*This blog is now defunct. I have moved to A Voice for Male Students. See you there! Thanks for your support. - TCM*

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Rape Hysteria by Faculty and Administrators, Part 3 / Misandry in Education

Earlier in this series we discussed the vagina monologues, a Feminist university play in which women dress up as vaginas, and where, in the original production, a 13-year-old girl is given drinks by a  24-year-old lesbian until she becomes drunk, has sex with her, and afterward says  “If it was rape, it was a good rape.” This play was performed on college campuses across the west for years with no objection by the academic community. From the magazine The National Review we hear of a much lighter version of the play, with a twist:

College administrators have been enthusiastic supporters of Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues and schools across the nation celebrate “V-Day” (short for Vagina Day) every year. But when the College Republicans at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island rained on the celebrations of V-Day by inaugurating Penis Day and staging a satire called The Penis Monologues, the official reaction was horror. Two participating students, Monique Stuart and Andy Mainiero, have just received sharp letters of reprimand and have been placed on probation by the Office of Judicial Affairs. 

The costume of the P-Day “mascot” — a friendly looking “penis” named Testaclese, has been confiscated and is under lock and key in the office of the assistant dean of student affairs, John King.
The P-Day satirists are the first to admit that their initiative is tasteless and crude. But they rightly point out that V-Day is far more extreme. They are shocked that the administration has come down hard on their good-natured spoof, when all along it has been completely accommodating to the in-your-face vulgarity of the vagina activists. 

V-Day has now replaced Valentine’s Day on more than 500 college campuses (including Catholic ones). The high point of the day is a performance of Ensler’s raunchy play, which consists of various women talking in graphic, and I mean graphic, terms about their intimate anatomy. The play is poisonously anti-male. Its only romantic scene, if you can call it that, takes place when a 24-year-old woman seduces a young girl (in the original version she was 13 years old, but in a more recent version is played as a 16-year-old.) The woman invites the girl into her car, takes her to her house, plies her with vodka, and seduces her. What might seem like a scene from a public-service kidnapping-prevention video shown to schoolchildren becomes, in Ensler’s play “a kind of heaven.” 

Lollipops. Vagina lollipops.
The week before V-Day, the Roger Williams campus was plastered with flyers emblazoned with slogans such as “My Vagina is Flirty” and “My Vagina is Huggable.” There was a widely publicized “orgasm workshop.” On the day of the play, the V-warriors sold lollipops in the in the shape of–-guess what? Last year, the student union was flooded with questionnaires asking unsuspecting students questions like “What does your Vagina smell like?” None of this offended the administration or elicited any reprimands, probations, or confiscations.

The campus conservatives artfully (in the college sense of "artful") mimicked the V-Day campaign. They papered the school with flyers that said, “My penis is majestic” and “My penis is hilarious.” The caption on one handout read, “My Penis is studious.” It showed Testaclese reclining on a couch reading Michael Barone’s Hard America, Soft America

Provost Kavanaugh and Testaclese
“Testaclese” tipped the scales when he approached the university Provost, Edward J. Kavanagh, outside the student union. Apparently taking him/it for a giant mushroom, Provost Kavanagh cheerfully greeted him. But when Testaclese presented him with an honorary award as a campus “Penis Warrior,” the stunned official realized that it was no mushroom. After this incident, which was recorded on videotape, the promoters of P-Day were ordered to cease circulating their flyers and to keep Testaclese off campus grounds. Mindful of how school officers had never once protested any of the antics of Vagina warriors, the P-warriors did not comply. The Testaclese costume was then confiscated and formal charges followed.

It is easy to understand why school officials would not want a six-foot phallus wandering around campus; nor why they would ask students not to paper the college with posters describing all the things it likes to do. But that is just the sort of thing the vagina warriors have been doing, year after year, on hundreds of campuses. In fact, P-Day at Roger Williams was mild by comparison. Wesleyan College hosted a “C***” workshop; Penn State held a “C***”-fest [both of which were named after crass four-letter names for female genitalia]. At Arizona State, students displayed a 40-foot inflatable plastic vagina. It was not confiscated and no one was ever threatened with probation.

