Old and tired whine: “sexist microaggressions”; new and hot whine: “gender shrapnel”
From my latest blog post for the Independent Women’s Forum:
Prof. Mayock: Shrapnel in academia kind of like London during the Blitz
Haven’t experienced any sexist microaggressions recently?
That’s OK. You can still be a victim—of “gender shrapnel.” That’s leftover misogyny from the past that still hurts.
“Gender shrapnel” is a phrase coined by Ellen Mayock, professor of Spanish, women’s, and gender studies at Washington and Lee University. And in fact Mayock has a new book out on the subject, Gender Shrapnel in the Academic Workplace.
Because although we outsiders think of academia as a politically correct, trigger warning-protected haven for the most meltable of snowflakes, it actually contains more shrapnel than London during the Blitz.
Here’s an explanation, from an interview with Mayock in Inside Higher Education:
“Shrapnel takes its name from its central concept: that female professors and administrators aren’t necessarily overtly discriminated against as much as they are subject to regular insults and slights — all of which build up over time to inflict real damage….
“Put another way, digs such as ‘How does your husband deal with this?’ (‘this’ being long hours at work that have amounted to a productive research agenda), lodge in one’s skin, like bits of shrapnel from an explosion meters off. One isn’t fatal but many over time pose risk to the woman — or at the very least to her longevity in academe.”
Academia also seems to be rife with of “bad gender days,” which are like bad hair days except with gender. Here’s Mayock:
“A bad gender day for me might include being interrupted at a meeting, hearing another credited with my idea or work, having someone speak for me, rather than listen to me, and/or being seen in a group of women and being asked what we are ‘plotting.’”