No, I mean really over it. I said to a colleague just the other week that I thought I would never get used to students hating me because of my gender, but I was wrong. I’m over it.
An interesting event revealed my true attitudes to misogyny. But let me clarify. I still don’t hold truck with culturally embedded misogyny. But kids for whom women have only (mostly) ever let them down – I’m good with that. I was working at an inner city behavior school last week. There was a casual in for the day who seemed fairly hip to the kids at first. But at the daily debrief she went on a verbal bender about how she had limits and that there was only so much misogyny she could take. The room was deathly silent as everyone was thinking “Should these not be private thoughts, to be mulled over and processed with the benefits of some space and time?”. You could cut the ‘circle’ with a knife.
My inner monologue during her tirade revealed to me my true feelings on the issue of student misogyny:
1. In a behavior setting, our job as women is to be the exception to the (perceived) rule: Be patient, be understanding, don’t give up, and be yourself – don’t slip unquestioningly into ‘roles’, even if they’re part of the school culture.
2. There’s a reason for misogyny: Imagine that every woman that this student has come into contact has let him down in some way – if you don’t, you’re omitting a big part of the reason for his enrollment in a behaviour school in the first place.
3. Misogyny is a part of a greater anti-social problem. If you’re not prepared to stick around and model pro-social behavior, then perhaps that kind of school environment is not for you.
While part of me was hearing things ‘the casual’ said, and recognising them as part of my sometime inner monologue, another part of me was passionately defending the misogynist (the student), and I realised that I am over it. It’s not personal, and it’s not a power struggle. It’s the greater good, stupid!
Image: Richard Prince‘s rehash of De Kooning’s misogynistic paintings of women.