June 29, 2013

"Perhaps the biggest difference between the racers and the randonneurs was socioeconomic."

"Racing was a working-class sport — prize money was a way out of the coal mines or factories."
"You don't have the liberty to say, 'Well, the other guy deserves to win' if your living depends on it," [Jan Heine, editor of Bicycle Quarterly, a Seattle-based magazine about the history, technology and culture of biking].

Randonneuring was more of a refined hobby. "If you're doing this for fun, suddenly the distinction between winner and second becomes meaningless," says Heine.
Also:
"There was a lot of animosity in France, actually, between the tourists and the racers," Heine explains. "Because the tourists said, 'We are going in the mountains, and we are a participatory sport.' " Participatory meaning that women could ride alongside men — and people could ride basically whatever they wanted. This drove innovations in bicycle technology that today are widespread: If you've ever ridden a bike with a derailleur, thank the randonneurs.
Interesting the way the inclusiveness toward women changes things — this particular activity... and everything else. Who wins and who loses? Or... shall we say?... the inclusion of women changes the nature of the activity so that speaking in terms of winning and losing becomes inappropriate and those who play to win and triumph over losers become socially unacceptable oafs?

ADDED: I am reminded of the perennial efforts to restructure law school to suit women. Recently, in the Harvard Crimson:
Harvard Law student Jessica R. Jensen hates the Socratic method. “It’s the worst thing in the world,” she said. “It forces you to talk like a man... It made me feel really uncomfortable and incompetent at first, and it really impacted my performance in classes the first year.... You feel like you don’t know the material really well because you feel like an idiot in class.”
The worst thing in the world? Worse than coal mining or — the coal miner's alternative income source — the Tour de France?
Employed in some form across most classrooms at Harvard Law School, the Socratic method, a teaching style that relies on cold-calling, lies at the heart of the debate over gender issues and serves as a focal point for the Shatter coalition. Today, many students and faculty have raised concerns over the teaching method, saying that men are more likely to participate voluntarily in Law School classes than women....

Yet the root cause of this disparity remains contested, as professors, students, and administrators debate whether the Socratic method—the traditional form of legal pedagogy—needs to be adapted to account for gender disparities in the classroom.
Note that both calling on students and relying on volunteers is bad for women.
“Women take longer to process thoughts before they feel comfortable to say them out loud than men do,” Jensen said, adding that men feel more natural in that kind of classroom atmosphere.
I guess as long as you mean well — which is to say, you think and get others to think you're helping women — you can engage in sex stereotyping even when it's disparaging women. I know you can restate Jensen's stereotype so that it's more flattering to women — a paraphrasing skill you might want to work on. Just say that women are reflecting deeply, forming more refined ideas, and contemplating the social dynamic of the classroom —  while these brutal, competition-addicted men lunge at the first opportunity to dominate and blurt out whatever comes to mind with little concern about what others in the room think about them.
Harvard Law professor Lani C. Guinier ’71, who has authored several articles on legal pedagogy, said... “women’s reaction to law school is an important warning sign, but a warning sign that the problem will not go away simply by focusing on helping the women think more like their male counterparts”....
Inclusiveness toward women changes things.

62 comments:

Expat(ish) said...

Pffft. They must not compete in "friendly" sports with men very often. There is always a group competing hard to win anything - foosball, darts, ....

-XC

paul a'barge said...

the inclusion of women changes the nature of the activity so that speaking in terms of winning and losing becomes inappropriate

Yep. Just ask those guys in the armed forces who will now have to engage in combat with a woman next to them. You know, the ones who are wounded and must be left on the battlefield to die because that woman doesn't have the upper body strength or the combat-spirit adequate to pick up the man and get him out.

Because you just know the enemy is going to be all "oh, cool, we just captured these 3 women who are on the other side and, hey I've got an idea ... let's invent a derailleur".

Roger that. Not.

Expat(ish) said...

