Message: I guess I have two stories to tell. The first one is not only about being in philosophy, but more generally about studying in the Humanities and as a woman: I went to school in Germany and studied there, in India and in Britain – and starting with A levels there was always at least one instructor who made a move on me; indeed India was the best for that matter and I appreciate that. What has happened usually is that a professor or teacher just kissed me, or one offered to drive me home at night, when we happen to meet and the situation was becoming very awkward. I have never said anything, but it always bothered me to receive good marks afterwards, because it seemed like an apology or someone buying me off. And I have became very cautious about joining academic staff for a beer, missing out on these nice little moments where opportunities are being talked about and people become friends. (What I found particularly offensive was that a school teacher of mine, who was about 40 years older than me and who I looked up to – being a teenager – like a father figure, did not believe necessary to consider how I might feel if he made a move on me. In my view, there is nothing wrong with sexual interest, nor with mildly showing it, if you are in a private and equal position. But not considering other people’s feelings and abusing your position as an instructor, that is very disappointing and makes me feel that after all I am just a woman).
The other story is one of relations among students, philosophy outside of university. I have been to meetings on left topics, since I am very much interested in that, but the atmosphere is so chauvinistic that I have taken my distance. The order of speakers was changed continuously until the supposedly important male speakers had their favorite slot – the ones swapping their slots with them were of course the only women speakers. And second, the whole social interaction was very much in the spirit of free love, which for some of the men seemed to mean that they were free to bully girls into sleeping with them or otherwise taking them to be frigid. I haven’t experienced any bullying myself, but the mood was that something must be wrong with me for not wanting to sleep around and being faithful to my boyfriend.