It’s been a migrainey sort of week here at Chez Zuska, so in lieu of something new at the moment, I’m giving you a “best of Zuska” from the old blog site. By coincidence, it’s also trash and recycling night here in my hometown. Read and decide for yourself.
Shake Off The Dust Under Your Feet
At my university, there has never been a woman department chair in science, engineering, or math in the entire history of the university. A dean recently told me that it will probably be another decade or so before this even has a chance of happening. I have female colleagues with outstanding organizational and leadership skills, but when it comes right down to it, the men can’t see having a woman for a boss. During a recent conversation about this topic, one (male) professor here told me that he thinks successful women science professors are ‘scary’. My unspoken response was BOO! My actual response was to stare at him incredulously.
That’s just one of the good parts. I really wish she had actually said BOO! That would have been so cool. I urge all of you, if you find yourself in a similar situation, to say BOO! Actually, that’s probably not a good idea. It would just confirm the fear in their tiny little brains.
So, I urge any sympathetic male readers, if you find yourself in on a conversation where a man says this to a woman professor, you should respond by doing the following: raise your hands in the air and wave/wiggle them while saying “You mean like this?” and make ghost noises, the way you did when you were a kid and wanted to scare your younger brother or sister. Then laugh. At the other man. And say, “You have GOT to be kidding. You are SCARED of successful women professors? Have you got ovary envy or something? Hah hah hah hah” Exit while continuing to laugh. (Only do this if you have tenure.) (last sentence optional, only for advanced advocates who know their adversary well.)
Now, I am not a fan of men policing each others’ masculinity and trying to make each other feel like “pussies” if they aren’t all “hard” and tough (must I even draw your attention to the multiple connotations of this language and how it explicitly devalues women? so that when you are insulting your buddies, it’s at the expense of your wife, mom, daughter, or girlfriend, dudes). But since you are going to continue to do it anyway even though you SHOULD NOT, why not use it here in support of your female colleague. Make fun of your colleague for being afraid of women professors. What is he, a fucking wimp?
I am encouraging you to be complicit in misogyny and homophobia in order to combat misogyny and homophobia. But, if you are AWARE of the misogyny and homophobia involved, I think it is okay. It’s sort of like that martial art whose name I really cannot summon up (damn you, Topamax) where you turn your enemy’s strength or attack back against him. Or, like Wonder Woman with those nifty gold bracelets; you just hold up one arm and deflect that bullet and it ricochets around and goes right into the shooter’s head.
Now, back to that dean who confidingly told Female Science Professor that, sadly, even though here we are in 2006, it will be at least another decade before there is even “a chance” of there being a female department head in science, math or engineering at Resistant University. Different tactics are called for here.
- Inform the dean that this is the most sorry-ass excuse for leadership you have ever seen in your life.
- Or is this university really so crappy that no woman in her right mind will come here as department chair?
- In either case, you are getting the hell out of Dodge.
- You open the door, and in strides Xena, Warrior Princess, ululating as she raises her sword. She head-butts the dean, kicks him in the gut, then runs him through…
Wouldn’t that be beautiful? But this is the 21st century, not ancient Greece, even if the dean and the rest of his henchmen desperately clinging to the vestiges of patriarchal power afforded them via their status as Engineers In the Academy Who Defend the Standards are mentally living in some distant era. So your best revenge is to live well, which I say means:
Go not into the way of the misogynists, and into any city of the Resistants enter ye not. But go rather to the Welcoming Universities and the High Salaried Industries. And as ye go, preach, saying equitable treatment is at hand. Provide maternity leave for the graduate students, recruit women who took a few years off to have children, bestir the emeritus and senior professors to share their experience with junior faculty, fire the harassers; freely ye have received from NSF and NIH, freely give grant-writing tips to junior faculty…And whatsoever university or company offers you a job, enquire among your network who in it is worthy; make them your colleagues and mentors. If the workplace is good, praise it; if it is good, may your peace be upon it along with tenure and promotion; but if it turns out to be a hellhole, do whatever it takes to keep/regain your peace and execute your exit strategy (always have an exit strategy). And whosoever backstabs you and blocks your tenure, rejects your proposals or your papers, when you blow out of Dodge for greener pastures, shake off the dust under your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that university when the Title IX bandwagon rolls into their hometown and cuts off their funding. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.