@paul - funny.

I think "women in combat" is going to be like "gay marriage" - there won't be that many of the now "equal" who really want to engage with the opportunity.

-XC

AprilApple said...

This doesn't have any connection to this post. Well, you could ride your bicycle around, and if you're lucky, stumble upon such a beautiful sight.

Ann Althouse said...

You men need to concentrate your male skills on inventing the equivalent of derailleurs for everything, so that women can be comfortable everywhere.

This is the great, central goal of civilization. Hop to it. We're waiting.

AprilApple said...

"Although, when it comes down to it, you are alone on the course. It's like life in that way. It's a sort of shared struggle. And somebody else doing well does not diminish your own accomplishment, you know?"

That is beautiful.
uh oh. Mind crime.

Michael said...

Women want motors to "compete" with men's deralleurs

TosaGuy said...

"Just because someone wins doesn't diminish what I accomplished"

Of only more people understood that part of economics then we would have fewer class warriors in society.

Stanley Smith said...

You men need to concentrate your male skills on inventing the equivalent of derailleurs for everything, so that women can be comfortable everywhere.

No. You women lost. Get over it.

See how nasty that sounds?

Bob Ellison said...

I'm not going to comment until rhhardin weighs in.

Tank said...

Women take longer to process thoughts before they feel comfortable to say them out loud than men do,” Jensen said, adding that men feel more natural in that kind of classroom atmosphere.

Then they should not be trial lawyers. There's no time to get comfortable in court. Stuff happens, you have to be ready to react immediately.

Oh wait, we'll just change the trial system to have breaks after each question.

cubanbob said...

This is the great, central goal of civilization. Hop to it. We're waiting."

Ain't no we here Kemosabe. Do your own inventing. Isn't equality grand?

ricpic said...

Oo eez zeez meeneurs sur lay beeceeklets? Je speet on zem. Je preefer lay femmes sur lay beeceeklets. Zay ave, ow vous deer, luh klahs.


Women: We want the bicycling, but without that horrible sweating and stuff.

campy said...

Interesting the way the inclusiveness toward women changes things — this particular activity... and everything else. Who wins and who loses? Or... shall we say?... the inclusion of women changes the nature of the activity so that speaking in terms of winning and losing becomes inappropriate and those who play to win and triumph over losers become socially unacceptable oafs?

When women join, the "winning" male is the one who scores the hottest woman.

rhhardin said...

Women are comfortable with not knowing everything, and even prefer irresolution that sustains complexity.

Men resolve one thing at a time until everything's solved except the nail, which is where he runs into woman.

Michael said...

As a man who usually prefers to process thoughts a bit more before chiming in to a discussion, I have to disagree that the alleged differences between men and women are just different approaches to a classroom environment.

In the real world -- of business or in law -- someone who is able to think quickly on their feet and speak on short order has a definite advantage over someone who thinks more deliberately before speaking.

In an argument, the former might start out with a less precise or less convincing statement, but speaking first lets one both frame the discussion and lay out the basis for one's argument. From there, one can develop the details of one's position. It is hard for the person who thinks longer before speaking to recover from this initial disadvantage.

In other contexts -- for example, explaining the merits of one approach over another -- the latter must stall for time before starting, while the former can outline their thoughts while they marshal the details.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, quick-to-volunteer men versus deliberate-thinking women is not a hard and fast rule: I am more of a deliberate-thinking man, and I have known a number of women who are quicker to start discussing things than I am.

Thus, I would argue that the alleged difference between men and one is not just a gender-associated difference in approach, but that being able to start speaking quickly is a valuable skill that anyone should develop if they want a career in law, engineering, medicine, or most other knowledge-oriented fields. If that puts women (on average) at an inherent disadvantage to men, that disadvantage extends far beyond the limited domain of law school classrooms, and the discussion should acknowledge as much.

ricpic said...

