Some interesting info: This is very reminiscent of the Baby X experiments, in which it was discovered that people reacted differently to a baby’s behavior depending on whether or not they believed the baby to be male or female. People were asked to watch a video of a baby reacting to a startling image (a Jack-in-the-box popping up), and describe the baby’s emotional state. When people believed the baby to be female, they described the baby as being scared and upset; when they thought the baby was male, they perceived the baby to be angry. This was very telling, as it showed that literally identical behavior could be construed differently based on the perceived gender of the subject.
because i go to art school where our work is subjective, there is a lot of leeway for the people who decide our grades [all men] to do whatever they want. my department prides itself on not giving As, but what they mean is that they don’t give As to women unless those women are completely kissing ass and making the men feel powerful. when women do not participate within this framework, we’re told we’re too ambitious. when women try to succeed within that framework, they’re often told they are trying too hard.
when my male classmate, who has gotten As since we started, received yet another A in a term where i received a B- despite my immense body of work, i asked my teacher why. with his hand on my knee, he told me i was too high strung, that my husband needed to take me out on more dates, that i am too serious, and too neurotic. he said nothing about my work. when i asked him how i could improve, he just repeated his criticisms of my personality, saying nothing about the quality of my work or research. when i spoke about my career goals, my teacher said i was getting ahead of myself, and that right now we need to focus on being students, not worry about being ambitious.
my male classmate received an A because the same behavior was strong, charismatic, unrelenting, and focused. he too was neurotic, uptight, and cared very much about his own success. he invited collectors to our class exhibition, and was commended for his professionalism and was praised for ‘working toward career goals.’
when i asked my teacher about the clear divide between the way we were being treated, he simply said, ‘he does a shtload of work.’ i said, ‘how is his shitload different from my shitload? i do not see a difference.’ all he could say was, ‘it’s just different.’ i knew what he meant.
what i’m saying is: this goes on forever. behavior in men will always be favored over the same behavior in women. and men continue to feel entitled because they are continually given positive reinforcement for their behavior, while women are expected to round out their sharp corners to please everyone else. when we watch as men are praised for what we’re doing, we’re told that it’s just different. we can react, but this will only make it worse for us. to point out these injustices will often create even bigger problems for us, if there is a bigger problem than having a vagina in a male-dominated world.