I’m a 4th year philosophy undergraduate student at a well respected university. The gender balance is awful at all levels at this school though. Last semester, I was evicted (from my home) a week before exams, failing to make rent as my family had disowned me after I came out to them as a lesbian. I went around to each of my profs, explaining my situation to each of them, and they each graciously granted me appropriate extensions and rescheduling of exams, mostly trouble free. I say mostly because I ran into trouble with a prof who is notorious for being the perfect mix of sexist enough towards young female students be genuinely hurtful, but subversive and discreet enough that we never quite feel like we can speak out against him.
This prof was the one who responded responded to my situation with a scoff and a “Well why did you come out then? You must have known your family would react like this.” (Because deep down, I desperately wanted to become homeless, impoverished and utterly isolated from any form of family structure whatsoever.)
I sat there stunned. But the story doesn’t end there.
Immediately after he said that, a student from the class knocked on his door (this conversation was during his office hours). She had given birth a week prior, and had come to pick up an assignment that had been handed back while she was in labour.
The professor smiled at me and pointed to the student who had joined us. “You see, now she has a real excuse for an extension! She just had a baby!”
Apparently, I wasn’t aware that I’m supposed to compete in the Oppression Olympics in order to get a proper philosophy education. And I don’t even want to begin breaking down the assumptions behind the motherhood comment.