t seem to bother him,” is not a compatibility issue. And it’s not classist to worry about how you’re both going to support yourselves down the road. She does come off as an intellectual snob, but I’m not sure that’s her real worry.

    I don’t know if I agree with the idea that she was naive–although I agree that, clearly, it didn’t work out. “Maybe you could sign up for a few classes?” is a cliche these days, for logistical reasons: it’s an easier, low-pressure option in some ways.

    There are reasons she suggested classes instead of a job or a trade or volunteering: many areas have open university courses; it’s not necessarily expensive; it’s only a few hours a week; you don’t necessarily flunk out if you stop showing up; you can learn about whatever subject you please, and sometimes even have fun; you don’t have to polish a resume or explain why you’re out of work.

    You need a certain amount of class privilege and cultural capital to see college as something to dabble in, but that’s certainly also true of the arts.

    I know several people in this same situation–more of them, anecdotally, women. Their partners have no education, no profession, no employment, no employment history. And some of these women aren’t twenty anymore, and a lot of them are struggling with health and family and other complications of their own. I suppose the mature solution is to dump the poor, beleaguered, gentle boyfriend and find another partner, but it seems unfair to say the problem is her anxiety and not her vulnerability.

  174. piny
    piny June 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm |

    It’s a classic warning sign of an abusive personality that they blame an ex- for every failure in the relationship. I’m not saying that she’s a brutal abuser; my point is that it’s fundamentally unhealthy to avoid accountability for her role in the relationship. She’s completely derisive of someone she herself chose to be in a relationship with, and that does get into the terrain of verbal abuse.

    This is a messed up thing to say, and it ranges deep, deep into abuse apology territory.

    People choose to be with other people for lots of reasons. Some of them are good, some bad, and some simply misconceived. (Some people fall in love with abusers. They should be encouraged to openly express unconditional negative feelings towards their former lovers.)

    A woman who chooses to be in a relationship with a man is not ceding her right to say negative things about that man at a later date. She is allowed to change her mind. It is not abusive to decide that you don’t like or much respect your ex.

  175. Sojourner
    Sojourner June 8, 2012 at 7:04 pm |

    This is in response people who are baffled that anyone could be so shallow as to think of an academic degree or lack thereof as a deal breaker:
    I am one of those people. I cannot imagine sharing my life with someone without a sci/eng PhD. There are certain experiences I share with other PhDs that other people just do! not! get! Those experiences have very much shaped who I am. I don’t care how intelligent and intellectually curious or worldly or whatever they are. These are some of the questions I get asked all the time by seemingly intelligent people “Are you still taking classes? You are one of those perpetual students” (I’m currently a post doc). “What’s a post doc?” “Who paid for all that education? I can’t imagine how much student debt you must have” (I have no student debt. Your tax dollars paid for all my education, thank you very much!). “You work too much!” “So you want to teach, right?” etc etc. I’ve met plenty of intelligent people who just can’t get their head around the fact that I’ve spent several years of my life not making much money and in the process making myself less hirable not more. But what I find most off-putting is attitudes too many non-scientists have towards science (plenty of it in evidence on some Feministe comment threads). And so … perhaps that makes me shallow and elitist. Whatever.

  176. kari
    kari June 9, 2012 at 12:13 am |

    She writes about him like he’s some inferior creature and she’s this wonderful gift to humanity. If you ask me that’s a dealbreaker. I have no interest in anyone, regardless of sex or gender, who chooses to write about a past relationship in such a condescending, dismissive manner. It’s sickening.

  177. piny
    piny June 9, 2012 at 8:49 am |

    She writes about him like he’s some inferior creature and she’s this wonderful gift to humanity. If you ask me that’s a dealbreaker. I have no interest in anyone, regardless of sex or gender, who chooses to write about a past relationship in such a condescending, dismissive manner. It’s sickening.

    Well, no, she really doesn’t, but even if she did: most people have at least one past relationship that in hindsight seems like a complete waste of time–and at least one ex who seems like a complete dick. It’s not reasonable to expect people to feel kindly towards everyone they used to date, and it’s messed up to think that we are obligated to feel kindly towards people because we used to date them. In fact, given patriarchy and the caretaker trap, it works out to be a very sexist and damaging standard to impose on women.

  178. EG
    EG June 9, 2012 at 10:24 am |

    It is not abusive to decide that you don’t like or much respect your ex.

    Seriously. If that’s the standard for abuse, then I’m so abusive that I should probably be locked up.

  179. ahmm
    ahmm June 9, 2012 at 10:47 am |

    Sigh. Why won’t these stupid picky bitches just lower their standards? Don’t they understand that their job in life is to find a man. Women, don’t know what’s good for them, amirite?

    /sarcasm

    Look, I’m with Amanda. I’m a black woman and very sensitive to this kind of post because we get told All The Time that we need to stop being “picky” and date “blue collar men”. The subtext of this piece is that not dating men who didn’t go to college makes you a bitch. Well, I guess I’m a bitch. Oh, well. When you claim to be a feminist and you are parroting the lines of every woman hating MRA, you should be concerned.

    One thing I find really strange about this post is that if Amanda’s ex had been punching the walls and calling her a worthless bitch, and it had taken her 4 years to leave, she’d receive nothing but sympathy. In fact her inability to leave a relationship that was objectively wrong for her would be fiercely defended by this entire thread.

    But heaven forbid an uppity woman leave a relationship with a down to earth guy! Get the pitchforks out. Nice to see that most “feminists” will still parrot misogyny on cue.

  180. kari
    kari June 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

    I’d like to apologize for my comment at 182. I see how what I said is part of a dangerous line of thinking that expects people, especially women, to be nice about past relationships.

    I wrote it from a place of intense anger. I get so angry when I think about all the ways I’ve been treated like a piece of shit because I don’t have the right job or the right credentials for someone’s liking. The thought that some guy could go online and write about how I just wasn’t motivated or smart enough for him to want me in his life was the thing that overwhelmed me. I felt like I was sticking up for me when I wrote that last night. That’s not a good place for me to write from when I’m commenting on something totally unrelated to me.

    I apologize for being reactionary and hurtful in my comment. I was just so angry at the attitude I read into it. That I don’t matter because my credentials and my earning potential sucks compared to other women somebody might chose.

  181. Joe T.
    Joe T. June 10, 2012 at 8:15 am |

    Pretty hard to eat “meet”, but I dig where you’re coming from!

  182. EG
    EG June 10, 2012 at 9:32 am |

    No problem as far as I’m concerned, Kari. We all have issues and insecurities and anxieties about relationships. And I’m really sorry you’ve had to run into the kind of assholes who treat you badly because you haven’t had the “right” kind of job or degree or credentials. It’s one thing to decide that a relationship isn’t working for you, and another to be cruel to somebody.

  183. RVW
    RVW June 10, 2012 at 1:44 pm |

    I don’t see the obnoxious pseudo-intellectual elitist in the article.

    I’m also not inclined to jump down the throat of someone who says “I won’t date someone who doesn’t have a college degree”. It’s true that there are clever autodidacts who never went to college for whatever reasons, but it’s also true that some people just aren’t interested in being knowledgeable. Similarly, there are people who didn’t go to college who are economically secure, but the average college graduate still has a better chance at continued and well paying employment than the average high school graduate does. Personally I’m not a fan of unalterable dating criteria except where it’s absolutely necessary (e.g. “I don’t date murderers”), but I don’t think anyone is obligated to feel the same way. It’s reasonable to play the averages when making decisions. A hair trigger response of “you’re an elitist if you won’t date someone who doesn’t have a college degree” isn’t fair to people such as Rae, Sojourner, or ahmm.

    If it matters to your reading of this post (I’m not sure it should), I don’t have a college degree.

  184. rox
    rox June 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

    “So you’re agreeing with me; if someone is pretty damn disabled then they might live like Duke. Like you. Except there is no reason to think that he is pretty damn disabled. Having a learning disability doesn’t necessarily mean he’s severely disabled, yanno. And according to the article, there is every reason to think that he is lazy, intellectually and professionally.”

