Once upon a time in the far away kingdom of academia, young Genderella set forth on her way to make a PhD. On her long journey through the corridors of knowledge, she came across many friendly allies, who would help her sort the peas and lentils from the ashes. She would learn about the difference between sex and gender, about intersectionality, about queerness and the importance of fair and inclusive speech. But every now and then, evil step-sisters and brothers crossed her way, too. There came this particularly dark month, where in only four weeks, she broke so many glass slippers on the stairs, she almost forgot how to dance.
One day, she was sitting with her male peers and had lunch. A few days earlier, news had spread about some terrible incidents in the kingdom of Cologne at saint’s day of St. Sylvester. For many parts, the conversation was focussed on the origin of the bandits. Genderella tried to introduce her perspective into the discussion, stating that more important than the origin of the bandits would be a discussion about the security of women more in general. But no-one reacted to her intervention. A few minutes later, on of her male colleagues voiced the same critique, and then the other men would engage in that discussion for a short time, before coming back to the earlier direction of the talk. That’s when Genderella noticed, her opinions were not as important as those of her cis-male peers.
It happened another day, that Genderella participated in a discussion about a text from one of her peers. She then suggested gender as analytical category to look at a problem. Her peer accepted the critique and thanked her for it, but an evil stepfather could not hold on to himself and said, Genderella must obviously be wrong, because gender was not at all important to that question: something else already was. So Genderella realized, there could only be one explanation for every problem in the world – or in a text, respectively.
Later that week, Genderella tried to engage again in a discussion about the importance of gender-sensitive language within a text, and highlighted a problem with using a particular binary form of it, while still thanking the person who wrote the text for his thoughtfulness. To bad for Genderella, the author dismissed her comments as mere questions of taste. So Genderella realized, there’s nothing political about language use, it just has to look nice.
A few weeks later, Genderella was part of a commission to elect new colleagues of hers. During the review of applications, an evil step-father would read aloud a very hurtful sentence from a review, which stated that the reviewer loved the applicants project because it was a topic uncommon for women, since they would usually work on care issues and not on aggression. The evil step-father read the sentence aloud and smiled boyishly. Genderella and her peers said nothing. Genderella learnt that it’s probably best to stay silent, because nobody wants to walk about gender anyway.
Be sure to follow Genderella on her journey through the far away kingdom of academia, because there are most likely going to be more adventures to come.