It turns out that I’ve been pretty lucky in terms of gender and education. My three favorite grad school professors were men, and they were nothing but supportive and considerate. I turned in a poem with a lesbian theme as my second poem in one workshop and my (male) professor quickly squashed any discussion on subject matter. I was nervous as hell, and I could have hugged him. He loved my work and I loved him (in an appropriate teacher/student sort of way).
One of these favorite professors wrote a new book, so I ordered it from the library. The first section read “We were hell-bent to become poets…we drank and smoked and fucked as much as we could….We contemplated suicide when the world ignored our poems…[but] With women we were sensitive…” Do you see a problem here? I know he is self-aggrandizing and making fun of himself a little bit. However, it is clear here that women are not poets. Not once in two workshops and a bunch of thesis meetings did Professor ever hint to me that women shouldn’t be poets. He just didn’t see what he was saying as he mythologized his young experience. It’s a smaller fault, but it still sucks.
And it made me think of DP’s mentor. He was included in an email about order of the stories in DP’s book. I confess, I threw my weight around a little bit in the book-making process, not in a jerky way, I hope; but I wanted to make sure that people knew I worked in publishing so that when I said that the font on the cover looked like every education book anyone had ever published that they knew I wasn’t blowing smoke out of my ass. (Hate that term, sorry.) But when Mentor wrote back, “Not only is she a babe, but she is smart too,” I got pissed.
DP said that Mentor had said that because I had agreed with him. But I had been talking about an editorial opinion, about the sort of thing I do for a living. And being a babe (which I’m not at all, but that’s another argument) is completely irrelevant. But then one of my other favorite professors posted this essay on facebook, saying something about how he was proud to teach female essayists.
So I can’t read this book by my professor because he pisses me off. What, then, should I read next?