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paul wheaton
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My childhood was a little different from the norm. I grew up in many places in many family environments. For several portions of my life I was raised by somebody who proudly sported the label "feminist." And, then on into college I got many more heavy doses of feminism. I remember a friend of mine saying something about "men and girls" and my aunt (a very wonderful person) jumping on that and exploring "why is it not 'boys and girls' or 'men and women'? It seems that 'men and girls' makes the males adult and females children." An excellent point. I remember the transition from "mailman" to "letter carrier" and thinking that that makes sense.

Working in software engineering, it did seem a bit odd that there were so few women. Why would that be?

I like to think that I am pretty passionate about certain social inequities that are largely inappropriate. And, at the same time, I can see mike oehler's points about how sometimes those inequities weren't all downsides. It is a rich, huge area of complexity.

Permaculture courses tend to be 60% female, and the permaculture leaders tend to be 80% male. I covered that in my keynote at voices last year.

We have now been here at wheaton labs for a year and a half. I think about 200 people have been here. I expected the PA position (which is a housekeeper position on steroids) to be a woman. Mostly because when hiring a housekeeper before coming here, that was nearly universally who applied. All of the applicants here were male. And the kitchen commander, (again, I thought it would be probably female) was often male. Emily and Tony ran point on a lot of "manly" projects (building and timber related) and I frankly cannot think of which did a better job. So I think we have evidence of gender balance stuff taking place.

At the same time, I remember a day when there were about 20 people here. Half male, half female. We finished a meal and went down to the shop to do rocket mass heater stuff. Everybody down at the shop was male and there were some jokes about how we can now openly fart as much as we want. We decided to wait a bit "for the rest of our group" and after about seven minutes we decided "you snooze, you lose" and got to work. In the end, apparently all the guys wanted to play with rocket mass heaters and all the gals .... didn't. They did stuff up at the house. I think the result was an amazing meal. Very nice.

The thing is that this division happened naturally. And often. There would be exceptions, but for the most part, our groups tended to divide this way even though nobody ever said "guys go do thing A and gals go do thing B."

Along those lines, another point has come up that has a gender boundary. We try to maintain things in the house and office at "Jocelyn clean". Rick came up with the term (and Rick tells me that he got it from me) "B&B clean". This is a level of clean that is beyond my ability to notice. I have seen Jocelyn cleaning a floor that already looks perfectly clean to me. But, in many ways, this is "Jocelyn's house" so Jocelyn makes the call. Jocelyn frets over people coming into "her home" and seeing dirtyness. She will spend all day, every day, cleaning up after the 15 people that come through. It is the way she is wired. Several people have pointed out that her desire to have a clean house is valid and the right thing to do is: not have 15 people come through every day - those people will need to go elsewhere to do what they do in the house. But we don't yet have a solution to that. Naturally, people should clean after themselves - but if they are like me, they cannot see it or comprehend it.

There have been some people that have been able to see it. And they are much like Jocelyn, and cannot let it be - they must clean it and they must clean it now. When these people are here, Jocelyn will get some relief and be able to focus on her many other tasks. So rather than me devoting 30% of my day trying to persuade people to understand what "B&B clean" or "Jocelyn clean" means, or "who made this mess?" --- the problems all just go away. And when this magic person leaves, Jocelyn picks up on the cleaning again. Her other tasks don't get done and then Jocelyn starts getting tired of being the cleaning lady for all these other people.

I am not certain, but I am currently under the impression that these magic people have been universally female. Yes, there are several guys that are SURE that they understand this level of clean and can (have) perform (performed) this level of clean, but I am told that it is much better, but not this standard. Some guys can clean quite well, but they just don't have the level of obsession that this handful of women have demonstrated.

To summarize this part I need to say: societal gender problems are very real and I think that over the decades there has been great progress. There is still work to be done and new problems being created. At the same time, the experience here has taught me that there are some gender differences that have nothing to do with how one is gendered - so I suppose it is fair to say "men tend to ____" and "women tend to ___". And that these things are beyond any obvious connection to genitalia. How is an eye for cleanliness somehow tied to being female? I cannot fathom how boobs somehow give one superpowers about cleaning, and, of course, it isn't an absolute truth - but there does seem to be a little truth to it. Magic boobies.


- - -


When I was younger, I was horrified to learn (via the words of well intentioned people) that I was obnoxious, arrogant and rude. Friends and family patiently worked with me to be a "better person". It turns out that this was just the beginning of my flaws. And when trying very hard to be a "better person" I still fell short of being socially acceptable. And the harder I tried to meet these criteria the more it seemed to me that I was being groomed to be a "nobody/anybody" or what I thought of as "a gray person". My life seemed to come to a standstill attempting to be non-offensive. Further, anything I thought or said seemed to of value to nobody. Not even me. It was hard work, unnatural and, in the end, the resulting person was of no interest or value to anybody. My existence had become pointless. I am sure that there are people out there that have gone to charm school and were better people for it. But I really tried to be "better" and could not get it to work.

I suppose that some of that "training" rubbed off on me as I reverted back to "being me". And, "being me" tended to drive almost everybody away, but I could thoroughly enjoy my own company. In time, I found that there were some odd ducks that thought I was cool, so I wasn't utterly alone. Although, of course, those odd ducks felt I should not be my flavor of odd duck, but needed to be their flavor of odd duck. I think that this is a life theme that is not just for me, but a life theme for all people every where. There would be a few exceptions where people are perfectly comfortable being just like somebody else, or a group of people have the exact same aspiration - so they are all pretty much the same.

