Saturday, May 1, 2021

Quarantine, Week 59: Exhaustion of All Kinds

 One of the reasons I have been blogging less is that I have said stuff before so why repeat it?  Talking about pandemic exhaustion probably fits into that category, but I am too exhausted to look through my past Q posts to see if I have already written about exhaustion.  

Why exhausted?  Tis grading season.  I have graded all of the work from my MA class, I only read a few of the PhD proposals from my PhD proposal class (having read pieces of all of these several times, well, that is exhausting in a different way), I have read the two MA Research Projects that I was supervising (students can opt to take a couple of fewer classes by writing an article length paper), and I am behind on reading the chapter of one of my PhD students.  

Grading season coincides in Canada with conference season.  In non-pandemic years, we tend to have more events in April and May since we feel it is unkind to invite folks to Canada in January/February/March.  For the time being, with zoomed events, we don't have to worry about subjecting visitors to our winter, but the old battle rhythms remain.  I don't have any events to organize for the next month, but I have been and will be attending a variety of workshops and conferences organized by others over the next two months.  And I am organizing the Summer Institute that will take place at the end of August.  

Classes are over, so that means more time.  And I spent part of it by going to class.  Julia Lalonde is organizing bystander classes (funded in part by L'Oreal) so that folks don't freeze when they see street harassment.  I loved that she started with the 5 D's--Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct--because I am such a big fan of the 5 D's of Dodgeball: dodge, dip, duck, dive, and dodge. 

  • Distract: you don't have to confront the harasser.  One can simply distract that person by dropping some coins, bumping them on a subway train, etc.
  • Delegate: asking the bus driver or some other authority to intervene, although asking the police to get involved is a bad idea these days.  Or if you are a man and you don't feel comfortable asking the targeted woman if she needs help, you can ask another woman to intervene instead.
  • Document: we all have cell phones, so record if others are doing the other four d's.  But don't post on social media.  The idea is to document in case the person who is being harassed needs evidence.
  • Delay: stay behind so that you can accompany the person so they are not alone to face the harasser and to check in with them to see if they are ok.
  • Direct: this is the last resort if the other stuff does not work.  Tell the harasser to shove off, essentially.   

 It is much easier to react in the moment if you know what you can do.  So, I highly recommend taking participate in one of the free training sessions.   

Speaking of harassment, political scientists are organizing a pledge and an open letter to fight bullying.  This is in reaction to events I have discussed here.  I signed, but I am ambivalent about this.  Yes, it is great to state what the norms should be--that helps to define the norms and raise the social costs for norm breakers.  It may be changing the permission structure that I talk about in the aforementioned post.  But it is also problematic when the bullies sign the pledge.  Does this reflect real attitudinal and behavioral change or is it an effort by these bullies to launder their reputations?  You can probably guess where I am leaning.  I really don't know how to change an orgaization's or a profession's culture, but I am going to be learning over the next year as the CDSN hosts events on this.

 And why would we do that?  Because the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence are in deep need of some cultural change.  The sexual misconduct and abuse of power crisis will not be "fixed" anytime soon as it will require more than just the creation of a new office to monitor and influence the culture (sorry, Lt.General Carignan, you have been given a lousy job).  Most of the observers of the latest announcements about what the Trudeau government will do about this crisis were most frustrated/annoyed/angry about the proposed solution: a new study by yet another former woman who had served as Supreme Court Justice.  This reeked of kicking the can down the road.  I know that there are folks within DND who have been looking at models elsewhere.  So, the DND folks had info about what could be done, but Minister of Defence Sajjan didn't do his job (again), choosing not to decide.  I guess we will have to wait until after the next election before we can get someone who will actually make decisions rather than avoid them.  

I am pretty sure all those folks who have been following this story for months now are exhausted by the pathetic responses by Trudeau and Sajjan.  I can't imagine what it is like for those who have survived the abuses of power within the ranks.  All I know is that justice delayed is justice denied, and that not holding the man at the top accountable sends a signal that all of the men at the top will not be held accountable.  

Oh, and the reappearance of winter with snow yesterday was pretty exhausting as well.  

On the bright side, my daughter got her second shot this week, and most Saidemans have had two doses (the one-shot J vax has not been available to most of my family and friends).  They can start to follow the new CDC advice about returning to semi-normalcy.  Up here, in Canada, it looks like May will be a much better month for vaccines as they arrive in bigger numbers, but the distribution will be hamstrung by crappy provincial leadership.  The incompetent murder clowns are still clowning around. And we are mighty exhausted by their act. 

It could be worse, of course, watching what is going on in India.  The enduring lessons of all of this should be: populists get people killed, that governance matters, and that one should not elect people who are hostile to government.  Public policy matters, as places have handled this pandemic differently, leading to different outcomes.  Little did I know how prophetic World War Z was when I read it the first three or five times.  

So, get your shots, get some rest, and as my Marine friends remind me, hydrate and change your socks.  

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