Visiting Crooked Timber, I came across a posting
by guest blogger Ingrid Robeyns
, specialist in gender studies. In this posting, after describing the security that her position within academia gives her, she describes the profound incomprehension and hostility she received from Belgium's crown prince, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippe%2C_Duke_of_Brabant>Philippe, Duke of Brabant</a>, when she explained her researches to him.
<blockquote><i>[A] few years ago I was at a party where the Belgian philosopher Axel Gosseries introduced me to the Belgian Crown Prince as “a great Belgian feminist”, my first thought was “Help, what do I say now?”. I interpreted the prince’s facial reaction as expressing disgust and fear. My guess is that he had never met a self-proclaimed feminist, and must have felt the way I would feel if someone would introduce me to a terrorist or to a child-hater. He asked “are you really a feminist?” I replied that I wouldn’t normally introduce myself as such, but that yes, I was writing a PhD thesis on gender inequality and that this was clearly a feminist concern. He replied that he was concerned about the position of women too, since women who were staying at home where no longer valued and respected in our societies. I said that I agreed, but that it was even more difficult for men who wanted to spend time with their children or other dependents. Oh, he replied, but women and men are not the same. He then asked whether I had children. No, I didn’t. That seemed to disqualify me to talk about gender issues, because if I would have a child, I would have understood that women can never be equals to men, since they are the ones who become pregnant and give birth and care for children, and are therefore naturally unsuited to compete in the hard world outside. A few years of research on gender inequality and one baby later, I still don’t see why my having a womb and female hormones would make me unsuited to “competing in the hard world outside”. I wonder what he thinks about the fact that his daughter is second in line for the throne.</i></blockquote>
Would it be rude to express my sympathy to my Belgium readers? Never mind, I'll do it anyway.