Friday, April 8, 2011

Women and Self-Respect, Cont'd

I am still traumatized by the utter lack of self-respect demonstrated by a female academic that I discussed in my previous post. 

We cannot expect others to bear a greater responsibility for our comfort than we do ourselves. If I choose to sit there and giggle at anti-Semitic comments that insult me as a Jew, I have no right to complain in the privacy of my anonymous blog about the anti-Semitism of others. If I tolerate anti-women comments from my male colleagues, I am not entitled to criticize them for those comments behind their backs. If I put up with being treated like crap, it means that I have consented to such treatment. 

We can talk ad nauseam about how male chauvinists, racists, xenophobes, homophobes and anti-Semites should know which of their comments are wrong and unacceptable. However, we cannot hold others to a higher standard of accountability than the one to which we hold ourselves. Unless you call bigots on their bigotry in no uncertain terms whenever they express it, you are just as much to blame for the existence of hatred, discrimination and inequality as they are. 

As academics, we also have a responsibility to our female students. Female Science Professor must know very well how hostile academia is to female students in the sciences. The male colleague who insulted her is, without a doubt, very likely to act in a condescending, disparaging way towards his female students. Students are powerless in their relationship with a professor, while female scholars are not. A female academic who allows herself to be spit on by male colleagues betrays her female students who will receive a much worse treatment at the hands of a chauvinistic jerk they have for a professor.

In this situation, I despise the female academic who puts up meekly with a disrespectful treatment a lot more than I do her male colleagues. They, at least, defend their own interests consistently. She sells out herself and every other female academic at her institution because she is not woman enough to stand up to jerks.

Stopping the discrimination of women is not the task of men, people. It falls to us, the women, to stop being eternal and consenting victims of every kind of abuse. You, my female reader, have to shut up the jerks who denigrate and dismiss you to your face. Nobody else will do it for you. 

9 comments:

Anastasia said...

Okay, so I'm about to write a post about a situation and you're going to tell me what to do, in the spirit of me not just taking crappy treatment.

Spanish prof said...

I was going to write a post saying that it's more subtle, that I've been told that what I do doesn't count as diversity because Hispanic Civilization courses are very superficial and not really academic. And that instead of having a full blown argument, I've just proven them wrong with facts.

But then I saw "Female Science Professor must know very well how hostile academia is to female students in the sciences. The male colleague who insulted her is, without a doubt, very likely to act in a condescending, disparaging way towards his female students." And you are absolutely right. If you don't confront those type of behaviors, those chauvinistic jerks are going to reproduce their attitude with the female students

Jonathan said...

I believe the female science professor is a token in her own mind. She states that the group "needs a woman." (!) So she cannot really challenge the jerk's assumption that she is a token. She would have to respect herself more before she did that.

Clarissa said...

I think you are right. That's the first, huge hurdle she would need to overcome.

This is very sad.

JaneB said...

For me, it does also depend on the person committing the offence. One of my colleagues is a bully under pressure, and whilst he's a nice guy when things are going his way, I find it really hard to call him out on some of the things he says because he can be extremely unpleasant... and makes sure he's nasty when no witnesses are around. It annoys me so much that I am bulliable, that the schoolyard politics of looming over someone or blocking a doorway and shouting or constantly playing on insecurities still work.

Calling any of the 'lads' at work on their behaviour when they are being racist, sexist or any other -ist (which they always do with a sort of 'oh I know this is wrong but it's funny so I can get away with it' air) if there are several of them in the room just gets me labelled as 'no sense of humour' or 'over-dramatic'... I guess I'm not doing it right. But my anger is funny to them which makes me so helplessly cross...

And it doesn't help that the two other women in my section don't see it as an issue. One says 'oh boys will be boys' (she has several older brothers. It seems to me that this approach implies that men can't be expected to grow up...) and the other says that they're all lovely, I just don't appreciate male culture (!!) and there is no sexism in the university because we're all so well educated.

I like my job, but I hate the lads culture (some of my male colleagues are great people, but there is this little group of idiots who may be very clever but have the social skills and approach of spiteful 8 year olds). I avoid them. I have told my head of department that when refusing a committee appointment that would involve working with several of them - that I didn't want to put myself deliberately into that environment.

One day one of them will be head of department, and THEN life will get interesting...

Anonymous said...

For a "feminist," you spend so much more time shaming other women than you do taking men to task. I'm sure you think this makes you a "realist." In fact, this makes you just another patriarchy collaboratory who thinks she's a Special Female™.

Oh, well, enjoy the crumbs off teh menz' table. You'll get fewer and fewer of them as you grow older and more invisible.

Clarissa said...

Which men would that be, buddy? The ones who would never dare to address me in the way that FSP gets addressed every single day of her life because she is a pathetic, sad fool?

I'm a Russian woman, buddy. This means that not a single man on this planet ever addressed me in a condescending way and escaped with his nuts intact.

If you want a lesson on how to be this kind of woman, feel free to ask.

Anonymous said...

(Different anon)

You can hand them their nuts all day, but that doesn't mean they won't be an ass to the next "girl" who walks through the door. And as long as the impetus continues to be on us as women to stop men from being assholes, rather than on men to not be an asshole in the first place, society will keep producing chauvinistic jerks whose first--*first*--impression of you is that you're "just the chick." Yelling, screaming, and castrating might make you feel better, but it won't make you a person in the jerk's eyes and it certainly won't help the millions of other women who also have to deal with them.

You know what else won't help? Calling women "pathetic, sad fool[s]" because they "let" some asshole treat them like shit. Again, that does a lovely job of insulating you (the special woman who is immune to this treatment even though she apparently still encounters it enough to lead to many angry blog posts) while doing nothing to change the society that keeps letting these jerks rise to positions of power.

As long as women are seen as the ones with the problem, there is no incentive for society to fix the incredibly messed up power dynamics that allow a man to tell a woman (in polite, professional company no less) that she is only useful because of her genitalia.

This is off-topic, but your argument that "we can't hold others to a higher standard of responsibility than we hold ourselves" is flawed. FSP is asking for the *same* standard of responsibility that she adheres to. Presumably, she doesn't go around saying racist/sexist/homophobic things, therefore she expects others to avoid saying racist/sexist/homophobic things. Avoiding this behavior is much less professionally damaging than calling others out on it. A higher standard of responsibility would be asking others to call the jerk out on his crap when she wasn't willing to say anything herself. She isn't asking that. Your logic: you should fix it.

Clarissa said...

If before engaging in this useless speechifying you actually read the original post, you would know that FSP agrees that she was only useful because of her genitals. And she thinks that being a token is a good thing.

You can keep seeing women as eternal pathetic victims of horrible mean men. However, nowadays women are just as responsible in keeping the patriarchy in place. Women are being betrayed every day by Uncle Toms of FSP's ilk who allow themselves to be peed on for absolutely no reason.