Thursday, May 08, 2008

Whoa. Damn. Well, that spells out a subtext I've always picked up on in a number of contexts rather refreshingly, at least

A comment at this post at Renegade Evolution's on Sex and Power--and the whole post as well as the ongoing discussion is rich and I can't do it all justice here, please do check the whole thing out--anyway, I did get pulled up short by this comment:

Charisma is bad. It's a talent that some people are either born with or learn (usually both), but they should be ashamed to use it.

Many, perhaps most, of the skills that people are taught under the heading of "public speaking" should actually be called "using charisma in public speaking" and they are detestable skills.

Charisma is essentially the encouragement of certain biases.

Using sexual power is generally a form of charisma.

Charisma is inherently exploitative EVEN IF YOU'RE USING IT FOR GOOD (like to persuade people to do the right thing). Things like mathematical ability or athleticism can be used in an exploitative manner but are not inherently so.


And, putting aside the main gist of the OP, i.e. the sex part--or rather, -besides- that, my immediate first thought was:

"Okay. Now I finally understand how Ralph Nader's candidacy happened."

Seriously, though, this has been a theme I've noticed in the loosely-defined Left (and no, I don't know where the commenter is coming from politically, I'm just extrapolating) in general. I...can't unpack all of it at the moment? But it's about more than sex or personal charm there, yes; it's also, I want to say, probably not unrelated to the deep suspicion of religious and spiritual movements, particularly (hello) the "charismatic" ones. And yeah, as here, it seems to stem from a sort of...well, there's a set of assumptions here, isn't there. About what's a "bias" (hey, since when are the valuing of mathematical prowess or being good at sports not related to cultural bias?) and what isn't, and whether one can or should avoid "biases" in the first place, and...

-ponders-

well, among other things, there's an implicit appeal to a sort of Gradgrindism here, isn't there? Like, it's -bad- to use one's charm or sense of humor or oratory skills or, well, whatever it is that makes people appealing to listen to; therefore, -good- would be the person who appeals -solely- to Pure Logic and Reason and -Facts.- Yes, this is a perfectly -rational- way of going about making one's case; even or especially if -it doesn't actually work.-


Because, hey, if it -worked- -too- well, you know, if you actually -achieved- what you were trying to do, especially if that had to involve -changing peoples' minds- and -getting power- and -making decisions-, that might be exploitive, -too-, and...

yeah, more later.

12 comments:

Kristen said...

Except that the commenter's (or is it commentor's? Crap.) belief that "charisma" is the encouragement of biases is not entirely correct.

Sometimes, charisma is created by the implication that the speaker is actually talking to *you* specifically and actually cares about *you* specifically. (We all tend to like people who like us and/or make us feel important. Duh.)

Other times, charisma is created by tone, volume and rhythm. Falling into a pattern of speaking that is (very roughly) reminiscent of hypnotic suggestion.

But the commenter/or shouldn't let a few realities get in the way of such a sweeping theory. :)

Rootietoot said...

Seems to me the commentor is jealous because they don't have any. (charisma, that is)

I have 3 immediate family members who are very charismatic. The proverbial "sell ice to eskimos" type. I see nothing wrong in using it for good, which they do. Jesus Christ was charismatic, so was Ghandi, and the Dali Lama. If there were no charmismatics, who would lead?

belledame222 said...

I think people like this reflexively think of Hitler before they think of those other examples, and/or don't really rate them so much in the first place anyway. Or at least with the latter two, tend to focus more on the -rightness- of the -cause-, and assume that that is/was enough all by itself, or it damn well should be.

Rootietoot said...

well, rightness of a cause is one thing, but without an effective spokesperson/leader the cause is just an idea, like music on paper.

I think this anti-charisma person has little understanding of the variety of human nature, and the genetics involved in those differences.

Rootietoot said...

and btw...((HUG!))

I just felt like doing that.

belledame222 said...

:D

((HUGS Rootie back!!))

Sarah J said...

Harrison Bergeron, here we come.

littlem said...

Because, hey, if it -worked- -too- well, you know, if you actually -achieved- what you were trying to do, especially if that had to involve -changing peoples' minds- and -getting power- and -making decisions-, that might be exploitive, -too-, and...

This. Explains.

SO. MUCH.

belledame222 said...

Doesn't it?

I wonder if it's at all related to the phenomenon wherein people seem to deliberately put their food through the deflavorizer before eating it. somehow.

Daisy said...

Interesting, since one reason I became a feminist/leftist is that I felt MY charisma was not allowed to flourish as a man's would, and I got the continual smackdown.

I was not allowed to enter the priesthood, for instance, where I could have nurtured my charisma and used it in specific ways. As it is, I've wasted it on 2 husbands (almost said 3, but Mr Daisy likes my charisma) and lots of ungrateful customers... (sigh)

Daisy said...

And BTW:

Other times, charisma is created by tone, volume and rhythm. Falling into a pattern of speaking that is (very roughly) reminiscent of hypnotic suggestion.

This is also known as SALESMANSHIP. ;)

I can tell you within one minute, if they are going to buy it or not. No matter what it is. I just know.

I think charisma also involves recognizing these kinds of social cues, and rearranging your words, tone, etc accordingly, literally from second to second. (Some people just can't sell, and I think that's why.) Example: If it's a family group, figure out quickly who is making the purchasing decision, gear your talk to them. Let the kids roll their eyes all they want, mom is buying.

It's a gift!

But I really wish I could have used my gift somewhere else, and the place I really wanted to use it, wouldn't let me.

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