– Posted by Anonymous
“The world is a naked woman,” he said in the classroom. The man who was supposed to teach me something. Let’s look at it. To look at the body of a naked woman could only mean to look at a sexed body. To look at a passive body, there to please the heterosexual male desire to fuck that body.
The world is a naked woman, and we should look at her. Look at her, there she is. Let’s dwell on her shape. Let’s dwell on her nipples. He is trying to explain Heidegger to us, and yet what is happening is turning her into it. The most common way he explained theoretical points in our classroom was through the use of women’s bodies. Heidegger’s “world-as-picture” became his “world-as-woman,” but the main point remained: a world for men to conquer, to own, to penetrate.
Sexism thrived in his classroom. The expected reaction from me, I learnt later, was simple: overlook it. He is still smart; he knows a lot; he teaches us a lot; it is not like he has assaulted anyone. It is not like he has assaulted anyone.
The sighs as soon as his sexism was opposed (and it was only ever women who opposed it). The silence, thus acceptance, of his comments in the classroom. The defence of his “other qualities”. The never-ending attempts to find another explanation for what was happening – it cannot be sexism, can it be sexism? The deep distrust in ourselves and our feelings. The defence of this person, usually taking the form of hating we who acted against his sexism. To disturb the order, to disturb sexism, was viewed as disturbing our learning process. The hatred of women lies deep inside us all.
How did sexism become preferred over any disturbance in our “learning process”? Sexism is accepted as an intrinsic part of knowledge. But it should be seen for what it is. Hatred for women blocks knowledge. There is no knowledge in sexism. There is no learning in sexism, except for the one teaching us to hate ourselves.
What surprised me the most in this experience was not the sexist comments he made nor the sexist environment he cultivated. It was my peers, who held a view of themselves as critical and progressive–some even feminist–while preferring his sexism to any disturbance. They would rather sit through hours of unashamed sexism than build a feminist alternative to it. They would rather defend him than question themselves and actually strive for a better learning environment.
“The world is a naked woman”; it was he who said it, but the whole classroom helped him say it.