I'm spending too much time in office hours these days. (My students are steadfast in their pursuit of the Muse. How long will I maintain the illusion of expertise? Oh, another thirteen weeks or so...) Today a student got defensive when I told him part of his poem didn't work. Yes, it does. "Look, you asked." Well, I know, but- "I'm telling you straight. You can't mix metaphors like that unless you're going for 'muddled.' Now, are you going for 'muddled'?" Yeah. "Oh. Well, there you go. Success."
Like that. And it's not the same with young women. They listen, they weigh what I've said - or at least pretend to. They consider, clarify. The guys- no, they're all instant geniuses or cosmic failures. Who put these tendencies in their/our heads? God? Evolution? "The patriarchy?" (And sure, on some level, it's useful, defensiveness, but only when you've learned who your enemies are and what you're defending, exactly. But defensiveness as a primary character trait is damn limiting.) "Look, muddled is easy. Concision and clarity are where the work is." He growled up at the metaphor-less moon and said, All right. I'll try again. (Attaboy, genius.)