Double Standard in Action

We called him Loofty. We teased him good-naturedly about how grumpy he was. We screeched and hollered with delight when he’d do something that previous classes had received as evidence of his hardness. . . One day, he came to class wearing, instead of his ancient, tattered, fatigues-green lab coat, a bright, crisp, new white lab coat. “Loofy, looking FOXY!” I said. C and I made exaggerative “sexy” gestures, hands against our foreheads as we pretended to faint, licking our index fingers and sizzling them against our butts.

Of course, if male students did that to a female teacher, that would be bullying, sexual harassment, and evidence that women are sexually objectified at work. When this is something that female students did to a male teacher, it becomes a cute little anecdote a feminist blogger shares with her audience while said feminist audience swoons with delight.

And that, my friends, is the double standard in action.

14 thoughts on “Double Standard in Action”

  1. I wouldn’t like to have the experience of that teacher, not because of the sexualisation dimension so much, but because some baby girls think they know me better than I know myself and believe they can bring out another side, as it were.

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  2. I’ve always been unsure of where to draw the line between playful teasing and bullying/harassment. My first reaction is that it should be when the recipient says to stop, but there are a few caveats. First, what if they’re oversensitive and the problem lies with them, not others? And secondly, what if they feel pressured into taking the teasing/bullying despite not liking it? Because of this, I think society as a whole should have one standard “line”, so to speak, and people will grow up accepting it. It would make situations like these much more unambiguous.

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    1. Many people want to be teased like that. They enjoy the attention. And many of those do the “no means yes” thing. Others are really shy and won’t know how to react at all. So you can’t implement any kind of rule that applies to everyone.
      I know feminists often like to find “The Way” for everyone to behave so nobody gets offended but that’s only theoretically possible and the price would be life in a world of dullness and emotional suppression. Creating such a society would require an extremely authoritarian regime and will inevitably destroy itself and we’re back to square one.

      There is a middle ground between having no civilized form of behaviour and telling everyone how to behave. But that means occasionally getting offended and encountering adversity as well as awkward situations.

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  3. The one commenter who criticized the post was met with a weird convoluted reply from her, including this little gem:

    “At which point you are making this space not safe for me”.

    Just turn all comments off, then, if completely legitimate criticism written in such a mild tone so as to be almost apologetic makes you feel ‘unsafe’.

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  4. I’ve had a very similar experience where somebody thought my real self wasn’t my true self just because they saw another aspect they hadn’t originally calculated. In fact, I’ll go further to say this is very common for me — people projecting one particular stereotype onto my surface and then seeing something else, and then assuming there is something incongruous because they hadn’t seen the other part earlier. I find it very insulting every time it happens, especially if the person flatters themselves by believing they have brought something extraordinary out of me. After having started with a very cardboard image, they observe something real and then make all sorts of false and self-serving deductions. Leave me out of that.

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  5. I loved Melissa’s responses, the way she totally ignores the privileges students have in relation to teachers and the simple fact that the teacher has to take her actions in a professional manner. Now if we assume that both the teacher and her were ok with the actions it’s still inappropriate in a classroom since it normalises the sexualisation of teachers. Given her frequent posts on the inappropriateness of rape culture I think she should be more sympathetic to other people and yes ‘sexualisation culture’ or be more accepting of the fact that some of the things she puts in rape culture are ‘appropriate’ (or rather normal) in the venues they are performed in.

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  6. I’m late to the party on this one, but I totally agree. I normally love Shakesville, but that story…I expected it to end with “…and I still feel horrible to this day about the way we bullied that poor man”…and then it didn’t. I really don’t get what’s cute about it.

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