Sexism in the Classroom

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Law student blogger la somnambule had this to say:

In a seminar yesterday a few comments were passed. We were discussing the role of ‘undue influence’ in contract law. This doctrine was developed to assist people who have entered a contract because of pressure put upon them by someone with whom they have a ‘special’ relationship. This could be a solicitor exerting pressure on a client, a grandchild bullying a grandparent, or, quite often, a woman who is being controlled by her husband or partner. Now there were obvious discussions around this issue, where it was suggested that if a woman enters a bad deal it is effectively her own fault. Obviously silly, obviously ignores the inherent problems caused by patriarchy, but these comments weren’t actually the ones that got to me. Perhaps this was because they were structured as discussions and therefore I felt that there was a place for me to discuss my views.

It is the passing comments that get me. The ones that are always followed by”don’t look like that I was only joking”. You know the ones – in this case a joke about women not being good with business anyway they need all the help they can get chortle chortle followed by my tutor chipping in with stand up comedy style comment about his ogre of a wife. Jocular male laughter all round. I just don’t find this funny. I find it insulting. When I have said anything in the past I have been shot down, after all, it’s only a harmless joke. So now I don’t say anything. I just keep my distance. And that isn’t great, I’m not proud of myself, and I’m not happy that in an environment where I should feel comfortable even the tutor is involved in it all. Ultimately it isn’t just a harmless joke, it reveals something about the way they feel about women, and when someone who objects to it is dismissed as humourless it demonstrates this lack of respect even further.

The full post can be read here. It’s an interesting blog very much worth checking out.

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