So here’s a thing.

Being constantly questioned and disbelieved has an effect. Or it has had an effect on me, at least. I get defensive when I am questioned. Sometimes it’s not even really questioning. It can be people in good faith asking questions or giving me advice, but because I have been conditioned to believe that my knowledge, what I bring to the table, is pretty much useless without a dissertation or three, I get defensive and I want to defend myself and my knowledge.

This is part of that pesky conditioning we get from society from day one. We’re told that men are the owners of knowledge. We’re told to distrust women. You don’t believe this to be true? Look at rape statistics. Look at how women are treated in the doctor’s office. Look at how women are excluded from discussions that have a very real impact on their lives, such as when and in what situations to “allow” abortions. If we want to bring it back to day-to-day life, look at how much effort women have to expend just to have a place at the table, not to mention actually being listened to.

We may have a sincere moral and intellectual objection to women being treated any differently from men. But the trouble is that once we’re learned to see the world in a particular way, we may not even be aware of our subliminal prejudices. They are conveyed to us at too fundamental a level – as scientists of consciousness would explain, they are inextricably woven into the way we perceive the world.
– Mary Ann Sieghart – The Authority Gap: Why Women Are Still Taken Less Seriously Than Men, and What We Can Do About It

I read Mary Ann Sieghart’s book about the authority gap, and I started to understand why I always felt so tired after work. Having to explain yourself over and over and over is tiring. I read Kate Mann’s about male entitlement and how men feel entitled to spaces just because they’re men and I understood even more about the world and why I am being defensive. And then I read Men Who Hate Women by Laura Bates and I started to mildly despair.

There are so many examples out in the world which puts the blame squarely on the woman. Look at the Depp/ Heard trial, where both individuals seem to have had severe issues (although I am more on Amber Heard’s side in this) but the world pretty much judged Heard much harder. Look at the Chanel Miller case. Do you even know who Chanel Miller is? No? But you DO know who Brock Turner is, I assume? The man who was found on top of an unconscious woman – yes, Chanel Miller – behind a dumpster by a pair of students, who fled the scene, LAUGHED when caught and was then defended by his father as a good kid. “[The sentence] is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” Chanel Miller released a statement that was circulated for a long time in my circuits at least, and it is harrowing. So read it.

Right. A woman reduced to 20 minutes of action, no consideration for her wellbeing and no consideration for what Turner’s actions did to her. So that’s male entitlement for you. We show men himpathy, as Kate Mann calls it. Poor dude, getting caught with his dick in an unconscious woman. It was only 20 minutes of action, after all.

Why am I talking about this when it comes to epistemic injustice? Because I think we all know what happens when a woman speaks up for herself. Rape cases are just the most obvious aspect of this. Look at Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. Men will get their way, regardless. That’s how I’ve been conditioned through work, through my hobbies, through life. So I get defensive, because I don’t believe that anyone will believe me. I get defensive because I have a lifetime of being dismissed.

When I read the sentence below I went “aha!” and then I got depressed, because I can’t do any of the things I would need to do to be listened to, as evidenced by this blog post.

This is all deeply depressing for women. The more competent and knowledgeable you are, the less influential and the more dislikeable you are likely to be to men. Instead you have to attractive, hesitant and submissive to have any chance of winning them over.
– Mary Ann Sieghart – The Authority Gap: Why Women Are Still Taken Less Seriously Than Men, and What We Can Do About It

You may think that this blog post took an unexpected turn and that none of these things are related, but that’s the devil of it. The entire world is stacked against believing women, trusting women, acknowledging that women have knowledge and can be competent. It’s all part of one another. Why would I believe a woman at work? Why would I believe that a woman can have power over her own body? Why would I believe a woman?

I want to emphasise that this is not just something that happens to women. There are cases of epistemic injustice all over the place, and intersectionality is a thing. You’ll get a compound effect depending on what privileges you have and wht privileges you lack. Black women are disbelieved to a higher degree than white women and so on and so forth. If you’ve followed the discourse around trans people, you’ll know that trans people are treated as if they don’t know their minds at all, and they’re not included in discussions around their bodies and their stories. We need to fix this. We need to

I have resigned myself to be disliked. I have resigned myself to be not very influential.

I have not resigned myself to let this stand.