As I moved into adulthood and into the corporate whore world, I thought of the "better person / gray person" stuff as being a type of shell that is perfect for communicating with others. I also came to the logical conclusion that mastery of these types of communication and "professionalism" could increase my pay by a factor of ten. I explored this, practiced this, and found this to be true.

Of course, I am totally okay with being paid $400,000 per year to speak the language of the gray people. But I really don't want to do that on my own time.

- - -

Last spring I was informed that there are a group of people that refer to me as "the permaculture poet". Apparently the way I join sentences together is ... poetic? I don't understand it, but I embrace it as a type of compliment.

I do know I have my own humor needs. Maybe as I am entertaining myself, there are a few other people that find it entertaining - and even prose-esque.

- - -

Last summer I appointed one gapper to be "gapper commander". Let's call him "X". I explained that I wanted him to visit with each gapper once or twice per week to find out what sort of thing would they like to do, what do they hope to gain from being here, what skills do they bring, are they happy, what could be improved, do they have questions, etc.

I think there is a very real need for this role. And I think "X" didn't fully grasp the role and pretty much let it go.

I think it is important that gappers are getting all the upsides that they are looking for, and somebody has some clarity about "the list" and "soul labor" and helping them get some experience with the tools and projects where they really want to build their skills.

I think it is important that it is not me. Not only am I too abrasive for most people, but I need to delegate more (there are too many things not getting done that only I can do). This seems like a good thing to delegate - provided, of course, I find the right person.


- - -


Now for the grand finale.


Two new gappers showed up. A couple. "X" was not here that day - he was doing fun stuff in Missoula. Jocelyn was getting exhausted from cleaning up after everybody. So I filled in with the "gapper commander" role.

So, I attempted to fish for "what sort of stuff do you wanna do? what sort of skills do you have?" Since one of these two people was female, I tried to find out if she might have the magic powers that, it would seem, only a few women have.

I explained my "magic boobies" theory and how we have a powerful need for somebody packing these superpowers. Then I fished for interest in stuff in the house vs. stuff out of the house. the answer was stuff out of the house.

That was in September. I think I have talked about these mysterious booby superpowers about six or seven times. All this time I think this is a spin on words that meets my humor needs and conveys a point that I am little surprised at myself.

Today I was informed that, apparently, it was offensive to the extreme.

Since I don't like the idea of offending lovely people, my first thought (which lasted for less than a second) was to apologize and go through the acts of 1) owning my shit and 2) making things right.

But wait.

I remember explaining my dilemma about the obvious sexism in this. I abhor the idea of sexism. At the same time, the evidence of "magic boobies" seems be so massive it is a bit difficult to pretend that it does not exist.

I am certainly a crude fucker. And armies of people seem powerful keen to "fix" that. At the same time, there seems to be another group about the same size that is powerful keen that I don't change. And, frankly, after listening to a hundred of my podcasts, I would think it would be pretty clear that if you come here it will be more of the same.

So, out of the two steps above, I do wish to make it clear that I own my shit. And I think "shit" in this case, is relative and subjective. What is crude to some is fun candy to others.

And for the second step of "making things right", I think the solution is a bit different. It does bother me that good, decent, wholesome folks are offended by the things that come out of my pie hole (or course, this happened while sitting on my couch, in my home, on my property after eating a meal that I provided, and I had, rather thoroughly, projected my personality via the internet so that people could avoid this). To improve things, I propose a two part solution (and since I already used "1" and "2", I'm now going to use ...)

A) Try to add more buffer between me and gappers. These kinds of conversations will be with people filling a gapper commander role, or Jocelyn or Sam or Rick or Tim. This won't be a perfect solution, but if people interact with me one tenth as much, then it becomes a 90% solution.

B) Write something in the public forum so that people can be aware of what sort of offenses they should expect when they arrive here and encounter me. And that, is this very post.

I embrace that the error was mine. I own it. As my penance, I have written this .... large-ish document, plus come up with a strategy which will, hopefully make things better for good, decent, wholesome folks in the future. And, at the same time, I can continue to live my rather delicious life without shifting into being a bit more of "a gray person."

 
kadence blevins
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I am female... I think this is terrific! (:
I have the same theory as you on this matter, i believe. But you put it much better than i could explain.
I find it the same. Even with animals. We always had barn cats, for example. Tom cats would nearly always run off at puberty, or get in fights and loser runs off, or stupidly take on a coon and lose and die. Female cats stayed within a certian area and hunted a slightly larger area. But always stayed. And the top females would have litters.
We had only ever one Tom cat that would pay any attention to the kittens or younger cats. And one other Tom that for some cat social structure reason was a bit of an outcast but was the "babysitter" of all the litters when there wasnt moms around. He took great care of the kittens and cleaned them and all.
 
Dan Boone
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I have been in shared-housework situations where my best efforts at cleaning were treated as worthless piggish slackery because I simply could not see all the "filth" that was destroying the mental tranquility of other occupants. I expect that if I actually owned a bed and breakfast I could perhaps be taught to clean to a sufficient standard if the standard was written out as a detailed checklist, but in many instances I would be rote-cleaning surfaces per the checklist rather than removing anything visually identifiable by me as a problem.

That paragraph was written to be gender-neutral. But my actual lived experience is that everyone I've ever known who could see (to clean up, or to be annoyed by) the invisible-to-me filth did indeed have boobies, magic or otherwise.

