On being ignored

Posted: February 19, 2012 by Jender in ignoring women

It has been a long time since I have encountered blatant and overt sexism at a philosophy conference. So, I admit being surprised. And I admit thinking immediately, “Wait, why am I surprised?” I was having lunch at the conference hotel restaurant with three other philosophers–all men–who were attending the conference. This is really good conference that was started three years ago and all of us had attended every year since its inception. A prominent male philosopher approached the table. He jovially shook hands with all three of the men at the table, commenting on the fact that they, along with him, had become regulars at the conference. Not only did he not shake my hand, he did not even acknowledge my presence. I doubt any of the men I was sitting with noticed that he blatantly ignored me. I chose not to ask them later if they had noticed, not wanting to deal with the standard sorts of excuses they may have offered given that the attribution of sexism is always (like anything) underdetermined by the evidence. I decided to cut my emotional losses: It would have been worse to have it happen and then have witnesses deny that it happened than just to have it happen.

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