“Philosophically Blonde”

Posted: November 30, 2010 by Jender in Uncategorized

Maybe someone has sent this already. Recently, [I’ve seen] a couple of videos making fun of political theory. Putting aside the question of whether or not they are actually funny, I found this video making me angry.

As seems clear from this blog, being a woman in philosophy is not easy. I’m a woman in my mid-20s that is immersed in academic philosophy. And I’ve been repeatedly that I need to “be more serious” about philosophy throughout my academic career. (These recommendations have been both unofficial, and more recently in my official grad student evaluations.) I’ve never understood why people perceive me as less than serious about philosophy. But this video, I think, helps shed some light. I’m perceived as less serious about philosophy because I’m a woman who chooses to present herself in some typically feminine ways. I wear heels, make-up, and trendy clothes. My manner of speech is that of a ‘valley girl’ — because that’s the way girls spoke where I grew up. I’m generally a cheery or peppy person. This has always been my personality, and I am comfortable and happy with it — even if it means I seem a bit “cheerleaderish”. I still read, write, go to class, and study like every other
graduate student. I prep lectures, grade papers, and meet with students. In many very obvious ways, I work harder than many of my colleagues. I love doing philosophy, but that doesn’t bar me from sometimes making jokes about it (doesn’t everyone).

But, like the girl in this video who can’t possibly be taken seriously because she’s a beauty queen, the mostly male philosophers who are around me can’t take seriously a girl who wears lipstick and goes shopping (for, yknow, fun). A serious philosopher, I guess, should not be worried about something so “frivolous” and “shallow” as her appearance. I also know that this is only one side of the double-bind — since I know of at least one woman who dresses in a more “alternative/punk/tomboyish” way who has been told to “take care of her appearance” because she is being “too dark and sullen,” “frumpy” and “unprofessional,” a.k.a. not serious in some way. So there’s really no way out, I guess. Either we are Badly Dressed Betties or Philosophically Blonde Ellles.

But, of course, [it was] “just a joke.”

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