Let me get this straight. No one splattered his keyboard in reaction to the Jensen quote about women NOT blurting out whatever comes into their heads?

GrandpaMark said...

Ann Althouse said...

You men need to concentrate your male skills on inventing the equivalent of derailleurs for everything, so that women can be comfortable everywhere.

This is the great, central goal of civilization. Hop to it. We're waiting.


How about the electric starter, automatic transmission and power steering so the little lady can drive the big machine?

Gahrie said...

You men need to concentrate your male skills on inventing the equivalent of derailleurs for everything, so that women can be comfortable everywhere.

At one time, a significant number of men did exactly that.

This is the great, central goal of civilization. Hop to it. We're waiting.

Don't hold your breath. Thanks to feminism, you're going to be waiting a while.

Gahrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

"See how nasty that sounds?"

I got a tough skin about 8 years ago. It's been wonderfully liberating. I highly recommend it to young female law students and others.

Conversation and debate is generally quite dull, and there will always be stronger voices.

Learn how to talk back. Don't back down. Don't whimper and cry.

I don't accept this making-the-world-safe-for-women civility bullshit.

AprilApple said...

I enjoyed the Randonneurs article.

Ann Althouse said...

"Then they should not be trial lawyers. There's no time to get comfortable in court. Stuff happens, you have to be ready to react immediately."

Yes, Jensen and the Shatter crowd are generating free advertising for male lawyers, giving justification for discriminating against women, stoking the stereotype. Talk about unintended consequences!

But they mean well.

Do you want a lawyer who means well?

AprilApple said...

Whiny female law student. Was that Fluke again? Dang I wish she would shut up.

campy said...

You men need to concentrate your male skills on inventing the equivalent of derailleurs for everything, so that women can be comfortable everywhere.

But I thought the problem with everything in the world was that it was designed by men, and if women were in charge they could do much better.

So we men are now waiting for you.

Gahrie said...


Do you want a lawyer who means well


No...I want alawyer who loves the thrill of comeptition, and needs to win.

jacksonjay said...


What about Saint Wendy Davis?

Michael said...

Professor. You reach the wrong conclusion about advancements in cycling technology. The invention of the deralleur was not to make it possible for women to ride the steep passes although they like every cyclist were beneficiaries. The device was very quickly adopted by professional racers. We note that women did not join the ranks of the racers with the invention of gears. Few women then as now were randonneurs.

Randoneurring has a competitive side. Many want to qualify to ride the Paris brevet. Challenging.

cassandra lite said...

I wonder what Jessica Jensen, Lani Guinier, and, for that matter, Socrates would think about the inclusiveness of Paula Deen's opprobrium versus the exclusion of Alec Baldwin's far more current crimes against the culture.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

See how nasty that sounds?

I got a tough skin about 8 years ago. It's been wonderfully liberating. I highly recommend it to young female law students and others.

Conversation and debate is generally quite dull, and there will always be stronger voices.

Learn how to talk back. Don't back down. Don't whimper and cry.


The Blonde learned it growing up with 3 brothers.

And I have yet to meet the nurse who didn't cultivate it early - usually the first time they watched a doctor do something the nurse knew was a bad idea.

Skyler said...

“Women take longer to process thoughts before they feel comfortable to say them out loud than men do,” Jensen said, adding that men feel more natural in that kind of classroom atmosphere.

So why are these supposed mental deficients in law school at all? Isn't the whole purpose of law school to teach you to be someone who can advocate, think on your feet, and process thoughts quickly?

I don't buy it. I've met too many very intelligent and quick witted women to buy into this BS that women have some natural disadvantage in law school. This isn't mortal combat, it is bandying words, and women are supposedly more advanced than most men in verbal skills, or so they've been telling me all my life.

So which is it? Are women better at verbal skills or worse? Or is it more likely that some marginal students are whining because they aren't succceeding? You are what you are, and the world should not change for your shortcomings.

Rick said...

