Today I want to say thank you…

to one of my classes. Thank you for opening my eyes to a new site of harassment at this Univ. Harassment that is directed only at women faculty members. Harassment that you say is justified because the victim is unable to maintain discipline in the class. Harassment that you think is a reflection not on you as perpetrators, but on her, and her “incompetence”. Harassment that, tomorrow, I may face, if I am not enough of a disciplinarian.

You’ve now shown me why we as a faculty are so defensive in our interactions with you. You’ve warned me, and warned me well. You’ve shown me what can happen if I cannot exert authority. You’ve sounded the first gong in the death-knell of democracy in my classroom.

You may think I’m overreacting, that, after all, I have never had any problems with the way I conduct classes. That since I’ve managed to strike the right balance today, I have no reason to worry about tomorrow. Do you realise how carefully thought out my ‘easy camaraderie’ with you is? You’ve just shown me that the moment you decide that I’m not a disciplinarian, the minute you find that we can be friends, as soon as you have a say in how the class is run, you will think that it is acceptable to call me names, to catcall me, to use sexual and other abuse towards me.

Even more scarily, since the only reason you don’t do this to me is fear of the discipline I impose, you’ve shown me what you say and think of me behind my back…

How can I ever face your class again without feeling vulnerable? How can I face you?

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2 Responses

  1. Perhaps you have never had to sit through a class and dream of what you wanted it to be and waken to a poor joke.

    Perhaps your curiosity was never taken to be arrogance/petulance/impudence and therefore a call for you to be taken to task (or on a good day ignored).

    Perhaps you’ve never walked into class HONESTLY hoping for a discourse or discussion that left you knowing more – and an hour later you wish you had just tuned out like the rest?

    Perhaps you never had to realize that your professor hadn’t lead you forward but pushed you away?

    There is no excuse for what happened. It was flippant and unjustified.

    But the impatience and frustration with what happens in the class room is growing more palpable.

    And that is why this will never happen to you. Because one does walk out knowing more. And the respect is out of the perception that it may just possibly be mutual. It will remain.

  2. I wish I could believe that. In fact, I think I do believe that. As I said, faith.

    Impatience, frustration. Good. Symptoms that you are not brain-dead. But why was harassment the tool? Don’t you know better, aren’t you better equipped, than to react like a crowd of hooligans at a cricket match?

    You’re right, it shouldn’t have happened. And though I know it will not happen to me, it’s still unforgivable.

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