There are decisions that come with days of doubts, with lists of pros and cons, and then there are the decisions when your body answers first; your body shouts inside you, yes or no. For me, joining the initiative Sexism in Danish Higher Education was an immediate yes! – yes and yes and yes, I am in, let’s do this! It was an embodied yes shouted within and written in a brief email answer to Sara Louise Muhr and Mie Plotnikof (who were the initiators and had asked me to join). Such yes resembles a beat, it comes from the heart and only later is joined by longer explanations of justification and of concern. Why is that? Because it is a yes that is grounded in lived experience, in a form of truth and deep-knowledge that is similar to when we answer yes to someone that asks us – do you love me? And we know.
While my own biographical experiences of sexism mattered for my involvement in this initiative, it was the certainty of the shared stories; the many conversations with colleagues throughout the years, their sadness, anger and frustration, what made me pronounce that immediate felt – yes! The large amount of signatures, emails of support, and most specially the many stories of sexism that were shared with us while the initiative lasted was on the one side a confirmation of how manifold and pervasive sexism in academia is, and on the other how much our society needs spaces where these experiences can be shared without fear of repercussion or banalization.
Reading the many stories was a painful confirmation of how the sexism that I had experienced in my scholarly life and network, was not exceptional, but one example more of a structural social phenomenon, which is present throughout different institutions and at many different periods of the professional career. This initiative is for me a collective political action to change our world for the better and the result of a personal fight to remain hopeful, to avoid turning to cynicism or numbness when confronted with an injustice such as sexism that is so prevalent and difficult to erase.