When you have lost the ability to be constructive in race/class/gender discussions

This has never really happened to me before, but I think I may have become so alienated and hurt by the misogyny of the academy that I am no longer constructive.

One wants to work for change, but after getting kicked in the teeth so many time by so many clueless dinosaurs…one just resents every single action or gesture or conversation as either fake, self-serving, or both.

So I sit on the sidelines, rolling my eyeballs all over my head, as people who have no clue what oppression is or how it works talk about how we’re gonna be all diverse now, for sure, that’s the ticket. We’re having conversations. We are making plans.

I’m supposed to clap and support and cheerlead these conversations and plans. This conversation freaking needs me. And I am too tired and too burned out to do it.

How do we fix my heart? How do I cheerlead with a broken heart? Because my heart got broken the last time my male colleagues demeaned me in front of our students. I have no idea why that day was the last straw–Lord knows, I’ve been dismissed and undermined in one meeting after another–but something just broke in me that day, and I can’t get past it.

How does that get fixed?

How do we fix the confidence that I’ve lost because they are always trying to wrest it from me and I just ran out of strength to hold on to it? I just ran out. I should do better; I should ‘lean in’; I should ‘not let anybody hold me back.’ I should be strong.

But I’m empty. I got nothing to give to them or to me, and I am in a free fall. And you’re always telling yourself, when you are focussed on justice, that you have to make the most of those key opportunities, those key windows that occasionally open up to change an institution, however marginally, for the better. And if you don’t have the energy to move when those windows happen, you’ve lost a moment, let the side down.

What happens when you ignore justice in the city, according to Hesiod

But you, Perses, listen to right and do not foster violence; for violence is bad for a poor man. Even the prosperous cannot easily bear its burden, but is weighed down under it when he has fallen into delusion. The better path is to go by on the other side toward justice; for Justice beats Outrage when she comes at length to the end of the race. But only when he has suffered does the fool learn this. For Oath keeps pace with wrong judgments.

There is a noise when Justice is being dragged in the way where those who devour bribes and give sentence with crooked judgments, take her. And she, wrapped in mist, follows to the city and haunts of the people, weeping, and bringing mischief to men, even to such as have driven her forth in that they did not deal straightly with her.

But they who give straight judgments to strangers and to the men of the land, and go not aside from what is just, their city flourishes, and the people prosper in it: Peace, the nurse of children, is abroad in their land, and all-seeing Zeus never decrees cruel war against them. Neither famine nor disaster ever haunt men who do true justice; but light-heartedly they tend the fields which are all their care. The earth bears them victual in plenty, and on the mountains the oak bears acorns upon the top and bees in the midst. Their woolly sheep are laden with fleeces; their women bear children like their parents. They flourish continually with good things, and do not travel on ships, for the grain-giving earth bears them fruit.

But for those who practise violence and cruel deeds far-seeing Zeus, the son of Kronos, ordains a punishment. Often even a whole city suffers for a bad man who sins and devises presumptuous deeds, and the son of Kronos lays great troubles upon the people, famine and plague together, so that the men perish away, and their women do not bear children, and their houses become few, through the contriving of Olympian Zeus. And again, at another time, the son of Kronos either destroys their wide army, or their walls, or else makes an end of their ships on the sea

Paterno and Penn State

This example was sickening, and people should be outraged. What could possibly have been so important that you look the other way? Football?

But powerful people behave like this both inside and outside universities more than many care to admit. People love to point fingers at the Catholic church and now Penn State. Those examples are egregious, but:

While, statistics on illegal activities are hard to acquire, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services estimates that New York City–alone–is home to more than 2,000 sexually exploited children under 18. The International Labour Organization (ILO) figures for the year 2003 that there are as many as 1.8 million children exploited in prostitution or pornography worldwide.

That’s a lot of looking the other way.

FT on the French and flirtation, me on consent

Peggy Hollinger in the Financial Times writes about the French way of “flirting” and how successful politicians are “expected to have a powerful libido”:

Hollinger concludes in the right way: that underlying the wink-wink-nudge-nudge of French politics, there is misogyny.

But I have questions.

Is it really so hard for somebody with a “towering intellect” to understand that he doesn’t get to race around grabbing people in the US? I mean, it’s supposedly common knowledge all over France that us yanks are all puritanical and uptight. So he’s smart enough to run the IMF, but not smart enough to have his assistant hire a sex worker for the night? It’s New York. It’s not like there aren’t any number of really available call girls.

Or is it that he was unprepared, given the genuflection and admiration he normally receives, that even Ghanian maids have the right to tell you to keep your g-d hands to your g-d self once you’ve been told to?

A truly seductive man who respects women doesn’t have to act this way in order to satisfy his powerful libido. Sex is still fun when it’s consensual. Really. Even an unsubtly seductive man doesn’t have to act like S-K appears to have. Has anybody other than me ever noticed that Hugh Hefner–even after all this time–has never had women complain or sue him for being nasty to them? If he has, I’m not aware of it.

Either he has the best nondisclosure agreements ever, the best hush money (because even Michael Jackson couldn’t pay everybody off), or his relationships with women aren’t as exploitative as they might be given the context–ie, they know what they are doing, he’s honest with them, the boundaries of the interaction are set, etc.

What’s so hard about consent?

Translating Skype Message: Sweet Russian Ladies

My husband received the following Skype spam:

Beautiful Russian ladies

European and American women are too arrogant for you? Are you looking for a sweet lady that will be caring and understanding?
Then you came to the right place- here you can find a Russian lady that will love you with all her heart.


Are you such a repulsive swine that even the most desperate American or European women won’t have anything to do with you? Worry not! Your unearned economic privilege of being been born in the US allows you to exploit impoverished women from around the globe. We can find one who, out of sheer economic desperation largely abetted by the very same structural factors that enriched you undeservedly, will be a servile companion unable to confront you on being a) a gigantic effing loser and b) an entitled piece of guano.

PS: Western Russia is in Europe, you idiot.

Trafficking in children around the Super Bowl

Prior to this week’s Super Bowl in the US, police and advocates are trying to stop human trafficking in the city before the big game. This story from the AP describes police and advocacy efforts, and:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that at least 100,000 children in the U.S. are victims of prostitution each year.

Granted that this number is an estimate, but even so, that’s unacceptable. Think about it: 100,000 kids involuntarily trafficked each year. If they were a city, they would be Berkeley.