Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Be careful, you'll get a reputation

As women, we hear variants of this line all the time. It's usually used to warn us about how we dress, or about how aggressive we are, how much make-up we choose to wear, or not to wear. It starts shockingly young, middle school really, just about when we hit puberty, and follows us all our lives.

This is not to say that men aren't reminded about their reputations as well. They hear it about getting a reputation for being a bully, or for being a cheater, or not being dependable. They hear it regarding qualities that all people want to be careful with their reputations about. Please correct me if I'm wrong, men. Are there gendered reputation characteristics you get warned about?

As academics, we have reputations to worry about. Are we good advisors? Are our papers clearly written? Do we manage our labs well? Are we as dull as dishwater in front of undergrads? Do we get along with our colleagues and pull our weight in the faculty? Women, it seems from anecdotal evidence, worry more about appearing bitchy. I've known very few men whose reputation for being a chauvinist has preceded them.

Maybe this is because I've been unlucky. Maybe this is because given the gender balances in my field, I get most of my information from other men, since that's generally who is around. Maybe because chauvinist is not a name to attach to someone in polite company, just like it is really hard to call someone a bigot. Maybe it's because women (many minorities do this too), when they experience a negative interaction, tend to think it was a personal, one time thing. We don't tend to wonder if there is something systematic, and even if we do, we stay quiet. If we tell the wrong person, we'll just get a reputation for being over sensitive.

Fuck that. I'm keeping a list. My reputation can go to hell.


  1. Well, there is only one reputation I have had to worry about: right winger

    In academia, that word is used interchangeably with idiot, bigot, chauvinist, Nazi, etc... so.. well my reputation is already in the crapper :)

  2. Um, Mocklion, it is unclear to me that you haven't tried to cultivate this reputation? You are my favorite troll, but your comments on the interwebs and in real life seem to try to earn a hateful label.

  3. Awwww...Barefoot...a billion e-hugs from your favorite troll :)

    People like me supply the retarded ideas for you to mock. Remember when we were TAs and student mistakes were a constant source of amusement :)

    And thanks for swapping the words right wing and hateful :)

  4. Antisocial ScientistOctober 23, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but there is an interaction of race and gender that leads African American academics to often have to carefully avoid getting a reputation for being too "aggressive."

    1. Antisocial ScientistOctober 23, 2012 at 2:43 PM

      sorry, important missing word.

      should read *male* African American academics

  5. Heh... you are absolutely right. There I go, making assumptions from a white point of view.