Oops. So I quickly changed my statement. I said imagine explaining this to your parents. She shot back. “Isn’t that ageist.” I was caught again. I love students with sharp minds.
Some of you readers might think this is about political correctness, but you would be wrong.
Why my mother? I don’t know, but physics was mostly men when my advisors were in school, it was was mostly men when I was in school, and it is still mostly men now. That fact probably has much to do with it.
The term for this sort of thing nowadays is mansplaining, and it is hardly unique to physicists. Plus mansplaining, I think, can occur whenever one person regardless of gender assumes that another lacks knowledge of a subject because of some unrelated factor like gender or age.
I’ve said other stupid things in class, like the time I told a class that I was going to give them a softball question. A woman in class asked what that was. Now I don’t know if she truly didn’t know or was politely pointing out that I just said something stupid.
I played some softball in grad school. There was this informal league of grad students from various departments. There were men and women of all sorts of athletic ability. The pitcher threw slowly and every effort was made to ensure that people hit the ball. Plus lots of beer was drunk. Lots and lots. Some of us would even run the bases with a cup in our hand trying very hard not to spill any.
That’s my idea of softball, so a softball question is just one that’s easy to answer.
But when she asked what a softball question was, the first image that came to mind was women’s softball, and if you’ve ever have seen a softball game, you know that there’s nothing soft about it.
I like the fact that I’m still capable of learning.