Do we listen to women?

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.

“So, Psychology?”

“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.

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7 thoughts on “Do we listen to women?”

  1. Great post! I would also like to be as outspoken as Professor Jones, but it’s not simply a matter of being outspoken. Watch how men respond to women like Professor Jones. My experience has been that men (and many women) label such women as aggressive, as “ball-breakers,” and some even call such women mean.

    Contrast that with the messages we are given throughout our lives of what a woman should be: pretty, sexy, keeps a clean house, has perfect kids AND maintains a career- all while NOT demonstrating the assertive behaviors you described seeing in Professor Jones. Unless, of course, you’re the lead character in Harry’s Law.

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  2. Rachel, we should all be as outspoken as Pattrice! And aren’t you a lucky one to be taking Gender Studies! Most definitely the public has to be clued into the gender stereotypes, sexism, gender learning, and so forth that makes us the crippled society we are. And if we think about it, Pattrice shouldn’t be seen as outspoken, but instead as simply exerting her right to speak without judgement. I’m with rumpydog. Women that are assertive, that ask for what the want and call a spade a spade are seen as “difficult,” or aggressive. Really? In this day and age we’re still fighting the image of “ball busters.” Maybe if men didn’t think they had balls of steel, we wouldn’t be tempted to bust them, or at the very least, clank them together! Great post, lady! 🙂

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  3. Thank you! I wish I could convey in words her tone. Because it wasn’t over the top or in your face. It was just calmly saying, “No, I actually mean Gender Studies.”

    And I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a photo of her (http://www.upc-online.org/spring07/ForumDVDs.html – here’s one) but she definitely identifies herself as a butch lesbian.

    But really, it shouldn’t matter what you look like. If you’re engaging someone in conversation you should listen to them.

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  4. Doctor Jones! I love Pattrice’s classes.

    Yeah, this is a huge problem. It reminds me of a reading I read, where a woman goes in to see a doctor, and the doctor said “I see that you have a boy and a girl,” and she says “no, I have two daughters.” The doctor said, “no, are you sure? Oh, wait, here it is in the chart. I guess that you are right.”

    I wish that I can remember which book or article I got that from. I have so much stuff, it is hard to keep track of all of the memories and match them to texts.

    Sadly, we live in a society that believes that women cannot possibly be as smart as men, as knowledgeable as men, as right about things as men. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have words like hysteria [originally considered to be a medical condition that was believed to be particular to women and caused by disturbances of the uterus (from the Greek ὑστέρα “hystera” = uterus); the APA changed the officially changed the diagnosis of “hysterical neurosis, conversion type” to “conversion disorder,” but I don’t know of anyone who calls it that] still in common use.

    We must continue to strive forward, despite those who attempt to hold us back.

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    1. I think it was in an article we had to read for “Gender, Race, and Popular Culture.” If I find it I’ll bring it tonight.

      I have to say, I’m so grateful to have men in my life wo will listen.

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      1. Was it in the book “Gender, Race, and Media?” I own that one, but I left it at home.

        Actually, I left all of them at home today. Oops.

        Whatev’s. I appreciate your looking for the article! See you tonight. ^_^

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