March 03, 2004

If It's March, It's Time for Pointless Womyn Affirming Crap

What? Do I sound bitter? Just because every freaking spring I am forced to attend the "Women's Professional Development Conference" sponsored by our campus Council of the Status of Women and the Provost?

Yes, dammit, I am bitter. Let me share the myriad reasons why:

First of all, WHY do we still need a Professional Development Conference specifically for women? No, really. I want to know exactly how we are to benefit from sessions entitiled, "Dr. Atkins, Dr. Phil, Dr. Who's Next? What do we really know about healthy eating?" in our professional lives. I am also curious as to our need for the "Communications Doctor" who will help us address the "unhealthy epidemic of interactions in today's society, and will share precscriptions that will help us all obtain the BALANCE that we need." What the hell does "unhealthy epidemic of interactions" even mean? Are we all to retreat to antebellum modes of communication, sending secret signals via our demurely lowered eyelids to our fellow office mates that perhaps their interactions are unhealthy, and collapsing in an attack of the vapors if they don't immediately cease and desist?

This is the most condescending, bullshit laden piece of crap excuse for a "conference" ever created, because it's assumed that we girls can only attend a conference if it's primarily about weight loss and learning to "gently motivate" our co-workers. Gently motivate--that sounds like a laxative description, not an office tactic! You think I'm exaggerating? Okay, out of nine sessions and one general session (featuring the aforementioned "doctor"), only 2 deal with real women's issues on campus: a round table discussion on Promotion and Tenure and a lecture on the Climate for Women on College Campuses. Of these two sessions, one will most likely degenerate into a complaining bitch-fest, and the other a reaffirmation of our victim's status and how we still have "far to go," with nods to all the appropriate sub-groups in the room based upon skin color and sexual preference.

If I recall correctly, the original women's movement was based on the idea that we were equal in ability to men and didn't need to be coddled, affirmed or treated as victims. We also didn't require all day conferences on diet, how to "soften our messages" or our need to find "balance" in our lives. Crap like this sends the message, intentional or not, that somehow we ARE second best because we need all this extra specially tailored "help" that the menfolk don't. In which case, titling the conference "Balance" is not only a misnomer, it's a pretty cruel joke on women.

Whaddya want to bet Naomi Wolf's been to more than a few of these sessions in her day?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at March 3, 2004 09:45 AM

Skip the thing and send a cross-dresser as your personal representative; if they object, accuse 'em of homophobia and gender discrimination.

Posted by: ManFromPorlock at March 3, 2004 12:24 PM

Oh, I should have said... try not to send a cross-dresser who looks better than the female academics. Not easy, I know, but there's no point in pissing people off needlessly.

Posted by: ManFromPorlock at March 3, 2004 12:26 PM

What WOULD happen if you just didn't go?

Posted by: bigdocmcd at March 3, 2004 12:33 PM

bigdocmcd -

We're going to find out--I respectfully declined the "invitation" this year. Since I don't have to worry about tenure, it'll probably be more of a "on the vice-chancellor's shit list" for a few weeks thing, but that's it.

And my blood pressure will be spared for at least one day.

Posted by: BAW at March 3, 2004 01:00 PM

Women are different from men. It keeps coming up that way because women are interested in complexity. If something isn't complex enough, they get nervous. Additional interactions are added. Strangers are invited over for dinner. When there's enough unresolved problems going at once, the woman finally is content. Something then interests her.

A man solves things one at a time and moves onto the next when it's been killed. It's not always appropriate to kill it but that's the way men work.

One of the complexities for women, professionally or not, is men. You have to attract them. It adds difficulty to anything. So attracting is sought out. Diets come in.

Women are only like men as part of making their lives more complex. It's not that you'll melt if told off, but that you can play the thing into some drama or other that has hooks everywhere. Never resolve anything, it ruins the interest.

Eternal frustration, soul-searching and inner struggle forever!

Posted by: Ron Hardin at March 3, 2004 08:15 PM

I have a hypothesis that these sort of crap 'meetings' are planned by people who don't have enough work to do. (I had a meeting, only slightly less patronizing, last week)

what they should do, whenever anyone suggests having a meeting, is immediately assign them to departmental program review, or extra grading duties, or whatever. That way, they'll be as busy as the rest of us and going to meetings will suddenly lose their appeal.

Are you being yanked out of the classroom (i.e., doing your job) to attend these things? I'd raise holy hell if they tried to do that to me for a "female bonding over diets and crap" type of meeting.

Posted by: ricki at March 4, 2004 10:53 AM

"Whaddya want to bet Naomi Wolf's been to more than a few of these sessions in her day?"

And been paid handsomely, too. Oops, is "handsomely" sexist? :)

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