Most of all, she loves her students. This class is, coincidentally or not, entirely female. They are mostly young -- certainly, all younger than she is. With just 20, she can do more than memorize names but actually know people. Amazing, all around.
Just two weeks in, the students are lapping it all up: feminist theory, Marxism, post-structuralism, all drawn in introductory, broad Matronly strokes designed for the eager but uninitiated. Wonderful. All is good. There is much discussion of 'micropolitics' and how those everyday exchanges regarding gender, sexual preference, class and race are related to and help create larger social and economic processes and ideologies. Perfect attendance and nobody bolts for the door the second the class leaves.
Today, the discussion turned toward identity politics.
Matron (note the careful use of 'in part' which is a handy phrase in case you forget something or get it partly right): "Identity politics, in part, grew out of the political movements of the 1960s and early 70s. Political, economic and social change was changed fueled by activists' identification with a certain group of people: African-American and to a less visible and less applauded extent all other groups of non-white people, female, workers, etc. This is a generalization, but whereas we see a lot of political fervor today about the economy, in the sixties there was political fervor over identity and the rights of people defined by certain identities."
Student raises hand: "Do you mean the NINETEEN sixties or an earlier century?"
Here, picture the Matron with raised eyebrows, lecture paused.
Matron: "Of course, the 1960s. Everyone here is familiar with the political upheavals and social transformation of the sixties and early seventies, right?"
Matron, who is a big believer in cutting to the chase in the classroom: "Who here has never ever heard of an era called 'the sixties' and the political changes that happened then?"
Every hand shoots up.
Guess who is constructing a history lesson about waaaaaaaaaaaay back when in the last century and feeling like the dinosaur who belongs there.