The importance of small things

Posted: February 22, 2016 by Jender in Uncategorized

As an undergrad in a program where there is a lot of interaction with grad students, I have a number of frustrations with the attitude of the male grad students. At this point it is just another thing keeping me from finishing my degree and moving on in the field. I find that I don’t stand up for myself and if I keep finding excuses for other people then I wont be able to hold my own convictions or justify my own ideas.

In the past I, along with many of my other woman colleagues had problems with a particular male grad student. He is incredibly lecherous. But smart enough not to get into any trouble. While he is not “dangerous” it is very disrespectful and discouraging if you find that the people that you should in a sense look up to as mentors as well as fellow students are interested in you in so far as you are a potential sexual conquest.

I was actually able to call this person out for “booty calling me” by telling him that he is everything that is wrong with philosophy and he did eventually apologize. Although he had the gall to suggest that his behavior had nothing to do with the fact that I am no longer involved in the philosophy department.

But is still sucks that he thought that it was appropriate to treat me like that. Especially because he does consider himself a feminist and he is given a lot of intellectual credit for that title by faculty and students alike.

I also had problems with another male grad student who as a self proclaimed feminist would sarcastically interrupt me and show physical signs of annoyance whenever I had anything to say which was counter to any of his claims. Many of which as more than subtly misogynist.

I feel like I finally have “rational grounds” to complain about him because he accidentally messaged me to ” shut the fuck up”.
This was a response to some comments that I made to something that he posted on facebook. All the while publicly continuing the conversation suggesting that I had nothing to add. Clearly,  pretending to listen and take into account people who disagree with you confirms your status as a progressive or a radical. The level of hypocrite that one has to be to silence their opponent so that they can publicly look justified in a view boggles my mind.

At first glance, when I am being hard on myself, these sound like small personal issues. The fact that the examples that I gave took place via text and on facebook makes them easy to dismiss as personal issues that have nothing to do with philosophy.

It is also easy to argue that I was somehow soliciting that treatment. Why do those men have my cell phone number and why are they connected to me on facebook? Because these are men I should be able to trust and respect as allies. It is also difficult to do philosophy if you can’t participate freely in social life.

It it is also difficult because these men claim to be allies and are, I think, well respected by their peers as radical and progressive.

I have more stories about these individuals. (There are actually a ton of inside jokes among me and many of my friends about the first grad student I described and the
things that he thought it was appropriate to say and do. Humor works great up to a point in order to cope. But I don’t have the energy to find humor in this kind of thing anymore.

I also know that there are other people that women close to me had problems with. But I can’t speak for them.

This does not feel entirely coherent. There are lots of small things that feel easy to put up with. It is scary to realize that those are the things keeping you from where you want to be and keeping everyone else where they feel entitled to be.

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