I was told once, by a man (big surprise), that I would not be considered for a full-time professor position because my “demeanor” at that institution as an adjunct was more suitable to that of a tenured professor; in other words, I didn’t know my place.
I was told another time, by a different man (big surprise) that I would not be interviewed for a full-time position (at another institution where I had been working quite collegially for 6 or 7 years) because, while I seemed to have all of the requisite qualifications, he had concerns about my “collegiality” — despite the fact that I got along perfectly well with every single other person on the faculty except one, who everyone there knew was probably crazy. A few days later, another (man) on the faculty told me not to take it personally, even though it was, quite clearly, personal.
In case you didn’t click on the 2nd link above, here’s Nora Ephron:“Don’t underestimate how much antagonism there is toward women and how many people wish we could turn the clock back. One of the things people always say to you if you get upset is, don’t take it personally, but listen hard to what’s going on and, please, I beg you, take it personally. Understand: every attack on Hillary Clinton for not knowing her place is an attack on you. Underneath almost all those attacks are the words: get back, get back to where you once belonged. When Elizabeth Dole pretends that she isn’t serious about her career, that is an attack on you. The acquittal of O.J. Simpson is an attack on you. Any move to limit abortion rights is an attack on you — whether or not you believe in abortion. The fact that Clarence Thomas is sitting on the Supreme Court today is an attack on you.”
I recently tried to hire a woman I knew as a student at a much earlier job, and then a friend-of-a-friend, both very accomplished violinists who perform with my local city’s symphony orchestra, to be involved in a chamber music group a trumpeter (male, but not in a bad way) and I are trying to put together. The first is taking a year of reduced work to take care of her “babies” (3 and 1 1/2); the second demurred, too busy driving her children to soccer practice and piano lessons. I wonder why the women always demure, defer, (I did, too, for a while); why the men rarely do. I know the husbands of these two women. There is no deferring involved.
It’s not just others turning the clock back; we turn it back on ourselves. I wonder if I’d had different role models — not even my mother necessarily, but women my age “going for it” when I should have been — if I would have made different choices. It’s definitely too late, in that there’s no turning back time (If I could. . . Cher?), and my son scoffed at my suggestion once that, if we took the right advice we could live a life free of regret, but I can’t help but wonder.
“One of the strangest anti-feminist stereotypes to me – among the Birkenstock-wearing and bra-burning – is the idea that we’re unhappy. Angry. Bitter. Both because the foundation of the insult is the assumption that women should be perpetually happy, and because the truth is that the culture doesn’t actually mind if women are unhappy – so long as we keep it to ourselves. Women’s distress directed inward – from eating disorders to feelings of inadequacy – keeps the status quo moving along, with diet pills selling through the roof and women asking for promotions far less often than their male counterparts. But when our dissatisfaction takes an outward turn, people get uncomfortable. Then, women’s emotions are ‘hysterical’ or over-the-top. Anything less than a bubbly disposition means that we’re ‘bitches.’ Hell hath no fury like a man who finds a woman displeasing.” (Jessica Valenti)