Conferences · Hilarious But True · Nature of Academia

Clapbacks: Put Those Conference Shade-Throwing F@#%ers in Their Place!

We recently ran an excellent piece (if we do say so ourselves) about how to throw shade at a Political Science conference, but perhaps what anxious assistant professors like us REALLY need is a list of rebuttals to that shade.  When someone gives you a criticism, particularly an unfounded one, you need to be prepared. So, take a look at our handy guide below, and if you couple these Clapbacks with an air of completely and total mastery of your work, you’re ready to go.

Here are some excellent responses to Political Science Shade:

“If you had read the paper…”

This is always a go-to, especially for audience questions. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t actually in there, just imply that it is.

“You have a valid point, but it distracts from the broader question here, which is _____.”

Lull them into a false sense of security, and then distract.

“I’m sorry, I’m not sure if you’ve done work in this area, but this is really the gold standard for this research.”

Burn, baby, burn.

“I think the model level bivariate formulaic structural equation prevents the errors from deriving the midichlorians.”

The Nonsense Fancy-Sounding Words strategy can also work in reverse.


And finally, the best clapback of all.  This one’s important guys, because PLEASE, PLEASE use it. 

“You know, this is really piggybacking off of what (literally any female scholar in the room who has made a comment but was ignored) said a moment ago, and I’d like to get back to her point.”

Please!  Help us!  So many times, comments made by women in panel discussions are dismissed and then asked later by a man.  Whether it’s because we word our commentary in a different “womanly” way that somehow isn’t understood by male political scientists, or it’s just because some scholars routinely ignore good contributions from good female scholars, PLEASE be our allies.

This is exactly what this article about women in the White House was talking about. If we get shut down, ignored, or dismissed too many times, we feel like our contributions aren’t valid.

Don’t get me wrong. If a female scholar throws shade, you feel free to clap right back!  But if someone in your panel is ignoring the comments or contributions of a woman in the panel, bring her back into the conversation.  Mention her by name, if you can. Find out her name. Validate her contribution to the discussion.

And then get right on back to the shade and clapbacks. Don’t forget I know how to insult people in German.


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