I can further report that noticing and reporting on perceived correlations of that sort is widely thought to be a sexist act. Supposedly, the reasoning goes, there are no such gender differences that are real. That we perceive them is itself evidence of our sexism; we don't see what we don't expect and we don't expect filth-spotting magic from a man so we don't notice it, but we do expect it from women so we do notice it when present.

I'm dubious of that assertion. If I met a man who had the special magic, I think I would notice, because it would be a novelty that breaks a consistent pattern of observations.

But, if you wish to inhabit the world of the gray people and speak to them in their own language, you have to ask everybody (boobies or not) if they have the filth-spotting magic. And you must make a quiet secret of the incomplete but very-real correlation you feel you have observed between boob-ownership and the special filth-spotting magic. Because if you only ask the people with boobs, and do not ask the people without boobs, some of the people you ask will treat the question as evidence that you are a sexist bastard rather than an efficient interviewer.

Bottom line: It is impossible to search efficiently for the magic while speaking the unoffensive language of the gray people.
 
Ann Torrence
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Dan Boone wrote:Because if you only ask the people with boobs, and do not ask the people without boobs, some of the people you ask will treat the question as evidence that you are a sexist bastard rather than an efficient interviewer.

More importantly, you risk missing the very outlier unboobed cleaner who will make Jocelyn swoon.

However, there really is no need to ask, just observe. People with the cleaning instinct will pick up a sponge or rag without being asked. They can't help it. Applaud them, fawn over them, make their efforts seem worthy and appreciated. Then pick up after yourself so they can keep cleaning-you do have to clean up before they deep clean. And stay out of the way with your muddy boots.
 
Jessica Gorton
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I would say that it is very difficult to parse the difference between learned cultural traits and actual gender differences (your "booby magic"). Who are we to say that raised in a entirely different way, that men might not have magic dirt-spotting abilities, and women unable to see such dirt or understand its import? Until multiple peer-reviewed behavioral studies are done on the topic, I'm not sure we can claim to know the answer to that one way or the other.

So perhaps making the claim that women have some kind of magic powers that men don't have access to (other than the established ones of bleeding for several days without dying and carrying our offspring in a sac below our bellies for 9 months) has a bit of sexism in it. It's okay, I don't think it makes you a bad person. We are very much enculturated to make assumptions about people based on their gender, color, social status and a multitude of other things that differentiate us from one another. It's probably also an innate thing - determining who belongs where in social groups goes back far enough in human development that it likely is encoded in our behavior evolutionarily. But I couldn't begin to tell you which is nature and which is nurture; I also don't think that such divisions are necessarily helpful to us as a species where we stand right now, so I try my best to think about the assumptions I make when I see someone different to me.

Grey people/language: I think there is a distinction between putting your real self in a box of conformity to get ahead or get along, and thinking about the words or actions you choose in order to include others in the conversation. The first is an act of self-denial, and it doesn't truly serve anything but the status quo. The second is an act of kindness, and I think it serves everyone in the conversation. To put it another way, it's not your fucking language that bothers me, it's what you use it for that fucking matters. You can be a caustic asshole in the service of something big that needs to be accomplished...or you can just be an asshole for no good reason. I think that there's a palpable difference.

As for your booby magic: I like to think that my boobies shoot laser beams of love and understanding to the universe...but they don't seem to keep me from being a total slob. My husband is a much cleaner person than I am. And some of the cleanest people I've met have been male chefs (a profession that is very unbalanced, in terms of gender) - almighty egotists who have spat profanities at a sous chef who had the audacity not to wipe the edge of the plate clean to their exacting expectations and made dishwashers making minimum wage clean sinks multiple times because there was a tiny piece of food left in a corner of it. So, yeah, it's likely you'll find more women than men with that particular magic, and thus be a more efficient manager of human resources. But you might miss a few neatniks with...out boobs (leaving out a terrible rhyme there) along the way.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Both Paul and I are feeling strangely sexist about the cleaning stuff, though I personally know at least a few guys who are extremely tidy and could meet and help keep up on the "B&B clean" standards, and several women who definitely could not.

I'd like to clarify about "Jocelyn clean" and my cleaning around base camp.

First, I do agree that "Jocelyn clean" is a bit akin to a "B&B clean."

In fact, if we could move to calling it "B&B clean" instead of something with my name, that would make me very happy (ahem! Paul, et al!).

In my own home before moving here, I rarely kept it "B&B clean" myself. When it was just me in the house by myself for a week, I'd let the dishes pile up and not do them until Sunday. We did the "when it's yellow, let it mellow thing" and our toilet was often very dirty because of it.

The thing is, we have visitors, guests, video crews (!) all the damn time here at wheaton labs. And, like Salatin is oft quoted, we'd like visitors to be impressed. Paul would like visitors to be impressed.

I don't clean that much these days. The first summer / year here, yes, I cleaned a lot. I don't clean that much now for a variety of reasons, including:

a) tidiness has improved a lot because we created checklists, routines, assignments, and have trained repeatedly on what we want and expect
b) once I start cleaning, it's hard to stop - maybe it's an OCD and/or ADD thing, but if I try to do one simple cleaning task, or cook a meal, it leads to hours of organizing and cleaning
c) I have higher priorities and ways I can support things that are more important than cleaning.

Though it's REALLY hard for me to walk past certain things, and I get irritated that others don't see it. I've tried not to be irritated, and am still trying, though it's tough. It's probably been one of the harder things for me to adjust to while living in community. The irritation comes from me thinking it's disrespectful of others to treat Paul's place so shabbily. I know that's almost never the intent, but I'm having a hard time shaking that.

