Writing in the Right-hand margin
I consider myself a writer. I also (try to) consider myself an academic. At one point I even considered myself an artist, though, I'm not sure if I have enough time to consider myself one any more.
With those titles comes the assumption that I would hold the same agenda as most artists, writers, and academics. I feel that all the time as a liberal arts major at a public university. That's why I loved the article Bunnie linked to in her blog earlier this week.
It came at an interesting time, too. I happened to run into my favorite professor from high school over the weekend. She was an amazing inspiration to me in school, and really helped me to develop my skills as a painter and a photographer. She pushed me to pursue my dreams of fashion design and helped me to land an interview at a private design school. She is a very challenging and helpful woman to whom I owe a lot.
It was surprising to see her now because of how drastically I have changed since high school, and how much she has stayed the same. I turned down the design school, and I have changed my pursuits from fashion to literature. I am married, and a mother, and intend to have a large family. I'm a Christian, and I value the idea of "absolute truth." And I am not a feminist. At least not the way I'm expected to be.
This woman is definitely the typical "angry at men" feminist, and proud of it. She's the head of the art department at my old high school, and she teaches Women's Studies at the university I attend.
She was excited to meet my husband and my baby, but she didn't realize she was meeting me for the first time as well. She asked, "So, are you still doing any art?"
"Well, I'm writing," I responded. "And, I'm studying literature at the university."
"Oh, I'm teaching Women's Studies at the same school, you should take my class. I made a movie as well, which was shown in New York and Chicago, you can get it on the internet, you should look it up. It deals with the ideals that are expected of women. You know, Mary, and how she's perfect, and how that turns into... Barbie..." She said, and waited for my unconditional approval.
"Oh, that's very interesting," I replied. "I don't really agree with you. But it is interesting and I'd like to learn more about it to see why."
She did not expect that, but it is exactly what I expected from her, and I think it is what all liberal and fine art people expect. Liberalism. The same point was made in the Chronicle of Higher Education which Bunnie linked to.
The first protocol of academic society might be called the Common Assumption. The assumption is that all the strangers in the room at professional gatherings are liberals. Liberalism at humanities meetings serves the same purpose that scientific method does at science assemblies. It provides a base of accord. The Assumption proves correct often enough for it to join other forms of trust that enable collegial events. A fellowship is intimated, and members may speak their minds without worrying about justifying basic beliefs or curbing emotions.
It is safe for these people, in their bubble of sameness, to bounce uninspired ideas off one another, and get a big "Hurrah!" Nothing innovative happens, and no one even notices.
Now what would happen if I did go look up her movie and watch it? What if I did let her know what I think? What if I had given her more that just, "I don't really agree with you," but instead sat down to tell her why? Sadly, I think all that would have happened is we'd get mad at each other, and the conversation would go no where. That is why there are so few conservatives in these markets. We can't co-exist with out fireworks. That's why there are things like Christian record labels, and Christian colleges. We can escape the fight if we just make our own place to go.
What if, instead of running away we walked right into the big mess? I commend Andy in his pursuit of academia, especially in the History department. I commend him for bringing up religion in settings that it might not go over well, and hashing out the details with people who disagree (Now everyone knows why he's such a talented arguer). I hope that to a lesser degree, as an undergrad, I am able to do the same. I hope to, at least, state the other opinion in a formal setting just to force the left to look over their other shoulder for once. Hopefully, I can do it well enough that they might keep looking my way for a few seconds, long enough to realize that there might be something worth while over here.
I don't even care if I change their minds. I just want to be heard.