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This Week in Task Forces

“Following other issues with administrators and faculty members that have come to light over the past several months, the University created a task force that will oversee and implement workplace standards to prevent similar issues in the future, a spokesperson from the provost’s office said.”


Last year around this time Avidly decided that all men should stop talking, for two weeks. This was an entirely reasonable intervention in public speech that we can’t help but notice has gone unregarded by a surprising number of men. Not only have very few men stopped talking, not even for two weeks, but in general men seem to be talking more and louder, even about things like their penises and “Gitmo” and the Civil War, which are things that, surely, men have talked about enough. What more could men have to say about penises, Gitmo, or the Civil War? We stare at these men perplexedly, while they talk at us. Why cannot men stop talking about these or other things, or in fact all things, just for two weeks?

This recent spate of men talking and talking about their talking has been so egregious that even many men have joined us in silently communicating to each other the eternal question: jesus christ why cannot men stop talking for just a fucking minute?

Perhaps the reason more men have not stopped talking, for two weeks, is because Avidly announced the “all men stop talking, for two weeks” policy without first forming a task force to consider this policy as a proposition. This was definitely our mistake.

You may wonder why we would need a task force to consider the benefits of the self-evidentially useful policy of the temporary cessation of all male speech. We ourselves have wondered this, and yet in this great time of male speech many institutions have proposed task forces as ways to talk about what to do about men talking. In the same way that an astonishing number of men like to talk at us about penises and the Civil War, and also like to talk at us about their opinions about how other men might better talk about penises and the Civil War, institutions like to form task forces so that conversations about men talking can be formalized in conference rooms and be placed on CVs and discussed in press releases, which are a particular written genre of (often) men talking about (often) men talking.

You may ask whether the fact of men talking is the same as an institution mandating a task force about men talking. We ourselves are very interested in this question, as are the many excellent men we know who would prefer not to serve on task forces about men talking and would rather skip to the part where they just don’t talk.

For truly: why the task force? It would be hard to argue, at this moment of Trump and Weinstein, that the wang-tastic excesses of male speech are anything but an almost existential threat to culture, bringing out the worst in fucking everybody, and also it would be hard to argue that anything will change this state of affairs except some kind of show of force.

Yet it does seem strange to us that the form of force chosen by so many institutions to rebut the grave dangers of male speech is a force of tasks.

On the one hand, as women, we have the utmost respect for tasks as actions that keep the wheels of life moving forward. On the other hand, as women, we know two things: first, that keeping these particular wheels of life (the wheels of male speech) moving is the opposite of what we want to do, and second, that the fundamental quality of “tasks” is that they are never done.

Indeed, the main quality of tasks is that they exist and multiply into perpetuity! Just consider the wide range of tasks required to implement a task force. Conference rooms need to be booked, emails sent, meetings schedule, minutes taken and approved, coffee ordered and delivered and removed!

We cannot help but notice that a great number of these tasks that need to be enacted in order to create an occasion for people to come together to talk about men talking are often executed by women. The greater institutionalization of talking about male talking, and particularly talking about what male speech can do to silence women, which is one thing that sexual harassment is, seems to require a great deal of women tasking and not talking so that men can talk about how they should and should not talk, and also a requirement that to the extent that women talk they talk about men talking rather than about any number of other interesting things that they would talk about if more men would join the excellent men who have just stopped talking on their own.

(Is the task, and the task force, itself a kind of silencing of women? Is the task force an institutionalized anti-Bechdeling instrument? Perhaps these are questions the task force on men not talking can consider.)

We at Avidly eagerly anticipate the results of the task force on men not talking, for two weeks, or ever.

Avidly: Team Shhhhhhhhh

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