    I have learning disabilities PTSD, difficulty earning income and family support as I parent a child as a result of con-consensual sex. Not to mention already carrying the trauma of losing another child to adoption. I have always struggled with memory and work and school performance. I have been labeled as lazy by my parents, professionals and all manner of ex partners.

    I DO NOT think there is any reason for us to assume we know how hard he is or is not trying. I don’t think there is any reason to assume we need to call someone we don’t know names like lazy because their ex describes their worst traits.

    As a non-neurotyipcal person who deals with all kinds of dificult symptoms, I fit into the larger portion of people’s “dealbreakers” for friendship or otherwise.

    The fact that women are so rejectful and hurtful to their sisters who are struggling is a large reason why myself and many of my female peers with similar disabilities find that abusive men are more willing to tolerate being around us despite our lack of success or neurotypical traits. I completely respect people’s right to choose who they like to spend time with for whatever reason.

    But I also hope that people with privaledge might consider that for those of us for whom the tiniest speck of success feels so elusive might find it distateful to watch people with the luxury of a meaningful job and fun interactive discussions and the persuit of learning for fun because when they try their best they are able to use the system as is….

    It’s really… hurtful and unnattractive when privaledge people put others down in this way. I DO want to sit around reading neat things and talking to smart people all the time. That would be great.

    You know why I want this the most? So that I can help the people at the bottom. Who work shit jobs that mean nothing and never get anywhere and get nothing but loathing and judgement from people who are living their dreams. And whose lives profit from the labor of those who are trapped and feel unable to get out. And they do nothing with their priveledge to change this— nothing but put the struggling people down to justify their own inaction and how they abuse others by purchasing goods and services and living their whole childhood on the products produced by people who never made it out from the bottom.

    These intellectuals claim to be above the oppressive masses? Their whole lives are enriched by the cruelty of capitalistic greed. And dismissing the poor who struggle to get out and can’t find the spark, can’t find the intellect… I just…

    I am saddened. I imagined reading this piece as a same sex and I can see nothing but cruelty to an ex partner, when you can leave someone without demeaning their humanity and proving they are worthless.

  185. rox
    rox June 10, 2012 at 2:37 pm |

    “It’s not reasonable to expect people to feel kindly towards everyone they used to date, and it’s messed up to think that we are obligated to feel kindly towards people because we used to date them.”

    Is the goal of women liberation to encourage women to be cruel and condescending because men are allowed to be?

    Or could perhaps we value all human beings having a bit of decency and instead point out that maybe all genders should be encouraged to be decent if possible?

  186. rox
    rox June 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm |

    BTW- I want to add I have seen too many situations where an unemployed, mentally ill or personality disordered woman is being verbally berated by a male partner and I don’t think it’s ok. You can say that you don’t want to support someone else TOTALLY! That’s totally ok!!! But that doesn’t mean you actually know whether they CAN pull their own weight.

    I’ve worked with too many homeless young and old people who never got out or can work reliably and they are raped and starve and get disease and suffer and are blamed for it. When no one really knows what forces or internal battles they face or what effort they are putting forth to fight their own demons even if they seem shut down and inert from the outside. If I could house many people who I know are suffering and unable to make it right now I would. To hear them scream, about being raped or giving sex for money, being beat up, being raged at, trying to couch serf…

    I don’t know if this guy is able to work or not and if he can I certainly think we all have a duty to contribute in ways we are able… but often it hardly feels like working at mcdonalds is even actually contributing to society. IF his mother is happy helping him, he may feel he can do more justice to the world with his art. I have a good friend who lives with his mom an dis learning disabled and she is worried about him in the workplace because there are so many drugs and alcohol in low wage work and he doesn’t have good judgement being developmentally delayed.

  187. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable June 10, 2012 at 2:48 pm |

    Is the goal of women liberation to encourage women to be cruel and condescending because men are allowed to be?

    No, but it is the goal to not judge the hell out of them for being cruel (PS, who are we talking about? The blog post writer? She didn’t burn puppies, she dumped a guy she had nothing in common with) and condescending just because OMGZ THEY’RE WOMEN. Notice your use of “cruel.” WTF. Would you call a guy who dumped a woman he had nothing in common with except sex cruel? No? Nice.

  188. Niall
    Niall June 10, 2012 at 2:53 pm |

    Except that people with disabilities are routinely portrayed as just being lazy. It’s a viciously toxic meme. If you asked my ex or my tutors they might tell you that I just didn’t try hard enough at uni. My ex would probably tell you that I made a big deal out of my disability.

    Yes. This x 1000 – from someone who is both physically and cognitively disabled (and mad, to boot). I heard this all the time growing up; and still do to some extent. It’s incredibly frustrating, hearing this from able-bodied people who can’t see their own privilege. That along with the old “well I know a person who’s disabled and (s)he can do ‘X’ so there’s no reason you can’t too.”

    Btw I have a bit of post-secondary education, but only two and a half years of a liberal arts degree. But people tell me I’m very intelligent all the time. So if people want to judge me, I don’t give two shits.

  189. piny
    piny June 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

    Or could perhaps we value all human beings having a bit of decency and instead point out that maybe all genders should be encouraged to be decent if possible?

    No, seriously, fuck that. You don’t have to like everyone, you don’t have to honor their choices if you don’t agree with them, you don’t have to be generous, and you don’t have to refrain from insulting an ex-lover who disappointed or hurt you. It’s okay to say that your former boyfriend’s refusal to get a job is obnoxious and immature and lazy. It’s also okay to say that your former girlfriend is a pretentious asshole.

    It’s not decent. And it is not a reasonable standard to impose on any genders, and it’s a sexist standard to impose on women, because women generally endure a higher level of mistreatment and because women’s feelings are generally dismissed.

  190. rox
    rox June 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm |

    “Would you call a guy who dumped a woman he had nothing in common with except sex cruel? No? Nice.”

    Of course not. But “women’s feelings get dismissed”? What about my feelings as a woman who has been insulted and degrated by a man for not being able to work and needing support of my parents (after he knocked me up and exaggerated my PTSD with all the yelling and insulting for my struggles to get through school or find work that can support us or accept help to stay home with the child?)?

    What if the genders are switched? Does it matter then? Because ultimately I think the more we “empower” women to insult their partners it comes back to women when men feel more empowered to use the same insults.

    Hatred of people with learning disabilities who struggle to work and recieve support from family hurts women.

  191. EG
    EG June 10, 2012 at 5:23 pm |

    No, seriously, fuck that. You don’t have to like everyone, you don’t have to honor their choices if you don’t agree with them, you don’t have to be generous, and you don’t have to refrain from insulting an ex-lover who disappointed or hurt you.

    Seriously. Feminism is not about niceness.

    Because ultimately I think the more we “empower” women to insult their partners it comes back to women when men feel more empowered to use the same insults.

    This sounds like you’re saying that if we’re not nice enough, men will just be mean to us. Men have been being mean to and insulting women for thousands of years, no matter how nice we are. I fundamentally am not nice, and I fundamentally don’t think that has any effect whatsoever on whether or not some man is an asshole.

  192. rox
    rox June 10, 2012 at 5:28 pm |

    Again, how are women with disabilities not part of feminism?

  193. rox
    rox June 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm |

    If you want to demean the worth of people with disabilities as part of feminism, cool. Me, with my female voice, am going to share my opinion about that as well. And I think it’s damaging to women.

  194. rox
    rox June 10, 2012 at 5:37 pm |

    Also intelligence and motivation may not be as “chosen” as people like to believe. Try pubmed search “intelligence socioeconomic status”.

    There are reason people in poverty, and in specific family dynamics, get stuck in cycles of low motivation, learned helplessness, and cycles of poor work and school performance.

    And the idea of people just “rising up” against those forces is definately classist and elitist. I’m not saying people don’t have power to rise up, but I am saying that we don’t know what entails for a specific person or if we are really more responsable for having better traits and circumstances than they do as we like to think we are.

