September 12, 2021

"During this time, I convinced myself that women were too damn difficult...."

I had to wonder who that teacher was, going public with misogyny (even if it was misogyny in the past). 

Looking for an answer, I found this 2018 article by Katie Herzog, "The Lesbian Who Taught Me What My Problem Was/I thought I hated my teacher. Turns out, I hated myself" (The Stranger). Had you forgotten to consider that the author might be a woman? I had. Excerpt: 
It was my first semester of college at a small state university... I wasn't particularly interested in school... until I met the woman who would be my creative-writing professor.... My teacher, who I'll call Sandy, wore too-big sweaters, dowdy leather clogs, and no makeup... She was the first openly gay woman I'd ever met.... Most of the women in my holler would never admit to an attraction to anyone outside their husbands, except maybe for Jesus and Dale Earnhardt.... 
Stereotypes are dangerous, but sometimes they are also true, and Sandy had "dyke" written all over her face. Besides, her sexuality was written into our course syllabus. Our reading list was entirely women who slept with women or looked like they did, from Virginia Woolf to Dorothy Allison, from Leslie Feinberg to Judith Butler.... 
I wasn't interested in anything my teacher had to say, and when she gave me feedback on my writing—especially the feedback that essays required transitions between paragraphs and I needed to start using them—I'd say, "I don't believe in transitions," and leave in a huff....

Ha ha. That's funny. "I don't believe in transitions." I feel the same way, don't you? But be careful running around saying "I don't believe in transitions" today, because you could get taken for a transphobe an canceled. On that topic, see this Katie Herzog piece from 2017: "A Response to the Uproar Over My Piece, 'The Detransitioners.'" 

But — oh, no, a transition! — back to the essay about the teacher:

At the end of the year, I dropped out of college.... [A]fter a year, I went back to the college and, with no other options, enrolled in Sandy's class once again. I just hoped she wouldn't remember what an ass I'd been. She did remember, but we never talked about our past, and we gradually came around to something like peace. Or, rather, I stopped being a dick, and she was gracious and professional enough not to hold it against me. Years later, after I'd graduated from college, moved back and forth across the country three times, and finally started writing full-time, Sandy e-mailed me out of the blue. She had a book coming out, and it included a section about a student who'd almost driven her to quit teaching. The student's name, oddly enough, was "Katie," and she compared this Katie to an abusive ex-girlfriend. If I squinted hard enough, I could see the resemblance. When her book tour came to Seattle, I went, and I bought a book. Later, alone, reading a chapter about myself, I clearly saw how terrible I had been. But I also knew by then that it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.

That's all you need to know. I'd link to the memoir and give the author's name, but I'm not 100% positive I found it. 

The interesting part here is that the line "During this time, I convinced myself that women were too damn difficult" — which jumped off the page as misogynistic to me — was almost certainly written by a woman. That doesn't necessarily mean it's not misogynistic, but it may give some insight into how we get the idea that something is misogynistic.

37 comments:

mezzrow said...

Perhaps the line lies between difficult and too damn difficult. You have to find the women (and the men) that are worth the effort. It takes time, and there is more pain involved than you would think is necessary. Why? We go into life in a state of ignorance and stay there as long as we can hold out against the truth of living.

Men are no day at the beach, either. I've been one my entire life, and I can tell you this is a fact. Some days, if I could get away from myself, I would.

Wilbur said...

Funny, while I read the memoir excerpt I thought it sounded like a woman wrote it.

A kudos to Katie Herzog for arriving at a place of self-perception. A lot of people like her never get there.

Ralph L said...

What teacher would put up with her crap, or did college change that much in the last 20 years of the century?

Temujin said...

OK, let's see a hand vote on this: Are women too damned difficult? I don't believe so, but that is my life experience.

I don't (of course) see that remark as misogynistic. Is it because I'm a man? I just see it as one person's life experience telling her (I did assume it was he) that based on her dealings with women, for her, they are difficult.

Misogyny to some is life experience to others. Am I stepping in it this morning? Probably.

David Begley said...

We’re all too damn difficult.

Sterling said...

Katie is a co-host of the great podcast Blocked and Reported which pushes back against cancel culture from a liberal perspective.

gilbar said...

what's that Althouse rule?
Any mention of a difference between men and women MUST show that the woman is better? (sic?)

So, Katie was BAD, because she was "being a dick"? And the teacher was BAD, for noticing?
But, later; when she accepted her Womanlyness; everything was peachy keen?
And, the teacher ended up being a dyke... So that was all cool too!!!

Of course, if there'd been any actual cismales involved... They would have been Dicks!

Jamie said...

