I don’t plan to get sympathy here. I do reflect on how something that happened almost 50 years ago made me check my own self-opinion. I always thought that I was “good” at parties insofar as I always would bring wine or beer and drink only water. I liked to be on the periphery and typically would start talking to the people who looked lonely/isolated/as wallflowery as me.
My husband was a graduate student at the time and I was a very young recent graduate. He was invited to a party and took me. They decided to make the party a permanent weekend feature and the next week I went with him. There was a large sign affixed to the front door that read
NO SPICE ALLOWED!
The sign was meant for me; I had been the solitary “spouse/spice” at the previous party. The party was simply a beer/wine/cheese/schmooze affair. Nobody was speaking about great thoughts or theories. That’s when I learned that all of the liberal left-wing professoriate professing to treat everyone equally have the potential for casual cruelty and crassness.
While I can say that my contempt for them (having seen the sign) was at least as strong as their contempt for me, I would never knowingly exclude anyone in such a way. I’ve never posted signs against any class of people.
I carry NO SPICE ALLOWED with me almost 5 decades later. It’s not because I feel unwanted and superfluous. It’s because I never want to be that person who thinks it’s a great pun and great fun to post signs excluding people. For me it was a misogynistic classist signal that was in the direct line from “No Irish need apply.” It privileged people who were mostly male and white graduate students. It privileged female graduate students by implicitly contrasting them with the “spice”.
I saw people laughingly read the sign and enter the party and my husband drove me home.