  195. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm |

    Again, how are women with disabilities not part of feminism?

    If you’d read the thread, you’d see that women with disabilities have already been discussing this post.

  196. EG
    EG June 10, 2012 at 5:48 pm |

    I am saying that we don’t know what entails for a specific person or if we are really more responsable for having better traits and circumstances than they do as we like to think we are.

    I thoroughly agree. What does that have to do with being nice about our exes? I’m pretty sure that I do know the class background, traits, motivations, and obstacles of my exes. And two-thirds of them are jerks.

    If you want to demean the worth of people with disabilities as part of feminism, cool.

    …by being mean about my exes?

  197. rox
    rox June 11, 2012 at 11:12 am |

    Yes I read the entire thread and noticed that women with disabilities have participated. I find it frustrating when people with disabilities feel they have the right to define how hard other people with disabilities are trying or what others are capable of and get concerned when it’s assumed their voice must be more authoritative than a fellow person with disabilities but who is already stigmatized by society for something like not working or appearing inert and withdrawn from their life.

    Disability, life issues, conduct disorders, personality traits, family dynamics, genetic and biological issues affect different people in different ways. Sometimes people who have behaved badly and took measures to change their behavior and found they could- can be extremly judgemental toward others conduct.

    It’s important to remember that if you used to be that person, you might consider that:
    a-being verbally abused by people around you was probably not the catalyst for change you think it was— it may have stimulated you to try in different ways but there were other forces involved in how those efforts manifested success or not.
    b-you have no idea if the obstacles that applied to you, and the capacity for change that you possessed is within reach of another person.

    But I suppose ultimately I find insulting people with statements like “loser” and exposing highly stigmatized and hated traits in your ex partner for the world to see (and thereby fawn over how much more you deserved in relation to a person with such yucky traits) is highly unappealing to me. Guess it’s just a difference of opinion.

    And of course, I think being mean and and insulting people and putting other humans down in order to bring yourself up are really unpleasant traits to see but forgivable.

  198. rox
    rox June 11, 2012 at 11:35 am |

    (Of course I think everyone deserves love even if they are mean and insultive and classist and ignorant of their privaledge– I think love is a better and more successful force for change than hate. HOWEVER— the force behind hate is also good because often it aims to prevent harmful behavior which is good. Which means loving hate makes sense. And if that doesn’t make sense to you, just be glad you don’t live in my head… lol)

  199. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm |

    But I suppose ultimately I find insulting people with statements like “loser” and exposing highly stigmatized and hated traits in your ex partner for the world to see (and thereby fawn over how much more you deserved in relation to a person with such yucky traits) is highly unappealing to me.

    I think the author exposed highly unappealing behaviors, not traits. This guy was living as a mooch, and there was no mention of a reason for that; the author very fairly mentioned his reasons for leaving school and staying out, so why wouldn’t she have mentioned his reasons for refusing to get a job (or pick up a book) if he had compelling ones? I believe she would have mentioned a disability so severe that he could not hold a job or a conversation. The evidence just isn’t there that this guy is suffering any more hardship than the average allergic-to-work man-child content to depend on his mother to pay for his weed. Hence a “loser.”

    Obviously many people exhibit nearly identical behaviors for vastly different reasons. Many people (including myself) are currently dependent on parents, due to various disabilities, but that doesn’t mean every person who isn’t working legitimately can’t work. “Lazy” is misused against the disabled, but it’s also an actual thing too. This guy seems to have no motivation to better himself or pull his own weight, with zero indication that he cannot; if we’re going to assume he must be disabled because he seems lazy then I think that’s stretching the benefit of the doubt too far. And it too neatly pairs laziness with disability, when the former automatically indicates the latter.

  200. Neuticle
    Neuticle June 11, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

    Macavity Kitsune: “WAAAAAH BAGELSAN CALLED ME A NOOOOOB!!!”

    Hey, at least they didn’t call you a puling, Lloyd Weber-loving weeaboo dingleberry. That’d have been mean.

    Also, I like Bagelsan. They provide a nice dash of salt in this place.

  201. Neuticle
    Neuticle June 11, 2012 at 4:45 pm |

    WAAAAAH BAGELSAN CALLED ME A NOOOOOB!!!

    Hey, at least they didn’t call you a puling, Lloyd Weber-loving weeaboo dingleberry. That’d have been mean.

    Also, I like Bagelsan. They provide a nice dash of salt in this place.

  202. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 8:04 am |

    Yeah, I’m just all up in the research about the development of behavioral problems themselves. Everyone, including my mother, thought she was lazy, didn’t care about timeliness, didn’t put forth effort or care, became withdrawn and shut down because she “just didn’t care”–

    Well I was adopted with the same set of “chosen behaviors” despite never knowing her. Fascinating.

    My daughter who I placed for adoption also becomes disoriented and confused and forgetful and has a hard time keeping track of what’s going on in physical reality despite that I am not raising her.

    Fascinating.

    I just personally believe that there is more involved in our “choices” to behave how we do than we yet understand fully with science, and also that the general public isn’t ever reading the huge bodies of research on the topic so discussion on free will and choice are very ill-informed by the research we do have and many “facts” and “beliefs” people have on the matter are founded purely by personal cognitive bias and nothing else.

    My mother was also told she was an “underachiever.” Fascinating. Me too. Despite not knowing her at all til I was 18 I displayed exactly the same set of behavioral problems? I can work I just have to deal with constantly being told I am a problem and I need to fix how late, confused, staring into space, disoriented, forgetful, error prone, not able to understand what people say— etc etc…

    Because it’s a matter of caring. And I was NEVER disgnosed by the many professionals I saw in youth with anything. Everyone thought I just didn’t care. When I worked with kids with disabilities I see them displaying the same problems and workers actually help them learn to develop better skills in these areas and it makes me cry because the truth is when these things don’t get diagnosed in people they DO think they just suck at life and withdraw.

    So I get laziness is a thing and it DOES suck– I just still am unconvinced that we know for sure what is involved in people’s “chosen” behaviors to justify demeaning their humanity with insults. But of course having been insulting and told I was inferior by most people accross my life span and how much entitelment people feel to decide how hard I am or am not trying and to dish out critical tirades against what that means about who I am as a person or how I should change to be what they want— I just don’t really like seeing people dice up another person on the merits of their behavior when they don’t even know the full picture or what is really going on with the person. And even being a family member does NOT mean you know everything about the person. Scapegoating is a human desire that people love.

    Behaviors can cause harm, so can disability itself. And self protection is valid. So whatevs.

  203. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 8:35 am |

    My point is, may people have disabilities that extend further than we know. We don’t test people with scholastic problems for executive dysfunction and other cognitive problems that can wipe out a persons ability to manage life and school and work. And we don’t currently have medical cures for many specific impairments that make it difficult for people to function so it’s not just a matter of taking an anti-depressant or adhd med or bipolar med and suddenly cognition and executive function working properly.

    For some people this works and for others it can even worsen cognition. Among successful people I hear lot’s and lot’s of people say that the right med(s) will let you be successful!!! And yet among the huge amounts of my friends working in shit jobs and unable to get through school manage life in higher paying jobs– the meds don’t fix the specific problems that make school hard for them. For some people huge quanitities of various different meds can make them worse or do nothing.

    Unless you’re all up in the research and want to talk with me about the science behind these things (happy to do) I’m sick of people feeling they have the right to define anothers humanity without regarding that being publicly insulted harms people. I get this persons identity is protected, so cool, and all, but I personally am tired of human beings feeling they have the right to define people with what might be the same kind of struggles I have on the same basis many people believe they deserve to insult me. I don’t care if someone had adhd and took a med and then their brain worked. You don’t know how someone elses brain works or what will or won’t work for them or that their problems are the same as your problems or that if they tried what you did it would work for them. Problems with executive dysfuntion and cognitive impairment do not all fit in the categories of pill treatment we have now. The brain is pretty complex and there is a lot we don’t know about helping people have healthy functioning in a lot of areas of performance.