I wish I'd read the pictured page before reading this post, because once I finally did read the page, the voice sounded unmistakably female to me. But as usual I'm on my phone rather than a bigger screen, so I put off the expanding-and-scrolling-around, and now I'll never know whether that voice would have sounded so female if the idea hadn't been pre-planted.

Big Mike said...

If ever a freshman (Oops! Pardon me. First year student.) needed a punch in the mouth hard enough to make her spit stumps of teeth, it has to have been her. But she skated by on female privilege (because “gentlemen do not hit women).

Back when I was assisting my Aikido sensei with his anti-rape classes, I had to work to overcome my reluctance to inflict pain on a woman, but if one is not making genuine attack then how does a soma learn to counter a genuine attack by a large man? And, of course, if she has been paying then it will not be her they feels pain, but me.

rhhardin said...

Whether women are too difficult depends on how much you want sex. They're not in any case normal people.

Wife to husband at dinner table, "Now, don't try to reason with me." New Yorker cartoon from 60s or 70s.

RNB said...

Reads like the back cover of a poorly-printed paperback in which the prof and student have a passionate sapphic affair.

tds said...

Queer Girls in Class: Lesbian Teachers and Students Tell Their Classroom Stories edited by Lori Horvitz

gilbar said...

what the Heck is With these mental cases, that think they can "de-transition"??
You ARE the gender you transition to. THAT is your Gender, you can NOT change
(unless you transitioned to gender fluid... hmm, this is getting complicated)

Anyway,
If a mentally confused person thinks that they can "de-transition", they are Just WRONG.
Your Gender Transition, is REAL!!!! your "de-transition" is just psychosis.
{now, Re-transitioning would be just fine, of course}

Temujin said...

Speaking of misogyny, I wonder what category this falls into. Transgender 'woman' beats up actual woman in MMA fight

I guess we've legalized men beating up women after all.

Best be careful what you wish for in society. The wisdom of the times rarely figures in unintended consequences.

Sebastian said...

"going public with misogyny"

How so?

Sure, any generalization of the sort "women are too damn difficult" is an overgeneralization, and of course, much rides on the meaning of "difficult," but ordinary humans get the point. Is the point wrong?

And isn't "too damn difficult" also a complimen? At least they're not like those single-track-minded toxically masculine Others.

mikee said...

Live long enough, and you might just see the difficult women of your earlier years becoming the difficult men of today. As you cross the intersectionality of your life's crossroads, look not just both ways but all ways, and only step into traffic lanes when the crossing light allows.

I'd like to believe both in the innateness of being born gay, and the possibility of transitioning to it, and the ability to be fluid in one's gender choices. It isn't hard to do, as I grew up with the Holy Trinity of my monotheistic faith without any problems. But it would be easier if there were a change in color of a feathered crest or something else clearly definitive.

Gahrie said...

That doesn't necessarily mean it's not misogynistic, but it may give some insight into how we get the idea that something is misogynistic.

Perhaps by being overly sensitive, and looking for a reason to be offended?

JAORE said...

"I See by Your Outfit That You Are a Cowboy".

daskol said...

This strikes me as misogynist. Violently so. But then, I suppose, what business have women in the octagon altogether? They won’t be in there long if this continues, not necessarily because they’re too demure and kind to exclude trans fighters, but because it’s fucking dangerous for a birthing person to fight a trans woman, to use the preferred nomenclature.

Mark said...

Had you forgotten to consider that the author might be a woman? I had.

Reading the excerpt of the memoir, it was pretty obvious that the professor was a woman.

That doesn't necessarily mean it's not misogynistic, but it may give some insight into how we get the idea that something is misogynistic.

Well, "we" don't. I certainly did not think that.

Indeed, one of the big lessons of the Katie experience that seems to have been overlooked is "It's not you, it's me."

Joe Smith said...

'Reads like the back cover of a poorly-printed paperback in which the prof and student have a passionate sapphic affair.'

English Literature 69: No boys allowed.

: )

rcocean said...

women aren't too difficult, they're just too damn boring.

Coop said...

I missed the female professor part. I didn’t envision gender but mentally transported myself back to my favorite SMU Poli Sci Professor’s classroom, who was openly gay and at the time head of the Dallas Gay Alliance. So I got the gay part right at least.

Before I clicked to read the rest of the story I already disagreed with your statement about misogyny. Claiming something is too difficult is a statement of self defeat. Like not being able to complete a crossword puzzle or solving a math problem by saying “it’s too hard.”

Reading further, there may have been some intent there, but I still think it’s more self deprecatory than malicious.

Tina Trent said...

Other people deserved to die because they’re Americans? Is Hertzog going to turn herself in for nationality-based hate speech any time soon?

