I. don't. know.
There's a lot going on in "Why Feminists Make Better Tutors..." and in trying to find something to say about it, all I can really think is how weak I think some of Lutes' arguments are:
I have a friend who thrives as a chemistry major but who can also successfully navigate literary analysis. With this example in mind, I agree with Lutes that tutors should be wary of the ways they think about working with students from other disciplines. Yet, I can't help thinking that using the reflections of one tutor in only two situations doesn't provide a very stable base for what she finally says; tutors adjust their styles in reaction to discipline AND gender stereotypes. Could it be coincidence that the engineer was male and the com arts student female?
And further, I don't agree that Rajit's not-exactly-prideful view of his collaborative tutoring experiences is an indication that collaboration is considered a feminine approach (and thus unworthy). I think this could be a fair conclusion, but the reflections of one fellow are not sufficient evidence. It isn't far fetched to say that many writing tutors feel more confident about sessions they understand. Whether or not collaboration is more beneficial to a student than knowledge of discipline (and I think it definitely is in many cases), the way consultants feel after a session doesn't always reflect this. It's natural to feel better about things you have some control over.
Unlike this post, which is quickly getting out of hand. I'm not sure what I want to do with it. I do think this topic is complicated and am interested in Lutes' claim that interdisciplinary subjects like Women's Studies advocate more collaborative ways of thinking and learning. This is a smart idea and I can see bits of it in our own center. One thing I would have liked is if Lutes had further pursued the role of the professor in the writing fellows program. I think this is something we might look into having had a lot less contact with faculty members than the tutors in this essay.
I wonder how much of our own methods of collaboration are fostered by minimal instructor interference. I constantly feel like I'm jumping into a pool of god-knows-what whenever I begin a consultation and I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the assignment is always new (with the exception of those pesky 1301/1401 kids. ha.).
So I guess I agree that feminists do make better tutors if you consider our own WRIT class. As a group of students jumping into a field we're not accustom to--a relatively new one--we've begun to think on fresh paths. Maybe this new-ness is what does it. I personally haven't seen the kind of gendered thinking Lutes describes in her essay, but maybe it is because our center is a place apart. Even SWS online is a new concept, something we're all trying to figure out. Maybe the reason it works is because we're all grappling with it. We have to start from the ground up and work together, without old rules, without professors.
I'm having trouble thinking through this. I'll just stop.