    HE MIGHT NOT KNOW why he’s afraid to get a job or be more present in his life. Maybe he’s just failed so much and been insulted for so long that he is just not trying hard enough he’s totally shut down. I’m about to go back to work at an entry level job and give up on school and I’ve been trying for 15 years to get my performance to where I can even have a functioning brain enough to make sandwiches without losing track of what I’m doing and putting the wrong ingredients on. Pills make me have siezures and liver problems and psychosis. Anti-siezure medication gives me problems with psychosis. Add meds give me problems with siezures. Everything makes me turn yellow.

    If I weren’t blessed with high intellect and determined to find answers in research despite that I fail school all the time and get nedgative feedback about who I am all the time, I would think the same thing I was told about myself, that I just suck and don’t try hard enough. I’m sick of being told that and I’m sick of people laying that noise on people they don’t know. Your disability is not my disability is not his disability. Everyone is of course free to reject him because of his behavior– that is always find. We can reject people because they are poor, or annoying, or laugh funny, or are not attractive to us, or have big noses, or are too needy, or talk too much, or are boring, or have low intelligence, or are too self obsessed, or seem unpleasant for no explainable reason….

    All of that is fine. The process doesn’t require defining whether or not the person can help those things about themselves. You can just decide you don’t like being around a specific person and choose not to do so. Is defining whether those behaviors are the persons fault or not required for this process?

  204. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 8:36 am |

    And of course, I think being mean and and insulting people and putting other humans down in order to bring yourself up are really unpleasant traits to see but forgivable.

    Why on earth would you assume that bringing oneself up is the point of being mean and insulting about other people?

  205. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 8:41 am |

    Well what is the point then? Especially in light of the potential that many people can’t help their behaviors at least at that point in their lives? Why is it acceptable to shame, insult, and be mean to someone for something they can’t help?

    People can choose to fix appearance problems too, does that give us all the right to sit around and insult people’s appearance so long as we can find “behaviors” associated with that appearance? Why is “fat hatred” discussed here as a women’s issue– but hatred of behaviors associated with disabilties is ok?

    I’m genuinely asking.

  206. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 8:47 am |

    What are the motivations behind fat hatred and do the people defending the right to insult people for behaviors that may be associated with a disability believe that fat hatred is wrong despite that some behaviors are known to be involved weight gain?

    (My positition is that eating behaviors are subject to the same external and internal influence as other behaviors so I defend against fat hatred hands down and believe is it wrong to criticize, judge, demean, insult people for things like this.)

    I’m genuinely curious if the same people defending being mean about people with low motivation, difficulty with school, and aversion to self reliance feel about being mean to women with the same traits.

    Because I personally think it’s abusive when men verbally berate their female partners over stuff like this and is often the catalyst for men thinking they deserve to tell women how worthless they are and no one else would ever want them. Which is abuse. When a man does it. And when a woman does it.

  207. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |

    Rox, ultimately it’s not about your special snowflake feelings and circumstances. People are allowed to leave bad relationships, and we’re allowed to express positive and negative feelings about those relationships. Being pressured to constantly mush-mouth every explanation, justification, fix, and excuse on behalf of everyone that’s ever wronged us is emphatically bad for women. Culturally, it’s been our job to absorb the fault of failed relationships, fix failing relationships, and make ourselves smaller to fit in bad relationships. Having a forum in which women can speak honestly about how they develop and hold to interpersonal boundaries is a net benefit for the readership.

    Also, your personal situation is interesting, but your personal lived experience does not necessarily bear relevance on every other given topic.

  208. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |

    I’m genuinely curious if the same people defending being mean about people with low motivation, difficulty with school, and aversion to self reliance feel about being mean to women with the same traits.

    Being mean? No. But totally avoiding? Hell yes.

    Low motivation and aversion to self-reliance. Not someone I want hitching their cart to my horse.

  209. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 10:31 am |

    I’m genuinely curious if the same people defending being mean about people with low motivation, difficulty with school, and aversion to self reliance feel about being mean to women with the same traits.

    I am in favor of everybody’s right to be mean, particularly about exes and past relationships.

    1. Jill
      Jill June 13, 2012 at 10:43 am | *

      I’m genuinely curious if the same people defending being mean about people with low motivation, difficulty with school, and aversion to self reliance feel about being mean to women with the same traits.

      Of course no one should be mean to people about these things. But I also wouldn’t date someone who exhibited the first or the last. And if someone I was dating as unmotivated and not self-reliant but I cared about them and wanted to see if it could possibly work, I would probably stick around for a while to see if it was just a phase, and eventually say something to see if it was a temporary issue or a fixture of their life/personality. If it became clear that it was a fixture of their life/personality, I would end the relationship. In the course of ending the relationship I’m sure the reason would come out. Maybe that’s mean. I think that’s part of being in a relationship and a person who is responsible for your own needs.

      1. Jill
        Jill June 13, 2012 at 11:00 am | *

        So I get laziness is a thing and it DOES suck– I just still am unconvinced that we know for sure what is involved in people’s “chosen” behaviors to justify demeaning their humanity with insults. But of course having been insulting and told I was inferior by most people accross my life span and how much entitelment people feel to decide how hard I am or am not trying and to dish out critical tirades against what that means about who I am as a person or how I should change to be what they want— I just don’t really like seeing people dice up another person on the merits of their behavior when they don’t even know the full picture or what is really going on with the person. And even being a family member does NOT mean you know everything about the person. Scapegoating is a human desire that people love.

        That’s all fine and good, and the truth is that we NEVER 100% know the motivation or cause of someone else’s behavior. But it also isn’t the job of every individual to cater to a partner’s behavior if they find that behavior frustrating or exhausting or repellant. If I’m dating someone and they don’t work, don’t leave the house and can’t have an intellectual conversation with me, I’m out, whether those behaviors are caused by a disability or not. I’ve dated that guy. A lot of my friends have dated that guy. Sometimes there was a diagnosis (ADHD) but usually their wasn’t. And even when there was, not finishing college because he didn’t do a final paper, getting fired from a series of waiter jobs because he couldn’t show up on time to a 4pm shift, getting fired from an office job because he was showing up at noon instead of 9am… yes, I am sure there were some serious psychological issues contributing, but those things aren’t paying the rent (and they aren’t making up for it when his rent checks are bouncing). And yes, when one partner gets exhausted by shouldering all of the financial and emotional work in the relationship, sometimes “I cannot deal with this lazy asshole anymore” is the shorthand that gets used.

        Yes it is mean. But you know, a lot these friends of mine who stayed with dudes who weren’t pulling their own weight were miserable, but they didn’t end the relationship because The Love Of A Good Woman Should Be Enough or But He Has Problems. There was so much baggage there — the feeling that if they cut things off, they were a bad person, even though they knew it was the right choice. We’re also talking about romantic relationships — so it’s easy to say “Just don’t date someone if they aren’t right for you,” but sometimes you love people who are really not right for you. And sometimes it takes some meanness or a lack of generosity to put that in perspective. “He’s a lazy fuck” is not nice and certainly not the end-all be-all explanation of what’s really happening inside his head, but it’s gotten a lot of women I know out of toxic relationships where “He has a lot of problems which impede his ability to be a fully-functioning member of society and a fully-engaged partner” wasn’t exactly doing the trick, and only convinced them to stay longer to help “save” a person they loved.

  210. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 10:39 am |

    Because I personally think it’s abusive when men verbally berate their female partners over stuff like this and is often the catalyst for men thinking they deserve to tell women how worthless they are and no one else would ever want them. Which is abuse.

    It is not abusive to talk to other people about how much of an asshole your ex is. Note the difference between telling somebody “You’re worthless and nobody would ever want you” and telling people about/writing about one’s own experiences and perspectives in a relationship with somebody one now dislikes.

