So I had just arrived at Congress, an annual amalgam of the annual meetings of dozens of humanities societies and associations in my country. I was set to participate in two philosophy conferences. It was quite muggy, and I had the rest of the day to myself, so I put on a sleeveless shirt (which will be slightly relevant in a moment) and went to the registration hall to get settled in. While in line, the older man behind me said “You look like a swimmer.” I wasn’t sure if he was talking to me, so I just looked at him. “I said you look like a swimmer.” “Okay…” I replied. “It’s because of your broad shoulders,” he added. I made a face and turned away from him. He didn’t stop. “Where are you here from?” I felt really uncomfortable, but I responded. “And what are you doing there?” “Philosophy.” Turns out he is also a philosophy professor. Surprise! “What kind of philosophy do you do?” he continued. I told him that I do feminist philosophy. He replied that he didn’t know what that was, and to him, all good philosophy should “do for males and females alike.” Could I please explain to him what the point of my work was? Luckily by then I had reached the head of the line and was able to get away from him.
What a great start to the conference!