This Thursday, we sent Bwog’s most enthusiastic young feminist, Alexander Pines, to listen to keynote address being given by the legend that is Judith Butler. What he found waiting for him was, well, not Judith Butler.
Around 6:00 Thursday evening, I strolled confidently into Jerome Greene Hall with the expectation of settling into a comfy seat and thinking about all of the midterms I should be studying for instead of waiting for Judith Butler’s keynote address for “Thinking Feminism At The Limits,” a conference held by the Columbia Institute for Research on Women and Gender (IRWAG). Brushing the snow out of my hair as I walked through the doors, I smiled at the helpful volunteers giving directions and passing out information sheets from Student Worker Solidarity with details about the location change from Faculty House. The event was open to the public and didn’t require pre-registration, so I figured I’d show up a full half hour early just in case.
Reaching into my bag, I pulled out my copy of Don Quixote to leaf through during the wait, I rounded the corner and ran straight into a long line. It looked as if it only extended down the relatively short hallway. It wouldn’t be too bad, I thought. Besides, I had a lot of Don Quixote to get through. Everyone else was holding copies of the SWS flyer, so I figured they hadn’t opened the doors yet.
Ten to fifteen minutes go by and the line hadn’t moved. The crowd was a mix of undergrad and graduate students with a few older folks scattered here and there. I abandoned Quixote after a few chapters and was instead satisfied to eavesdrop on the conversation behind me.
“She’s a Hegelian, I’m a Hegelian, it probably should have worked out better than it did.”
“So no second date?”
“Don’t think so.”
Finally, the line started slowly moving. I was dismayed to realize that instead of extending down one innocuous-looking hall, it instead snaked through a labyrinth of locker rooms. As I shuffled, law students randomly cut in front of me on the way to the bathroom or class, and volunteers from SWS moved through the crowd to sign people up for their listserv and advertise their Friday protest in support of the Faculty House workers.
A few minutes before the event is scheduled to start, I emerge at the other end of the hallway, about ten people from the entrance of the room. Two men come out wearing serious looking uniforms. “We’re all full folks. Any more and it’s an issue of fire safety. You can keep standing in line if you want, but we’re not letting any more in.” The line slowly disbanded and turned into a cautious blob, perhaps hoping that the room capacity might suddenly increase. Event coordinators came forward holding pamphlets about IRWAG and the conference, timidly noting that the panel scheduled for Friday would be in a larger venue and was also not be ticketed. When asked if the room was really full, one coordinator said, “Look, you can try to sneak in if you want, but they barely let Judith Butler’s family in.”
Eventually, one of the uniformed men came back out and told the crowd to head out. Tucking my book back into my bag, I pulled my gloves back on and resolved to simply check Facebook status updates about Butler in the morning.
A bunch of creepy faces via Shutterstock