Welcome to this Week’s Episode of “The Tone Police*: To Serve and Protect (the white Ableist Patriarchy)” – Recruitment Edition

{*Tone Policing: “when someone (usually a privileged person) in a conversation or situation about oppression shifts the focus of the conversation from the oppression being discussed to the way it is being discussed. Tone policing prioritizes the comfort of the privileged person in the situation over the oppression of the disadvantaged person.” Oluo, Ijeoma (January 2018). So you want to talk about race. Seal Press. pp. 205–206. ISBN-13: 9781580056779}.

{Mandatory preamble: As with all of my blog posts, the views espoused herein are mine alone and should be construed as neither shared nor endorsed by any organization with which I have an affiliation.}

Trigger warning: white privilege; institutional racism, sexism, ableism, colonialism, heteronormativity, violence.

Well, bros, it looks like we’re back in recruitment mode, given steady attrition resulting from a slew of administrative leaves, forced retirements, sexual harassment lawsuits, and a peculiar geological phenomenon known as fossilization. No one knows exactly what the duties were of our most recent casualties, but they sure did liven up the place with helpful anecdotes about useful things like morning squirrel v. birdfeeder drama and lockin’ horns with other bulls, which, as you know, happens a lot in the ivory-white bull pen of academics. As a leader in this organization, I’ve been pretty tied up thinking about heavy stuff like Faculty retention and bolstering our ranks with new hires, so have been bouncing ideas off folks at the polo club, in the business class lounge, and on the back nine. And yes, “Karen”, “in the spirit of inclusivity” I have also canvassed the guy who shines my shoes as well as a random selection of other defeated sacks who were involuntarily dragged along to Williams-Sonoma last Friday night.

Here’s the ad I’ve scratched out on a napkin so far:

In order to align with a tremendously big and tremendously bold, cross-cutting institutional initiative to make academia great again, applications are invited for a full-time tenure stream Faculty position at the esteemed University of {something colonial} in our hallowed Division at the rank of Assistant Professor. Applicants must have earned an MD or PhD degree with a clearly demonstrated record of exceptional performance in research and teaching as judged by maternal attestation. We are looking for exemplary candidates whose research and teaching interests complement and enhance our existing Divisional strengths, which is just a fancy way of articulating our objective to replicate ourselves without actually harnessing the power of cloning because that would be weird and possibly illegal.

The job is pretty straightforward, with few required skills for the guy – oops, person – who fits in well with our team culture. It’s all about fit, really. Either you fit or you don’t fit, it’s simple. You like us, we like you, it’s done. Once that hard part is settled, then you gotta just let us know that you’re proficient in the use of a filofax, a range of ballpoint pens, and an analog telephone. We’ll take your word for it and hook you up with a pretty sweet office, where you can really start to mix business with pleasure. There’ll be a couch, a storage locker for your golf clubs and best cigars, and most importantly, a door with a lock. There are some physical demands to the job, so read between the lines on that one. Notably, you’ll have to demonstrate your ability to carry around a 600-pound sack of dissertation-sized NDAs to dole out to the Division, especially if there’s another sourpuss Grinch kickin’ up a fuss after the Christmas party.

Our institution provides a competitive benefits package, including full pension, medical, dental, and vision care valued at $27,000 per month; bulk discount ordering of Viagra; a subscription to Groovy Male Academic Quarterly; and after successful completion of your mandatory 4-second probationary period, a 72-volume set of unsustainably leather-bound Encyclopedia Brittanicas for fact checking those lippy broads who reach in behind your eyeballs and push that super sensitive button in your brain labelled “Escalation”. We trust that you’ll use your generous vacation allotment judiciously, and will respect the sanctity of your annual conference leave by not sleeping with or otherwise assaulting your grad students. Any overseas shenanigans will be investigated and punished as swiftly as continental drift, which is to say that you’ll be relieved of your teaching duties immediately while collecting your usual paycheque indefinitely. Look, at the end of the day, we got expectations: you treat us good, we’ll treat you good. Make sense?

Administrative service to the organization is expected, with major responsibilities relating to the adjudication of our annual awards competition, with recognitions that loosely fall into categories such as Best Guy, A Dude that Helps A Lot, Most Well Liked Guy, The Got-Your-Back-Guy, Homogeneous Junior Leader, Homogeneous Junior Leader of the Best New Boy’s Club, Male Hero, Jack-of-all-Trades, Famous Stallion, Infamous Stallion, Barely-Lucid Media Hound, and then a few others so that we can check some boxes with HR or something. We invited a few great guys to a brainstorming session and came up with several new awards to honour the gals who really just do a bang up job of helping out us boys in the Division. New to last year were awards for Congenial Broad, Happy Broad, Silent Broad, A Broad Who Bakes, and Best Rack on a Broad. After some unsolicited feedback from a humourless ball-buster in forensic pathology, we’re adjusting our process for this year and rebranding that last competition to Best Anatomy on a Broad in the hopes of a different outcome.