Sunday, for example, 5 people came and went in and out the front porch and walkway and no one swept or shoveled away the ice and snow. Someone is assigned to make sure it's done on weekdays, but since no one is (currently) assigned to it on the weekends, my experience recently is that it doesn't get done unless I do it or Paul or I ask someone to do it. Ice is dangerous. I don't want anyone injured. IMHO, this is a safety hazard not just a clean-freak thing. Sigh.

I'm trying to figure out how to instill a "stop/prevent the bleeding" mentality here. Sure, dirt and dust doesn't necessarily cause "bleeding" (except maybe for computers or electronics that can become very sad if too much dust is inside), but disorganization does. We've bought extra drill bits (and other things) because we can't find the ones we have. We've had food go to waste because it wasn't properly rotated or properly stored. When I find three opened bags of brown sugar (or whatever) in the pantry, none of them properly sealed up to prevent it going rock hard or attracting pests, I'm fucking irritated.

Paul likes the idea of someone, magic boobies or not, who likes to keep things tidy and organized as their way of supporting the community. Currently, tidy and organized is improving, but is still a bit in short supply around here. I don't know if a "stop the bleeding" mentality will make a difference, but it's one angle to perhaps talk about and try.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Ann Torrence wrote:
However, there really is no need to ask, just observe. People with the cleaning instinct will pick up a sponge or rag without being asked. They can't help it. Applaud them, fawn over them, make their efforts seem worthy and appreciated. Then pick up after yourself so they can keep cleaning-you do have to clean up before they deep clean. And stay out of the way with your muddy boots.

I literally applauded someone who cleaned the compost bucket that we keep in the kitchen. And I exclaimed, "no one has thought to or cleaned than since a gal was here early in the summer! THANK YOU!"

So, unfortunately, it was a criticism of everyone else perhaps, while I was complimenting the doer! Oy vey.

I try to thank and notice when people do these things. I definitely need to do it more, to offset the amount of criticisms that do make it past my filters. Honestly, I filter a LOT because I know most of it is just me, and I can't do it all, so I try to let it go, let it be. I don't want to be the clean bitch. (See, call it "B&B clean" not "Jocelyn clean" so I'm not the clean bitch, okay?! )

I hope I'm leaning more on the positive feedback side than the negative, though when there is SO much to learn for some, the instruction/feedback can be rather heavy until they get it. Ann, your comment about recognizing the good behavior is a spot-on reminder for me!

Hoping this bit isn't too off topic about the magic boobies phrase. Personally, I like Paul's sense of humor with his language. We want things to be light and fun at wheaton labs. I/we want things to be positive around and with our living spaces. Which means the more we can do to have the tidying and organizing stuff happily taken care of, the better.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Jessica Gorton wrote:I would say that it is very difficult to parse the difference between learned cultural traits and actual gender differences (your "booby magic"). Who are we to say that raised in a entirely different way, that men might not have magic dirt-spotting abilities, and women unable to see such dirt or understand its import? Until multiple peer-reviewed behavioral studies are done on the topic, I'm not sure we can claim to know the answer to that one way or the other.

While this might open up a can of worms, I think there have been some studies that might point toward a more "nature" than "nurture" tendency in women to lean toward more detail/supportive/nurturing roles than men. Which of course doesn't always mean dirt spotting. Being detail-oriented and/or a caretaker can have a huge variation of definitions, IMHO.

One of the studies that I come back to frequently is a study of how women de-stress more with a "tend and befriend" than "fight or flight" response (http://www.personalityresearch.org/papers/mccarthy.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tend_and_befriend).

If I recall correctly, there was also a lot of most excellent research in You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation" (affiliate link - original edition from 1991, before Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus, btw). This book cited studies of a lot of very young boys and girls who demonstrated communication patterns very early on, before much cultural "nurturing" one could argue, that sort of fit with traditional gender stereotypes, while explaining them, too.

I feel better after talking about stressful things, and I want to talk a lot about what is stressing me. A lot of guys I've known do not. They'd rather fix the stressful thing(s) and not have to talk about it. Sound familiar?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hmmm....gender or culture....hmmm?

I say mainly culture...but then again I was raised almost solely by either women, and/or Asian and/or Orthodox folk...

Who in the name of the Creator doesn't clean out their compost pail at least once a week??...more than that is disgusting...

For Jocelyn:

We DO NOT allow shoes in the house...period...(that is the Japanese/Korean culture in me slipping out.)

Squatting to go to use the "facilities" and not sitting is normal as not using paper products to clean but rather soap and water...

You can eat off my floors and I do not ever smell bad...unless someone does not care for sandalwood, frankincense, sage, and lemongrass...

For Paul:

If folks can't take the heat (me included) then don't go to Paul's house for dinner...I mean really? Some folks need to grow thicker skin and/or face down a comment with "nice" discussion in private...I suspect the offended party has a great deal of growing up to do...

Regards,

j

Domestic duties or Workshop...I can rule both...(with my shoes off...)

 
Dave Burton
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I do not think it is only gender or culture, but it may also depend on the type of profession a person has and whether they carry that work ethic into their personal life.

For example, many professions that rely heavily on precision and the purity of their experiments (e.g. chemistry, biochemistry, biotech) require strict levels of cleanliness and order to ensure accurate results and the safety of the workers. Because such professions require this of their employees, they will hopefully have learned how to identify contaminants/messes and how to properly clean them up.

I definitely agree there is work involved for those kinds of deep cleans; however, so far, I have not found the marginal benefits of such extreme cleaning to be worth it (at least for me) on a household basis.