Unhappily, P-Day may be the only effective means of countering V-Day with all its c-fests, graphic lollipops, intrusive questionnaires, outsized effigies of vaginas and its thematic anti-male play. The prospect of public readings from P-Monologues on campuses around the country just might be the reductio ad absurdum that could drive the vagina warriors to the bargaining table. The student activists opposed to V-Day will gladly cancel P-Day the moment the V-warriors abandon their vagina–fests.
But for the short term, college administrators should brace themselves. The rebels at Roger Williams are talking about a Free Testaclese Fund. And word is spreading to other campuses. P-Day and Testaclese will be back next year. And not just in Rhode Island.

Why is it the case among some faculty and administrators that sexual expression is pornographic – and hence crude – only when it is displayed by men? When we covered rape hysteria by students, we discussed the story from the student newspaper Harvard Crimson, in which a few Harvard students built a 9-foot “snow penis” on campus, which was torn down by a Feminist student who equated the erection of the sculpture to the support for rape. But focusing here on faculty and administrators, it is the section featuring a professor that presently concerns us:
The Harvard Snow Penis

Women’s Studies Lecturer Diane L. Rosenfeld, who teaches Women, Violence and the Law this semester, said that the implications of the snow phallus go beyond the legitimacy of the statue’s presence. “The ice sculpture was erected in a public space, one that should be free from menacing reminders of women’s sexual vulnerability,” Rosenfeld wrote in an e-mail yesterday.”

She said the snow penis follows a long line of public phallic symbols, including the Washington Monument and missiles. “Women do not need to be reminded of the power of the symbol of the male genitalia,” Rosenfeld said. “My guess is that they are constantly reminded of it in daily messages.” A discussion about feminist perspectives on the statue, sponsored by the Radcliffe Union of Students, will take place Tuesday night in the Adams House small dining room.

Some questions come to mind: based on what we have seen so far, is it likely that this Feminist perspective will be one that values male and female sexuality equally, or is it more likely to be a perspective that attaches a positive sign to one and a negative sign to the other? If the latter is the case, is it then more likely or less likely that the students will adopt the anti-male attitudes of their professors and join with her in contributing to a hostile learning environment for male students? And if such is the case, could we be making a better use of our academic institutions?

Dr. Christina Hoff-Sommers, a Feminist who disagrees with much of establishment Feminism, tells us in her book Who Stole Feminism of the driving attitudes behind this reform project:

The New Jersey Project for reforming the public schools circulated a document entitled “Feminist Scholarship guidelines.” The first guideline is unexceptionable: “Feminist scholars seek to recover the lost work and thought of women in all areas of human endeavor.”

Sounds good so far. Hoff-Sommers next says, “Feminist scholarship begins with an awareness that much previous scholarship has offered a white, male, Eurocentric, heterosexist, and elite view of ‘reality.’”

Men have all the best jobs! Male privilege!
This is a typical Feminist argument in academia: that scholarship has historically focused on the “greats” in society and history: war generals, presidents, great poets and great artists. In other words, people, ideas, and events who and which are “at the top,” and are the movers and shakers of the world. Their approach sounds benevolent, until you consider the fact that it’s not like they care about the under-representation of men at the bottom of society: the common man who died in the coal mine, or the lowly and unnamed soldier. We will explore more of this vein of thought more fully elsewhere. 

I include such quotes to demonstrate that these so-called scholarly guidelines aim to teach people – usually people who sit on committees and decide what gets published - to recognize how male scholars (allegedly) have traditionally thought, and once they are aware of it, to move away from publishing such material. But problems emerge when Feminist professors begin to stereotype what they believe to be male “ways of knowing,” or as they might instead say, “phallocentric epistemologies.” Dr. Hoff-Sommers goes on to say:

The guidelines elaborate on the attitude toward masculinist scholarship and methods by quoting the Feminist theorist Elizabeth Fee [who says]: “Knowledge was created by an act of aggression – a passive nature had to be interrogated, unclothed, penetrated, and compelled by man to reveal her secrets.” Fee’s resentment and suspicion of male “ways of knowing” follows a path well-trodden by such Feminist thinkers as Mary Ellman, [professor] Catharine MacKinnon, and Sandra Harding, whose views of patriarchal knowledge and science have quickly become central gender feminist doctrine.

Playing on the biblical double meaning of knowing to refer both to intercourse and to cognition, Ellman and MacKinnon claim that men approach nature as rapists approach a woman, taking joy in violating “her,” in “penetrating” her secrets. Feminists, says MacKinnon, have finally realized that for men, “to know has meant to fuck.” In a similar mood, Sandra Harding suggests that Newton’s Principles of Mechanics could just as aptly be called “Newton’s Rape Manual” (page 66).