We’re looking for a dynamic new team member who will Chair our inaugural Tone Committee, which is, like it sounds, just an institutionally sanctioned version of the privileged white nanny state refusing to bear witness to the lived experience of average mid-career female academics. Look, I don’t make the rules, but I sure do gotta enforce ’em. At the end of the day, boys, you’re gonna be slappin’ a lot of wrists for some pretty serious stuff like deadline infractions, aggression, stridency, inappropriate female anger, self-righteousness, and PMS. Got a whiner on your hands? Gaslight ‘er. Mother habitually late for your 8 am rounds? Mess around with her type A personality by changing it to 7. Sometimes these weak links just lack confidence so you gotta motivate ’em by giving ’em extra challenges. Raising the bar, using a different yardstick by which to measure their success, that kind of thing. Prissy marm in your face about last month’s booze-soaked pharma weekend in Vegas? Address those thought distortions by steering the conversation in a more positive direction, like focusing on how she can become a better team player or how she should adjust that sexless hemline she wears every Tuesday. And for chrissakes, she needs to soften up that harsh pitch! I’m all for our lady friends piping up in meetings where we bucks are talkin’ Mensa-type stuff like science. Makes me proud, God love ’em. Reminds me of the time my Goldendoodle learned how to open the cookie jar without smashing the shit out of it. But look, we got a helluva lotta white boys with real sensitive ears in our Division and, man, that middle C she trots out with her high horse is just like nails on a chalkboard.

And buddy, I’m not gonna lie, occasionally you’re gonna have to just take one for the team and listen to her. No matter how shrill, no matter how much she’s carping on about equality or equity or equines or whatever the hell it is these days. In those situations, just smile and nod and pretend that you give a damn. Make her feel valued by asking her about Lilith Fair or crochet hooks or how much a loaf of bread costs nowadays. Perspective is key. Shucks, you’re a kickass genius prodigy whose God-given scientific acumen – and that alone – landed you a prestigious NIH fellowship at age 19!! It’s not your fault she was waiting tables at the neighbourhood pub throughout the entirety of her medical training. When she leaves you with a dossier of written narrative and printed emails and supposed evidence of unfair treatment, be sure to bring all that back to the Division to file neatly in the shredder. Saves you having to pay for styrofoam peanuts while packing up all your breakable awards when moving to the corner office in a couple of years. And if she really lays some difficult, train-wreck shit on you, do not worry! We recognize our obligation to protect our Faculty and support them through challenging circumstances; as such, you’ll be prescribed an amnestic.

We enable our junior Faculty in their career advancement, and quarterly meetings with one’s Division Chair are expected to ensure rapid academic ascent for those who achieve their goals, as outlined by the SMART framework: selfish; masculine; arrogant; regressive (or repressive, your choice!); and, time-honoured. At our colonial University we are committed to fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion. That said, change takes time and sometimes we all just gotta adjust our expectations to what’s realistic and feasible. Take pandemic, for instance. I’ve been hearing a lot of noise about our guys just crankin’ out the grants and papers and getting the jump on promotion while holed up in lockdown as our gals are unproductively “in the trenches” looking after parents and plants and pets and progeny and generally showin’ up for life and all that. I get it! It’s hard when you feel like your career is a series of false starts and interminable waits. But patience is a virtue! Like that one time I was really trampled by life and caught in the checkout line behind extreme-coupon-apocalypse-bunker guy who had just drag netted the entire Walmart Superstore when I thought I was just popping in for a quick jar of mustard. I wanted to throttle that guy! But did I? No, ma’am, no I did not. I was Job. I was Dorothy skipping along and damn near owning that growth path, waiting until I could process all that bubbling rage productively in the privacy of the parking lot, just hollerin’ like a banshee and decapitating the passenger seat with my fist. That’s the kind of commitment and quiet perseverance we need around this place. And, sheesh, if you ask me, running a virtual pandemic home school sounds, in fact, like an immense source of joy, especially if the comparator were to be something like sandpapering off one’s skin, for example. Folks, at the end of the day, we’re doin’ pretty good with all this, and let’s not forget the strides we’ve made since the days of Osler and Semmelweis and Hippocrates. Heck, no sense trying to poke your beak into a fight with Darwin, sweetheart! Dude’s dead!!

All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, we acknowledge that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Applications from legacy candidates and those with a demonstrable academic lineage are encouraged. Applicants must submit a cover letter; a CV; a statement describing contributions to equity, diversity, and inclusion that will be adjudicated by a panel of academics with nary a speck fluency in this arena amongst them; a list of peer-reviewed publications in academic journals that will a. disproportionately publish the work of white hetero cisgender men, and b. pay their male Editors-in-Chief precisely 400-times that of women; a research statement outlining current and future innovative research that you will – given the right phenotype – conduct with scads of money, nifty collabs, and little institutional bureaucracy; and a teaching dossier including teaching evaluations that may or may not dehumanize you by referencing your physique, attire, and hair colour depending on your gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, and pronouns. Applicants must also arrange to have at least four outstanding letters of recommendation – which will be summarily discounted if not from senior leaders in your field whom we all know and respect – submitted by the closing date.

Salary and rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience but – wink, wink – don’t forget to negotiate for anything and everything! If you don’t negotiate, that’s all on you because we can’t be expected to say the quiet things out loud. We are delighted to consider applications received by COB tomorrow.

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