Mostly, my focus is on order in the house and what I like to call "daily maintenance." My thinking is that if a mess is cleaned up immediately after it occurs, then I do not not have to allocate any special time for cleaning because messes disappear as soon as they happen, allowing no build up to occur.
 
Julia Winter
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Paul, do you mind if I call you Popeye? ("I yam what I yam, and that's all that I yam!")

I think you've done a fine job of broadcasting your intent to speak in the ways you wish to speak. If folks don't like your style, it's a big wide world of wonderful non-Paul-defiled places, and then there's Wheaton Labs.

Perhaps you need a couple of big gates (at basecamp and up at the lab) like at the entry to a ranch, that you have to drive or walk through to enter the property:

YOU ARE NOW ENTERING wheaton laboratories! NOT FOR THE EASILY OFFENDED. ABANDON ANY HOPE OF PROPRIETY, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!

Or something like that.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hmmm....gender or culture....hmmm?

I say mainly culture...but then again I was raised almost solely by either women, and/or Asian and/or Orthodox folk...

Who in the name of the Creator doesn't clean out their compost pail at least once a week??...more than that is disgusting...


I also lean largely on the nurture side of the debate, though personality does play a large factor. If I remember correctly, those studies on young children's behavior are from their preschool years. We condition kids toward gender specific behaviors from day one. Girls get much more "oh she's so cute" and "what a cute outfit" than boys, and loudness and messiness is usually overlooked more in boys. I worked in a preschool for 6 years. I never had a parent complain about messes on boys clothes, but there were many complaints about girls clothes, both to us and the child.

What we give/encourage them to play with also varies greatly from very early on. Take my son, for example. He's 15 months old right now. He loves playing and reading about trucks, My Little Pony, Minnie Mouse, spinning things, hairbrushes, brooms, and stuffed animals. My family asked for a list of things for his birthday, so I told them what he likes. What did he get? Cars, 3 books about trucks, a truck puzzle, 2 stuffed animals, a little broom, and a spinning top. No Minnie Mouse, no My Little Ponies. Now, if we had a girl, do you think she'd have gotten cars and trucks? Nope, she'd have gotten Ponies and Minnie Mouse. That's at the age of one! They are learning so much about behaviors, how the world works, and what is valued by how we interact with them.

As for men who are neat-freaks, my father has always noticed far more messes than my mom. When we had to clean our room, it had to be up to Dad's standard, which was above Mom's.

As for why there are no men at the lab that can attain "B&B Clean," it may be that the men (like my father and the chefs mentioned), may not be that interested in digging in the dirt, whereas women are more likely to have been trained to notice dirt (and value it's remove) whether or not they are personally inclined to be a "neat-freak."
 
Dale Hodgins
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I think most women are naturally mothers and that it's natural for mothers to bitch and complain to get people to do what they want. Concern about cleanliness, is just as much concern about other people's behavior as it is about dirt.

I no longer listen to what my mother says and I don't listen to what my ex-wife says.

My children have noticed this and taken it upon themselves to act out the mother role. From when she was about six years old,  my youngest daughter started to gripe at me about various personal habits.  She has expressed opinions on the quality of my clothing the cleanliness of my vehicles and the number of swear words in my sentences. I don't see the girls doing this to other girls their age. They might try it with younger girls,  but it's mostly something reserved for the boys. It's quite harmless. She does it to her boyfriend too.

My older brother has had many mothers, who are actually his girlfriends. He's not happy unless someone is complaining and he gives them plenty of reasons to complain.

I don't think these gender roles are anything new, and I don't expect them to go away anytime soon.
 
Bill Crim
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Learning how to do permaculture, from scratch, on a large(100+ acres) unimproved land, is the compelling opportunity available on the Lab right now. The learning/building experience is worth making the trek to 3rd Circle of Boonies to sleep in a bunk house and get yelled at by a Giant and his brother Susan. It is a rare and desirable opportunity that is not easy to find. It makes sense that someone coming to the lab would want to take advantage of the amazing and unique opportunity provided. The kind of people who come to the Lab to build Wofatis will also find their skill sets applicable to lumber-jacking, milling, brick laying, masonry, cob, building, camping, and generally tearing shit up with power tools.

Learning how to run a Permaculture Kitchen for a community is also a great opportunity, but one that is also shared by places much closer to civilization. It is also something that can be done just as well on a 2.5 acre permaculture community in the city, as can be done in a remote Montana wilderness. In a city, it is easier to have a kitchen commander emerge from a community of 15 people. If someone doesn't like doing the role, they have ample opportunities to use their talents elsewhere. If somebody comes right now with the desire and qualifications to do a kitchen commander role, they could also do event catering, preserving, gardening, herbalism, soap making, raising chickens, raising diary cows, cheese making, and pottery; almost none of those are currently available on the Lab at this time.

I think everyone likes the idea of the Kitchen Commander. I am skeptical that the "Nuturing/Nesting/Homemaking" personality desired for the role overlaps significantly with the "Uproot my life and move to Montana" crowd. I suspect that if Paul had a farm 30 minutes outside of Seattle, he would be weeding through 6 applicants per month, instead of one applicant every 6 months. I also suspect that once the food systems are established in a year or two, that the learning opportunities for a potential Kitchen Commander will more easily outweigh the personal risk they take by pulling up their life and transplanting themselves to Montana.
 
kadence blevins
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Quoted: "the trek to 3rd Circle of Boonies to sleep in a bunk house and get yelled at by a Giant and his brother Susan."
Hahaha!! Thats great!! (:

Gotta say though that i kinda see the point there. Close to towns/cities more people will be interested etc. But i kinda think part of the point for Paul seems to be staying happily away from all the "toxic gick-ville"s... So i kinda wonder if those people would be a fit for what paul wants. But thats just my thoughts.