Why does everything have to be about rape to certain Feminists? One might think that if they actually cared about expanding women’s autonomy, they would recognize that there is enough fear of rape in the world without needing to make it up out of nothing. But this is precisely the opposite of what they do. In the Chapter Five of Who Stole Feminism, Dr. Hoff-Sommers tells us,

Women: A Feminist Perspective is said to be the best-selling women’s studies textbook of all time. The first selection, “Sexual Terrorism” by Carole J. Sheffield, is a good example of how the Feminist classroom can “infuse” anxiety and rage.” Ms. Sheffield describes an “ordinary” event that took place early one evening when she was alone in a Laundromat:

“The Laundromat was brightly lit; and my car was the only one in the lot. Anyone passing by could readily see that I was alone and isolated. Knowing that rape is a crime of opportunity, I became terrified.” Ms. Sheffield left her laundry in the washer and dashed back to her car, sitting in it with the doors locked and the windows up. [Sheffield goes on to say] “When the wash was completed, I dashed in, threw the clothes into the drier, and ran back out to my car. When the clothes were dry, I tossed them recklessly into the basket and hurriedly drove away to fold them in the security of my house. Although I was not victimized in a direct, physical way or by objective or measurable standards, I felt victimized. It was, for me, a terrifying experience.” At home, her terror subsides and turns to anger: “Mostly I was angry at being unfree: a hostage of a culture that, for the most part, encourages violence against females, instructs men in the methodologies of sexual violence, and provides them with ready justification for their violence…following my experience at the Laundromat, I talked with my students about terrorization” (87-88).

If this event had occurred late at night – say, after dark – it would be understandable to possess a reasonable fear of being out alone – regardless as to whether one is female or male. But the timeframe of this event is “early one evening,” before dark. There is a fine line between prudence and paranoia, and by the time of day we are able to reasonably infer that she is crossing it. And more: she is teaching her students to see the imminent threat of rape everywhere. There are some people who are so strongly bound in the clutches of their self-imposed fears that they lack the ability to perform basic functions during normal daytime hours. What is often missed in such an approach is that we cannot empower women by teaching them to limit their autonomy by pretending they are always in danger of victimization when they are not. And we cannot build respect between both sexes by teaching one sex the irrational fear of the other.

Daphne Patai and Norette Koertge, two former women’s studies professors, interviewed women’s studies students and recorded their perspectives in their book Professing Feminism. Here is one student’s experiences, which deserves to be quoted at length:

“Caroline, a social worker in her mid-twenties, says that the one Women’s Studies course she took at a private women’s college was more than enough. Caroline deplores ‘this ongoing knee-jerk reverse sexism which everyone tolerated and encouraged.” She later says, “The course was Introduction to Women’s Studies. I was a senior, and I was, I think, pretty confident by that time, and I remember clashing with the professor very quickly…In the class I took, the answer was always ‘men.’ Whatever the question was, the answer was ‘men.’ It could be, ‘What style of architecture is that?’ And the answer is, ‘Men’s architecture.’ Or, ‘Who contributes to all the violence in the world?’ ‘Men.’ ‘Who’s responsible for everything we endure?’ ‘Men.’
“I was involved with a man at the time, and I thought that he didn’t fit their categories of what men were like. And I also saw him as having been pressed into stereotypes of his own. When he’d been in high school, he took up computers. He’d been very nonathletic, hated team sports, wanted to read, wanted to fuss with his computers. And he was called a nerd and hassled constantly over this and abused in various ways.

And I felt like I really identified with that – I hadn’t been all that feminine in high school. I wore a black leather jacket, hung out with the guys, and people had made fun of me. I hadn’t been desirable as a woman; he hadn’t been desirable as a man…so I guess I was interested in a more global analysis, like: What is it in our society that creates some of these tensions? What is it that we’re doing to ourselves here? I’m not saying I wanted the whole course to be about this, but these questions weren’t acceptable at all, and I felt the professor responded really aggressively to me.

“The time that it really sort of came to a head was when we were talking about rape: ‘Rape – the act of violence that men do to women, that men do to women because they want to keep them down.’ And we got all these reasons why men rape women. And I thought, well, there’s this act of violence of men against women, and why don’t we explore a little bit why people are so frustrated and so violent and so angry that they do these things? And why don’t we take into consideration that men get raped too?

