The resilience of biases

Posted: October 29, 2010 by Jender in But surely you're male, difficulty of problems

I (I’m male) studied philosophy as an undergraduate and graduate student at three top Canadian universities, and had nothing but positive experiences with female colleagues and professors. Feminism was an area I did much study in and I was fortunate to have (and to be able to seek out) good advisors, mentors and professors who were women. I wrote papers on non-sexist language and usage. My female teachers tended to be stricter with my work; I have a bit of a silver tongue and I found that didn’t go as far with female professors. It was a great experience that has stayed with me my whole life.

Eventually I left philosophy for law school where I was fortunate enough to land a position as a research assistant for a favorite professor (female). Well, in law we habitually refer to judges by their last name only. So naturally it was only ten weeks into law school when in the middle of a case comment, in her class, I referred to a female Court of Appeal judge throughout as “he” and “him”. Needless to say, I didn’t impress.

Seven years studying feminism and feminist philosophy, then let the guy out into the outside world for three months and he is doing dumb sexist male things. I don’t know if “we” can help it, but I sure should have known better.

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