Shock, and a concern

Posted: December 10, 2010 by Jender in Uncategorized

I’m a male professor, with a 1990s PhD. Reading these posts, I was shocked by the stories of sexual harassment and disrespect for women. I didn’t think men behaved that way in academia, not since the 70s. I now realize I was mistaken. I never noticed anything of this sort in grad school or as a professor. I must not hang around the right (or wrong) sort of people. The incredible injustice of it and its very serious harmful effects anger and sadden me. My daughter is thinking about going into philosophy and I’m sure she’d excel. But I worry about her facing the things mentioned in this blog. If she decides to go into philosophy, I’ll probably suggest that she read these blog entries.
However, I want to mention a concern about one sort of entry. Some women report that their male professors devalue their philosophical contributions because they are women. But others tell how male students report that their female professors gave them poor grades because they were male. Both stories are presented as evidence of male chauvinism (the latter is supposed to show the misplaced arrogance of the man who explained his failures by blaming them on a female professor). Can those pointing out faults of men in philosophy have it both ways? Perhaps: it’s likely that some male professors devalue their female students when they give them poor grades and that some male students improperly devalue their female professors when they complain about their poor grades. But it’s also plausible to think that things sometimes go the other way: that, sometimes, female professors wrongly devalue male students, and female students wrongly devalue the grading practices of their male professors–blaming their failures on the professor when they shouldn’t. I hope the latter doesn’t happen here.

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