I wasn’t allowed to kick students like this out of my classroom. IN COLLEGE. This shocked me. I went to a college where some of the professors took more drugs than the students, but even the stoned ones were classically trained and would boot you out on your ass the first time you decided to read a newspaper instead of paying attention in class.

By grad school, one lesbian teacher was basically making out with her student in front of the rest of us. On a couch. There was a serious problem with predatory lesbian behavior, students and professors alike, while men were beneath their contempt and terrorized by the idea of being accused of anything. Not all of these women acted this way, a few were appalled by it, but it sure wasn’t criticized by the administration. In fact, my heterosexual, female director was falsely accused of sexually harassing a well-placed, typically useless dean and was dragged through a hideous tribunal. Almost 30 years ago.

And we wonder why young males avoid college?

Yancey Ward said...

I knew that was woman writing that right from the start- it only occurred to me that it might be a guy when Lita entered the picture, but then I immediately figured out it was a lesbian.

Herzog's behavior in class was one of the tells, by the way.

Mikey NTH said...

Wow. What a bunch of mentally and emotionally damaged people. The student who can't be bothered to be a student. The professor who finds a fresman acting out such a problem. It is a good thing this professor wasn't teaching high school freshmen or she'd be a basket case before October.

Why are so many college women who get published such neurotic drama queens?

loudogblog said...

If I were writing about past events in my life, I don't think I'd use people's real names unless there was a specific reason to do so. (Like if they were some kind of public figure and it demonstrated some important insight into who they were.) I also wouldn't want to say anything bad about an accurately named person if they were still alive.

Narr said...

Chick lit. Call me if they make a porno about it.

I didn't know the narrator was a woman until the mention of Lita, or rather, I still wasn't sure. Knowing academics as I do, it could have been a gay or bisexual man, unclear about his feelings.

Also, I'm the least difficult person I know, and always have been.

Greg The Class Traitor said...

I wasn't interested in anything my teacher had to say

Then why the hell are you taking the cals, moron?

Or, rather, I stopped being a dick

Shouldn't that be "I stopped being a bitch"?

hombre said...

“Misogyny?” What misogyny?

Tim said...

Women are too damned difficult. Also, men are too damned difficult. The only way we ever managed to get along was through politeness. Politeness helped us to not kill each other until we knew each other well enough to get along as friends or lovers. Once that happens, we are all still too difficult, but the friendship or love gives us enough tolerance to look past each others foibles (I think that may be the first time I have has occasion to type that word. Is it possible your new format is making be a better poster? or a worse poster?).

Lucien said...

And now Katie is married to another chick, and ambivalent about having her dog (Moose) neutered.

But I think a little more restraint with the term “misogyny” is in order.

Joe Smith said...

'By grad school, one lesbian teacher was basically making out with her student in front of the rest of us.'

Were they hot?

Or just your garden-variety Andrea Dworkin lesbians?

It makes a difference, you know.

Unknown said...

Me: "Women are crazy."

Girlfriend: "Men are crazy too."

Me: "I don't want to sleep with men."

Tina Trent said...

Joe: they were not hot. Unless you count the amount of energy they put into being mad at men all the time. The professor actually behaved so badly she was cut loose after that semester and went on to Georgia State University, where she is in the news running her mouth off about students persecuting her for not wearing masks.

Maybe she should learn some social distancing techniques and not violate the distancing by kissing or cuddling in classrooms. It remains appalling to me. If a man had done that he’d be hung from a tree in the quad.

Narr said...

How academe has changed.

Spring, 1972. Doctor O.'s medieval history class.

Dr. O. was one of the great characters on our campus. A paraplegic, wheelchair bound, from a wound received in Germany in April 1945--and who claimed to have been at the liberation of Dachau (which could not have been true, according to his army records).

Anyway, one of his favorite tactics was to roll his chair up to some pretty coed and start questioning her on her goals, and why she was interested in medieval history. Usually it became apparent that her goal was to work with children (schoolmarm!) and her interest in medieval history was that she needed an elective and the class met at a convenient time for her.

Having established that she had no interest in the life of the mind, he would pepper her with questions that he knew she couldn't answer, and eventually she would flee the classroom, in tears.

I don't know how he got away with it. I was a pet of his because I could answer a lot of questions that the rest of the class couldn't, and took I think three or four of his classes as an undergrad and saw this happen at least twice.

When I finally got around to history grad school I avoided his classes, and him, who had been more of a mentor to me (not that I knew the term at the time) than anyone else, and who didn't like it that none of his suggestions for my future--London School of Economics, Peace Corps, school-teaching for the DoD--struck me as good ones.

He was, of course, a left-liberal.

This Person said...

It's misogynistic!!1!

What a shit show our society has become.