People at my school are very bothered that colleagues at our sister school are condescending to us. Objectively speaking, it’s clear that it’s true and the sister colleagues are, indeed, trying to condescend. I’m not bothered by it, though, because I don’t feel like they can condescend to me, no matter how hard they might try.

In order for one to feel condescended to, one needs to acknowledge that the interlocutor is in the position to do so. My research record is. . . how shall I put it? . . not inferior to anybody working at the sister school. So I can’t worry that sister colleagues don’t see me as a serious scholar. They are not in a position to pass that judgment at all.

It’s the same thing as shame. If you sincerely don’t believe something is shameful, you can’t feel shamed for it. And if you don’t believe you are even remotely beneath someone, they will never make you feel condescended to.

7 thoughts on “Condescension

  1. What should one do if one does feel condescended to? One thing I figured is to work to build competency in the area you feel shameful about. For example, if you feel insecure about your research then you need to work harder at it.


    1. It makes sense to look at what is causing the feeling of inferiority. Many people at my school feel like the school is so unprestigious that they must be total losers to work there. It’s this basic assumption that is making them feel bad and not the sister colleagues.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “It’s the same thing as shame.” I’m not sure I agree that this is always true. My dad used to say that no one has the power to make you feel a certain way unless you give them that power. Well, my dad might be right. But on the other hand, if you think about the societal stigma associated with certain behaviors, perspectives, or identities (e.g., being overweight, promiscuous, queer, etc.), it might be hard not to feel shame if people are always trying to shame you. I don’t want to buy into the theory of microaggressions, but I don’t think that one’s own self-confidence or self-esteem can always be enough to escape the effects of shaming.


    1. I’m overweight and used to have a very wild personal life. But I don’t feel bad about either of these qualities. I grew up in a very patriarchal family. My parents called me every word in the book reserved for sexually active female teenagers. It was non-stop abuse for years. But I have no capacity for sexual shame. I’m very fortunate because somehow I was born to know that sex is good and enjoyable. So the shaming didn’t work.

      They were very successful at making me feel ashamed of my poor social skills, though. Because I do see myself as deficient in this area. So the shaming was feeding into the internal conviction that yeay, I’m bad at this. Of course, they did all they could to make me bad at it because it’s a great way of exercising control.


      1. It’s funny how it works. Some aspects of my appearance are not normal and I was always shamed for it. But I never felt any shame about it or the need to correct it. I did however feel insecure about being socially inept, like you.

        Then recently I got into a relationship where those aspects of my appearance became and issue and I felt intense insecurity about it. Needless to say, the relationship didn’t last long but I came away quite scarred.

        On the other hand, I learned to deal with the social ineptness and don’t feel insecure about it at all.


        1. I’m now quite good at socializing but inside I still feel like the kid who always stood alone in a corner at recess. That’s why I love work. I never feel this way at work.


          1. I’m terrible at socializing. That’s why I don’t like big parties–it’s too much work for me to socialize with others. One of my former shrinks suggested that I might have social anxiety disorder. Maybe. But I don’t care–why do I have to like parties and big social gatherings?

            I think part of my “problem” is that my interests are pretty narrow. I can’t talk about football or baseball, for example, like most men can. And I can’t talk about my spouse or kids, because I don’t have any.


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