For Women in Agriculture: Address Issues Head On; “Heading Them Off At The Pass” etc. ….. Noting the existence of a problem

Have we highlighted in our discussions that there may be “an elephant in the room?”

How would we begin to establish how to bring up the topic of that “elephant in the room,”

(a subject that may already in and of itself be a difficult subject, far too complex, with potentially a risk [ of something, but what?] simply by bringing up the topic)

so that we can actually address the problem?

When does the problem become so big that it must be addressed?

If the problem continues to be avoided, not addressed and no solution nor any remedy is found or can be found, is the thought process behind this inaction that it ( the problem, the issue)  will “simply just go away?”

Elephant in the room

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.[1]

It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.

The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first recorded use of the phrase, as a simile, as The New York Times on June 20, 1959: “Financing schools has become a problem about equal to having an elephant in the living room. It’s so big you just can’t ignore it.”[2]Origins

      • This idiomatic expression may have been in general use much earlier than 1959. For example, the phrase appears 44 years earlier in the pages of a British journal in 1915.
      • The sentence was presented as a trivial illustration of a question British schoolboys would be able to answer, e.g., “Is there an elephant in the class-room?”[3]

The first widely disseminated conceptual reference was a story written by Mark Twain in 1882, “The Stolen White Elephant”, which slyly dissects the inept, far-ranging activities of detectives trying to find an elephant that was right on the spot after all.

This may have been the reference in the legal opinion of United States v. Leviton (193 F. 2d 848 – Court of Appeals, 2nd Circuit, 1951) makes reference in its opinion, “As I have elsewhere observed, it is like the Mark Twain story of the little boy who was told to stand in a corner and not to think of a white elephant.”

A slightly different version of the phrase was used prior to this, with George Berkeley talking of whether or not there is “an invisible elephant in the room” in his debates with scientists.[4]

Sedge Wren, near the Waubonsie Water Shed in Mills County, Iowa


The term refers to a question, problem, solution, or controversial issue that is obvious, but which is ignored by a group of people, generally because it causes embarrassment or is taboo.

The idiom can imply a value judgment that the issue ought to be discussed openly, or it can simply be an acknowledgment that the issue is there and not going to go away by itself.

The term is often used to describe an issue that involves a social taboo, such as racereligion, or even suicide.

This idiomatic phrase is applicable when a subject is emotionally charged; and the people who might have spoken up decide that it is probably best avoided.[5]

The idiom is commonly used in addiction recovery terminology to describe the reluctance of friends and family of an addicted person to discuss the person’s problem, thus aiding the person’s denial.

Especially in reference to alcohol abuse, the idiom is sometimes coupled with that of the pink elephantq.v. “the pink elephant in the room.”

For some, their first encounter with this phrase comes through the poem of the same name by Terry Kettering.[6]

Two birds sitting on a fence in early spring just before planting in Iowa


The phrase “800 lb gorilla (in the room)” is a similar idiomatic expression; however, it refers to a large, unstoppable individual or organization that can exert its will as it desires, even if people do their best to ignore it (e.g. “Characterized by the leading fly-fishing trade journal as an ’800-pound gorilla’ in the fly-fishing industry, Orvis is recognized for its ‘unparalleled influence on the sport’.”)[7]

This expression stems from a riddle, “Where does an 800-pound gorilla sleep? Anywhere it wants to.”

Another popular variation is the phrase “elephant in the corner” which is widely used to the same effect.[8]


  1. ^ Cambridge University Press. (2009). Cambridge academic content dictionary, p. 298.
  2. ^ “OED, Draft Additions June 2006: elephant, n.”. OUP. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
  3. ^ __________. (1915). Journal of education, Vol. 37, p. 288.
  4. ^ On the nature and elements of the external world: or Universal immaterialism fully explained and newly demonstrated by Thomas Collyns Simon, 1862, p.18
  5. ^ Palta, Namrata. (2007). Spoken English: a Detailed and Simplified Course for Learning Spoken English, p. 95.
  6. ^ Mauk, Kristen L. (2006). Gerontological Nursing: Competencies for Care, p. 808. atGoogle Books; “The Elephant in the Room,” CHUMS Magazine, p. 23. May 2003.
  7. ^ Daniel, Joseph E. “Orvis: An American Fly Fishing Institution.” Fly Fishing Trade, August 2006, 40-47.
  8. ^ “‘Elephant in the corner of the room’: Discrimination common, associated with depression among minority children,” AAPNews (American Academy of Pediatrics). May 8, 2010; O’Connor, P. (2008) “The Elephant in the Corner: Gender and Policies Related to Higher Education,” Administration [Institute of Public Administration of Ireland] 56(1), pp. 85-110.


Ordinary Cinquefoil in bloom in spring



sim·i·le   [sim-uh-lee]


1.    a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared, as in “she is like a rose.” Compare metaphor.

2.     an instance of such a figure of speech or a use of words exemplifying it.

Big Bluestem


met·a·phor   [met-uh-fawr, -fer]
1.   a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance, as in “A mighty fortress is our God.” Compare mixed metaphor, simile ( def. 1 ) .
2.   something used, or regarded as being used, to represent something else; emblem; symbol.


id·i·om    [id-ee-uhm]

noun                                                                                                                    1.     an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its constituent elements, as kick the bucket or hang one’s head,  or from the general grammatical rules of a language, as the table round  for the round table,  and that is not a constituent of a larger expression of like characteristics.

2.    a language, dialect, or style of speaking peculiar to a people.

3.    a construction or expression of one language whose parts correspond to elements in another language but whose total structure or meaning is not matched in the same way in the second language.

4.    the peculiar character or genius of a language.

5.   a distinct style or character, in music, art, etc.: the idiom of Bach.

ta·boo [tuh-boo, ta-]


1.   proscribed by society as improper or unacceptable: Taboo language is usually bleeped on TV. Synonyms: prohibited,banned, forbidden, proscribed. Antonyms: allowed,permitted, permissible; sanctioned.

2.   prohibited or excluded from use or practice: In art school,painting from photographs was taboo.

3.   (among the Polynesians and other peoples of the SouthPacific) separated or set apart as sacred; forbidden forgeneral use; placed under a prohibition or ban.

Synonyms: sacrosanct, inviolable.

Native Prairie in July: Rough Leaf Sunflowers with Big Bluestem


: a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality

: refusal to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism:

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