I’ve got big boobs so society thinks it’s OK to gawk at them whenever I wear a v-neck t-shirt. Society, unfortunately included my nasty professor whose face resembled a fungal big toe. I don’t mind bashing this dude because he was the kind of prof that had NO QUALMS about dismissing women. It was a creative writing class but we never read any stories written by women, when I asked why, he said, “Women writers tend to be lacking because their focus is usually on women problems, how is everyone supposed to relate?”
Well, Mr. Fungas, maybe the problems women face everyday like oppression, rape and domestic pressures are actually everyone’s problem, since those problems only exist because of other people in the first place! But I digress . . .
Dr. Smelly Toes had a reputation for dismissing female students and women thinkers but I didn’t know how big of a creep he was. One day I was visiting him during office hours. He welcomed me in and closed the door behind us, which is rather unusual but I assumed he just wanted quiet, he liked the sound of his own voice.
I asked him how I was doing in the class, creative writing is a difficult subject to grade. As I asked him my pen dropped onto the floor. I was wearing a v-neck so I can only assume that as I reached to pick up my pen my boobs were slightly more revealed. Then Professor Creep Soles said, “Perhaps if your brain were as a big as your breasts, your stories might have a bit more substance, Amber.”
I stood still in my chair. My mouth hanging wide open. I had no response, no words, no comeback for how utterly shitty I felt in that moment of complete condescension. I may even still be sitting there today. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe but most of all I couldn’t let myself cry. I swallowed hard and instead of telling him how sexist he was, instead of telling him how inappropriate he was, instead of reporting him, I said, “Oh, how I can do better?”
After our meeting I ran to my dorm room and cried. My roommate told me it wasn’t that big of a deal that he was just being a jerk and the fact that she thought it wasn’t “that big of a deal” made me feel worse. Was I being melodramatic? Was it all in my head? I felt defeated and did nothing about it.
I let him get away with it and until this day I wish I hadn’t. But that’s how power works and sexism work. When you have power you can humiliate and degrade someone as much as you like and they are so helpless and hurt by the situation they feel defenseless.
I never let anyone speak to me that way again, no matter who they thought they were. Has a teacher or a person you’re supposed to look up to been demeaning or sexist toward you?