How Culture Corrupts Institutions: The Tale of the Feminist ​Librarian

I relatively frequently visit my local university library as it is conveniently located. Depending on which country you live in, you may be surprised to hear that in Sweden, the character of libraries has been changing for the worse. They are nowadays meeting places for people. I would even find whispering inappropriate, but you often encounter study groups who talk loudly, completely disregarding that others may want to work without interruptions.

Another trend, which I have seen being spearheaded by women, is to eat (!) in the library. The most egregious case was a young student who watched some TV show on her laptop, perhaps surprisingly via headphones instead of loudspeakers, while munching on some take-out food. I could not believe it. Afterwards, those women leaf through library books with their sticky fingers. Some of the laptops I in that library looks quite gross. You would be forgiven if you believed they use them as plates.

All of this is pretty bad. However, there is also a designated study area in this library, in which people are supposed to not talk. This is frequently ignored, however. Just last week, some brown-skinned student did a VoIP call, and two girls shared one cubicle, chatting away about random bullshit and looking pretty upset when I reprimanded them. They continued; I told them off again. They continued some more, to prove a point and then, while looking at me dismissively, left. Some other woman entered that room without closing the door behind her to access the bookshelves in the quiet study area. This made it impossible to get any work done because it’s pretty loud outside. When I asked her to close the door, she acted surprised at first, but she then realized that she really is in a quiet study area, apologized, and closed the door. It is mind-boggling how inconsiderate some people are. The last three women mentioned where white and didn’t look poor. Does the white middle class no longer raise their kids? (EDIT: As I am editing this post prior to publishing it, some ditz is loudly clipping her effing nails.)

Yet, all of that is nothing compared to the behavior of one of their employees. This is what happened: a fat feminist with short hair and tattoos walks into the room, with some other woman in tow. She then talks rather loudly about the various books and how they are organized. I asked her to keep quiet because she’s in a library. My very words were: “Would you mind keeping it down, please?”, to which she responded, “No.” I thought I didn’t hear properly. She turned back to the shelf and now spoke even louder. The other woman was whispering, by the way. I addressed her again, this time a lot more sternly. Her response was that she is an employee of the library and that she has to talk to the student. I then, rather aggressively, pointed out to her that as an employee she should serve as a positive example for others and not ignore the rules of the library as she represents that institution. She did not like to hear that and walked out. It was more of a stomping than walking, though.

Now you may ask why it matters that I get disturbed by inconsiderate bitches. Yet, there is so much more going on. Institutions are upheld by rules. If you do not maintain them, their culture will deteriorate. It’s similar to the broken window theory: if there is a broken window, or graffiti, the next vandal walking by will only get additional encouragement. The same is true if you walk into a library and you see women sitting around, eating, talking loudly, and using study areas to watch makeup tutorials. If that is what you see, you don’t take that place seriously either any may take up those habits yourself. It is one thing if a few students misbehave and encourage others to likewise ignore the rules. However, having library staff that completely ignores their own rules is something else. If you want to bring down the culture of an institution, you put in charge people who don’t give a damn, and watch how quickly everything will fall apart.

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10 thoughts on “How Culture Corrupts Institutions: The Tale of the Feminist ​Librarian

  1. Dear me. You can be assured that we take our libraries and library rules very seriously in Singapore. *wink wink*

    I was once in a library in Singapore and saw a librarian periodically walk around to wake up people who were sleeping in the armchairs. I thought that was shockingly paternalistic, after all sleeping people aren’t disturbing others.

    1. There are at least three good reasons to wake up sleeping visitors: they are visually distracting, they may snore, and they take up space others would use more productively.

    2. Since @AaronSElias and @Sleazy’s Wife have the (obviously) Asian/Chinese connection…have either of you heard of the Chinese insult slang “baizuo”, which literally translates to “White Left”? I recently heard how it’s a Chinese term mocking/insulting the West, particularly, liberals, who are pretty much social justice warriors.

      Urban dictionary has a decent definition:

      You know, I thought the Chinese takeover would happen in maybe 30 years (eg by 2050)…but the way the West has focused more on “feelz good” than making progress like the Chinese, it’s more like 2030 that we should all be speaking Chinese.

