Tuesday, August 26, 2014

College, thy name is woman.

Should college "celebrate" anything? Or just inform/discuss?
It is very sad to me that in today's academia, if you defend menor counter the Feminist-inflected gospel in any substantive wayyou're likely to be labeled a misogynist. Not only that, but you may well be accused of hate speech for the apparently unforgivable sin of causing dyspepsia in Feminists (and their administrative enablers and/or sympathizers). To this observer it seems that if there's any "ism" afoot here, it's really an endemic/unopposed/worsening climate of misandry; that's a relatively obscure term for the hatred of men. (Be honest, when was the last time you even heard the word before this post?) The relative obscurity of misandrycompared to the ubiquity of misogynytells you right away which term, and which concept, enjoys the greater currency and cultural acceptance. Here I quote controversial attorney and social gadfly Maria Maltseva: "While I agree that women have yet to reach their full potential in many areas, and while I don’t object to reasonable protection, legislation, and support, the demands I hear modern feminists making are neither reasonable nor rational. In fact, the entire movement seems focused on perpetuating the illusion of great disadvantage so as to profit those women who have poured their life’s efforts into an ideology that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny." Maltseva goes on to deconstruct that ideology, and I commend her thoughts to you here.

This commitment to ideology is such that many women in academia (and outside it as well) cannot abide anything that fails to fit their gender-baiting agenda and will go for the jugular at the slightest provocation. There is simply no room for dissent or compromise in this tyranny of the so-called oppressed. After I tweeted a link to last week's post on rape, several women sought to destroy my mutually enriching several-year relationship with Lehigh University. For all I know, they succeeded. (I know for a fact that they told my dean that I had no business being anywhere near a college classroom and that they'd not be comfortable if I were their daughter's professor.) Beware the wrath of a Feminist scorned.

What happened to the climate of critical thinking and open-minded exploration that academics love to uphold in their op-eds and glossy recruitment brochures?

Notwithstanding the foregoing, I do have a congenital dislike for being dismissed as a lunatic, so I thought I'd try a parallel to another issue that has been much in the news and should resonate with everyone reading this.

Ever since the Michael Brown shooting we've heard numerous black commentators talk plaintively about raising their sons as young black menin particular the importance of imbuing black males with what might be termed "rules for being African-American in public." Far from being out there on the hysterical fringe, these commentators have included esteemed New York Times journalist Charles Blow, CNN's Sunny Hostin* and others. These rules include the likes of "don't make a scene," "don't run anywhere after darkthere may be cops around," "never argue with the police, even if they stop you without cause," etc. Some parents even try to micromanage their sons' attire, instructing them to avoid wearing hoodies, baggy/saggy jeans and other elements of "thug-wear." In sum, these rules would seem to hark back to the gentility of the old Plantation South and the obsequious deference then expected of blacks. Are these notions disempowering to young black men? Probably so. Do they unfairly burden the potential victim with responsibility for his own potential victimization? Absolutely.

Now, are these parents racists? Self-haters? Clearly not. They're pragmatists who know the ropes, or think they do, and seek to prevent their kids from ending up under arrest or under the ground (or lying dead on a hot Missouri street for hours). We would all hope that in years to come such concessions to pragmatism will be unnecessary, grim vestiges of a less enlightened era. In the meantime, however, black parents discourage their kids, especially their teenage sons, from "bucking the system." This, by the way, was no newsflash to me. Long before Michael Brown, long before Trayvon Martin, I knew (personally) black parents who would become enraged with their sons for calling attention to themselves in public; the transgressors got screamed at and/or were grounded.

So I'll end this post where I started the other, controversial one. Rape is always wrong; I don't want to see one more woman raped. And rape, let us not forget, too often leads to murder. Why tempt fate?
* I am not a fan of Hostin, whom I regard as an unreconstituted racist, but she's a mainstream darling, so she fills the bill here. 


whistle said...

Love the content, hate the titles of the last two posts on this topic. The Maltseva link was interesting - thanks!

Some of my experiences in academia mirror what you say, just replace 'feminist' with 'liberal'. California was a very difficult place to be a non-liberal (i.e. party line Democrat) academic.

A particular pet peeve of mine lately is overuse of 'misogynist'. Trolls say horrible things to all people all the time. I think a lot of what is labeled as misogynist is just trolls being trolls. Example: someone who bristles at calling a woman a bitch but who labels men with similar attributes assholes/dicks etc.

I do hope there are no negative consequences at Lehigh.

Steve Salerno said...

Sorry about the titles, Whistle, but thanks for your ongoing participation.

You make an interesting point in drawing your distinction between Democrat and liberal, which may surprise some folks who haven't spent time behind the ivy-covered walls. In too many college settings, being Democrat is nowhere close to enough. There are at least two departments I can think of in local colleges where even liberal isn't enough. And God help the student who actually professes some degree of patriotism and/or faith in the free market.

But see, Whistle, it isn't just trolls. There are highly regarded people in highly responsible positions who throw around the M word at the drop of a hat. If you don't buy the party line down to every comma and apostrophe, you're a misogynist. It's awful.

whistle said...

