Excuse Me, Am I Smart Enough For You?
Once upon a time, on a cold London night I was having drinks with some friends. A bunch of smart, well-educated guys well into their academic careers and with a far reaching spectrum of interests and opinions. I arrived late, having endured yet another hectic day at work, and inquired about their news as I hadn’t seen them in quite a while.
Over laughs and ironic remarks, the conversation was unfolding well until…
“Congratulations on turning in your first paper! What was it about?”, I asked.
“Well, you know that my PhD is on (subject x). I won’t go into detail because it’s too complicated for you to fully grasp…”, he dismissed my question. Then he turned to my friend D (the one from this post) and, as if I weren’t present, explained in detail the topic of his latest paper.
Mind-blowing. The topic of his paper? Yes, this as well but what was mind-blowing was the fact that I was able to fully comprehend it, subject-specific terminology included.
Now I was tactfully swiveling in my chair, boiling with anger inside. D. catched my expression getting more and more sullen as minutes passed by and tried to change the topic of the conversation, mistakenly jumping into the conclusion that I was bored. A move that, of course, fed my temper even further.
Then it was my turn.
“So how’s you dating life? I heard that you are seeing…”, said the aforementioned guy with an impish grin.
In other words, I am a woman that has two degrees under her belt, landed a job straight out of university, speaks three languages (with a fourth one on the works), has survived relocation after relocation in the most graceful way possible, blogs, knows how to code, travels, reads like pages covered in ink are oxygen, but in conversation with men I’m single-handedly reduced to the number of guys I’ve snogged. Riveting indeed.
That night I went home furious. I was tossing and turning in bed for a long time before Morpheus managed to get a grip of me.The next morning I woke up, replayed the event of the night before in my mind, got furious again and went through my daily morning routine with a vigorousness that would make even a Crossfit trainer gasp in awe.
Because I refuse to allow anyone to determine what I can understand or what I am interested in on the basis of my gender. I understand things in which I might not be genuinely interested and I am interested in things that I cannot fully understand (yet), and this is not related to the fact that I am a woman. A smart, tenacious, passionate and inquisitive woman who refuses to be restricted to the topics, hobbies, interests, job positions, academic fields, sports, books, habits that some people deem suitable for my gender.
And neither should you. Nor any of us.
Passionately curious and deeply feminist (as always),