Why Do I Think Sam Shah Is Dope?

This is why.

It’s easy to talk about what you’re doing that works. It’s massively valuable; it gives all of us access to the best each of us has to offer. But that doesn’t mean it takes courage.

Sharing self-insight, on the other hand – that takes balls. We are empowered to grow by witnessing each other’s growth.

New PD slogan:

Make your growth public.


I said, “Sam Shah is DOPE.”

I did NOT say, “Sam Shah is A dope.”

Just in case anyone else (see comments) was confused about that.


9 thoughts on “Why Do I Think Sam Shah Is Dope?

  1. (balls or ovaries? ahh, for a good meaty word for courage that includes all of us…)

    I liked that post, too, and it may inspire me to write about how badly I’m doing right now in my classes.

  2. Wow I’m really not communicating well today huh?

    @ Sam & Sarah – ROTFL. That’s what I get for my way after the fact 90s slang use.

    @ Sue – my mom commented on the genderedness of “balls” too… I act like we can walk around in a Judith Butler, gender-as-play-and-performance utopia… but that world has clearly yet to come. Should have gone with “guts.”

    For future reference, next time I’m impressed with your meaty courage and want to say something about it, I guess this means I should avoid talking about your balls? 😉

    1. Judith Butler won the Bad Writing Contest in 1998 for the sentence:

      “The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.”


      Ha! I think I’ll always think of that when I think of Judith Butler.


  3. Judith Butler may be a bad writer sometimes, but I think I have loved some of what she’s written. (Going off to check…) Hmm, she’s cute, but I can’t tell from what I see whether I’ve read anything of hers. Maybe she just gets mentioned a lot by the authors I have read (on intersex and trans issues).

    Anyway, I think she’d tell you that equating balls with courage is definitely not part of a gender as play utopia. (Am I wrong?)

    Another mom from my son’s (mini)school is working with a series of gatherings where women tell stories of times they were courageous, or did wild things, called “That Takes Ovaries”. I wanted to go tell about when I used to hitchhike, but I didn’t have childcare…

    I say courage has nothing to do with balls or ovaries, and if we’re gonna identify it with a body part, we should choose the heart or, yeah, the guts. ;^)

    I’m glad Sam was brave about talking about what he’s struggling with, because he helped open the space for me to also do it. (Thanks, Sam.) Once that space is there, it doesn’t feel so risky to use it.

    And I know from other conversations we’ve seen in the math blogosphere that showing what we’re struggling with really can help us.

  4. @Sue – The interpretation of Judith Butler’s ideas I had in mind is not about connecting balls with courage quite as much as disconnecting balls with men.

    (Not literally. Ouch.)

    I’m a big fan of Butler, though, a propos of Sam’s comment, I did spend many painful hours in college trying to figure out what the hell she was talking about.

    Anyway, all of this is a sidelight stimulated by my poor choice of words. Sam’s bravery is awesome for all of us, and yours is too.

  5. Yeah, but it’s more fun to talk about the words. ;^)

    There’s a great John Varley story, where sticking your mind into a new version of your body allows people to live a very long time, and changing gender on a whim has become popular. I think the story is titled Options. I haven’t figured out which book it was originally in, but it’s apparently in The John Varley Reader.

  6. You guys are killing me. Maybe next time write that someone is FLY. Because it’s hilarious to think about what they would think you would mean by “so and so is A FLY.”

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