Let me clarify. I meant that the ones being labeled as 'misogynists' are the trolls (often). They say bad things about everyone, and when they say it about a woman it's labeled 'misogynistic'.

Anonymous said...

You can't take back or redeem what you wrote in that blog Steve. You can't explain it away either. You have to own it and live with the consequences. Poor Steve, his dean is mad at him.

roger o'keefe said...

When these kinds of things happen is when I especially wonder why you went over to the dark side of Obama, liberalism et cetera. Don't you see that all these phenomenons that you find so disagreeable are creatures of your pals on the left? In fact I swear I remember reading things you wrote in that vein in your former life as an astute observer for the Journal. I don't understand how you can stick with a political program that doesn't want any part of you and is so utterly intolerant of your free speech rights. For that alone as a WRITER I'd imagine it would drive you out of your mind!!

Steve Salerno said...

I have my moments, Roger, believe me. I won't deny that the dichotomy you cite is crazy-making and often leaves me feeling even more schizoid than usual. But I was always a guy who was more into the economic facets of liberalism than the social facets. I still think the skew in the concentration of wealth in this country (and globally for that matter) is disgraceful. But then you'll have the Feminists who argue that the social inequities go hand-in-hand with the financial ones, which is why (they say) they get so angry with men and patriarchal society. I'm not so sure their rancor isn't more visceral than that that, myself.

RevRon's Rants said...

I can't help but chuckle a bit at the illusion of there being a clearly defined "dark side" to which you've wandered, Steve. A society functions like a pendulum, swinging from one extreme to another, and (hopefully) edging ever closer to a calm center.

It was inevitable that the oddly-misnamed "conservative" swing to greed over compassion would inflame the perspectives of those whose motivations are for the good of all, rather than forsaking the well-being of the majority in pursuit of personal gain.

It was equally inevitable that there would be those who self-identify as "liberals" who would demand their own extremes, risking clarity in their pursuit of sensitivity. For them, political correctness is the only response to Social Darwinism. The vilification happens on both ends of the spectrum, and just as with the spectrum of light, those extremes offer very little illumination.

Your detractors at Lehigh represent one side, who feel that they must fight an insensitive, compassionless "other" with any weapons available to them, just as others, who view genuine stewardship as a weakness, will use every arrow in their quivers tom prevail.

I have ultra-liberal friends who consider me a redneck, and ultra-conservative friends who consider me a tree-hugging hippie. You face the same kind of responses, as well. Rather than bemoan what might appear to some to be a dichotomy, you might take some comfort in the knowledge that if you're pissing off extremists at both ends, you just might be standing at a point in the spectrum where there is light, rather than conflict.

As you well know, you and I disagree on any number of things - sometimes vehemently. But I think we realize that even those disagreements are based in respect.

I'd like to think that we as a race could move to a point where we recognize that "dark side" as a mere sliver of humanity. A place where caring for others is recognized as the highest form of self-respect, and where the derision of people we don't even know is revealed as being borne of fear and ignorance.

Who knows? We might even get to the point where words like misogyny and misandry are recognized as opposite sides of the same hateful coin. Where "conservative" once again means cautious, rather than greedy, and where liberal again means compassionate, rather than overbearing. We aren't likely to get there anytime soon, but the first step is to recognize how lazy and frightened we must be to assume that we are superior to entire groups of "others," or that it is essential for us to view them as enemies.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, not that I'm setting myself up as the ultimate arbiter of meaning or brilliance, but that may just be the most meaningful and brilliant thing you've ever posted here. Thank you for gracing my blog with it.

(And now we shall wait to be skewered for being sycophantic "think-alikes", wink)

Cosmic Connie said...

I have seen misogyny, and its name is NOT Steve Salerno.

I've been away from the SHAMblog conversation much too long; sorry about that. As it happens, though, I am familiar with the word "misandry," and I acknowledge that it exists, though contrary to what some anti-feminists claim, it is not synonymous with feminism. I also acknowledge that the word "misogyny" is overused these days -- and I say this even though I consider myself to be a feminist.

Steve, I have been reading your work for more than nine years now, and I can state with reasonable certainty that you are not a misogynist. Questioning prevailing cultural assumptions doesn't make one a hater. And in light of what I've been going through recently, the idea that you're a misogynist seems even more ludicrous.

As you are aware, because of my own blog I have become entangled with someone whom I can say for certain IS a misogynist (as well as a probable psychopath), as evidenced by his disgusting efforts to discredit me by publicly calling me an AIDS-infected prostitute who is sexually obsessed with him (all lies, of course), AND by publishing my home address and inviting his crazy fans to "get in touch with me." He reacts in much the same way to all of his critics, but saves the vicious sexual references for his female critics. That, to me, reeks of misogyny.

I know, of course, that misogyny comes in many more subtle forms than that in our culture, but I also know that everything ISN'T misogyny. I will be honored to be skewered as a sycophantic think-alike with you and Ron. :-)