Friday, September 11, 2009

Dick-Slapping

I need a break from the work I'm doing (stupid, boring editing and revising work, and not for anything related to my own writing). So let me tell you a story about a meeting.

Young Crazy arrived, and the door was locked. She knocked, and she realized for the first time (although she'd known who would be in attendance) that she would be the lone person with a vagina in the room. This combined with the fact that she was the lone newly tenured person in the room made things interesting, indeed.

I will say this, first, about the Meetings of my past, the majority of which have happened within my department, where people know I'm an opinionated and outspoken lady. I have not typically been the lone woman, and I have never been an unknown quantity. And people always, without question, respected my contributions. I've never been assigned to "important" service before because I was untenured. And the "important" service at my university, as far as I can tell from recent experience, is primarily about the d00ds.

Now, in the context of the meeting that I will describe, I knew these people to say hello to and to socialize with. We've chatted over wine and cheese and coffee and cookies. And I will go so far as to say that socially I've liked these men.

So I was shocked today to feel as if they had expected me not to contribute to the conversation. I was stunned when it became apparent that they didn't actually respect me.

Now, I know I'm an unknown quantity to these people, having not served for years with the d00ds on committees such as this. And I also get it that I'm from a humanities discipline, whereas the majority of the d00ds in attendance were not, so that means I'm squishy and silly, at least in their eyes.

But I'm really not squishy and silly. Indeed, I've got Ideas and Agendas. This is why my department chair wanted me to do this gig, people, because I a) am a girl who has a response at the ready and b) I'm a girl who will fight to the death for something she believes in.

So here I am, in the meeting of d00ds, and about 15 minutes in it becomes apparent that they think I'm a non-entity. And I notice their shock when I don't accept that. I notice that they are actively surprised that I'm advocating for not only my position within the group but also for the position of my discipline and larger area.

I think the moment that I really realized what I was up against was when I challenged one of the committee members about an item of a proposal, and he had the gall to offer a rejoinder that ended, "So I just want you to understand that this is what you're saying when you make this objection." As if I don't freaking understand what I'm saying! As if I don't understand consequences! As if I'm I clueless little girl who needs to be schooled!

I know you're dying to hear my response to that. I paused for a moment, and then I said, "You know what? I'm a mean lady. I'm completely comfortable with that result. And yes, I totally understand what I'm saying and what I'm suggesting."

He was like, "Oh. Well if you understand what you're saying."
And I was all, with a big, broad smile, "Yep, I understand that's what I'm saying. And I'm totally fine with it."

This was one turning point in the meeting. The other turning point was when another d00d suggested that the objections that the humanies disciplines had to a particular thing were just about people fighting for turf, with the implication that the humanities disciplines are just a bunch of short-sighted ninnies who don't understand the broader considerations in play. I responded the following: "what you need to understand, d00d, is that these objections are about deeply held values and beliefs. Ignore them if you wish, but the reality is that if you do, then this proposal doesn't get passed."

Again, the d00ds looked at me like I was an alien life form, but they also started paying attention.

I spent two hours in a meeting, and for approximately an hour and a half I had d00ds swinging their dicks in my face, believing that I would bow in submission and give up. And for approximately an hour and a half, I made it my job to slap those dicks, hard, so that they would listen to a fucking word I said. After that hour-and-a-half of dick-slapping, we had a real and practical and pragmatic conversation. And ultimately we arrived at an agreement about how to move forward to which I would have agreed after 10 minutes. I suspect that they thought going in that this isn't the agreement that we would have reached. Although I made one small compromise, this was exactly the agreement that I'd envisioned.

And by volunteering for a task that no one wanted to do, I've pretty much ensured that what I envisioned will be the ultimate result.

1- Crazy, 0-d00ds.

20 comments:

Renaissance Girl said...

I LOVE this post. My institution also has a cadre of d00ds, and I am both affronted and delighted anytime they give me an opportunity to dick-slap. But I confess that I do think longingly about a state of affairs in which such correctives wouldn't be necessary.

Flavia said...

Love! It!

GP said...

LMFAO!!! Oh. My. HEAD. Crazy, you have brass balls (no pun intended).

Another Damned Medievalist said...

OMG I LOOOOOOVE YOU!

I was so in that committee last year! I wish I'd done more dick-slapping. This year, same committee, still one of only two vaginas (and the two people who have Actual!Industry! Experience! on the stuff for which the committee's responsible) -- but this time, one d00d is from a more squishy field and is totally cool and junior, and another is from a country where women academics are professors first, then women -- and he's junior, and the guy from last year is just busy making sure that we don't mess with his division, and has no problems with any plans that make the rest of us have a more equitable situation.


HUGE difference.

Bardiac said...

Good work! I wish we had you here.

anummabrooke said...

Tough people blow my mind, I'm not kidding. I've so much to learn.

k8 said...

Thanks for dealing with the doods in such a rockin' way! That sort of bs always drives me batty.

btw, my word verification is: hopicker. ho picker???? What's going on here?

Doctor Pion said...

I would have paid to watch that.

But my observation, from the male side of the room, is that I have seen plenty of men from your side of campus fail to stand up for those values and beliefs. I'll bet your dept chair would tell you that YOU were chosen for that very reason. (Those dicks don't just get swung at women. Some of the men in that room with you might have been dick-slapped into submission in the past.)

I also find it astounding that a matter as significant as I'm guessing this is could be settled in one meeting. That shows real preparation on your side.

Sisyphus said...

Rock on Crazy!!!!!

Ann said...

Oh, how I wish I could write about similar experiences like this one--although I didn't handle them nearly as well or as effectively as you did. Kudos!

Historiann.com

Susan said...

I wish I was so good at such events. But I would totally have predicted the result.

Comet Jo said...

This post made my day! While I don't have a vagina, I am from the squishy side of things, and can relate on those grounds. Not to mention that I hope we can all appreciate it when dick-wavers get a proper comeuppance. (Sorry, I know that last phrase sounds sort of dirty in a not-quite-specifiable way, I just can't think how to rephrase it).

Belle said...

Yee, may I say, Ha! You go Crazy! That's a wonderful story and post, and may they see you coming now and quake in their shorts.

human said...

Do you give dick-slapping lessons? I don't think I could do that, but boy do I wish I could.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

It's appropriate that my word-verification word is "chearr", because that's what I'm doing for you, right now. And after I finish doing that, I'm headed out to get a "What Would Dr. Crazy Do?" bracelet made for myself.

Doctor Pion said...

Didn't know you were from Kalamazoo.

http://rateyourstudents.blogspot.com/2009/09/kalamazoo-katie-returns-and-wonders-if.html

Interesting variant of this story.

PhysioProf said...

That sounds so entertaining (and, of course, awesome)! I wish I could have observed it!

Another Damned Medievalist said...

I was telling a colleague about this yesterday, and he said that, while he's sure some of it had to do with gender in a male/female sense, he also thought it was gendered in a male power sense, because his own experience (he's in the sciences) was that men do this to new (and younger) men as well. He says that the dynamic he's experienced is that men have to come in assertive to the point of almost aggressive and prove they have something to say, and establish their value to the others from early on, otherwise they will be dismissed, too.

Terri said...

Go GIRL! Love this!

Bavardess said...

I think you've won a crucial battle there. Good on you for having the guts to fight it out and not just sit tight.
An hour-and-a-half of dick slapping - that's quite the cardio workout!