I know i for one seem to have gotten the boobies without the magical cleaning superhero abilities. Haha. I keep things clean but i think i am a bit above "cleanly guy" level but still below "magic boobies" level.
 
John Wolfram
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Dave Burton wrote:I do not think it is only gender or culture, but it may also depend on the type of profession a person has and whether they carry that work ethic into their personal life. For example, many professions that rely heavily on precision and the purity of their experiments (e.g. chemistry, biochemistry, biotech) require strict levels of cleanliness and order to ensure accurate results and the safety of the workers. Because such professions require this of their employees, they will hopefully have learned how to identify contaminants/messes and how to properly clean them up.


I had a good chuckle thinking back to my days as a grad student in chemistry. Sinks full of glassware, lab mates with questionable hygiene, and random white powders on the lab benches...those were the days. One thing to keep in mind is that cleaning up after yourself has absolutely no impact on the quality of the data your get for the experiment you just completed.
 
Marianne Cicala
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Maybe it's not the boobs, but the height. I'm 5' tall, hubby is 6'4" - maybe I see the dirt on the floor, tables etc cause I'm closer to it. That's his story anyway
 
Eugene Rominger
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Some times if you stop worrying at a problem a solution will arise.
A suggestion would be to hire 'Professional cleaners' to clean the areas that bother Jocelyn the most.
But, Make it clear to everyone the pros clean, Not pick up after or work for the gappers or guests.
Then post in the common area(s) that a gapper is preferred for the position and spell out all the responsibilities and duties.
Plus the wages you are willing to pay. ( I.E. money, discount ticket to classes, ... be creative.)


Odds are as soon as you relax and move on to other issues someone will volunteer for the position and own it.( with or without "magic boobies")
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Paul and I found this recent NY Times article interesting in terms of the "magic boobies."

The chart below is best viewed online, since it's interactive and hovering your mouse over it will show more info, but since the NY Times requires a log in once their articles age or are archived, I thought it best to capture an image and post it that way.

I didn't read the whole article, but wondered if some of the nonemployed women were actually homemakers, and that's why they had higher percentages of their day spent on housework (purple) and caring for others (beige), with less of their day searching for work (lime green at top) or on education (yellow).

Nonemployed-Men-and-Women-Charts-2015-01-24.png
[Thumbnail for Nonemployed-Men-and-Women-Charts-2015-01-24.png]
Nonemployed Men and Women
 
R Scott
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Or they are single moms.
 
Michael Cox
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http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13596-male-monkeys-prefer-boys-toys.html#.VMVQd_7keRI

Monkeys show gender bias when choosing toys to play with. There are better videos around than this one, but it is all I could find quickly. Interestingly, the boys play with wheeled toys and the girls play with dolls and soft toys with no prior exposure to them. The same has been observed with wild monkey troops.
 
carol-anne besler
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Hey Paul

This is the female side of the couple you hosted last summer. I`ve been perusing the forums to find out more info about Permaculture Voices, and came about magical boobies. go figure.

For clarity`s sake! I was not, nor have I ever been, insulted or offended by the mentioning of magic or boobs, least of all when one is used to describe the other in polite conversation between near strangers. I found it refreshingly real, really truly! My past experience is that people want to side skirt the realities of magical boobies, and when one can not talk honestly and openly about such topics, I feel more offended. For, what are we afraid of if we talk about these things? Am I supposed to feel ashamed for having the powers of sensitivity; that I see and feel the chaos that resides in unkempt spaces; that I do something about it?

Prior to coming to Wheaton Labs, I had spent the year volunteering and working on various homesteads, ultimately cooking and cleaning up messes all across the country, and by the time I arrived in such a male-dominated environment as it was back in July, I was jaded and exhausted, and expected much of the same. After a year of feeling devalued and overlooked, I began to question my own worth. In every instance, the manual work was given priority, and the fact that dinner was on the table and the kitchen was clean was of little importance as the `men`talked about their heroic efforts of the day, quick to retire to the couch or whathaveyou without showing thanks or care for my effort.

One can argue that if you have value in your self, you do not need validation from others, but I can`t funnel all my energies into the black hole of tasks that no one else cares to do without some kind of acknowledgment that it matters to anyone else other than my self (Jocelyn was wonderfully validating, and so I did not feel this burden as much as I had in other places). It is like the epic bomb fire party; one guy is playing guitar and singing around the fire, and the other is chopping, carrying, and feeding the fire with wood all night- both are integral parts of the journey, but most people often overlook servitude for the glory. My experience is that we look down upon servitude.

I think magical boobies often perpetuates the unappreciated mother archetype, which I understand through not appreciating my own mother throughout the years, and the silent thankless tasks she did in order to provide for me a safe, nurturing place to live. I think as a whole, we under appreciate magical boobies, and demoralize them by not celebrating the efforts it takes to care for home and others. I do not want to play the unappreciated mother role for grown people, and I do not want to simply `maintain`a home for my own sanity`s sake. I opted to work on the Wofati whenever I could over house chores, for the rewards were tangible and there was a sense of comradery; a feeling of purpose that I never felt after a day in the home.