Let's dumb down this intellectual exercise, because the wimmen have a different type of extreme upper-body strength.

chrisnavin.com said...

Seattle, NPR, bicycling, women, France?

Where's the organic vegetables?

bpm4532 said...

How ludicrous! It's wrong to ask them questions on the spot in class and it's wrong to let them volunteer? I find women to be pretty damn smart and these sorts of low expectations are pretty damning of the political class that insists on them.

Phil 3:14 said...

Gosh, I hate admit it but I think we need Shouting Thomas and Crack Emcee back.

Phil 3:14 said...

"Randonneurs USA has 3,200 members this year, up 260 percent from decade ago"

(In other words the organization had 1230 members, so its gained 1970 members in 10 years, less than 200 a year.

This is such a stereotypical NPR story. "Yes, its small, dare I say insignificant but its righteous and leading the way to a better world"

Phil 3:14 said...

"Randonneurs USA has 3,200 members this year, up 260 percent from decade ago"

(In other words the organization had 1230 members, so its gained 1970 members in 10 years, less than 200 a year.

This is such a stereotypical NPR story. "Yes, its small, dare I say insignificant but its righteous and leading the way to a better world"

Phil 3:14 said...

And I bet 90% of Randonneurs USA are NPR contributors.

Darleen said...

And I have yet to meet the nurse who didn't cultivate it early

My eldest daughter is an RN, in ICU no less. And a paramedic before.

One pisses her off at their own peril.

AprilApple said...

..And most NPR listeners are probably democrats. So what's your point?

Darleen said...

The public schools have been feminized for sometime, to the continuing detriment of boys. Colleges and universities are becoming more unfriendly to males (see: drop off in male attendance) now the target of female supremacism is moving to post-grad studies.

Oh. Goody.

elkh1 said...

How would you like to be defended by a wilting lily on your murder trial? Oh, it's unfair to let me rot in jail, my lawyer felt uncomfortable speaking up.



rhhardin said...

Tandem bicycles were the traditional solution to the speed difference problem, but then you get women wanting to steer.

rhhardin said...

I've ridden one-handed pushing a girlfriend up the hills of hilly Honolulu. Derailleurs only get a girl so far.

Test your touch typing speed: type
"in july, oh my killjoy johnny, ill look in upon my jumpy polo pony up in hilly honolulu"

rhhardin said...

Your hill climbing is actually limited by aerobic endurance: you need enough speed to balance the bicycle, which limits how slowly you can climb the hill. You need the endurance to raise your weight at that rate, no matter what gear you use.

Unknown said...


[Althouse:]
But they mean well.
Do you want a lawyer who means well?

Good point, Ann. Reminds me of the always "compassionate", "utopian" agendas: Feminism. Equality. Consequences be damned!

Unknown said...

Hi Ann, I am waaay "younger" than 8 years, wrt following your blog. So, may I ask (or not!) about this: "I got a tough skin about 8 years ago. It's been wonderfully liberating. I highly recommend it to young female law students and others."
What happened ~ 8 years ago?

eddie willers said...

Do you want a lawyer who means well?

The soft bigotry of low expectations.

Molly said...

Oh, Jessica, the Socratic method forces you to think. Not think like a man, just think.

When I (a woman) went off to college in 1965, my mother said to me: If anyone tells you you think like a man, just say 'which man?'

Michael K said...

"I think "women in combat" is going to be like "gay marriage" - there won't be that many of the now "equal" who really want to engage with the opportunity."

Women in combat is all about female officers who want promotion. They want tickets punched but very few want to go out there and fight.

Michael K said...

"
Do you want a lawyer who means well

No...I want alawyer who loves the thrill of comeptition, and needs to win."

There is a very funny scene in an Eddie Murphy movie where he is in jail. His lawyer walks up to the bars and introduces himself. He's black. Murphy looks at him in disbelief and says, "I don't want no affirmative action lawyer ! I want a Jew ! Hey, I want a Jew !"

