Another Distatsteful “Promotion”

I am starting to regret the terms of my employ here as the voice of temperance and professionalism on Pan Kisses Kafka, which I heard is a reference to some arcane thing called “Mr. Show” that had no business being on the televisual machine in the first place.

Here, once again, is an “article” Ms. Schuman “wrote” for the “reputable” “magazine” Slate, in which she mercilessly excoriates the noble protectors of the Life of the Mind, simply for putting an arrogant, entitled woman in her place after she was so foolishly brazen as to attempt to negotiate a job offer.

I am, once again, both personally and professionally offended by Ms. Schuman’s hysterical, screechy, unhinged tone, one that has neither regard nor gratitude for the august occupation that had the good sense not to let someone like her come anywhere near it (other than, I suppose, those two classes she is currently in the process of teaching to what she sickeningly describes as “the best students in the whole entire universe”). Take, for example, the following sentence, which is not only wholly untrue, but also rather abysmally written:

Any beginning academic who tries to stand up for herself is lunch for the hordes of traumatized ivory-tower zombies, themselves now irreversibly infected with the obsequious self-devaluation and totalizing cowardice that go by the monikers “collegiality” and “a good fit.”

Please. “Traumatized?” “Zombie?” Just because I am fully aware that I beat out 300 other people for my position as a glorified composition teacher here at Yale–and thus had the good sense to bargain down in salary, rather than up–and just because I am fully aware that academe is, indeed, a just and functioning meritocracy, and that “fit” is a perfectly fine indicator for hiring, doesn’t make me a zombie. It makes me marketable is what it makes me. It makes me a “sober mind” that will prevail as idiots such as “W” (if that is indeed her real name!) continue to trash their own prospects by having the gall to act interested in their own futures.

At any rate, I continue to be flabbergasted, not that this “W” had her offer rescinded, and not at the wholly correct reaction from much of academe, but that Ms. Schuman is allowed to slobber out her ill-informed, bitter, misandric rantings for actual monetary remuneration.

Listen. Everyone knows that there is one way and one way only to negotiate after an academic job offer. Your father simply lays out your preferences to the Dean the next time they golf together at the Club. Anybody who doesn’t know this has committed a sin as unforgivable as calling me racist, and deserves not just the withdrawal of the offer, but the withdrawal of all future offers of any sort, anywhere (that includes job offers, offers to purchase furniture on something called “Craigslist,” and even Special Offers that come in the post).

My only cold, cold comfort in this harrowing time is the knowledge that a small portion of Ms. Schuman’s ill-gotten spoils goes to me. I will continue to use it, and my platform, professionally and appropriately.

Yours &c,

Dr. Brett Betherton “Binky” Weatherby IV, Heavily Beleaguered

12 thoughts on “Another Distatsteful “Promotion”

  1. Hypothesis time:

    It’s been hard for me to understand why so many people would genuinely side with the university on someone simply throwing an opening volley in negotiations. These same people probably also have negotiated before – buying a house, a car, a job offer, whatnots. Then this theory came to me. I’m calling it the “Always Take Shit” theory of life. Alternative title? Janteloven (look it up cause they are awesome).

    A vast majority of people have been raised to accept what is given to them with no questions. They work their jobs, do their assigned duties, perhaps even go beyond. But never will they dare to take a risk and ask for more. If their boss so deems them worthy of a raise, they’ll get it. If they don’t get one, they move on to a new job. Confrontation is to be avoided.

    Then they read articles online of people who DARE to aim a bit higher. Who are assertive. How entirely unbecoming! You are not to think you are anything special (Janteloven strikes again). How dare that person get a good job when I have to work my shit job. How dare a fast food worker think they should make a few bucks more! That’s just plain entitlement thinking – to actually request better things rather than accept what you have. When I wanted more money, I just changed jobs. Why can’t they? There is virtually NO job written about online where a salary is mentioned that half the comments are how that person is overpaid/should be happy with what they get.

    So in this vague and unformed hypothesis, the online masses are people unsatisfied with their lives, read online articles of others who dare to try for something better, and get angry that others don’t just accept the shit like they do. “What are we, a country founded on the pursuit of happiness or some bull crap? Screw that! Accept what you are given and like it or at least suffer silently like we do!”


  2. Fantastic piece on Slate. Kudos. Once again, Rebecca Schuman exposes the outrageous practices of the Medieval Fiefdom known as Academia. It is only (ok, maybe not only but especially) there where such bizarre combinations of devaluation and overvaluation of people, sometimes even within the psyche of a single individual, exist.


  3. It’s hard to escape the suspicion that the right person could have asked for the exact same things and gotten them, or most of them, instead of having the job offer pulled. If “W” had the right undergrad alma mater, the right grad program, or whatever class and status markers Nazareth was looking for, would they have still rejected her as an impertinent underling who didn’t know her station for daring to ask for a salary still well below what other adults with multiple advanced degrees can demand? But apparently the kind of people who fit in academia are those who already know what questions not to ask, even before starting their first full-time job.


  4. OMG. Just read your twitter about the “simple, empty and hubristic” line you got. Only a pedantic academic male can come up with that little phrase–and surely, I detect adequacy issues, ahem. That’s my “cheap, unacademic, unreliable” 5 cent psychological profile for you. Not that academic women don’t pull such nonsense as a complicit, stockholm syndrom-y, scaredy complicit cat shit. Anyhow, only you know the gender behind the utterance. I actually laughed when I read the phrase.


  5. Hello to everyone from Moscow. (Yes, THAT Moscow, not the one in Idaho.)

    I don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, and I suspect that this reply will not see the light of day, since it goes against the orthodoxy here, but I am still not quite clear about what, specifically, the college did wrong. “W” did nothing wrong – sure. Everybody, including “W”, is entitled to try and negotiate a better deal? Sure. But by the same token, why can’t the college decide that it is in no mood for negotiating? And in no mood to hire someone who wants to negotiate?

    As an aside, as an employer myself (though, of course, on a very small scale), if I made an offer to someone, and then got an email like that back, I would probably withdraw the offer as well. Reading it, I would feel that I made a mistake, and need to correct that mistake ASAP – by pulling the offer.


  6. Ride a joke long enough and you become That Person Who Doesn’t Know When to Quit.

    Binky, wherever you are: FWIW, one of Dr. Schuman’s fans is finally starting to feel sorry for you.


    • Dr. Weatherby will be blogging in my stead (and sporadically at that) until the end of the month, but I shall wrest myself from the confines of this treadmill and these sandwich fixins soon thereafter. I am taking a much-needed break from the constant hate and vitriol–or, at any rate, I thought I was, and I thought I had made that clear.


  7. hey Rebecca, long time no see. I haven’t been reading or writing as much in the last couple of months so I haven’t been around. I’m sorry to hear there’s been enough hate and vitriol coming your way that such a person as weatherby is necessary, although I don’t mind laughing at his expense at all! Anyway, just a word of support. Your tone and style at Slate are the perfect antidote to the willful blindness and arrogance of so many in academe. That’s why you make folks so angry. You knew that already, but perhaps it’s still nice to hear.


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