academic sexism

anonymous asked:

*curtsies* Hello Duke! Could you enlighten us on any instances in which you experienced sexism in academics and how you dealt with it?

*Curtsies* Here’s the thing: you’re going to run into sexism in academia pretty much every day. I could list individual instances but it would be exhausting, so I’m just going to talk in general terms. Like it or not, academia is still an old boys’ club in a lot of ways, and even though women are storming the castle, there will always be scholars, professors, and other students who treat women as inferior creatures. Sorry. You can’t eradicate it, no matter how hard you try or how unfair and unfounded it is. Welcome to the world. It’s a shitty place. What you can do is (1) refuse to accept this kind of shitty behavior and (2) prove them wrong. What I mean by refusing to accept shitty behavior is not pitching a fit when something doesn’t go your way and immediately starting to scream about sexism, because that can very quickly turn into a girl-who-cried-wolf kind of situation and people will write off all of your complaints, legitimate or not. What I mean is that when you see sexism in academia, directed at you or anyone else, do what you can to call it out and correct it in a calm, professional way. If a male classmate interrupts you, say, “Excuse me, I wasn’t finished.” Don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault, and don’t jump through hoops to stroke a man’s ego or make life easier for him at your own expense. Speak up when you want to. Make your voice heard, make sure other women’s voices are heard, and encourage them to make their own voices heard. But the most important thing is to prove the old boys wrong. Refuse to let a man’s idea of what’s appropriate for or expected of a woman limit you. Write the best damn paper in your class. Do the best damn research at your school. Do the best damn talk at your conference. Refuse to stay in the box where a man tries to put you because it makes him more comfortable. 

anonymous asked:

Haven't heard anything from you for a few days. I hope everything's alright!

Okay okay, explanation time. 

The last two weeks have been awful for me. I had an incident with a racist, sexist professor, who targeted me in particular by labelling my actions as a consequence of my ethnicity (based on stereotypes). I had another incident in which a professor had a violent outburst that ended with things being broken and our class being threatened with violence.

And you know, people sort of just expected me to suck it up and move on. It got to the point that I had to convince myself I wasn’t offended, or you know, insulted, threatened, and alienated from my peers by the things that had happened. Because I told my classmates, and they sort of just went, “Aww that sucks” or “Oh my gosh,” and that was that. I mean, I felt like a Facebook post being scrolled past.

People told me I could report it, and when I pressed further and asked for actual details, they came up blank. In my university, the hope of a student winning a case against faculty is slim to none, with emphasis on none. Students end up getting involved in a long, dragged out process that not only exhausts them, but also destroys their name and reputation. 

At one point, I’d approached a faculty member with whom I regularly consult and when I expressed these concerns, pressing a case included, I was told the school couldn’t do anything unless the students put themselves out there first.

The rest of the week, I continued to tell myself I was too busy to be upset, that I was probably being oversensitive about what had happened (if not other people would react too, right?). It was only last week that I conceded I was upset. That I was afraid, because I thought this would never happen. I go to one of the most progressive and liberal universities in my area. I keep my head down and try not to cause trouble. I don’t make waves. And it was then I realised it wasn’t just the threat of violence, but also the racist comments that made me angry. Violence is bad. But I realised that discrimination can hit so much harder at times, and I wasn’t doing myself any favours by willing my feelings away.

So I took time to process how I felt. I think that the rules that are supposed to protect students in my university are due for an overhaul. It made me especially angry because I was told that if I didn’t take action, others would fall victim to the same thing, but at the same time, my own safety wasn’t guaranteed. No student should have to be a sacrificial lamb for a cause that shouldn’t have been a concern in the first place. The burden of proof is on the students, and it’s a double burden when one considers the dynamic between faculty and student is always in favour of the faculty. 

Theoretically, students could press a case. And then their grades slowly bleed away because now those professors have a reason to be antagonistic. In requirements that are subjective, such as essays, students don’t really have a  way to prove this antagonism.

I’m much better now. I felt very naive for thinking that the academe would have better ways to deal with societal problems. I mean, I knew it wasn’t perfect, but school has always been my refuge and safe space, because in school, things can be discussed, debated, and decided by all parties. It’s about having an intellectual conversation. I know it’s not a perfect place. Now I realise that it’s no different from everywhere else. 

After dealing with my feelings, I feel better. I’ll still have to face these people, at least until the end of the semester, but it’s a little better knowing I can allow myself to be angry. I think problems like these are structural, institutional, and don’t really have a quick solution. I’m not giving up. I will continue to defend myself. It’s just, I’ve lost faith in the systems that I’ve always been told would keep us all a little bit safer.

And I don’t know, but it’s also this semester that I’ve had the most number of professors randomly digressing into lectures about how “this generation” is weak and can’t handle being screamed at. To which I’d like to say, no one should be screamed at. No one should feel afraid in an environment that purports to be an institution of higher learning, because learned people shouldn’t have to scream and use ad hominem attacks to get their points across.

“This generation” is not weak. Every generation has had to fight its biggest trends of prejudice and hatred. Just because that prejudice is expressed differently now, it doesn’t mean it isn’t legitimate, or that people don’t experience any “real” harms. The underlying assumption behind statements like those, legitimises some forms of hate while demonising others. All hate is wrong. That’s something that should be understood, and it’s disappointing that these words come from the mouths of educators.