Juana de Asbaje

Hier ist ein important post. It is about sexism and gender discrimination. That was going to be all I said today, but I have read about knowledge and also tried to cook, so this post has had to be renamed for Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and philosophy “done” in the kitchen.


Here is another, entirely different and very interesting post, which reminds us that “treating all knowledge as naked politics made any kind of clean, reliable data for informed decision-making impossible,” and thus shows the limits of some kinds of postmodernism.


Premodernly I, meanwhile, testing recipes for my probable hurricane guests, tried to make sopa a la minuta, which I do not distinguish easily from sopa criolla. The milk and eggs are optional, and I did not use them. I did not have aji panca, so I used an Anaheim chile.

Reviewing my version of the soup, I think it is a D+. The Anaheim chile was not deep or subtle enough. And I always do poorly with these soup recipes, like the one for sopa de ajo, where you sauté onion and garlic and then add water. This is supposed to work and be tasty, but for me it always turns out rank. In fact, I often come up with something vaguely resembling food in a concentration camp – remember all that cabbage soup Ivan Denisovich ate? Anyway, this time I may be beginning to understand why – at least in part.

I tend to chop, rather than slice onions, and I do not do it finely enough, and I use too much oil. Tonight I cooked the onions and garlic too fast – which was why I needed all the oil, I suppose – and then somehow their heat overdid the meat. (And if I learned anything generally about cooking from my most recent trip to Peru, it is that when I use meat or olive oil, I use too much.)

I cut the oiliness with lime, which worked well in the circumstances, but I need advice about sopa a la minuta, sopa criolla, sopa de ajo, and all soups made by cooking onions and garlic and then adding water. And while we are at it, I will ask advice on paella as well, and on any rice dish wherein you first sauté the rice and then add water. All of my attempts at these things end up tasting like oily water with the odd onion leaf, and not a great deal else.


25 thoughts on “Juana de Asbaje

  1. Generally I haven’t faced sexism in the past couple of years. What I have faced is an attitude that is no doubt unconscious — a kind of standardisation of expectation in terms of my knowledge and intellect. There’s a lot of stuff I’ve studied very thoroughly about, have developed very nuanced and rigorously founded opinions about. Yet there is little expectation that my views on other issues (apart from some core parts of my thesis) have been anything other than randomly alighted upon and pulled from the air.

    Anyway, I reassure myself by acknowledging that at least *I* know what I know.

  2. It all depends on what you plan to do with your degree. If you are going to be competing for good academic jobs with men, that is when you will encounter resistance. If you’re willing to settle for less, they will let you alone.

    When I was in grad school I made the mistake of conflating the content of my studies with the purposes of the department(s) I found myself in. I thought that studying high minded matters and the best that had been thought and said meant that professors were going to be fairer and less cut-throat than their counterparts in business. That, of course, was nonsense.

    My daughter, who is a brilliant scholar with a Ph.D decided to leave academia. She has a great job, makes a huge amount of money and is very fairly treated. She loves the work she does, too. But I still think it’s too bad she left, because the academic world lost a first rate thinker, researcher, and teacher when they lost her.

  3. “If you are going to be competing for good academic jobs with men, that is when you will encounter resistance.”

    This is key. And no, it isn’t less cutthroat than business, and yes, that’s why your daughter was hardly misguided to leave, and it is too bad, but…

  4. But the Angry Professor is hardly not highly competitive, highly competent, and combat ready, and she’s in a heavily male dominated field, where one isn’t trained to be particularly feminine and I don’t think she is / thinks that way.

    The point is, look how institutionalized sexism works *anyway.* And there isn’t something the AP has missed, or could have done to improve matters. She *has* done all those things, which is why she’s as successful as she is (and she is quite, far more than the likes of this servidora).


    The soup improved to at least average after sitting around for a while with the lime in it.

  5. I’ve got some soup sitting around that was initially disappointing but seems to have improved.

    We have so much in common, ha ha.

  6. You have to be in the loop. You need consideration of your work. You need mentoring. Without these things you can’t have an academic career. All the mentors I had were women, and they did a lot for me, but they were handicapped compared to their male counterparts. And it wasn’t because they played any kind of “female role,” either.

    My daughter, who played academic politics extremely well, knew that she would be better off elsewhere.

  7. Not rhetorically loaded, OK. But handicapped is the word for the situation. One of my professors quit rather than come up for tenure. She was one of the official shining stars, popular and all, but she had read the cards. And she was really feeling the pressure, also.

    We, the graduate students, decided we were sorry for her because she believed that to make it in academia, you could only have one eccentricity, and you had used it up by being a woman if you were one, so it was very constraining. We went to other female mentors who were getting around things somehow. But what she said was the truest.

