html xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: More on being non-judgmental.

Monday, April 23, 2007

More on being non-judgmental.

I’ve been trying recently to reconcile being non-judgmental with my increasing conviction that we should condemn and exclude assholes. And with the recognition that some things just aren’t OK. My thoughts on that aren’t finished yet.

One possibility is that there are types of people who deserve no tolerance. I am done with ex-pats. I am done with best friends who fuck my ex. I have had two bad run-ins with television news reporters, so they are skating on thin ice. One more bad encounter with a television news reporter and I am done with them too. (I should tell you about those. One time was sad and one time was ludicrous.) I’ve got nothing for the TSA. I am also done with people who menace women on the internets and assholes in general, although that isn’t a very finely tuned application.

The alternative concept is that there are realms for being non-judgmental. Passing judgments on voluntary behavior that violates gender or sex norms is a waste of thought. Anything that only hurts the agent gets a sympathetic listen from me. I’ll go a good long way with any experimentation from someone who generally has her act together. That’s as far as I’ve thought through.

I am also convinced that this exact form of non-judgmental tolerance is the key to adult mother-daughter friendships. Whenever someone says “my Mom is my best friend; I talk to her every day and tell her everything”, I quiz her on this. So far I’ve gotten perfect correspondence. I fully believe that mother-daughter relationships are so fraught that any hint of criticism gets amplified out of proportion. Moms have to be non-judgmental at all times for daughters to choose to confide in them. I don’t think that is fair to Moms (except the Moms for whom it comes naturally), but I think it is true.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was with you ex-pats, and I'm with you on tv news reporters. Additional general rule of thumb: avoid anyone who is always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

-dithers

12:10 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I don't want people to think I'm rushing to condemn tv news reporters. I need more than two incidents to write off the entire group of people. But I only need one more...

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ex-pats? What's wrong with ex-pats?

12:45 PM  
Anonymous bryn said...

It's sounding more and more like the issue is one of trust. If you trust the person to be generally good or well intentioned they should be given a lot of latitude and empathy.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

We spent about a week on ex-pats back in August 2006.

1:08 PM  
Blogger jens said...

I know you are going to take this as irritating and patronizing instead of a compliment, so I guess I can say it:


You are SOOOOOO cute!

That post really made me smile.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Yes. You are right. Irritating and patronizing, both.

2:42 PM  
Blogger jens said...

Phew! I was worried you might take it the wrong way!

You probably would have deleted it then.

2:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe you could write about your ex-pat hatred in a more qualified way. I'm an American working in the UK as an assistant professor for a salary that an American postdoc would make, and it's annoying to read:

Ex-pats, if that is you, I hate you too. You contribute nothing. You are living off being white and speaking English and for you? That is not an accomplishment.


even if the context makes it clear that you're not referring to me.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm sorry. I should take your concern more seriously. But I'm loving the idea that being white and speaking English in the UK confers a disproportionate advantage on an American ex-pat.

Whoring much?

Come on. Would more qualifications confirm even more that you aren't the target of the ex-pat hatred? You've read them once, and you knew who I meant, and you decided whether that was you.

*************
WAIT! You aren't my cousin, are you? He's in the UK, doc'ing though. Not being an assistant professor. I don't hate him.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, I mostly just feel sheepish that I had to go back to the Aug 2006 archives to figure out what the hell you were talking about.

And then I read the comments and felt more ridiculous, but when I got to
It's the people who move to gain an advantage in another country (mostly by being rich, white and English speaking) that they couldn't get by working hard at home that I can't respect. ... Also, because community is such a strong value for me, I do wonder at people who are willing to be in limbo and not fit in well anywhere.

I thought of my great-grandparents, who came to NYC from Russia in 1904 (am I still your cousin?) with all those immigrant stereotypes about not knowing English, or the culture, but wanting to, um, gain advantage that they couldn't get by working hard at home.

I think the moral of the story is that you make too many ridiculous generalizations and simple immigration policies for all people, and I take things too personally.


Incidentally, the pale-white boys and girls here do go wild over the accent, though. Just like in Love, Actually, but in reverse. And "white" here is divided into "White - British," "White - Irish" and (my category) "White - Other." So you could say that my advantages are from being off-white. I highly recommend it; even just a Spring Break in Liverpool can be unforgettable.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Yes, you are still my cousin, and the timing is about right.

But did you read "Tangentially related to ex-pats", for my opinions on immigrants, who are different from ex-pats? Wait, it looks like you did. And you nevertheless accuse me of oversimplifying?

So glad spring break in Liverpool was fun for you.

5:51 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

There are no entire categories of people I dislike. Well, okay, there's an exception to every rule.

7:16 PM  
Anonymous mattpfeff said...

A good confidant is not judgmental of you, but at the same time unafraid to share their judgment of what you do. I mean, if someone won't tell you what they honestly think or feel, that's no good either, is it?

8:52 PM  
Blogger Noel said...

Related to ex-pats this Meggie quote is odd:

"Why traveling makes people annoying, especially people who believe it has any purpose besides indulgence."

Ok, hearing other people's travelling experiences can be pretty boring, but I firmly believe I have benefited from seeing the world. Also, I guess I'm the child of ex-pats. I don't think my ex-pats are your ex-pats.

3:03 AM  
Blogger jens said...

I had been reading Mencken, but didn't have it handy last time. This little bit made me think of you and your TKD judge:

-------------
Years ago, when I was an active journalist, God gave me the supervision of many lady reporters, some of them beautiful.

One day I put this question to a whole herd of them: "Would you rather have me say that you have done a good piece of work or that you have on a pretty frock?"

They decided unanimously in favor of the frock.

These depressing thoughts....
----------

So I would say Mencken was more or less in agreement with your attitude, although much grumpier about it. But the REASON men are going to compliment the girl on her frock is probably past experience with other women, whose preferences differ from yours or Mencken's.

6:37 PM  

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