reading challenge: damore memo

in conversation i often feel like i am being made to pay a price for a product i did not receive, esp. in situations that try to make my group responsible for someone else’s misunderstanding of propaganda, or bs that did not come from my group. material reality, objective as possible, shapes our world and even our capability to perceive. my approach is materialist and a response to stimuli that provoke response. objective reality is a goal, as is communication. i reject lack of translation, for example, when interpretation of an ‘untranslatable’ word is possible. truly sometimes people lack vocabulary in their native tongue and do not realize that saudade fits perfectly with wistfulness. and yet i have heard thinkpiece-length radio broadcasts on the subject of the term, saudade.

so sometimes with enough vocabulary— which is in fact a context— you get positivist results. i think damore got one thing right: “Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.” and given that, (see note on Tavris) he could have been done on the 3rd page of his memo. if only he had been a specialist in social science, or anthropology. even margaret mead’s old work could show that while many things are common in a patriarchy, not even rape is universal to the human race. nurture in a hierarchy will always trump nature because it is the will of the haves to conquer the havenots. in this kyriarchal framing, right will always be possessed by those who have already seized might. gross, basic logic tells us that enforced poverty does not reveal a desire to be poor; powerlessness does not reveal a desire to be oppressed. any study that claims to have found a society that is egalitarian must first prove such equality:


what damore calls shaming is a puzzle. he heard google’s rules on what he was allowed to say, and called it shaming. he might have called it policing and i would have agreed with him. instead, he chose to play victim in world that rewarded his behavior with a job— a high-paying one at that. then he bit the hand that fed him, and in doing so, made himself look like an HR nightmare, unless he could work in some white males-only project they would have to create for him now that his contempt for his fellow employees was laid bare. as i said in a previous conversation, it is too bad they fired him, because an actual public shaming of him being trounced in an open lunchtime debate would have been much more satisfying. maybe google is an echo chamber— many places are— and voicing his poorly-conceived opinions would have probably not changed that, but firing him is still unfortunate for general discourse.

oddly enough, the language used by damore and his defenders is that of ‘victim culture’ or ‘call-out’ culture which was previously only known to exist in the popular imagination among the collegiate left. by claiming that harm has been done to him, and that he is being ‘bullied’ and ‘shamed,’ i realize he criticized google for “microaggression training,” but with his calling out and victim posturing, damore seems now more representative of his generation (millennial/postmillennial) than of any post on the political continuum:

so this guy genuinely believes that he is a victim when he seeks to delegitimize the career advancement of other workers? it’s too bad he went down in flames like he did. it could have been some sort of honorable sacrifice to Objective Truth one supposes. but after reading Carol Tavris’s The Mismeasure of Woman, i can tell you that brain science has far to go, and is biased at every step, from methodology, to species, to publication. there’s also this:

cronyism, old-boy networks, and nepotism are always a problem. for any outsider. then add increased outsider status of any kind, and it’s easy to see there is no such thing as a level playing field. now add sexual harassment— and if there’s ever been a time to bring it up, it is now. even the least compassionate denialist would have to admit that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. there are very good reasons why power-grabbing jerks in the world do the things they do: complete self-seeking desires to take everything for themselves, no matter the harm done. so when a google employee writes a memo which assumes that protection is greatly given to women— twice in one paragraph— and distributes his sloppy ‘scientific’ reasons for what amounts to keeping women even further down than we already are, i have to wonder, how measurably stupid is he? how psychotic is he? is he an idiot savant? his chess and master’s degree identifiers remind me of an old friend of mine; he was markedly less dorky, and reticent about most things. however i do know one thing that gave me pause: when he grew tired of his pet guinea pigs, he fed them to his python. just like that. we don’t really keep in touch.

but let’s not assign damore such labels. he, like he says of google, “means well.” he offers ways in which to reduce the “gender* gap,” but when one considers the basis for his reasoning in that portion, he has created a greater personality gap than actually exists per the source of the research. the result is problematizing women’s alleged innate traits, rather than the biases that made damore himself read research that only claimed sex difference of import to the tune of 10% in neuroticism for example:




(^ my sentiments exactly)

(also omg “Radical Candor” is a real thing and yes they are aware of that episode of Silicon Valley:


if in the code of conduct, google delineated ‘perpetuating gender stereotypes,’ then yes, he was guilty of that. it was a proper firing. if, however, that was not in the handbook, then it was wrongful. he most assuredly reinforced stereotypes, and there is nothing scientifically sound about them to boot, so i am still digging to find out what motivated his career suicide.

as someone who has had pro and amateur personality tests, i know from having too much empathy. that has not stopped a stranger on the internet from accusing me of having none. so carefully i say of damore: his admitted desire to “de-emphasize empathy” might be good for people who are already overextended in that area, but having more in his case might have made him into:

1. a person who would never have written the memo in the first place.


2. a person who would have received greater consideration in return.

*”gender” is a thorny term these days. damore seems to be using it for the difference between male and female here, without qualifiers. i use “sex” for that due to the desire to distance myself from patriarchal gender norms/stereotypes. simply put, gender is a system of oppression. natal women do not identify with our oppression. sex is real biological difference, while gender is the kind of shit that makes sexist assholes assume women are nurturing dum-dums because they are slaves to indefensible masculine tropes as well.

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