Recently I upset the whole world by telling somebody who mansplained all over me to knock it off. I am sure this person is wonderful in lots of ways. I’ve read some of his papers, and I think they are super.
But really, my statements are not about him. It’s about me and what I deserve.
It’s about how people get to talk to me and about me professionally.
My confronting him, and the group, has lead to a bunch of to and fro about whether I’m making something out of nothing, whether this was all just a little personal contretemps, and that’s all bull crap. Nobody else gets to have an opinion.
It’s not about “the team” or “why the team needs unity.” It’s about me and what I deserve.
Academic currency is smartness, and male academics–in particular–condescend to female academics and scholars of color and pretty much everybody else all the time, it’s bad behavior in reality, but it’s rewarded behavior in the academy. It should not be, in an environment that tells itself that it is about inquiry.
“Let me begin by assuming I know shit and you don’t…” is the way people begin communicating in the academy. Even when, in this case, I am an award-winning social science researcher in my own right with 30+ published papers to my credit.
So here’s the deal.
1. My competency will not by undermined in any conversation that anybody gets to have with me. Nobody gets to assume I am operating from a handicap known as my gender. If somebody starts there, they get corrected. Why? I deserve better than that.
2. My work and contributions will not be reframed and erased according to what suits your agenda for a conversation. I control how my work is discussed. Why? I deserve to.
3. I shall dictate the terms by which I am spoken to and treated. You can have an opinion, of course, but don’t expect me to care about it or defer to it. I don’t need to be treated according to my academic rank; you needn’t even really call me Dr. or Professor. But I shall be treated like an equal in conversation, in every conversation, or I will correct that.
Now if you haven’t, go watch Beyonce’s Lemonade, and actually pay attention because it is not about what Jay Z is doing with his penis.