Lesbian Professor felt oppressed at Columbia and American University



Tanya Paperny, a former lesbian professor (former professor, still lesbian) opened up to the Washington Post about how she lived in fear during her years teaching at places like Columbia and American University, afraid to show her lesbianism for fear of a hostile working environment.

...my first teaching gig was facilitated by my university, not a progressive activist organization like Campus Progress, so I felt the need to maintain a level of professionalism. All this added up to nervousness. So I began making disappointing choices. I began to dress for work in ways I thought were less visibly queer by hiding and downplaying my gender nonconformity.

Fear drove Paperny to dress like a woman. How awful is that?

With the ways queerness and gender variance are stigmatized in our society, wearing men’s clothes or exposing body hair, even unintentionally, made me feel like I would come across as juvenile.

Paperny wasn't comfortable enough to show hairy legs or hairy chest hair because she feared places like Columbia and American University were not accepting enough (She did not name which university made her uncomfortable, but her resume clearly shows where she worked). Meanwhile, conservative professors, of which there were many (I think they're a majority at Columbia!), felt free to express their free market and pro-constitutional views without any fear of criticism.

Anything that indicated I wasn’t straight felt like an overshare. Being queer and coupled was inherently Too Much Information,

Paperny felt inhibited about talking about being a lesbian with others. It's almost like she was forced to act like a professional, without being able to talk about her sexuality. What a cruel fate for this young lesbian!

And while I didn’t talk about my personal life with students, I still worried that if they accidentally found out something about my queerness, I could get in trouble. Would some student complain to administration that I was inappropriate?

Lesbians are regularly reported as inappropriate at Columbia. It happens every day of the week. Conservatives, meanwhile, are winning literary awards and getting endowed chairs.

It took time before Paperny felt comfortable discussing her sexual preferences with her students. Finally,

After [a] happy hour started to dwindle, [a] student who had followed me on Twitter sat next to me on the picnic bench and said, “Hey, you know I’m queerspawn, right?”

Queerspawn is what children of homosexuals call themselves. Yes, they call themselves spawn. Finally, Paperny found a student she could talk about lesbianism with!

But lesbians like Paperny shouldn't have to be uncomfortable talking about lesbianism, gay sex, or the gay lifestyle with students. In fact, they should be teaching it at all levels of higher, and lower education.

Instead, we have an education system that indoctrinates students on the greatness of our founders, the text of the Constitution, the glories of the free market and private property rights.

I only hope that some day that people like Paperny will finally feel comfortable going into a classroom wearing men's clothes and showing off their chest hair.

[Originally published in AT]



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