Microaggressions

Posted by mouthyb | Posted in , , , , , | Posted on 1:58 PM

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Sexism doesn't always come with bells and whistles. I wish it did, so I could turn around and say to the witnesses of it, "You heard the bells. It exists. You had to have seen it."

Not, of course, that they wouldn't deny the bells, the whistles, the presence of a brass band, because obviously if something like that happened, it must be because I done wrong.

This semester, the most common comment to me in my department, when I talked about my problems with the person teaching statistics, was that I obviously just don't understand math. That comment inevitably came from a white, male student, several of whom had, drunkenly at a party, told me they didn't know why they passed the class, that they could barely understand the content.

One lectured me, in fact, on the stupidity of taking calculus. Who needs all that math, he said. Surely you can't understand it. My male partner, sitting next to me, ended up having to defend me to the room, having to vouch for my intelligence, because the men sitting on the couch, from my department, could not believe that I would be able to comprehend complicated math.

There were no bells and whistles, as there aren't in a typical day for me. During the semester, my days contained lots of little moments: being unable to get the professor's attention. Adapting a computer science algorithm to discuss lowered trust thresholds and increased odds for proliferation, but noticing my professor, during my presentation, staring fixedly at my breasts and later talking to them, when I asked what score I had earned on my presentation. Sitting behind a student in programming class who, despite repeatedly stating he had no idea what was going on in the class, asking me to tell him how to program and turning in his projects 3 weeks late, made a 97 on the exam, to my 60, after the class was lectured on how much more resilient white males are to criticism. Being cut off and yelled at for asking questions in calculus, when male students are typically allowed to finish their sentences.

Having male students attempt to talk over me or tell me what to do in class. Having a male colleague who tells me he is a feminist make passive-aggressive comments about some people just needing to not complain, after telling me he loves the statistics teacher, who cooed at him that she ought to be punished for making a math mistake on the board, a story he loves to tell while waggling his eyebrows suggestively. After all, it must be just jealousy.

Little things, some larger than others. They add up. Day before yesterday, I had to leave a drinking event. A man I am friends with, whose opinion I respect, told me that even though my scores on projects in the programming class were As, even though my quiz scores were As, my exam score would cause the computer science department to reject me.

When we talk about privilege, inevitably some fella (typically a nerd/geek/gamer) says to me that privilege doesn't really exist. If I only I worked harder. Maybe I'm just meant to be a victim, I mean, look at my background. Maybe I just give off the need to be victimized.

The real test of my self-control is how often I don't punch them in the mouth for face-stabbing me.

So far, I've never punched anyone.

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