On becoming the ‘right’ kind of woman

Posted: February 18, 2013 by Jender in presence of women

 I have never felt compelled to write anything in to this blog before (though I read it often), because I feel that my own experiences with sexism in philosophy have not been nearly as bad as others – it’s no worse than the implicit sexism we all experience in everyday life.
But reading ‘How Philosophy Changes Women’ just now has really struck a chord, as philosophy is changing me, or at least the way I dress.
I am a grad student, and since I started my phd there are a lot of clothes that I used to wear which I NEVER wear any more.  I’m not becoming the ‘tomboy’ type, but my skirts have got much longer (and I don’t think they were short before), and I have generally started to wear clothes that are more plain, more boring (in my eyes), and that stand out less.
This makes me really sad, but the fact is that I often don’t feel that I am taken seriously, and it seems like wearing clothes that come across more conservative helps. I didn’t used to wear inappropriate things before, I was just a young 20-something woman with a particular style, which philosophy is gradually taking from me.
I love philosophy and I love the department I’m in, but this more than anything really makes me aware of the problems women face – even in a friendly and permissive department, I have started almost self-censoring so that I can become the ‘right’ kind of woman to work in philosophy.  And that sucks.

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