May 10, 2007
You might be a woman if…
[Part one in an ongoing series, with apologies/thanks/something to Jeff Foxworthy. If you have any ideas for future completions of the sentence or related stories, feel free to let me know!]
…you’ve complained about something serious, only to have someone tell you to calm down and/or get over it because it’s not that big a deal.
Examples after the fold.
Example one: last night a professor friend of mine told me about the time she approached the department chair because she was being sexually harassed by a student. Rather than respond appropriately, the department chair told her to get over it.
Example two: Zuska complains about a blogger on the Scientific American site commenting that another science blogger, Shelley Batts, is attractive, when what she looks like has absolutely nothing to do with the matter at hand. Zuska includes in the post some of the knee-jerk responses she is likely to get, one of which is “It’s not that big a deal; you’re over-reacting.” She tries to explain herself further in order to preclude such responses:
To help you out, in case you were thinking of posting any of the above comments: yes, it is indeed sexist to comment on a woman’s appearance in a context like this. It’s completely gratuitous, it has nothing to do with the story, and it wouldn’t have been done if she weren’t a woman. I’m not over-reacting; I’m pointing out an occurrence of sexism. That’s one of the functions of this blog, to highlight the thousand and one daily, mundane occurrences of sexism that go on in the science universe, that are so common we breathe them in like the air around us and don’t even notice them anymore – till someone points them out. (And then gets told she’s over-reacting.)
She nonetheless gets a number of comments accusing her of overreacting.
It’s happened to me. Has it happened to you?