Author Topic: S/O of Parental Criticism Thread: Were you criticized for being a bluestocking?  (Read 7329 times)

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Venus193

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I first learned that word when reading Gone With the Wind when I was in high school.  Scarlett uses this word disparagingly with reference to Melanie.  The dictionary.com definition is:


blue·stock·ing  [bloo-stok-ing] noun
1.  a woman with considerable scholarly, literary, or intellectual ability or interest.
2.  a member of a mid-18th-century London literary circle: Lady Montagu was a celebrated bluestocking.

Origin:
1675–85;  so called from the informal attire, especially blue woolen instead of black silk stockings, worn by some women of the group (def 2)

However, for the purposes of this discussion we will also use Scarlett as a role model because she had major practical intelligence and the ability to solve problems.  In that way she was far smarter than either of her first two husbands, Ashley, and most other women of her acquaintance.  She was often criticized for it when she let it show and also thought it preposterous that women should hide such intelligence.

If you are a Scarlett or a Melanie -- or some combination of the two -- who criticized you for it and how did you respond?  Did you find that men were intimidated or otherwise offended by this or was that just something your female elders tried to scare you with?

Were you lucky enough to find a man who appreciated this about you?

BeagleMommy

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In high school I was told by a classmate that I would never be able to date because "boys think you're too smart and use too many big words".

My response was "that's their problem".  Fortunately, DH didn't find that intimidating.

Last year, I joined the Bas Bleu Society for Literary Women.  :D

Lady Snowdon

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Yes, I've been criticized so many times for using vocabulary that other people think is too intimidating.  I'm not about to apologize for it.  If something (or someone) is being obstreperous, I'm going to say that, and not annoying.  I've been hearing the criticism since about 3rd grade or so, all the way up through my last job.  Thankfully, I never heard it as "Men don't like a woman like that", just a more generic, "You talk funny/weird/strange.  Can't you just say words that normal people know?".

As a sidenote, DH and I both acquired most of our vocabulary from extensive reading, and so we occasionally aren't aware of the correct pronunciation.  It's fun to compare how we think a word should be pronounced and then go check the actual pronunciation.  My favorite incorrect pronunciation is "courtesy".  In my mind it should be "court-esy"; I don't like saying "cur-tesy".  :P

audrey1962

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Never.  And I've never met anyone else that criticizes other people that way. To the contrary, most people I know praise others for their intelligence.

cattlekid

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I've lived with this my entire life.  It was a source of much stress when I was growing up because we were always moving so I was always the new kid.  Combine glasses, braces and an educational aptitude that was usually far above most of my classmates with that and I was the target for either a) bullying or b) kids trying to get me to do their work for them. 

Due to all of this, I didn't date at all in high school or college.  It took me getting out of college and into the work world until I found males who weren't turned off by me.  I hated high school and tolerated college for this and many other reasons.

flickan

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My vocabulary isn't really that impressive but I was never criticized for showing intelligence.  My parents may have been sexist but that never extended to women not being as intelligent as men, they're mostly bogged down about gender roles and women deferring to men.  My mother always wanted her children (male and female) to show off their smarts-- a little too much so probably, she was one of those moms.

To be honest I've never encountered anyone in my life who was openly threatened by a well-spoken and intelligent woman.  I've met my share of misogynists but the issue of being "too smart" just wasn't part of it, or if it was, wasn't something I heard about.

My situation is probably different because there weren't a lot of girls to compare me to growing up.  I did then and still do have a very hard time relating to other women.  I either had no friends or male friends.  With the boys I was expected to be like them-- my male friends in high school were smart, well-read, opinionated, and I was always driven to keep up with the conversation and be able to banter with them.  It wasn't a boy thing it was just a "my social group" thing.  Me, and a bunch of boys who would hang out at the coffee house and play D&D and work on school projects together.  I looked up to them because they were brilliant and brilliance has no gender.

I would have been furious if anyone had tried to tell me to dumb myself down for anyone.

I married someone who was born to a highly intelligent and incredibly accomplished mother so no issues there.

Thipu1

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Yes, I got that too from time to time.  On occasion, I still do. 

In my case, it isn't the use of vocabulary.  It's more likely I know something that people of 'superior' intellect don't.

One of my bosses in the library cataloged a book and listed 'M.S. Cantab' as a secondary author.  It was a delicate matter to tell her that 'MS Cantab' meant that the author received his Master of Science degree from Cambridge University.  Another time, she listed 'Gallimard Jeunesse' as a secondary author.  That simply meant that book was published by the children's division of the French publishing house. 

This was a woman who had two Master's degrees. 


Venus193

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When I was in elementary school I was always reading at least four years above average levels.  My vocabulary was always more sophisticated than than that of 95% of my classmates.  I was always being told "Don't use words nobody else knows" by classmates whose grades were below mine.