      1. Yup we’re familiar with the insult. It’s not used by Singaporeans though (many have probably not heard of it before), mainly as 1) many don’t use Mandarin beyond ordering food, let alone discussing politics, and 2) “baizuo” views are in fact festering amongst us. It’s a shame that some think just because X phenomenon/idea is prominent in the West, that becomes something that is okay or even worthy to aspire towards. It’s a disgustingly uncritical idolisation of the West at a time when it’s not really deserving of being looked up to.

        One example: an ex-colleague of mine lamented at the stigmatisation of single mothers in Singapore. She said she might not know if she wants to be with the same guy for the rest of her life, and “look at the West! Single mothers are accepted there.” This coming from someone who did well in school and was raised in a nuclear family.

      2. To add to that, I don’t think that “baizuo” is an insult. Instead, it describes a fact. If you call a retard a retard, it’s not an insult either.

      3. Some of my wife’s friends are indeed quite “woke”. However, the people I met in Singapore and China through friends and professional contacts, as opposed to through her, were all quite conservative if not heavily right-leaning. This applies both to expats from the West and Chinese nationals or ethnic Chinese. The malaise of the West is recognized. Maybe it’s just the case that people are more outspoken when talking to a foreigner.

  2. I suspect this is a world wide problem. Same here in Germany. A similar behaviour is the reason, I don’t go to cinemas as often as I would like to. Talking constantly trough the whole film, checking the smartphone (yes, everybod behind you sees that) or even talking on the phone during the movie is the new standard. The total nightmare are women that got dragged into an action or sci-fi movie by their boyfriends. “Why can he fly?” Why did James Bond survive this” are some of my all time fave questions.

    Of course I remind these kind of people of the fact that they are in cinema and not alone. However, this behaviour is so wide spread that I would have to fight half of the room which is of course impossible. Hello streaming and Blu-ray then, but it is a true shame whatsoever, as I really enjoy a big screen and and a decent sound system.

    How are cinemas in Sweden, if you go to any?

    1. I got the chance to visit ETH Zurich in person about two years ago. I did not visit any of their libraries, but I walked down the hallway of one of the buildings. There were tables with chairs set up for students. Although this was neither a library nor a designated study area, the students there, which were numerous, were almost eerily quiet. They were all white, by the way. Obviously, cultures and baseline noise levels are related. I would bet that any random sample of blacks is noisier than a random sample of whites or Asians, and whites are noisier than Asians.

      I no longer go to cinemas, for the same reasons you describe. Sweden is probably at least as bad as Germany, in that regard. A particular feature here are large groups of immigrants who shout loudly across seats and share buckets of popcorn, generously spilling them on the floor in the process. By the way, the government financially supports movies that push the official leftist/feminist doctrine. My perception is that this is done more vigorously than in Germany.

      1. “and white are noisier than Asians.”

        I call BS on that.
        You must have quite a selection bias with regards to Asians, due to your wife’s circle and due to your work/study-related higher-intelligenzia surroundings. And guess what, none of them are representative in any way of the middle class of Asians, and especially not of Chinese, which I understand is the largest group you have in mind when speaking about “Asians”.

        The Asians I had the “pleasure” to welcome in the hotel I worked for, were the typical middle class “we go on a bus tour through Europe and make a stop in Switzerland for some chocolate and Swiss Army knives” kinda Asians. And given the room prices (solidly below average of our regular already European-middle-class prices) I can confidently say that these must have been middle class people from a local standard perspective.
        And I can tell you that these people, and especially Chinese, were the most disgustingly loud bunch of mobile phone-addicted idiots I have ever met in my life. Each and every single bus tour group was the same. I’ve seen this for twelve months.
        They were only topped in shitty behavior and noise level by the middle eastern fat cunts, their fat husbands and their spoiled brats of fat kids.
        If we already want to go into collective thinking mode, then let me say this: No way whites are louder than Asians.

      2. I think you are right. Based on observing students at selective institutions, I’d place Singapore at least on par with Switzerland and well above Germany and Sweden. This says little about the general population, however. In Bejing, we have encountered some rather inconsiderate people but even those were nothing compared to the people you have had to deal with.

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