Saturday, 21 March 2009

Feminist Events: VUWSA Women's Group meeting on Monday

Further to the profile of the VUWSA Women's Group earlier in the week:
The next Women's Group meeting is Monday March 23rd, in Meeting Room 3 in the Student Union Building. Bring a plate for dinner and discussion! If you need directions, send an email to wro at vuwsa dot org dot nz or check out the Facebook group for more contact details.
I'm also working on getting up a Google Calendar for feminist events, hopefully up on the blog this weekend sometime. But don't hold me to that.


Anonymous said...


As an academic, I support feminism wholeheartedly. However, much to my chagrin, there are still some holdouts from the eighties that are using their positions of power as a means to retaliate against straight, white students in their classes. It's unbeleivable. In fact, I probably wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't witnessed it myself. Can you imagine? These poor kids don't have a clue why they're being treated like that. In the spirit of Poetry Friday I'm leaving a poem.

White, Straight Male in a “Feminist’s” World

Once again, she ignores me—calling on everyone else, just not me.
She waits for someone else to speak…Anyone at all; as long as they’re female or gay or a different color than me. Even when she acknowledges me, she tells me to wait and then never allows me to speak.
I don’t know why I even try.
I’m invisible and yet still, she targets me with isolation.
She’s obviously very angry,
Her passive-aggression gives her away.
“Did you have your hand up?” She asks the others but never me.
“Do you have something to add?” Words I’ll never hear. Not here anyway.
My opinion is not welcome.
My offense has nothing to do with what I’ve done, and everything to do with what I am.
I’m a white male—
And heterosexual too!
I might as well be a leper!
Ostracized by the “feminist” who claims to champion the unempowered
but she uses her position of power to oppress and silence.
Her thin veil of hypocrisy, yellow like her teeth, barely conceals her cowardice.
Are you the “son of a Swan?”
or the abandoned offspring of a harpy?
The goddess Diana resents your name.
You preach about ethics, but look what you do.
You’re not a feminist, you’re a liar—and the worst kind…
pretending to be a victim as you wipe the blood from your lips.

Tui said...

anon: I do not for one second believe you have witnessed the discrimination you describe. In my five years in tertiary education, I have never taken a class in whic the sexual orientation of a given student was known. I've also never taken a class where the discussion was not dominated by white people, simply as a statistical function of tertiary education demographics. I can't speculate on their sexuality, of course; nevertheless, my experience utterly contradicts yours. Perhaps you can give us some examples. If you feel you are being discriminated against, it is your responsibility to contact your class rep or your department.

May I, however, extend two suggestions to your poem's protagonist?
1. In some kinds of discussion it can be especially valuable to hear from people with a variety of backgrounds. There are shitloads of white people out there and there are piles of people in every class who can represent the white perspective. If, in an ethics class on cultural relativism, the professor deliberately picks the woman in the room wearing a headscarf to talk, rather than a white woman, perhaps the professor is responsibly fostering a varied discussion. (I'm not suggesting that white people, or christian people, or muslim people, or arabic people, or gay people, have a monolithic identity or perspective; merely that varied backgrounds tend to lead to varied perspectives.)
2. Maybe - and perhaps this is offensive, but what can I do - maybe your protagonist is just dumb. Yeah, it sucks to be passed over, but if your contributions to the class are persistently irrelevant and do not further a discussion, professors are going to call on you less. Perhaps, instead of blaming his privileges, your protagonist should think about blaming the amount of reading he did before he came to class, his listening skills, and the value of his contribution.

Anna said...

I've been in many a class taught by feminists (and have taught as a feminist). It's possible this could happen, I suppose, but I'd be surprised if it was widespread. Women (let alone feminist women) are still the minority of tertiary teachers, and I would have thought any males systemically victimised would have made complaints.

When I've taught, I've always valued thoughtful contributions from men, including when I haven't agreed with them. I find men's perceptions of gender issues are often fascinating, but more importantly, I have an ethical commitment to treating every person with dignity.

I know of a feminist lecturer who taught a guy who was a relentless smart-arse in class, and made comments to provoke other students - he might have felt alienated, but he brought a good chunk of that on himself. She was relentlessly polite to him. (I gave a lecture to a class which included a woman who behaved similarly - she annoyed the bejesus out of me in exactly the same way).

Some blokes (and a few women, for that matter) think the right to speak freely includes the right to dominate discussion. Some people do this without even being aware of it. I think they're probably the ones who find feminist classes intimidating - being asked to share the stage is new to them. I get a bit frustrated with men who think that any attempt to address injustice towards men, gay people or other groups is necessarily an attack on them - that's really quite childish and self-centred.

PS I don't think a society in which which pay disparity or domestic violence are commonplace can be called a 'feminist's world'. It falls well short of my utopia. And if you accuse a feminist of wiping blood from her lips, it might be that your offensive views are the cause of her anger.

PPS If women wrote irritable poems each time we found ourselves the numerical minority, there would be a lot of irritable poems in the world, wouldn't there?