August 20th, 2009


feminism/misogyny in academia

I recently read a feminist article that powerleca and arxev linked on Facebook, and so naturally today when I was given a 1980's/90's guide for female professors my response was to think about it critically. (The person who gave it to me said it was 20 years old (did housekeeping cost $10-$15/hour in 1989?) and said it was good for a laugh as well as providing useful information.) I apologize for any typos in transcribing it, as I am a bit sleep-deprived.

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It is nice at least that the tone of this handout is encouraging and empowering. It also provides some good gender-neutral advice regarding academia. However, it is unfortunate that it basically tells women that they have to act like men in order to be successful. For example, tip #2 involves concealing one's problems in favor of putting up the image that one is successful and on top of things. It is natural for most women to want to discuss their troubles. This is very therapeutic for us, even if we only get sympathy and no concrete advice. I get the impression that most men prefer to deal with their problems on their own for the sake of keeping up a strong image. That is okay. But if you ask a woman to do that, you are creating an emotional timebomb. Maybe you can't tell your coworkers about your frustrations, but you better darn well be able to tell someone.

Don't cry in public... did I miss something? Did women used to do this all the time? I guess we're prone to crying publicly just like we're prone to backstabbing each other. But if we overcome our inferior female urges, we can prevail.

PMS and menopause are not "fictional." I'm pretty sure those are medically documented. Even when hormones control our emotions, we still have the ability to control our actions. So yes, I agree that it's not a good idea to go around screaming at people and then telling them it's not your fault because you have PMS. But personally, I need to be able to at least tell myself that I have PMS (or sleep deprivation, exhaustion, dehydration...). If I know that my despair, for example, is probably caused by a biological condition rather than my situation, I know that I should continue to act optimistically despite my emotion.

And now, the double standard! Tip #20: Being ignored because you're a woman "can be fun."

(It turns out that there were two #14's, but since I made an html ordered list I just changed my comments to refer to the new numbers instead.)