What truths would be written if academics weren’t afraid of losing their jobs?
What truths would be written if you followed through, in practice, the type of sovereignty and decolonization you theorize in journals?
All the times I’ve heard some version of “I’m concerned about your academic career if you talk about this publicly”: that’s not concern for me.
I knew about the systems, I knew the stories about these men. We all do. We all do, because academic aunties gossip. And academic auntie gossip saves lives.
But still, I irrationally believed I was safe, or somehow exempt.
Even after, in second year, that time I got out of that ethics professor’s car, downtown, at night, in the middle of winter, and walked home rather than sit beside him after he joked that his seats recline all the way, if I was interested.
Even after, in third year, that time your fave scholar put his 50-something-year-old hand on my thigh under the table at that conference.
I’m not talking about “complexities” or “relations” or even sex; I’m talking about a fundamental failure to comprehend power and consent.
Like last week, a friend told me about the question he heard from a colleague:
“So are you sleeping with her?”, he asked, “she’s your student, right?”
because he can’t imagine any other reason why a professor would be friends with me.
“Well be careful, that kind of thing will stick to you” (even after he replied “no”): brotherly advice.
No, it won’t: but your words will stick to me.
That’s how patriarchy works, don’t you get it? The risk will never be theirs. Just get that tenure, bro. Just keep a handle on that funding, bro. Then you’ll be safe. Academics: we look out for each other, bro. The risk will never be theirs.
The risk is mine, for daring to believe I could stand on stages and give keynotes alongside men with PhDs.
So: these men talk. But so do women.
“Don’t take a ride with him. I’ll pick you up at the airport before your talk”:
I’m thankful for academic aunties who have saved my life all those times.
I’m angry that academic aunties know to offer rides because they didn’t have anyone to do the same for them, when they were me.
Believe her when she tells you not to take a ride with him. Believe her.
All the times I’ve heard some version of “I’m concerned for your academic career if you talk about this publicly”: that’s not concern for me.
Fuck any academic career that comes at the price of my safety and bodily sovereignty.
Fuck any academic career that requires my silence.
Fuck any academic discipline that shelters abusive men.
Academic aunties save lives.