    Well what is the point then? Especially in light of the potential that many people can’t help their behaviors at least at that point in their lives? Why is it acceptable to shame, insult, and be mean to someone for something they can’t help?

    Well, first of all, if they can’t help the behavior that pisses me off, then I guess I just can’t help being mean. But more realistically, when I am mean and insult someone, it is usually because they have annoyed me, angered me, or are doing/saying something that I think is damaging. The idea that you could only possibly be mean if you’re so insecure that it’s a way of propping yourself up is some touchy-feely “oh, we’re all just injured people who need to understand each other because we’re all nice at heart.” Now, I am not nice at heart, not to or about everybody, and I’m fine with that. Second of all, when I am injured, I’m not mean to or about the people around me; I’m mean to myself. When I’m mean or insulting to or about other people it’s usually because I am angry, and anger is a form of power…which is why there’s such a cultural taboo on women expressing it.

  211. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 10:44 am |

    I am in favor of everybody’s right to be mean, particularly about exes and past relationships.

    Define mean. Talking shit about your ex during/after the dissolution of the relationship? NOT ABUSIVE. Not mean.Totally normal and healthy. Spreading nasty rumors about and trying to sabotage their future relationships? Mean. I’ve been with one of those, and it was a nightmare.

    I’m not a fan of being cruel and manipulative, but we sure as hell don’t need to shame and pressure women into excusing dealbreakers and staying in relationships and friendships they don’t want out of inertia and obligation (which is where rox is headed). Being angry or cranky about your ex is totally normal, going over your fights and disagreements (within reason) is totally normal, as is pin-pointing what it was about them that was not awesome. The calls of ableism on this thread are so overblown that ending a relationships on anything short of “he hit me” is ableist. And personally, if not wanting to settle for someone who smokes weed all day, has no life goals, and is surviving off his mom until he can survive off of me

  212. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 10:46 am |

    Whoops, hit Post too soon.

    And personally, if not wanting to settle for someone who smokes weed all day, has no life goals, and is surviving off his mom until he can survive off of me is ableist, then fuck it. My relationship needs are ableist, and that’s okay because it’s my life and my call and we aren’t compatible anyway.

  213. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |

    I’m differentiating “being mean about” from “being mean to.” No need to be unnecessarily mean to anyone. But mean about? Hell yeah, all day. Let me tell you about my first boyfriend, who lied to his grandfather about me being Jewish and broke up with me on my 24th birthday by informing me that he’d never been attracted to me to begin with. I have things to say about him! Mean things. I wouldn’t bother calling him up and saying them because…well, mainly because I have a life. But still, what an asshole.

  214. binarypillbug
    binarypillbug June 13, 2012 at 11:11 am |

    i’m confused. when did people start saying stuff about people not being allowed to leave relationships? what is that in response to?

    1. Jill
      Jill June 13, 2012 at 11:16 am | *

      i’m confused. when did people start saying stuff about people not being allowed to leave relationships? what is that in response to?

      No one has said that people aren’t allowed to leave relationships. People have very strongly implied (or said) that leaving a relationship and explaining that you left it because your partner was lazy is ableist.

  215. Jennifer
    Jennifer June 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm |

    I didn’t read Roxs’ posts in their entirety but I think I get where she’s coming from. As someone with a disability who is sometimes tagged as lazy, I wouldn’t want anyone to feel obligated to have a relationship with me—in fact, that kind of relationship is horrible (the person who wants to help you, like you’re a pet). However, I prefer that people own their reasons for not having a relationship with me as opposed to characterizing me as lazy (i.e., there’s something morally wrong with me, that I could do more if I tried harder, not that I just have certain characteristics that they don’t like). Jeltsen owns her reasons, I think—she doesn’t call him a lazy loser, but some posters here seemed to, and I can see why people would think those characterizations are ableist, particularly because Jeltsen mentions a learning disability. I do not read criticisms of those characterizations as saying, or even implying, that people should be forced to have relationships with people with disabilities.

  216. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm |

    Maybe the guy is truly too disabled to do anything besides smoke weed, and maybe he’s not. I just don’t want the “disabled” label stretched to include anyone who isn’t interested in putting an ounce of effort into their life. “Lazy” and “disabled” are only partially overlapping populations, and we shouldn’t call all lazy people “disabled” anymore than we should call all disabled people “lazy.”

  217. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm |

    Jill– why do we need explenations? Can’t we just say “I left because I was unhappy?” Do we need to define a person as bad to say they are not a good fit for us?

    In the real world many people can not take care of themselves. And this state happens often as a result of genes/epigenetics/childhood environment/various social pressures/family dynamic/toxic eposures/trauma/isolation/social rejection–

    On and on and. There are many reasons that humans struggle to take care of themselves and to exibit positive and desirable behaviors. I TOTALLY GET that sometimes when you leave someone you need to blame them for their own suffering to justify leaving them it. But I don’t think this is inherently necessary. I think we can leave people who are in suffering whether because of or not because of things that are their fault and still have compassion.

    I can’t help but see how society views women who are struggling to function and earn their own income and make it on their own in these conversations.

    And, yes, I think feminist online discourse empowering women who have the skills to get higher education and good jobs IS hurtful to women at the bottom who can see out.

    It’s a part of why I, and many other poor women I know who struggle with education and earning income to support themselves entirely without outside help– see feminism as being something completely not for them. Because it’s not. It’s about empowering women who already have more empowerment than those at the bottom.

    1. Jill
      Jill June 13, 2012 at 1:14 pm | *

      Jill– why do we need explenations? Can’t we just say “I left because I was unhappy?” Do we need to define a person as bad to say they are not a good fit for us?

      No, we don’t all need to. But yeah some of us do. When I’m considering ending a relationship with someone I care about, I do need to go through and assess why. “I’m unhappy” is something that everyone experiences in relationships sometimes — even in good relationships. If every relationship was just cut off because one partner felt unhappy at a given moment, no relationship would ever last. To get to the conclusion of “I’m not happy because the person I’m with is not a good fit for me,” one needs to be able to evaluate why that person isn’t good for them.

      That doesn’t mean defining that person as “bad.” It does often mean defining some of their personality traits or behaviors or characteristics as bad and unacceptable for you.

  218. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm |

    I think the real problem is that we think fault/blame should having anything to do with staying in a relationship that is not what you want.

    In terms of caring for humans in need- IN SOCIETY- I think we should all do whatever we feel able to support a society that enables access to community, social interaction, skill building, and jobs that fit with specific disabilities or behavioral problems (such as difficulties with structure/timeliness/motivation/follow through).

    In terms of a RELATIONSHIP it doesn’t make sense to assume we need to know whether a person behaviors/problems/issues are because they just aren’t trying enough or something beyond their control. Relationships involve sharing and giving and recieving. Charity can be good, but it’s not the same thing as a relationship.

    Enabling people to shoot themselves (or anyone else) in the feet is not charity anyway, so even if it’s not someone’s fault how they are behaving that doesn’t mean that tolerating or encouraging their behavior is helpful.

    I think there are many homeless people right now who have internalized all this hatred and blame wrongfully attributed, women who chouch serf or depend on abusive people and kind find the strength to care for themselves and agree to be hated and carry the wieght of that blame because it makes others feel better. Agree to be punched to get food. These attitudes ARE relevent to abusive relationships that affect women- who feminism CLAIMS to be on the same side of– sometimes. Maybe. When not busy talking about how lame these women are.

  219. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    “I just don’t want the “disabled” label stretched to include anyone who isn’t interested in putting an ounce of effort into their life.”

    It already does. There is an entire spectrum of problem behaviors that are clustered in various personality disorders. In general these tend to arise out of a combination of genes, gene environment interactions, and the way the family responds to and copes with these traits and behaviors as they manifest or come about in a child due to to biological responses to various environmental stressors emotional and physical.

