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.
2 years ago