I had a friend in high school, a man, who was raped by a bunch of other men his age, and when I tried to enter this information, it was met with a stone wall: ‘Those statistics are insignificant compared with how many women are raped.’ And I thought, Well, how many men are reporting it? And why are you discounting what I’m trying to share here, which would be adding to the picture?

And I don’t remember the comment the professor made, but it was very condescending, to the effect: ‘Are you saying that rapists are just poor misunderstood people who should be patted on the back and sent out?’ And I’m thinking: You miserable bitch! You know, she was really like ‘Let me humiliate you in front of everyone,’ because of course, that was not what I was saying!

“I have friends who’ve been raped; it’s not like some far-away thing to me. It’s something to get really angry about and be upset about, but something to search for a better solution to than castration! But the only solution the professor was getting at was that men are the problem and without men there’d be a solution. There was no talk of real solutions (82-84).

A poster at UCLA
When discussing rape hysteria by students, we covered numerous demonstrations by primarily Feminist students, the attitudes of which were pervasively one of spite and hostility toward men and boys. At the end of those videos questions that are worth asking again: does this approach work toward helping victims of rape, or encourage others to work toward helping victims of rape? And if it is not about helping victims of rape, what is it really about? 

Freshman orientation at 60 colleges
And now that we are knee-deep in discussing rape hysteria by faculty and administrators, the time has come to ask the question: where are these students who we discussed in our earlier videos getting their anti-male attitudes? Are these students just randomly and out of the blue waking up one day with an attitude of hostility toward men and boys, or is that attitude being taught? We will continue to explore these questions in our next video in this series.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Rape Hysteria by Faculty and Administrators, Part 2 / Misandry in Education

Moving forward in this series, we hear this story from The Pantheon, Marshall University’s student newspaper:

A Women's Studies class from Marshall University is extending a list they compiled from a writing assignment in hopes to raise awareness during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The students in Laura Diener's Women Studies 101 class compiled "I want a twenty-four-hour truce" from their own papers. The idea for the list came from a speech given by Andrea Dworkin in 1983.

The article later says:

“The idea is that coming from the Andrea Dworkin piece," Diener said. "We can't have a 24-hour truce with rape, it's impossible, which is such a sad thing. We can't have a truce with no violence, we can't have a truce with no rape, we can't have one with no cruelty but we want that and the fact that we can't have these simply things show some of the major problems in our society"
Diener said this assignment is in context with other assignments where students write down their biggest fears, and amazingly they always include sexual assault and violence.

"The overall goal is to show the way that individual students are responding to some traditional feminist pieces," Diener said. "The way that this piece was written several decades ago, the way that it's still really relevant today, the way it shows that rape and sex violence is a fear that really haunts Marshall University students today."

Andrea Dworkin is a Radical Feminist. To give a picture of her particular flavor of Feminism, in her book Letters from a War Zone, the same book in which her speech on a 24-hour truce is found, she writes things like this:

"One can know everything and still be unable to accept the fact that sex and murder are fused in the male consciousness, so that the one without the imminent possibility of the other is unthinkable and impossible." - Andrea Dworkin, Letters from a War Zone, p. 21.

Elsewhere in the same book she says:

"The newest variations on this distressingly ancient theme center on hormones and DNA: men are biologically aggressive; their fetal brains were awash in androgen; their DNA, in order to perpetuate itself, hurls them into murder and rape." – Andrea Dworkin, Letters from a War Zone, p. 114

And from another publication:

“Under patriarchy, every woman's son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman," - Andrea Dworkin, Our Blood, p. 20

"Marriage as an institution developed from rape as a practice. Rape, originally defined as abduction, became marriage by capture. Marriage meant the taking was to extend in time, to be not only use of but possession of, or ownership. Only when manhood is dead--and it will perish when ravaged femininity no longer sustains it - only then will we know what it is to be free.” – Andrea Dworkin, Pornography

These are a few of the many morally questionable statements by Andrea Dworkin. Dworkin was one of the most vitriolic preachers of hatred that has ever walked the Earth, and one thing she devoted an inordinate amount of time to was equating the normal desires and functions of men with rape.

