Yesterday I had another frustrating interchange with my chair. This is, indeed, the chair I thought was so much better than the chair from hell. Yet...
He (white male wealthy) accused me of being prejudiced against males. At a department meeting, he had asked everyone to make calls about NIH to our congress critters. I mentioned the statistic about women making more calls to Congress on political issues than men. He said nothing then. But, with me in his office, he started saying, in that subdued tone that white men in power use to belittle others, not a raised tone, but the condescension that would make Lady Catherine de Bourgh proud, that what I said was prejudicial against the men in dept. And then the magic words: 'if a man had said that about women'. Ah... If a black said that about a white. If a queer person said that about a non-queer person. Shut up and be grateful we let you sit at the table.
He said: you were insulting to the men, when we need everyone making these calls. And: The men in this department are different from national average.
Are they? Are they really and truly that different? Because they *think* they are prejudice free? Just like you?
I tried to explain about asymmetry, and let the word "privilege' slip. And there it was. He said: I don't believe in privilege. I would not have been surprised if he had said "all lives matter".
I spoke about this with a gay man whose perspective on things I value. highly. And he reminded me: is this the hill you want to die on? What is to be gained by either talking more with the chair or taking this to the Dean?
I don't know. How much of this sits at the corner of woman and old? How much of this sits at the place where the ethnic, loud voice and big nose cars crash into each other? Right now, all I can think is that whenever I believe the sexism battles are gone, over, I am reminded that sexism, as racism, and genderism and all the rest just gone slightly underground, cloaked in the "but I have friends...".
So to end with a bleg: I want to send him a link to something I read about priviledge, if I could only find it again. it was a WOC piece about what is privilege, explaining her childhood, her children's childhood. I remember it being powerful and moving and maybe could get through to him. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.