Okay, so here’s the thing: I am a huge nerd.
No really, I am totally that person who, at the slightest provocation, will start to go about social insects or childbirth in America or the history of syphilis, because I think it’s just that cool. Thanks to a rabid curiosity about the world, a fairly good memory, and nearly constant Internet access, I have become a veritable well of quasi-useless factoids. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and in elementary school a good portion of my interactions with classmates were them asking me for homework help.
I’ve met a lot of people, in a lot of different contexts: different jobs, different schools, different social events, and as would any person, I’ve made a variety of impressions. It would be grossly misleading to imply that everyone I’ve ever met has liked me; I’m obviously not an impartial judge but can imagine that some of my negative traits include a grating sense of self-righteousness, over-prurient sense of humor and a not insubstantial amount of social awkwardness. However, there’ve been very few interactions with people where I felt that the other person saw me as too stupid. Yes – obnoxious, annoying, boring, lazy, inconsiderate – but not slow-witted or unintelligent. Whatever people’s other feelings about me have been, I’ve managed to go through my life having my intelligence relatively unassailed by would-be doubters (or if I haven’t, I’ve obviously been too dense to notice a lot of it).
I can assert that yellow jackets are wasps rather than bees, that tetanus doesn’t actually come from rust, or that rabies is the only disease that can be prevented after its transmission without people batting an eye (except perhaps in disgust). There is, however, one thing I can do that can completely change the way a person is interacting and speaking with me, so that in a moment I go from “pleasant, acceptably well-informed person talking to me about ______” to “OMG HOW DID I EVER LISTEN TO THIS PERSON AS SHE’S CLEARLY NUTS.” That thing, of course, is to say something feminist. (more…)