I hope that we can teach ourselves and each other to respect and validate all efforts of the community, from taking out the compost to building a fricken`Wofati or growing a business to pay for it all; that no one goes unnoticed for their contribution. We can pick up after ourselves and say thank you, and after we take care of our own shit, the grunt of it doesn`t have to fall on the magical boobies so that they too can create, experience, and discover something new in the home and garden to nurture and provide for every one. What you give returns tenfold, don`t you know?

Both Jesse and I are eager to visit again should we be welcomed back, this time not weeks before my vistor`s visa is due

Love you Paul! (and also, please resist censoring yourself through buffering yourself with others. It was a wonderful experience to have you welcome us into your home. If you are hiding your self, then a thriving, healthy community can not be established at Wheaton Labs, as honest communication lays the foundation.)
 
paul wheaton
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Carol Anne, I keep thinking you two will show up here any day.


For clarity`s sake! I was not, nor have I ever been, insulted or offended by the mentioning of magic or boobs, least of all when one is used to describe the other in polite conversation between near strangers. I found it refreshingly real, really truly! My past experience is that people want to side skirt the realities of magical boobies, and when one can not talk honestly and openly about such topics, I feel more offended.


I remember sharing my philosophy with you. Glad it went over smoothly. And, I remember that you seemed to totally see what needed to be done and did it. A big help.


Prior to coming to Wheaton Labs, I had spent the year volunteering and working on various homesteads, ultimately cooking and cleaning up messes all across the country, and by the time I arrived in such a male-dominated environment as it was back in July, I was jaded and exhausted, and expected much of the same. After a year of feeling devalued and overlooked, I began to question my own worth. In every instance, the manual work was given priority, and the fact that dinner was on the table and the kitchen was clean was of little importance as the `men`talked about their heroic efforts of the day, quick to retire to the couch or whathaveyou without showing thanks or care for my effort.


I suspect that we are low on thanks and/or care for the "heroic efforts" either. The mission is to eat the whale, and each day we manage to get a few more bites. I do worry that I, personally, don't check in with everybody more about all the things going on - other than, of course, when things go wrong or to give instruction. I did try to assign somebody this very task last summer (the "X" person in my first post in this thread).

I do know that we had Katelin here as kitchen commander for five weeks and for the first time ever the job was done well. Proof that with the right person we can have three meals a day, a clean kitchen and without a spec of problem. Other things around the house mysteriously became cleaner too. I know that my personal velocity was improved 30% and I get the impression that a lot of people had improved velocity. And I know I did check in with her several times to let her know that I noticed.

But that's part of the problem with any job: if you do a really good job, you effectively become invisible. And you make the job look so easy, that people might even come to the conclusion that you don't do anything.


(Jocelyn was wonderfully validating, and so I did not feel this burden as much as I had in other places)


Good!


I do not want to play the unappreciated mother role for grown people, and I do not want to simply `maintain`a home for my own sanity`s sake. I opted to work on the Wofati whenever I could over house chores, for the rewards were tangible and there was a sense of comradery; a feeling of purpose that I never felt after a day in the home.


I think we are really good about letting folks choose where they wanna play while they are here. Of course, if we do nutty schemes, then we need to be respectful to the people that paid, or signed up, or whatever ...

And, the kitchen commander position is one of the very few paid positions - for the very reason that I think it does tend to be something without as much adventure. Although with food preservation, wildcrafting, fermenting, etc. - it can have its share of adventure too.


Both Jesse and I are eager to visit again should we be welcomed back


Come back anytime. We are much better for the two of you having been here.


Love you Paul! (and also, please resist censoring yourself through buffering yourself with others. It was a wonderful experience to have you welcome us into your home. If you are hiding your self, then a thriving, healthy community can not be established at Wheaton Labs, as honest communication lays the foundation.)


I agree with your analysis. If people choose to be offended, then better to get offended early and move on.

At the same time, the mission is of the most extreme importance. I have sacrificed a lot of personal comfort for the sake of moving these projects forward. It does make logical sense that if, say "X" offends somebody then that person will remain and avoid "X". But if I offend somebody, then that person will probably leave and the project is now slower. Further, if I share 100 obnoxious thoughts, there is a good chance that a person will be offended by five - and one of those five will be a deal breaker. But if my exposure is limited to just 10% of what it has been, then there will be only 10 obnoxious thoughts shared and probably zero will be offensive. Improved forward velocity.

Plus, after a year and a half and so many hundreds of people that have come through, I am simply getting a bit wore out. Fortunately there are many people that have been here long enough that I am not needed as much.

 
Peter Littmann
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Paul, When some else has a problem with something that we have done or haven't done it is just that THEIR PROBLEM. Everyone of us need to accept responsibility for how we react to something others do. We are all given a level of grace to even be alive in the first place, lets enjoy that grace together. Cheers Peter
 
elle sagenev
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I don't think men can't see the dirt. I think that men have been programmed to assign that dirt as women's work. I have seen my siblings husbands comment on dirt or debri and expect my sisters to clean it up because they have boobs. In my household assigning tasks between my husband and myself has kept the sort of bitterness that many women feel from happening. Sure, the ourdoors and building stuff is exciting. As you admit, it does not happen well without the indoors handled. So I think it should be assigned work so that everyone involved gets to do the fun work. I cook, My husband does the dishes. I do laundry, He handles trash. We both vacuum. We both care for the children. We also both have about the same ability to overlook dust. In this way household burnout is reduced. Plus, my contribution to the building and planting is enormous. That would be completely missed if I was shackled to the house. I'd also probably be a far bigger shrew than I currently am.

