I recently presented a paper on a panel at a national conference. I was happy to get on the panel because it was related to a growing interdisciplinary field which I’d like to incorporate into my research. So I went with the aim of making some new connections in this field.
One of the other panelists (a male grad student) expressed interest in my paper, and offered several helpful comments during the question period. After the session, he gave me his email and asked me to contact him to discuss the paper further and to talk about co-writing a paper with him. I am not particularly interested in co-writing (especially with people I don’t know), but since I am trying to make connections in this field, I decided to contact him.
He responded by writing that of course he remembered me from the conference; how could he forget someone who was so beautiful? And also who presented an interesting paper (though this read like an afterthought). He then said that he really knew I was beautiful because he is gay and therefore could not simply be flattering me. He said he’d be too busy to discuss work until the fall but would like to skype to “get to know me better.”
I felt demeaned and objectified. Even though I know better, I started wondering what I had worn during the presentation and if I had worn something different if he would have said the same thing.