Iconochasm said...

AprilApple said...
"Although, when it comes down to it, you are alone on the course. It's like life in that way. It's a sort of shared struggle. And somebody else doing well does not diminish your own accomplishment, you know?"

That is beautiful.
uh oh. Mind crime.


That's why I love Ninja Warrior so much. they're not competing against each other. They're competing against themselves. And everyone cheers for each successful run.

hombre said...

Hell, we're restructuring marriage to suit homosexuals. We've restructured uni admissions to suit blacks. Why not restructure law school to suit women? While we're at it, we can restructure combat to suit them too. Lol!

Oh, and did I mention college sports?

dreams said...

Yeah, the women have to ruin everything, plus we're supposed to make them happy.

Basil said...

Professor, could you please define with more specificity the "male skills"? I thought your feminist outlook did not allow for skills distributed by gender. Do you mean all STEM skills, or just math, like Larry Summers?

Big Mike said...

Remind me never to get a female lawyer. If they can't handle the Socratic method they probably can't handle my case either.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
You men need to concentrate your male skills on inventing the equivalent of derailleurs for everything, so that women can be comfortable everywhere.


You need to get out of your comfort zone and do some of this stuff yourself. You're perfectly capable of doing many of the same physical things equally as well.

This is the great, central goal of civilization. Hop to it. We're waiting.

Feminism changed all that.Make me a sammich. chop chop.

M. Simon said...

Well, I can't wait until this "including women's style" invades engineering.

Women do less well with inanimate object because in animate object can't be talked into anything.

But not all women. #1 daughter is getting A's in Chem E (she is close to graduation). When it comes to objects she thinks a lot like a man.

I'm reminded of:

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity, and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity, will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.” — John W. Gardner, Saturday Evening Post, December 1, 1962

M. Simon said...

"This is the great, central goal of civilization. Hop to it. We're waiting."

Well of course you are waiting. Because in general you can't do it. There are exceptions. Like my #1 daughter who is currently doing a 6 months internship in Chem research.

M. Simon said...

Ann says:

I don't accept this making-the-world-safe-for-women civility bullshit.

Bravo Ann.

You got what you got. Make the best of it.

My verbal skills are well into the upper range of what women are capable of. I write (and engineer) for a living. The first mate hates it. She can't out talk me.

And I don't go silent. Mostly. When I do she hates that. How can you argue with silence?

kentuckyliz said...

Women law students who are too shy to speak up, can't answer a question when asked, and have a distaste for winning and losing should drop out immediately and become legal secretaries.

Saith the career counselor.

MartyH said...

Racing is, "How fast can I go?"

Randonneuring is "How far can I go?"

Racing is, "I'm going to beat the other guys."

Randonneuring is "I'm going to beat the time limit."

Racing is, "I have a race tomorrow, so I'm going to skip dessert."

Randonneuring is, "I have a ride tomorrow, so I am going to have an extra helping of dessert to fuel up."

Racing is, "I got a flat tire and so lost the lead group. It's hot/rainy/windy so I'm going to bail."

Randonneuring is, "My legs have been cramping for the last hundred miles. I can't catch my breath, even if I sit down for ten minutes. My heart is pounding even after those ten minutes of rest. I've got a ten mile long mountain pass to climb, then a fast eight mile descent in the dark and a few more flatter miles after that. But I've still got almost four hours to finish, so I'm not beat yet."

That was me yesterday. I'd ride half a mile or a mile slowly up that last pass, stop for a minute or two to catch my breath, then press on. I rode in to the finish with a new friend who I had seen off and on on the ride. He stopped a couple of times to wait for me as I caught my breath again on the last little climb-another randonneuring trait.

It was a long, hard, hot, painful day. I lost over six pounds yesterday. I can't tell you what place I came in, or how much slower I was that the winner. But I beat the time cutoff, so I won.