    Ultimately no, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault when being mean comes about naturally and seems to be beneficial. I do think that feminist discourse can do better at understanding family/social/and economic sources of personality disordered behavior- because these are women and the are very frequently women who have been sexually abused, physically abused, or emotionally abused in childhood. Which clusteres with low SES but is not limited to SES in origin. People with money can provide radically inappropriate environments for specific children dealing with specific obstacles- but they are more likely to be able to access the support they or their children need if they seek it.

    In every one of the female empowerment DTMF!!! conversations I see women dealing with the problems listed as recieving the message that feminism is about ostrasizing and demeaning and othering people like them in order to prove they should be disliked and cut off from society. The women who need advocates the most get trampled just for the sake of women with better economic skills and capacity to feel comfortable dumping someone they don’t like.

    BY ALL MEANS figure out that you are not happy with a specific person, that you don’t like being depended on, that you don’t like people with yucky traits/behaviors– this is all fine. But how we describe such people IS part of how we as a society deal with the problem of people facing such behaviors or states within themselves. And I think feminism is more capable of being introspective about what all this means for women at the bottom of the social ladder who already face the most stigma and social hatred and have the least amount of people on their side.

  220. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm |

    I think the real problem is that we think fault/blame should having anything to do with staying in a relationship that is not what you want.

    I disagree. I think the problem I’m seeing is a desire to do away with negative feelings about and judgments of other people on the individual level that has little or nothing to do with structures of oppression. It is possible to dislike somebody; it is possible to loathe somebody; it is possibly to wish somebody ill; it is possible to do all those things without it constituting oppression, and I passionately resent any implication that it is the failure of women to be nice little girls that causes oppression.

  221. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

    In every one of the female empowerment DTMF!!! conversations I see women dealing with the problems listed as recieving the message that feminism is about ostrasizing and demeaning and othering people like them in order to prove they should be disliked and cut off from society.

    I disagree. The whole trope of “dump the motherfucker already” is “it’s not your responsibility to fix it, make it work, or give it more time.” Unhappy is unhappy. DTMFA. Some behavior is unacceptable and it’s A GOOD THING to exercise boundaries without guilt, which is something that women at large are not encouraged to do.

  222. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

    There is an entire spectrum of problem behaviors that are clustered in various personality disorders.

    Speaking as someone with a significant number of people with personality disorders in her family–and this is something that is extremely hard for me to speak about so I’m going to try to do so as minimally as possible–it is entirely possible for somebody to be mentally ill and an abusive asshole. One does not preclude the other. And after years of abuse, it can be necessary and empowering and important for somebody who has suffered as the result of somebody else’s disorder to articulate hostility, insult, and anger. My mother has every right in the world to insult and be mean about her mother. And when she can’t do it, because she is too scarred to even think much about what that woman did to her, I have every right to do it on her behalf.

    I’m not even sure what personality disorders have to do with whether it’s OK to be mean about an ex.

  223. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm |

    Right but the DTMF attitude is very much in line with American capitalism and bootstrap philosophy.

    I think absolutely of people enter into relationships in which they worry about leaving someone because that person might not be able to handle being left (or they can’t handle leaving). And any energy toward helping struggling people make it and get access to what they need is better spent collaborating in ways that are safe to find ways to get this kind of support to people without causing harm to others.

    But what I don’t get is why women who are in need and struggling are not part of feminism. Why insulting them in the process of teaching people that relationships should not be charity missions is a feminist activity?

    Yes, putting down fellow women doesn’t really seem very feminist to me, but I guess maybe I understand feminism wrong. Does everyone woman count? Who decides which women count?

  224. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    EG- I totally agree that people should be able to speak up against abuse.
    my family is personality disordered (as a result of terrible abuse) as well and I have endured tons of abuse. After my mother was physically abused and shut down and could barely function– does it make sense to rage against her personality disordered state in the aftermath o abuse? How does that serve her? Yes she can and should rage at her father but in the end her functioning is damaged. Does feminism rage at her, or help her?

    I never felt like feminism would help someone like me because struggle to be successul in work or school and I know that feminists see that as people like me being at fault. I don’t have a place at the table with women. The people who will take me in are abusive men. I remain alone and eventually my family has agreed to help. But I am saying that the women I see in my life who struggle to function— is feminism for them?

  225. samanthab
    samanthab June 13, 2012 at 1:45 pm |

    Bagelsan, you’re reading an awful lot into the piece. She gave him the term disabled, not anyone here. And that’s a right wing meme: that the disabled aren’t really disabled, just lazy. Every disabled person has heard it 10,001 times. If you think the problem with disability services in this country are that the disabled are getting too many breaks, you probably haven’t talked to many disabled people, or the people who work with them. And you’ve made it look, in this thread at least, like you’re not very interested in hearing their voices.

    Please spare me your paternalistic interest in protecting the “real” disabled from the “lazy” poseurs. We’re not a luxury brand worried about crappy Chinese knockoffs. We’re marginalized human beings who are already interrogated endlessly about the legitimacy of our diagnoses. We’re ALL told we’re lazy. We don’t need to hear it again.

  226. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm |

    I think part of the problem here is the culture expectation is that everyone wants the American dream, or should want the American dream ( and that dream is solely determined by the middle class). And that’s not the case. I myself am quite happy so long as the rent is paid, three good meals are on the table each day and I have a little extra money is available to spend on presents or nice things for myself or my family. And part of getting a higher education is that you get paid more so you can aquire more or better products. There’s nothing wrong about that, but calling people lazy because they don’t have the same values or objectives is problematic.

  227. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm |

    After my mother was physically abused and shut down and could barely function– does it make sense to rage against her personality disordered state in the aftermath o abuse?

    If it would help or comfort you emotionally, then yes, it makes sense. If raging about her to others would help or comfort or allow you to better protect yourself or others from her, or to get yourself away from abuse, then yes, it makes sense.

    How does that serve her?

    Does it have to? What if it serves you? What if it serves your kid? (I draw from my family’s experience, of course.) Quite frankly, even when my grandmother was alive, I had no interest in serving or helping her. For one thing, she was horrible, and if people who did not love people who had been her victims wished to help her, that was certainly their prerogative, but I felt and feel no desire to. For another, I don’t think it was possible to help her, so even if I wanted to, I would do triage and focus on other members of the family.

    I would also point out that personality disorders are not invariably the result of abuse. While of course I can never know another person’s experience for absolute certain, I don’t think any of the three people in my family of whom I am thinking suffered major abuse.

    Yes she can and should rage at her father but in the end her functioning is damaged. Does feminism rage at her, or help her?

    Feminism is neither a person nor a monolith. Some feminists might want to rage at her, others help her, others both. But I will not accept a version of feminism that has “Never rage at or insult anybody else” as one of its tenets. Feminism is big enough to have room for ragers and non-ragers alike, and both have their place, and both are helpful in different ways, and on occasion they may switch places.

    Anger and rage can be power. I will not give them up.

  228. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |

    Please spare me your paternalistic interest in protecting the “real” disabled from the “lazy” poseurs.

    As one of the disabled myself, bite me.

  229. Bagelsan
    Bagelsan June 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |

    There’s nothing wrong about that, but calling people lazy because they don’t have the same values or objectives is problematic.

    Yes, I’m sure his mother loves supporting her adult son in every way possible when he is capable of doing it himself. That’s not “problematic” at all, a woman being forced into extended caretaking because a dude is pretty content to chill with his weed.

  230. pillowinhell
    pillowinhell June 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |

    Bagelsan, there are parents out there who would love nothing more than to have their kids stay at home.

    While I agree that people should do what they can to support themselves, it has more to do with longterm things like parents eventually dying or becoming ill so the kids need to learn those skills sooner rather than later. There’s nothing at all in the article to suggest mom point of view on this.

  231. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |

    After my mother was physically abused and shut down and could barely function– does it make sense to rage against her personality disordered state in the aftermath o abuse? How does that serve her? Yes she can and should rage at her father but in the end her functioning is damaged. Does feminism rage at her, or help her?

