Blogs & Commentary, Gender and Politics in the media

Won’t Someone Think of the Men? A Reply to Jack Grove and the Times Higher Education

Dear Jack (can we call you Jack?),

Thanks so much for your unsupported musings article on the ridiculously wittily phrased ‘anti-bloke bias’ in academia. It is always rage-inducing refreshing to see a bloke mansplain explain privilege to wimmin.

Let’s start with the opening, Jack (can we call you Jack?)

To even ask the question risks raising the hackles of many who still see sexism as a huge problem faced by women in the academy…

Problematic canine metaphors aside (bitches, anyone?), consider our hackles raised, Jack.

Other, less woke, wimmin than ourselves might dismiss this opening claim, but once we saw the quality of your data, it gave us ‘paws’ for thought. We’d never thought about the silencing of men’s voices in academia. Consider, for example, the one (that’s right – one) ‘bloke’ that makes up your article’s empirical foundation, pulled with little contextual explanation from a wider study that’s actually looking at support for BME academics.

“Departments have some kind of fear of some men – that’s why I have been held back,” said the academic, quoted anonymously in the study.

This is groundbreaking investigative journalism, Jack (can we call you Jack?) – a much-needed and welcome corrective to the overwhelming evidence of established bias against women in academia (like, we don’t know, maybe all the stuff on women’s continuing under-representation in academic posts – especially women of colour, or journal citation bias, or gender bias in teaching evaluations – well-established patterns that you’ve actually written about).

As political scientists, we’re always interested in new and exciting methodologies – so we’ve replicated your approach of acquiring a single data point by engaging one woman in a ‘hushed conversation’ in a corridor (we can’t reveal any further information for ethical reasons, bound as we are to the standards of our field).

Turns out, we’ve all worked with that guy (or someone like him). We’ve seen with our own eyes former male colleagues fighting back against their own marginalization through brave acts of resistance – drawing penis pics on staff meeting agendas, groping or propositioning younger female colleagues (shout out to the woke dude who sent one of us a text from the audience at the PSA Conference last year while we were on a panel asking us for sex), or publicly expressing that women taking maternity leave were ‘entitled’ and unproductive. For those men that don’t have the political capital to take a direct stand, more indirect forms of resistance are available to you – through who you cite, who you hire, who you promote, and who you give administrative responsibilities to.

Fight the power, dudes, fight the power.

Yours in privilege,

Meryl Kenny & Elizabeth Evans

5 thoughts on “Won’t Someone Think of the Men? A Reply to Jack Grove and the Times Higher Education”

  1. Feminists are a minority today – most of us are egalitarians. We support actual equality not female (or more accurately, feminist) privledge. And this ‘rebuttal’ clearly demonstrates why. It’s an embarrassment to intelligent, logical women.

  2. Thank you, Paula Wright, for speaking for “most of us.” How insightful and substantive of you! I guess this claim is worth the weight of the substantive data you cite in support of it. But… Bless your heart!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to write up this response. I happened to have spent the past few hours reading mostly inane, martyrised, or just plain uninformed articles and tweets about how white men are now the new oppressed minority in all walks of life, including academia (in that context it was, basically, “boo Athena SWAN!”), so your intelligent and unashamedly feminist response to this generalised paranoia (or backlash?) of “what about the men?!” and the THE article in particular is a much needed breath of fresh air.

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