    (Now, of course, I’m going to Google her, I am curious. She has kind of a common name, though.)

  8. Yes, I believe it fully. I’ve seen how prejudice and hostility have worked against me, over and over again. So it is not hard to believe it is out there, in all of its glorious forms and disguises. Actually, the more you do what “they” say you should do in order to compete, the more you are penalised in very many situations. In effect the common sensical advice is “well don’t be such a wuss, and start acting more male-like and you will get ahead.” But acting more male-like is exactly what gets you penalised immediately, since a lot of people hate to see a woman acting more male-like. So it is like performing with your hands tied behind your back — a hard way to compete.

  9. Here is another, entirely different and very interesting post, which reminds us that “treating all knowledge as naked politics made any kind of clean, reliable data for informed decision-making impossible,” and thus shows the limits of some kinds of postmodernism.

    This is so important. Psychologically, the lack of clean, reliable data for informed decision making causes us to dig ourselves in, entrenching positions that may be based on misinterpretation of others or plain old illusion. Thus the downward spiral away from knowledge and into the realm of psychological unhealth begins.

    The Zimbabwean character who emailed me again seems to be in this place. I’ve been in the same place, when I was about his age. The assumption that we are all necessarily at war with each other, based upon the principles commanded by of our overly schematised purported historical identities, is a recipe for barbarism (of an unpleasant sort for all, I should add, lest any neo-nazi Nietzscheans eyes begin to shine).

    If someone sees me as their enemy, they really need to start looking UP.

  10. JCE, your point about the barbarism of schematized identities is awesome. But they’re so tempting when one feels under attack! And by their nature they teach us to feel under attack all the time.

    Profacero, thanks for the link and kind words. Your soup experiences got me thinking about people. Some cook up nice on high heat, others like to be warmed gently. Onion and garlic really like to be coaxed, which seems odd because they’re such strong personalities.

  11. J (on 1st comment) yes – although doing the “female” things doesn’t get one too far, either, so (comment 2) the whole thing is an instance of the barbarism of schematized identities, as we know. And yes on fighting non enemies (a yogi would point that out I think, one should resist one’s actual enemies).

    Soup, Carl and RG, YES, and gracias. I asked about it IRL today and someone said onions and garlic have to go slow AND must always CARAMELIZE. Apparently my error is to think one can leave them alone and one cannot. You have to go slow and keep stirring. This is why if I cook them socially it always works, but if I cook them by myself in a distracted way, it does not.

  12. Yes, in a “feminine” profession. I mean, in a “masculine” job women are not supposed to be “feminine,” but also get trouble for being “masculine.”

    Suddenly I realize that some women who do very in your face gender bending in academia are doing it strategically to deflect this. If you just pick and choose which parts of which roles you want to do, then you only confuse people. But if you are very explicit and also didactic about it, they can’t do anything … although ultimately you still have to show loyalty to the boys’ side. (This is just an insight flash, I am not standing by it yet as a theory!)

  13. The strategy I mean involves big time gender bending *games* – perhaps they don’t have them there – ? It’s very in your face, the players constantly provoke or try to provoke people to discussion with them with different dramatic ways of performing gender, femininity and possible sexual orientation. Lots of surface disturbance but materially, support for status quo. Postmodern. Works in a way, or to an extent, because it does take power in the status quo by engaging guilt/shame. But you have to be constantly working on the performance, be thinking of artifice. (I still haven’t worked out this description and hypothesis very well, but I have this half insight on why people who play in this way, do it – I used to just find it tiresome but I see there’s a method in it and it may be Smart, even though I wouldn’t have the patience to do it myself.)

  14. Probably not at UWA, which is the most conservative university in WA. I can imagine it happening at Murdoch university, which has a renowned queer-left orientation, or did — I’m not sure if it still does.

  15. Hah! I could say further interesting things but my brain is tired … I have this feeling my paper is DULL, that is to say it IS dull, although if it were a talk show it would be fascinating. At least this semester is cruisingly easy in terms of teaching and administration, so far almost problem free.

  16. I think that an exciting topic translated into academe-speak is inevitable dull. But what to do? What to do? Strangely enough when I gave my first paper on Mr M, at the very early stages of my thesis, it seemed that people heard some kind of alien spark of vitality in it, nonetheless. Perhaps it was some aspect of freedom through transgression that appealed at a subliminal level. But still.

  17. Yes. What to do is write both ways, I now theorize. But one needs world enough, and time. My current problem is that I do not sleep – not that I can’t, I don’t, and it’s silly. I like the late night and early morning, hence the dilemma.

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