The messages that Scarlett O'Hara got came later.

I never bought what this notion was selling.  A man who falls for a dumb act can't be very intelligent or confident and that is not a man worthy of my respect or my time.

What truly blows my mind is that so many women fall for this.  I wonder what happens to them in the long term?  Do they play dumb until after the officiant says "I now pronounce you husband and wife" and what happens then or do they continue to play dumb to appease the weak self-esteem of their husbands (or others)?  Do any of you know an example of this?

English1

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As a child my parents didn't really value education and had a very 'this is our place in life' mindset. It's a product of their age and background, so I don't blame them. But it did limit me I think: I was never told I was smart (I am!) and was not encouraged to continue in education past the compulsory age, so I left school at 16. I'm now doing a degree in my 40s and they are supportive and proud, but it all seems a bit late. I now know I'd have loved a career in academia. But to them, universities, degrees etc were like something from another planet, so I didn't know anything about them at the time either. My son went to university and my mum got quite upset and worried about him 'fitting in'  and made a comment that 'none of ours could have gone, they wouldn't have been accepted back then' (meaning socially). They really had no idea that higher education was extended to the 'working classes' like us as a realistic option in the 80s, and that it was the time of boom for people from our background to start getting degrees etc.  :(

Their only career advice for me was to marry a rich man. I don't think it ever crossed their mind that a woman could make her own money.

The only people, however, who really had a problem with it were my ex's. Bad taste in men. My ex husband resisted my ambitions in my 20s to go to university and put every obstacle he could in my way. He even felt very threatened by my doing one A Level (the qualifications you do at 18 to enable you to go to university) and I wasn't allowed to use the family money to pay the very small fee and buy the books. My parents paid (see, they do support me really, they just didn't understand too well when I was younger) in the end. I didn't get to uni though.

My last ex, T, was very threatened by my brain power as he was very 'man is head of the family' type (groan, I never agreed with that, it caused all manner of friction between us) and I clearly recall him telling me I should be a woman first, and a genius second!

New man (finally developed a bit of taste!) is very supportive and comes from a similar background; he's very intelligent but left school at 16, has since self-educated albeit with few formal educational qualifications, so we love our high-brow discussions, watching documentaries, reading, learning. Got back from my university tutorial last night around 10pm - he picked me up from the rail station even though it's only a short walk from home, shooed me over to the sofa, made me a cup of tea, produced a plate of dinner he'd made and saved for me, and asked me all about my tutorial. Heaven. I'd love to do a Masters next - and he's already said he'll move with me if need be.  :D

We both get the urge to dumb down a bit with some people we know. Just choosing a more basic, understandable vocabulary. It's so nice for both of us to be able to let rip with each other.





« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 09:57:20 AM by English1 »

cabbagegirl28

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I've always been super nerdy. Dad taught violinp and me to read at 3, and I never looked back. I'll list a few of the examples of teasing/conflict I dealt with. I apologize for how long this is, I can't be short-winded in my story telling.

When I was in first grade, my classmates got angry that I didn't have to do group reading and could sit in the back and read books like The Trumpeter Swan. They said I should be treated exactly the same as anyone else.

When violinp and I found out for Accelerated Reader (a program that supposedly encourages reading, but all it did was annoy me) that we were essentially reading on a college level, one of my friends asked me, "Why do you have to be so smart? Why can't you just be normal?"

A friend who was listening in to my conversation with violinp (as in, not talking to her and it wasn't about her or anyone she knew) told me that I needed to dumb my words down so she could understand what I was saying.  :o I told her in no uncertain terms that the conversation wasn't for her, and if she really wanted to understand us, she could pick up a dictionary and actually learn new words.

A kid who ostensibly was one of the smartest kids in the school (he really was intelligent, he just thought he was the best) got angry when our AP English Lit teacher gave me an 8 out of 9 on an essay when he'd given me a 5 in peer grading. His grade essentially meant that he thought my essay was superficial and the writing was immature. He said it was unfair that I should write a better essay, because he'd been in AP English Language the year before. For people who aren't familiar with AP, he basically said that being able to write a persuasive essay should mean that he knew how to write a literary critical essay. Not necessarily.

Honestly, most of this stuff I laugh at. If I didn't, I would be walking around with a grudge bag that weighed 200 tons. When people make fun of me for being intelligent, I ignore them. Most people who do that are insecure, and I try to remind myself that they are struggling like I am. Most guys haven't made fun of me for my intelligence, and the one guy who did (AP Lit kid), I basically told him, "Look, I just am good at literature. My dad is a Shakespeare buff and majored in English. He passed that on to me. Get over it."

More girls have made fun of me, but they didn't relate my smarts to whether I'd get a boyfriend or not. No, apparently being intelligent at all makes you a smarty-pants, and you should shut up and never talk because your smarts make everyone feel bad.

