This One Guy in Philosophy

September 22, 2017

For many of you, it may come as a surprise that philosophy is a mostly male discipline. I've always only had a handful of female classmates in any philosophy course. At times, studying philosophy feels like studying the ideas of men who lived long ago, not seated in ivory towers but in comfy armchairs by the fire, with really nothing to do except wonder and ponder all day long (which is basically living the dream, I mean, come on). Perhaps these men inspire other men to follow in their footsteps? Admittedly, this is the case in a lot of academic disciplines. After all, it is not so long ago that women were allowed to attend university! 

 

However, as the title suggests, this article is not about women, but rather about the male counterpart. Whatever the reasons behind the abundance of men in philosophy - we should talk about some male behaviour in philosophy classes.* No worries, this is not going to be a massive rant against that horrible species of men. Most of you are as interesting, kind, strange and nerdy as any woman in philosophy! However, there's always this one guy. That guy who seems to think that there is not really a place for women in philosophy, we are just not intellectual enough. The "it's cute that you try but maybe just go do some knitting" attitude.

 

To illustrate: when constructively criticizing a male teacher, a friend of mine was actually told that "girls" like her should not be doing philosophy at all. It is truly incredible how unreflective one can be in philosophy! Luckily I've been blessed with awesome teachers so far - this one guy has usually been a fellow classmate. The thing that I, and most of the women I know who study philosophy, have experienced the most is that we are simply not taken seriously. And that can be very frustrating at times! The quasi-friendly I'm sooo not taking you seriously smile, the not letting you finish your sentence, the hold on I'll explain it to you, the dominating the classroom and leaving no space for others. 

 

Then what is the place of women in philosophy amongst all these men? It has in fact taken me some time to realise that I love philosophy and that I'm not bad at it either (as I believe is usually the case when you love something, except when it comes to singing). I was always subconsciously waiting for that one day when people would realize that there was a huge misunderstanding and actually I shouldn't be here at all. Now I know that is bullshit. We just have to accept that this one guy, set in his ways, is not going to change. We have to take charge of our own education and not let him get the better of us! We are studying philosophy for much the same reason as others, because we are lovers of wisdom, and we deserve to be here and to voice our opinions, questions and concerns. Philosophy is about subtleties, about nuance, about doubting basically everything (including yourself! yes dude, maybe try some of that!). Get together with your fellow philosophers, drink a sassy, spicy glass of Syrah, and raise a toast to female philosophers all over the world!

 

* Please note that I am certainly NOT talking about all men, I have had plenty of lovely male classmates. I am just talking about these one or two guys that are basically always around giving the other classmates (and particularly female ones) a hard time.

 

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