What counts as meaningful

Posted: February 12, 2014 by Jender in trivialising women

I recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and am in a relationship with someone who is in a top graduate program in philosophy. Today, we were discussing the most “meaningful” thing we have learned recently: without going in to much detail, we have to decide on one “meaningful” thing in order to include it in a survey.

I have been reflecting recently over the complexities of the mother/daughter relationship, so I said that I have learned that I spend a good deal of my daily life doing things in order to avoid becoming my mother (I had in mind, specifically, something my partner is aware of: struggling with an eating disorder).He responded with “You haven’t learned a meaningful thing that has to do with the lofty life? Like, existential, philosophical stuff”?

I felt my heart plummet into my stomach. I immediately became defensive and rattled off ways that the mother-daughter relationship was a deeply “existential, philosophical” topic: how a mother is faced with her own mortality upon giving birth, the phenomenological experience of pregnancy, etc…

He responded with something that he’s learned recently about explicit and implicit moral principles.

It feels like I have to defend why the female experience is worthy of philosophical analysis. It feels like I am not taken seriously the moment I talk about what I want to talk about. It feels like I need to transform my thoughts into useless philosophical jargon. It feels like my relationship has tension now, because his words hurt my self-perception. It makes me second-guess my recent applications to graduate programs. It feels like I am not a philosopher–like my thoughts, feminine, worthless–will be forever excluded from the realm of the “lofty, the existential, the philosophical”.

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