Saturday, April 5, 2014
When I used to teach, I did an exercise that required students to analyze my gender performance (thank you, Judith Butler). Students judged how feminine, masculine, or androgynous I was by paying careful attention to my appearance, affect, and personality. To make it easier for them, I wore a skirt, flowery tops, sparkly accessories, high heels, and more make-up than usual. By exaggerating my femininity, I helped them realize how pliable and deployable gender....
Almost every semester, a couple of students would raise their hands to tell me that I didn’t “look” like a professor....When I pressed them on why I didn’t look the part, they explained that professors seemed to be male, older (or younger), bearded, and white. Their vision of the professoriate startled me.