Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Academic Monkey Gives Unsolicited Advice

Today was a sea of precious snowflakes demanding all of my free time. And yet I found a minute before midnight to post a little more unsolicited advice. Something tells me we'll have some extra ideas in the comments -- or a discussion about the sad state of affairs if we can't come up with anything neat and elegant.
~Academic Monkey

Problem Posed:

Do you have any snappy comebacks for when someone says “You only got into [institution of higher education] because you’re a girl?”  I got this a lot when I got into college, and then while in college, and now in grad school.  Apparently all those lonely single dudes out there in their male-dominated labs think this is a good pick-up line?  I tried vocalizing my internal rant in response, but that was a little long so I’d like some help in the brevity department.

Unsolicited Advice:

I do!

- I have to give a nod to my superior intellect and your insufficient social skills
- You're an asshole.
- Fuck off
- What is this, the 1970s?
- Are you upset that your untalented friend didn't get in after I beat him in the all-around?
- Seriously, fuck off.

But, Letter Writer, more importantly: why bother speaking to such people? As soon as someone says this to you, you immediately realize that they are not worth your time. There is nothing you could say that will make this person esteem you more except pure competence. If you are competent on a regular basis, then slowly this person will realize the error of the original comment. There is so much to research and publish. Don't worry about educating your colleagues about their egregious social ineptitude. Do the basic necessities in social situations and then publish your ass off and get promoted over them.

So maybe instead of "Fuck you!" you should go with:

- I must have gotten lost on the way to the kitchen
- I have no idea how it happened!! I am just a girl, right?
- I'm just suspicious of the gay black kid over there. HE'S AFTER OUR JOBS!!!

Or even the careening subject change to make them fear your sanity:
- Did you hear about the Chancellor getting abducted by aliens?
- Autism really is caused by vaccines,  you know.
- Obamacare will raise your social security taxes!!

And let the problem take care of itself.


  1. I guess so. I didn't realize that we had affirmative action for morons too.

    Since your a white guy who walks without a limp, what minority status got in here, Tinkerbell?

    I'm only at college to find a smart, attractive, tough guy to marry. Let me know if you see any.

    1. Taken from the movie Heathers:
      "They seem to have an open door policy for assholes though, don't they?

  2. You could try "Yes, you're right, it's my only qualification" and wait for them to realize how dickish they sound. But with a crowd like that, you might be waiting a while . . .

  3. Yes, you're right. I only got in because the admission office knew that women are more likely than men to earn high grades and graduate.

    Actually, I like the advice to just work hard and get promoted past the jerks and can't express this any better than Tina Fey in "Bossypants":

    “So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”

  4. "And they say women are the ones that are 'bad at math.'"

  5. Sawyer beat me to it! The obvious answer is: "Actually, it's harder to get into college as a woman these days than as a man."

    1. Although this is true, saying it may get a "Does not compute" response. This guy thinks he knows that women get in because of Affirmative Action, and that's that. Even if he's recently been told the facts, they very likely didn't stick.

  6. "Actually, I only got into [the Big University of Manhattan] because I used to be a man."

  7. Ignoring/avoiding such people while continuing to exercise all the good habits that have been successful for one's success so far (whatever other factors did or didn't play a role in gaining a chance to take advantage of various opportunities) sounds like a pretty good approach to me. The only problem with the last set of comebacks (which are otherwise excellent) is that the interlocutor might actually agree with some of them (or believe that you really agree with some of them). If trapped, it's probably best to get him talking about himself, and/or mansplaining something.

    Seriously, while such comments are seriously out of date, even when they held some truth (e.g. when I was applying to college), the "only" part was, and is, always wrong. While there may occasionally be situations where gender/race/ethnic origin/geographical affiliation/etc./etc. are helpful, one still has to be one of the best candidates with such particulars. And there's always the whole legacy phenomenon tipping the other side of the scale. During my sojourn in the Ivy League, the only students I ran into who stuck out as seriously underqualified compared to their compatriots were legacies (not even athletes, but of course Ivies aren't known for athletics).