Upon full-time hire in the Philosophy Department of a small teaching institution, I was invited to meet the Dean of Humanities in his office. I liked him immediately, as he seemed pretty evolved socially and shared his personal approaches to teaching, which I share and respect. Then he asked me, if I could teach any course at all, what would it be? I gave it a moment’s thought and answered the question in ways that supported the specializations they had just hired me for: bioethics (showing students the relevance of value theory with emerging technology) and logic (developing critical thinking skills, especially in non-majors). He stared blankly for a moment, then said, “You know, I could really see you co-teaching a course, maybe on women’s issues. M.G. is a great female faculty member in Psychology, or there’s D.P. in Communications. She’s a lesbian.”
I choose to believe he meant well. Just as he surely meant well a year later when I served on a committee he led, and I was asked to be the official note-taker.
He has no idea how offensive this is. And he fancies himself a progressive feminist.