    Um, we’re saying that she has the right to rage at her abuser — father, mother, boyfriend, sister, whoever — because a disordered relationship gives healthy people negative feelings. You’re arguing that it’s unjust to be mad at disordered people end stop. But when the results of a person’s disorder mean negative fallout for others, others have every right to be frustrated, pissed off, and negative about the consequences they have to deal with, and to express those feelings. Shaming people into stuffing down their feelings about negative relationships IS emotional abuse, and it frequently paralyzes them and primes them for more unhappiness and paralyzation. It could be argued that one role of feminism is to free women from codependent relationships, i.e. relationships where women are the martyrs that always have to fix everything and suffer for their families, I’m not educated enough on the topic to argue it.

    Captain Awkward. Start there.

    Anyway, the “what does rage do?” question actually has some answers, if you’re interested enough to google them, and the answer is, “A lot.” Another anyway, I can’t believe that “is female anger is appropriate?” is a topic of discussion for feminists.

  232. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    There’s nothing at all in the article to suggest mom point of view on this.

    There is also nothing in this article suggesting that Duke’s disability had much to do with his lifestyle. Making this article about ableism is a stretch.

  233. Lauren
    Lauren June 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |

    I would also point out that personality disorders are not invariably the result of abuse. While of course I can never know another person’s experience for absolute certain, I don’t think any of the three people in my family of whom I am thinking suffered major abuse.

    Totally agree, and it’s my experience as well. And sometimes the search for understanding becomes an excuse to delay getting away from a bad relationship. I feel like Rox is arguing that understanding why disabled people might be shitty to others is more important than not being shitty to others, AND that it’s more important for the targets to be polite about being targeted than to stop being targets.

  234. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    I feel like Rox is arguing that understanding why disabled people might be shitty to others is more important than not being shitty to others, AND that it’s more important for the targets to be polite about being targeted than to stop being targets.

    Thank you for this and for what you wrote about the importance of rage. You encapsulate my feelings and thoughts on these issues perfectly.

  235. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

    Right but when an abuse survivor is struggling to take care of themselves and feminists are defending the rights of people around the ause survivor to rage at the woman’s inability to function after terrible abuse I think this is a problem.

    My grandmother was trapped into being insulted over and over and over by her husband BECAUSE of her failure to be what he wanted. She wasn’t assertive enough or intelligent enough. She didn’t try hard enough. And she DID make a lot of mistakes.

    So therefore he needed to “call her out” all the time. And the more viciously he “called her our” to “hold her accountable” over and over the more she collapsed and failed to function. And the more she collapsed and failed to function the more he felt he deserved to tell her what a piece of shit she was. And she and my mother were trapped feeling shut down and unable to function.

    And even passed on, as an adoptee, to another family, I still feel the weight, the wieght of so many insults and calls for “accountability” that tear my very self down to nothing.

    So what I mean to say is, how much rage is it necessary to dish out against someone who can barely function– when you have already left them and they have no power to hurt you?

    I think these issues and how they get talked about are part of feminism. And I think they are a large part of why many women who are being abused feel like they don’t have the right to speak out. After all, if I am a dependent, which is wrong– what right do I have to ask someone not to scream at me or tell me I’m a piece of shit for my very real failings?

  236. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 4:13 pm |

    how much rage is it necessary to dish out against someone who can barely function– when you have already left them and they have no power to hurt you?

    But who gets to judge when somebody has “no power” to hurt somebody else? My grandmother had the power to hurt my mother long after my mother moved out, after my mother stopped speaking to her–even after her death, what she did continues to hurt my mother. The other people in my family who can barely function have immense power to hurt those around them, myself included. That’s not a call you get to make for any other woman.

    I also think it’s pretty far from the actual piece under discussion here. Where do you see disproportionate rage? The writer doesn’t insult Duke or berate him.

    After all, if I am a dependent, which is wrong– what right do I have to ask someone not to scream at me or tell me I’m a piece of shit for my very real failings?

    I fundamentally don’t understand how you’re getting here. We all have failings. Very few of them are bad enough to make the person who has them a piece of shit. Degree matters.

  237. Donna L
    Donna L June 13, 2012 at 4:28 pm |

    So what I mean to say is, how much rage is it necessary to dish out against someone who can barely function– when you have already left them and they have no power to hurt you?

    In addition to what others have said, you aren’t distinguishing between directing rage directly *at* the “non-functional” person who causes harm to you (not that I’m suggesting for a moment that that’s inherently inappropriate itself), and expressing rage *about* that person, outside their presence.

  238. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm |

    Ok I guess another thing is– what if there is a person who is just there… existing– in a state of need or suffering or dysfunction

    And they’re not even talking to you or doing anything to you at all?

    Is that justification for insulting them? That is what I’m saying I really dislike being seen justified in the name of self defense or self protection. It just seems unecessary to put a lot of effort into saying anyone that gets help from their parents to x degree is a loser. Are they a threat? Is it necessary to lay out those kinds of insults? He’s worthless and not good at anything and sucks because of not reading?

    Why would it be necessary to break someone apart like that? I guess I just don’t understand. I guess I never did understand why people would sit around and discuss what they don’t like about the kids they ha rejected who were hard to be friends with. I guess people need a justification for the people they leave in isolation and in pain. Which usually means assigning blame even if there isn’t really proven fault there.

  239. zuzu
    zuzu June 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm |

    I see rox has not internalized the idea that no one owes you a relationship from the last go-round on this issue.

  240. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm |

    He’s worthless and not good at anything and sucks because of not reading?

    I fundamentally don’t see where Jeltsen said these things.

  241. BBBShrewHarpy
    BBBShrewHarpy June 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm |

    Rox says:

    Everyone is of course free to reject him because of his behavior– that is always find. We can reject people because they are poor, or annoying, or laugh funny, or are not attractive to us, or have big noses, or are too needy, or talk too much, or are boring, or have low intelligence, or are too self obsessed, or seem unpleasant for no explainable reason….

    All of that is fine. The process doesn’t require defining whether or not the person can help those things about themselves. You can just decide you don’t like being around a specific person and choose not to do so. Is defining whether those behaviors are the persons fault or not required for this process?

    I think this is actually pretty profound, in life as well as for the Jeltsen story. There is no need to attribute intent to what someone does in order to justify feeling that something is unappealing and unacceptable to us personally. It is important to have enough self-reflection to acknowledge that sometimes our dislike of someone really is about us and our tastes rather than some perceived flaw in the other person.

    Jill says:

    No, we don’t all need to. But yeah some of us do. When I’m considering ending a relationship with someone I care about, I do need to go through and assess why. “I’m unhappy” is something that everyone experiences in relationships sometimes — even in good relationships. If every relationship was just cut off because one partner felt unhappy at a given moment, no relationship would ever last. To get to the conclusion of “I’m not happy because the person I’m with is not a good fit for me,” one needs to be able to evaluate why that person isn’t good for them.

    Is this not exactly what Ms. Jeltsen did? She just tried to make it work for longer than seems acceptable to the commentariat. Easy to make that call when faced with a synopsis of years spent living and loving together.

    I agree the title got people’s heckles up. Undoubtedly chosen by the blogsite itself, to suit a running series. Not much in the narrative to support that title. I’m with Ms. Marcotte on this one.

  242. rox
    rox June 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm |

    “I feel like Rox is arguing that understanding why disabled people might be shitty to others is more important than not being shitty to others, AND that it’s more important for the targets to be polite about being targeted than to stop being targets.”

    No I’m arguing that simply existing and not having the job skills to earn much more than minimum wage and having needs related to myself and my child that I can not fulfill on the wage I can earn is just me existing and is not me out to harm anyone.

    If my family or society decides to cut benefits for the disabled or single parents struggling to earn enough income than fine, but otherwise I am simply accepting what help I am given and I don’t think the act of existing and having needs is something that should give people a right to free for all for dissecting people they don’t knows worth as a human being.

