Posted: October 23, 2010 by Jender in feminism isn't philosophy, harassment

The events happened 4 years ago. I was lured to a small city to teach in a sabbattical replacement position. The chair told me they wanted a woman philosopher to be their next permanent hire and that a position would open up soon. He told me to offer a course in feminist philosophy and emphasized that he and another colleague (a woman) were very interested in feminist philosophy. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was so happy! Both he and his colleague chatted with me a couple times on the phone and kept implying I would be seriously considered for a permanent position when one came up soon.

I arrive in the city and the chair takes me out for coffee. I note something is very wrong. He is very cool and avoids eye contact. The female colleague doesn’t return my calls and is extremely unfriendly when I meet her face to face. In the first month I am there I find out they are already in the midst of doing a search for a permanent member. I go talk to the chair about this and confront him about the misinformation he gave me over the phone. All that I remember from the unpleasant conversation are his words “No, we don’t want a feminist philosopher” spoken with a grotesque smile. What a shock! And then at the end of the meeting–seeing that I am upset–he invites me to have dinner with his wife and family soon ! I try to get support from other feminists. Unfortunately these “feminists” are friends with the chair. He complains about me spreading harrassing lies about him and so I am dragged into the human rights office. I tell my side of the story. The officer is obviously very uncomfortable and a memo is sent out about her resignation the next day. The administrative staff worker in philosophy also quits that week. Because I am a good professor I receive good student evaluations and apply for a summer position. The chair meets with the union to try to take it away from me but I have the right of first refusal. After the summer position ends I move back to the big city. I could keep fighting and stay on but it’s not worth it. Luckily I find a friend in a political science professor who drives me back.

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