A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of yet another of the “death by a thousand paper cuts**” craptastic things I used to hate dealing with in my days in the scientific workforce. You know what I’m talking about. Could be a retreat, a workshop, a seminar, a meeting, a program, maybe even just a discussion, but whatever it is, diversity is the subject, explicit or implicit. On one occasion it was a discussion about whether a tiny little space should be set aside for students of a certain group. On another it was a pizza party for women students. But ever and anon, at such occasions, you will hear the plaintive wail:
“Where is the [meeting/retreat/study room/pizza party/program] for white men?”
At K-State, where I was for a time director of the Women in Engineering and Science Program, I was asked not once but several times “Where is the program for men in engineering?” I had various answers. Sometimes, when I felt pissy, I would say, “That would be the whole College of Engineering.” Sometimes when I felt polemical, I would say, “You know, that’s a good question. It’s good for us to think about why we need a program for women in engineering. Women can do engineering work, but engineering is not as successful in attracting and keeping them as it is with men. So in a sense, the program is more for the college of engineering than it is for the women.” Sometimes, when I felt Socratic, I would say, “That’s a good question. What do you think men need that they aren’t getting, that a men in engineering program would provide?”
But all times, this is what I really wanted to say:
Jesus H. Christ! Every time I hear that “where is the whateverthefuck for white men” I want to say “seriously? Seriously? you think you are the first motherfucking white d00d in the whole motherfucking world to come up with that acid riposte in a diversity-related seminar/meeting/retreat/discussion? SERIOUSLY? Go away and come up with an ORIGINAL white d00d whine and we will think about giving you a diversity cookie. Until then, open up your motherfucking white d00d eyes and take a look around at how the whole entire world is plastered with signs that say ‘White D00ds ‘Specially Welcome Here!’ ‘K? Thx.”
**(The) Knight Higher Education Collaborative (September 2001). Gender Intelligence. Policy Perspectives, 10(2), 1-9.