    It’s fine for people to want to avoid the poor and the struggling, but it is definately a place of privelage to sit around talking about yucky the needy are. I don’t see where this guy harmed anyone. He just wasn’t what she wanted. If his mom doesn’t want to support him, she can choose not to. Unless he’s guilt tripping, or forcing her to pay for him, it’s her choice. Maybe he’s tried making it on his own and he sucked at it and it makes his mom happier to know he is supported and not selling himself on the street because he doesn’t know how to do anything else.

    Being unable to be self sufficient is not inherently an act of bullying anyone else. Bullying people is an act of bullying. Being homeless on the streets is not an act of bullying others. In fact holding up a sign and asking for help is not an act of bullying. Needing or asking for help is not an act of bullying.

    I think perhaps, people would feel less “bullied” by the existance of struggling people if they felt confident they could say know without a reason. If you tell someone no- or indicate you don’t want to support them, be there for them, be in a relationship with them and they continue to pressure or berate– then YES they are being manipulative and abusive. But them simply existing is not an act of abusing others.

  243. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 11:01 pm |

    No I’m arguing that simply existing and not having the job skills to earn much more than minimum wage and having needs related to myself and my child that I can not fulfill on the wage I can earn is just me existing and is not me out to harm anyone.

    Nobody has argued otherwise, so I’m not sure where your disagreement is coming from.

    I don’t think the act of existing and having needs is something that should give people a right to free for all for dissecting people they don’t knows worth as a human being.

    Perhaps this is the disagreement, then? I don’t think anybody has an inherent right not to be discussed. If Jeltsen were going on talk shows and giving his full name and address and home phone and paparazzi were stalking him…OK. But one essay on moderately well-known website, followed by discussion on a feminist blog? Nah.

  244. EG
    EG June 13, 2012 at 11:11 pm |

    As well, that’s one of the significant risks you take when you get into a relationship with a writer, or someone who wants to be a writer.

  245. Lauren
    Lauren June 14, 2012 at 7:42 am |

    If you tell someone no- or indicate you don’t want to support them, be there for them, be in a relationship with them and they continue to pressure or berate– then YES they are being manipulative and abusive. But them simply existing is not an act of abusing others.

    Rox, you’re the one conflating the existence of a disability with abuse. The disagreement between me and you is this idea that unhappy partners should suck up their bad feelings about a failed relationship if there is a shade of disability anywhere in it. Also, there seems to be this undercurrent that only disabled people are needy, and that needs are passive, which is seriously misguided. Needs are noisy little buggers, and no one is obligated to pursue those needs neatly, kindly, or politely.

    I don’t want to give you the impression that I’m some ableist dick (although I might be), because I have emotional disabilities and am in a relationship with someone who does as well. Interpersonally, if there is some nagging behavior in your relationship that will never change, it does women well to be able to clear the fog, get real about the unacceptable behavior, and ask ourselves, “Can I live like this? Is this worth it?” Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no. And girl, no means no. GTFO. Though it may modify the circumstances, the existence of disability fundamentally doesn’t change that.

    But you’re stretching the rhetoric out to draw a line of protection around an otherwise capable adult man who just doesn’t want to take care of himself. Can the author live like this? No. Could I? No. Can others? Maybe, maybe not. If your argument is that we can’t know the whole truth, or that the original author is an unreliable narrator, fine, indeed we can’t know everything. But at some point sitting around and speculating about why he does what he does, and how can I be more quiet and demure so he’ll change/be nice to me/work harder/be more affectionate/whatever is another way for women to have their time and energy sucked up into the Feminine Mystique vacuum of always fixing the relationship, nurturing the relationship, and suffering the harshest financial and social consequences of broken relationships.

  246. zuzu
    zuzu June 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |

    Rox, you’re the one conflating the existence of a disability with abuse. The disagreement between me and you is this idea that unhappy partners should suck up their bad feelings about a failed relationship if there is a shade of disability anywhere in it.

    Why does this sound so, so familiar?

  247. Lauren
    Lauren June 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm |

    Why does this sound so, so familiar?

    Oh, seriously? Jesus Christ.

  248. zuzu
    zuzu June 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm |

    (My positition is that eating behaviors are subject to the same external and internal influence as other behaviors so I defend against fat hatred hands down and believe is it wrong to criticize, judge, demean, insult people for things like this.)

    Well, you know, except when you decide to do it yourself. Why do you keep bringing up fatness in conjunction with undesirability if you don’t think it’s right to judge people for that, I wonder?

    Let me just say here, on the subject of the original post before rox’s derail into her own issues/hobbyhorse, that I agree with Amanda, Lindsay and Lauren. We’re talking about a young couple who discovered an incompatibility later in their relationship. That Jeltsen encouraged Duke to take some classes so he could pursue a job doing what he wanted to do already (because let’s not forget that many, many jobs require a degree these days, or at least progress towards one) does not make her mean, ableist, classist or elitist. It makes her someone who is trying to get someone she cares about and appears to be stuck unstuck. It also means that she’s someone who’s looking down the road at taking over support of this guy from his mother, and there’s no indication that he’s got the kind of disability that would make him eligible for government benefits and therefore able to contribute to household expenses.

    I also find the focus on Jeltsen’s staying in the relationship — and the concomitant blame being heaped on her for doing so — to be, let’s just say, PROBLEMATIC. There were two partners in the relationship here. Does Duke bear no share of the responsibility for staying in a relationship that obviously wasn’t working for him, or is all the blame going to Jeltsen because she’s the more educated partner here? Or because she’s the woman, and the woman is responsible for making things work?

    I mean, not one person has asked why Duke stayed when he had just as much right to leave as Jeltsen did.

  249. zuzu
    zuzu June 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm |

    Also: it is the responsibility of the disabled person to manage their disability, not that of their partner. And their partner has every right to leave if the disabled person is not managing that disability, particularly if the lack of management affects the partner’s quality of life.

  250. Lyn
    Lyn June 17, 2012 at 12:10 pm |

    “The disagreement between me and you is this idea that unhappy partners should suck up their bad feelings about a failed relationship if there is a shade of disability anywhere in it”

    Wrong. The disagreement is that I don’t think you have to define whether someone has a disability to decide the relationship is not working.

    “And their partner has every right to leave if the disabled person is not managing that disability, particularly if the lack of management affects the partner’s quality of life.”

    I’ll fix that for you, a partner has to right to leave for any reason. I do not think it’s necessary for non-professionals to diagnose how hard someone else is trying or not trying to manage a disability. The only thing necessary to do is decide if you like being around the person.

    Disabled people get enough flack for not managing their disabilities well enough according to others (and disabled people can be wrong about how they judge others too).

    It’s fine if people want to guess that someone is slacking rather than trying and decide they don’t like being around behavior that looks like slacking to them. It’s simply not knowable how hard another person is trying or not or defining for them what obstacles are in their way.

    I don’t there is anything wrong with Jeltsen for leaving, or for deciding she was unhappy. I disagree with commenters who are deciding based on one persons account of an ex that they are qualified to diagnose his level of disability or decide whether she is a better person than him or deserved to leave beacause of his failure. You don’t have to be better than someone to decide to leave. You don’t have to find any fault whatsoever with a partner to not be compatable. You don’t have to label your ex a failure or loser in order to decide you aren’t happy with them. He may be trying his very best and just isn’t that good at life.

    It’s not necessary to shred your ex’s character to decide plain and simply you aren’t happy and want something else.

    Some people are not very smart or good at managing their lives. It’s not necessary to put them down or decide why they are the way they are or whether they can help it to leave.

  251. EG
    EG June 17, 2012 at 4:29 pm |

    You don’t have to label your ex a failure or loser in order to decide you aren’t happy with them….It’s not necessary to shred your ex’s character to decide plain and simply you aren’t happy and want something else.

    Fortunately, Jeltsen did none of these things.

  252. EG
    EG June 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm |

    I do not think it’s necessary for non-professionals to diagnose how hard someone else is trying or not trying to manage a disability.

    Zuzu said nothing about whether or not the person in question is trying hard enough to manage a disability; she said the issue is whether the person in question is managing the disability or not. Effort is not the issue.

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