Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sexism in debate

Taking off from a recent discussion on VBD, Menick, Cruz and Palmer discuss the issue, and even suggest the beginning of a solution. Episode 34.


  1. some thoughts on the content of this podcast:

    the willingness to lay blame for issues like this at the feet of college students strikes me as rather entertaining. setting aside the question of why coaches and tournaments aren't responsible to ensure the good character of those they hire, such an attitude seems to excuse an inability to operate as a decent ethical person on the grounds of youth, which doesn't make much sense to me.

    I also question the assumption in this conversation that rudeness is a necessary element to success in the contemporary climate of debate (even if it was, Menick's point that issues of gender inequity precede contemporary debate practices seems to render the point moot). Older examples of successful polite debaters - Matt Shields, Joan Gass, etc - abound, of course, but there are plenty of new ones, too. I've been very impressed by just how polite some of the top kids (Steven Adler and Apryl Giraudon spring to mind) have been when I judged them, and I think they're good proof that you can be professional and polite in debate rounds while doing the hypertechnical policy debate kind of thing. I will admit to the possibility that they, and the many other such examples I can think of, may simply be great at adapting to me, but I'd like to think that they're actually good folks - and hey, if I'm wrong and they're adapting, then that means there's hope that they can change! Now, it is certainly the case that you have to be willing to stand up to folks who are rude in debate, but I am unwilling to accept the premise that girls are less willing or able to do this than boys - if your girls can't stand up to those kids, it's cause you're not instilling them with the self-confidence they should have, meaning the problem is YOU, not the rudeness in round.

    That said, I really like the idea of the equity person at a debate tournament. It is unclear to me whether making this someone in the judging pool is particularly wise, given that you want the person to be accessible (and awake enough to handle the situation well), but the general idea sounds like a great concrete move - kudos!

    finally, i wish the podcast had addressed the point of the larger debate climate - summer camps, conversations outside of the tournament context, etc - as they indicate more insidious difficulties that need confronting. hopefully, conversations like this one will be able to provide ideas to solve those, too...

  2. This has absolutely nothing to do with gender equality, but I would really like to know if any of you have days like this: