The Lessons for Girls series made me think about the phrase "protecting your time," which the academic advice columnists and experts in how to get ahead are always telling you to do.
It is a good thing to do, but the phrase itself can be used as a guilt line, too. Example:
Colleague but not one in my direct field: "Maybe we could get together to read and discuss [these complicated theoretical texts] in [a field that is mine, not yours] on [a set of days when you are not on campus].
Me: "No, I don't really do much with that area. Besides, I won't be on campus much this summer, and I'm on sabbatical in the fall."
Colleague: "I see. I understand. You're just protecting your time."
Subtext: "Way to be selfish and uncollegial! Good job!"
Me: "No! Er, uh, it's just that I don't work much in that area."
Colleague: (walks away, clearly disapproving)
Now, why couldn't I have said, "Protecting my time? You bet I am!" or "You're protecting your time by wanting to work on your material; why shouldn't I protect mine?" or "Of course. Isn't my time important?"
I think it's time to reclaim some of these idioms that, although they're supposed to be neutral, are actually used to indicate that you're being selfish, uncooperative, uncollegial, or any of the other concepts that are used to make you feel guilty about doing the research that you are being paid to do--or, more generally, reclaiming your time for your own purposes rather than the purposes of other people. Are there any others?