I couldn't date anyone who didn't value intelligence in a life partner. I like reading Shakespeare and Dante for fun, and I love having deep philosophical discussions. So far, I haven't had a boyfriend for any real length of time (2 hours in 6th grade does not count), but I hope that when I do, I can find someone who wants me to enjoy my intellectual pursuits.


"To study and practice the goodness of life, the beauty of art, the meaning of music...To speak the words that build, that bless and comfort...And again, to practice./This is to be our symphony."

weeblewobble

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Not by my parents, because they were thrilled I loved to read and was smart.  (They did wish that I focused more on schoolwork instead of creative pursuits.)

But by classmates and friends?  Yes.  I used words that were too big.  I raised my hand too many times in class.  I volunteered too much information.  (Meaning I didn't pretend to be dumb  When I knew something, I shared it.)  I was basically Hermione Granger, before Hermione Granger was cool.

guihong

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Not directly.  However, one of the biggest fights my husband and I ever got into was over a (get this) Larry the Cable Guy movie.   It was one where Larry has to work with a very intellectual woman, who I do admit was played as a humorless snob.  I asked my husband if that's how he saw me (an admitted bluestocking from a long line of bluestockings), and he said yes  :'(.  Oh, that was bad.  It was a sore spot in our relationship; his blue-collar upbringing and that he was the first to go to college at all, and my very intellectual family.  I was really sensitive about feeling "less than" he was.




weeblewobble

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When I was in elementary school I was always reading at least four years above average levels.  My vocabulary was always more sophisticated than than that of 95% of my classmates.  I was always being told "Don't use words nobody else knows" by classmates whose grades were below mine.

The messages that Scarlett O'Hara got came later.

I never bought what this notion was selling.  A man who falls for a dumb act can't be very intelligent or confident and that is not a man worthy of my respect or my time.

What truly blows my mind is that so many women fall for this.  I wonder what happens to them in the long term?  Do they play dumb until after the officiant says "I now pronounce you husband and wife" and what happens then or do they continue to play dumb to appease the weak self-esteem of their husbands (or others)?  Do any of you know an example of this?

My husband is more than willing than admit that I am smarter than him. When it comes to literary, scientific, historical, or other academic knowledge.* He is very proud of my brain and loves it when we play trivia games with his friends so I can "crush their spirits with the power of my mind."

*To be fair, he is far better with practical "life knowledge" sort of things, like applying for mortgages, car repairs and not setting the kitchen on fire when cooking.

Outdoor Girl

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I was basically Hermione Granger, before Hermione Granger was cool.

LOL.  Yes, that was me.  My vocabulary was better than most of my peers because I read a whole lot more.  I was reading several grade levels above and I was reading a lot.  My school had a library period once per week where a whole class would go and pick out a book to sign out for the week.  The librarian quickly learned that she'd have to let me sign out more than the one book allowed in order for me not to be bugging her to come in and get another book a day later.  She'd let me sign out 5 at a time.  Other kids complained.  So she asked them, 'That one book you are signing out?  Will you be done reading it next week when you bring it back?' and when they answered that they'd likely sign it out again for another week, she'd point to my stack and tell them that I'd be turning all those back in and getting 5 new ones.  They quit complaining.

I, too, had trouble with pronunciation because of the reading.  Hyperbole comes to mind.  I pronounced it hyper-bowl for the longest time until I was corrected.   ;D

I have a bit of a competitive nature that may have played into not keeping a high school or university boyfriend.  If we were in the same class, I was always quite pleased when I got a better grade than they did.  Them?  Not so much.  Still haven't met a man that can keep up with me.  But I'd rather be on my own than settle for someone I wouldn't find stimulating.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario

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When I switched to public elementary school in 5th grade, we had these computer programs that were designed as instruction in science, math, reading, and something else. I was tested as reading at beyond a 12th grade level (that was as high as the program went) and finished the science and math programs entirely by March. All of my classmates complained that I got to play Oregon Trail during the work time, but I literally had nothing else I could do. The teachers wouldn't let me read books, this was computer learning time, you see.

I surprised the librarian that year by checking out The Hobbit and then returning it the next week. Then I wanted to read Lord of the Rings, but they didn't have it. She said there was no way I could read it at that age and understand it. So I went to the public library and brought it in to school as my library book.

In middle school, I read A Brief History of Time. For fun. When I got to 9th grade, we had to do an independent book report on some piece fine literature. The teacher left it entirely up to us. I was too busy, forgot, so I picked up that book and took it in for my book report. She didn't believe I had read it, so she opened it to a random page and asked me about wormholes. I explained them to her, using words the book used, and then when I saw the confusion on her face, I explained it in plain English for her. I passed the book report, and she never questioned my reading choices again.

The thing is, I've never had a problem dating. I managed to follow John Green's advice before I even heard it.