Tuesday, 31 May 2016

A feminist encounters two French-speaking men

Recently I was living in situation A where I met a neighbour of French origin. He gossiped about the wife of another neighbour. Gossip is a turnoff for me even though the sociologists say it is necessary, but I gave him a pass because he is helpful with the neighbours. I encountered him a couple more times in which he was helping the neighbour in situation B, where I had moved.

Initially I was alone in situation B except for a few days and then a crew of young men moved in and an older man from Quebec who spent his adult life in the Yukon, Within a day Mr. Quebec was touching me, asking me my life plans and questioning me in a way that I found intrusive. The tasks that I had done on my own suddenly had to be done in pairs and the owner who had tons of stuff to do was suddenly working with me in a basic task. Because the tasks were so basic the sexism that suddenly altered my ability to work hit me really hard. A crew shift for a new task was delayed and I had to grab the chance of a forklift blocking Mr. Quebec's view of me to climb to the new task and change the other members of the crew myself. Within days I was shouting at Mr. Quebec and a few days later I was telling the owners that what they saw as charm I saw as manipulation and I started searching for a new situation. So dear Canada, you are not post-feminist in certain pockets of the population.

Before I left situation B, the French man and his crew invited our crew over for pizza. I sat silently while the French man told a newly arrived female member of his crew that he had a PhD in History, with tops marks, that his mother was one of the top historians in France and that he had run away from his new Ivy league post because he did not want to deal with his mother's reputation.

So I thought - that is interesting from a feminist point of view. His mother seemingly has it all - a successful career and a son she could be proud of, but the son says he cannot handle her success in his own career, even though he moved away from Europe. But as part of his story the French man said he had mild autism. So I thought maybe it is the autism talking and not the sexism talking. Since I was silent I decided to look up his PhD so I would have something to talk about if we met again. I only knew his nickname and Googling his nickname and organic did not work. Then I remembered I had seen small children sitting on his horses. So I Googled his name with horse riding lessons. His triple-C name came up as a member of a drama club, complete with pictures. A 2007 post giving his whearabouts was the first red flag. I thought - if that was his level of English when he accepted the Ivy league post, no wonder he ran away.

I searched his triple-C name using Science Direct - no matches. I thought - Science Direct does not have everything but WorldCat does. WorldCat had no matches. Either the French man does not have a PhD with the name he is using in Canada or he does not have one at all.  Or I missed it somehow. But his story about his inability to deal with the career of his successful mother in his own career still seems like a researchable feminist topic.