On a side note, I dislike when men dismiss sexism. It is not something you can ever understand. If you have never been afraid for your safety because of a member of the opposite sex I just do not think you can understand the trauma involved in the mindset. My husband has held me while I cried and listened to my anguish, but even he cannot truly understand it. I think it gives women a sort of PTSD, where we start seeing all men as threats to our safety. Men as the enemy. It may not be right but I am afraid every single time my work gets a delivery. That isn't right either.

On another note, I'm a bit like you Paul. Very forthright. Not very PC. I can probably be a bit annoying (ok ok I know I am). It can be a bit of a struggle.
 
Eva Taylor
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So I just finished reading both this thread as well as the "paid positions for 2015" and thoughts of the Hugh Howey Wayfinder series I just read came up again and again.
In this series of short books, he takes you through the various ways we give up our own free will to the instincts and default responses we carry from a time where we needed to run from danger often, and our tribe was necessary for our survival. Flight or fight is one automatic, mostly unconscious response, but one other he brought up was called theory of mind.
Evidently a very large portion of our brain exists solely for figuring out what others are thinking. "theory of mind" refers to our inner dialog of: What do I think of you, what do you think of dirty people, do dirty people like you more than jocelyn? Does everyone get offended by your use of the term magic boobies? All of this occuping our daily lives far more than I ever realized. The purpose for this reflex assessment of what the people around me are thinking is to create and maintain cohesive social groups. It seems that the structure for the transition towns works with this premise a lot- if you don't like what's happening here, you can choose to go somewhere else. The number of people for projects are dictated by whomever shows up. Therefore I'm gonna try to think of things everyone wants to do...
Not sure how this helps but it seems as though another reflex action that interrupts my free will happens when "company comes" all of a sudden I see all the dirt in the corners of the room and the clutter takes up a ridiculous amount of space. I HAVE to spend a day cleaning before I feel ok opening my door for people. It seems ok for me to have this reflex though, without that extra motivation I might descend into the depths of slothdom....
Maybe instead of hiring someone to clean your personal space for all time, you invest money to separate your personal space from the hordes of visitors? Don't allow anyone into your cave, unless you are ok with them seeing a pile of dishes. MAYBE I'm not the only one with this reflex, maybe an otherwise sloppy gapper might clean up his or her shit if geoff lawton was going to be eating in an area they were responsible for? Maybe you rotate who is responsible for hosting and caring for the important visitors so the pressure isn't all on you guys?

 
jack milholm
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Thanks for this post. After a total of 31 years of marriage (it took 3 women to accumulate these years) I now understand the phrase "You clean like a man".
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Eva Taylor wrote:So I just finished reading both this thread as well as the "paid positions for 2015" and thoughts of the Hugh Howey Wayfinder series I just read came up again and again.
In this series of short books, he takes you through the various ways we give up our own free will to the instincts and default responses we carry from a time where we needed to run from danger often, and our tribe was necessary for our survival. Flight or fight is one automatic, mostly unconscious response, but one other he brought up was called theory of mind.
Evidently a very large portion of our brain exists solely for figuring out what others are thinking. "theory of mind" refers to our inner dialog of: What do I think of you, what do you think of dirty people, do dirty people like you more than jocelyn? Does everyone get offended by your use of the term magic boobies? All of this occuping our daily lives far more than I ever realized. The purpose for this reflex assessment of what the people around me are thinking is to create and maintain cohesive social groups. It seems that the structure for the transition towns works with this premise a lot- if you don't like what's happening here, you can choose to go somewhere else. The number of people for projects are dictated by whomever shows up. Therefore I'm gonna try to think of things everyone wants to do...

My knee-jerk reaction to this was that some people have what is called "mind blindness," and some of these folks are wholly unable to develop any "theory of mind." They truly are unable to put themselves in another person's shoes. (Though I'd argue against calling this a deficit or disability in many cases, and would prefer to consider it just a difference without so much stigma.)

I totally get your example of cleaning a day before visitors come! And how the "theory of mind" stuff has you imagining a new, visitor's perspective on your house and all of sudden, from that viewpoint, you see the dirt, the mess...and it's often (for me, any way) a stressful realization!

I think, yes, for folks who have healthy (or over-active) "theory of mind" or the ability to imagine another's viewpoint, it might work to have them think of Geoff Lawton visiting and ask them to clean from that perspective. And yet...for some...their priority might still be different than the dirt in the corner behind the door. It might be to go out and build a path in the hugelberm...or a myriad of other outdoors projects that have nothing to do with dishes, dirt, floors, laundry, etc. in the house.

We. have. so. many. differences.

It's really fantastic that we do.

I love the idea that we have enough roles and opportunities at wheaton labs that folks are inspired, creative, and fulfilled in what they're doing.

Nurturing a space into cleanliness and order; making it a supportive, welcoming space for residents and guests is a constant balancing act. Things can ALWAYS be cleaner, and yet there are people coming, meals to put on, beds to make, plants to nurture. Stuff happens. Life happens.

I think I've written at least 3 different paragraphs, and then deleted them, in an effort to further illustrate the kind of nurturing, the kind of attention to home and adequate cleanliness that we're looking for here. It seems everything I write is bunk. Suffice it to say we've had 7 different people who have cleaned for us at wheaton labs just this year. Just in 2015 to date. It's amazing how different people see (or don't see) different things. That's really okay. The effort just needs to be good enough, served up with the right aptitude and attitude, and we'll roll with it.
 
Eva Taylor
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well said!
 
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