I think I may have reached peak cynicism. I found this story of a teacher who got an anonymous note from a student sort of amusingly predictable. Here’s the note the student sent:
just wanted to let you know that I don’t have any respect for you as a teacher, not a professor, I refuse to call you that. And the reason I don’t have any respect for you is because you obviously have no self-respect at all. How am I supposed to respect you if you can’t respect yourself at all. And you know what really kills me about it is that you don’t feel bad about how you look or how you .. put yourself out there. You don’t look good. You need to take better care of yourself. And people do care what you look like. You’re a slob. You’re the size of a car, Kar-a. Now fuckin’ fix it. And I just gotta say that you’re not good as a teacher … you’re not confident. You can’t be confident being fat. Fuckin’ A. I hate you and everything you stand for. Your fuckin’ feminism is autistic. Nobody thinks it’s cool. You’re not special with your fuckin’ feministic beliefs. Go do something original and stop being a trendy whore. Bye-bye.
So, so familiar. I get that kind of thing every week, and at this point, I’d just laugh and laugh. Maybe I’d post it and mock it.
But I shouldn’t. This kid has real problems: he’s become a toxic sludge monster, loaded with terrible opinions and contemptible prejudices. That’s a real loss. The teacher it was sent to, Kara Waite, still has some little bit of hope left in her, and can still feel some pain and sympathy.
I cried for a world in which an intelligent, qualified woman can’t do something as simple as assign a little light feminist theory without being called a fat whore.
I cried because I had no idea which of my male students had left the message; it could have been any of them, and that thought made me terribly sad. I cried because female academics are the target of a truly insane amount of sexist behavior and bias. I cried because there are women in my life and past versions of myself who’d be crushed by a message like that. Women whose days would be wrecked by that hateful, cowardly bullshit. Women who’d think of it and start another crash diet, who’d remember it mornings in the shower, pinching their belly rolls and sobbing.
Me, I’d just write the student off as an irredeemable asshole. Some days, I just can’t muster much concern for the bearers of vicious toxicity.