I recently had an experience which I feel epitomizes an epidemic in the United States. This epidemic is not bacterial and it can’t be treated with medical means.
This epidemic is the disease of disrespect. Specifically, it if the disrespect of women and their intellect. This epidemic insults the intelligence of every woman. It makes it impossible for the culture at large to listen to us. Think I’m being a little over the top? Where are the women who should be on panels about contraception? Where are the women who should be in Congress? Where are the women who should be on our city councils? Where are the women in our society?
Anyway, to this experience that I had last Monday. My only on campus class in GNDR 365: “Cultural Politics of GLBT Sexuality.” It’s being taught by Pattrice Jones, who is a famous ecofeminist and gay rights activist.
Last Monday, prior to class there was some kind of seminar going on in the usual classroom. At about 5:50 (class starts at 6:00) Pattrice went in and asked if they were almost done because her class started in a few minutes. Luckily they were just wrapping up and the students filtered out. The male instructor of this seminar asked her what the class was. She replied with, “Cultural Politics of GLBT Sexuality.”
“Oh, what kind of class is that? Psychology?” said the male instructor
“No, Gender Studies,” said Pattrice.
“No, Gender Studies,”
“Don’t you mean Psychology?”
“No, I mean Gender Studies.”
“Oh, there’s a Gender Studies department at Metro?”
“Yes, there is. And I teach in it.”
“Well, I guess that’s why you kept repeating yourself, huh?”
“Yeah, that would be why.”
“Oh, well I just started in January and I’m still learning about the college.”
At this point, Pattrice just glowered at him and he made a rapid exit from the classroom.
Unfortunately I was unable to think about this more because class started and it was time to talk about trans individuals. But the more I thought about what I had witnessed, the more troubled I became. So now I sit here a week later (and not going to class because it’s spring break) thinking about my own behavior and how others perceive me. Am I as straight forward and plain spoken as Pattrice? Maybe, I don’t know. Have I ever had similar experiences? Absolutely.
In conclusion, as you go out into this brand new week I would encourage you to listen to the women in your lives. You may be close to this person or you may just encounter a woman in the street. Either way, if you’re talking to her make sure to listen.