"She Fears You," by Keith Edwards

But let us consider her speech, which the students were required to read in professor Laura Diener’s women’s studies class. Andrea Dworkin originally gave this speech at the National Organization for Changing Men, which was later renamed the National Organization of Men Against Sexism,or NOMAS. NOMAS, as they declare on their website, is a part of the pro-feminist men’s movement. This puts them in the same ideological camp as Keith Edwards, who gave the presentation “She Fears You” at 60 colleges and universities, and who we discussed in the last post in this series. NOMAS is also, as you might guess, an organization of academics, particularly from Men’s Studies, a field often hosted by those who bear the same attitudes as Keith Edwards.
In her speech, Dworkin calls upon the men at NOMAS to organize among all men a day in which rape does not occur. Due to space constraints I will not present her entire speech here, but rather a few selections. Keep in mind as we go through her statements that this is how Dworkin treated those who are the most sympathetic to her worldview. She says:

“I have thought a great deal about how a feminist, like myself, addresses an audience primarily of political men who say that they are antisexist. And I thought a lot about whether there should be a qualitative difference in the kind of speech I address to you. And then I found myself incapable of pretending that I really believe that that qualitative difference exists. I have watched the [pro-feminist] men's movement for many years. I am close with some of the people who participate in it. I can't come here as a friend even though I might very much want to. What I would like to do is to scream.”

"I think that you rightly perceive--without being willing to face it politically--that men are very dangerous: because you are."

“What's involved in doing something about all of this? The [pro-feminist] men's movement seems to stay stuck on two points. The first is that men don't really feel very good about themselves. How could you?”

"Have you ever wondered why we are not just in armed combat against you? It's not because there's a shortage of kitchen knives in this country. It is because we believe in your humanity, against all the evidence."

“The shame of men in front of women is, I think, an appropriate response both to what men do and to what men do not do. I think you should be ashamed."

"I mean that there is a relationship between the way that women are raped and your socialization to rape and the war machine that grinds you up and spits you out: the war machine that you go through just like that woman went through Larry Flynt's meat grinder on the cover of Hustler. You damn well better believe that you're involved in this tragedy and that it's your tragedy too. Because you're turned into little soldier boys from the day that you are born and everything that you learn about how to avoid the humanity of women becomes part of the militarism of the country in which you live and the world in which you live. It is also part of the economy that you frequently claim to protest."

“And the problem is that you think it's out there: and it's not out there. It's in you.”

“And I want one day of respite, one day off, one day in which no new bodies are piled up, one day in which no new agony is added to the old, and I am asking you to give it to me. And how could I ask you for less--it is so little. And how could you offer me less: it is so little. Even in wars, there are days of truce. Go and organize a truce. Stop your side for one day. I want a twenty-four-hour truce during which there is no rape.”

As we can see, Dworkin believes that men as a group make war upon women as a group, a situation for which all men are collectively guilty. She believes all men are socialized with the proclivity to rape. She believes there is no qualitative difference between men who are sympathetic to her concerns, and men who are not, and that all men deserve to be collectively punished and shamed. My concern is that when women’s studies professors teach the writings of Andrea Dworkin, they are not just teaching students her words; they are teaching students her attitudes.

And although the misandry in Dworkin’s writings vary in terms of how explicit and extreme it is, the same dichotomization of “us versus them” with “us” being all women and “them” being all men, the same characterization of men as a group being “all in it together,” and the portrayal of women as completely devoid of agency, is a consistent theme in her work. But how prominent is work like hers in academia?

Feminist Jurisprudence
Intro to Feminist Jurisprudence
If you read the anthology Feminist Jurisprudence, which primarily features the work of Feminist legal theorists in academia, you will find not only the writings of Andrea Dworkin’s, but also the writings of Radical Feminist professors such as Catharine MacKinnon and Ann Scales. In this anthology, you will find a section devoted exclusively to Radical Feminism, where the ideology – which is widely regarded as one of hatred and intolerance – is instead presented as a legitimate school of thought worthy of sanctuary in our academic institutions. In another academic publication Introduction to Feminist Jurisprudence, which is taught in classes on legal theory, you will find similar sections set aside for Radical Feminism.

A dissenting Feminist and former women’s studies professor named Daphne Patai says in her book Heterophobia:

In late February 1998, I attended a conference on sexual harassment held at Yale University…many luminaries were there, including Catharine MacKinnon herself. At the conference’s opening session, Andrea Dworkin, the radical feminist…informed the audience of several hundred people that the “backlash” began when white middle-class men saw that sexual harassment law was going to affect them. This reaction, Dworkin thoughtfully suggested, showed us that “millions of men wanted to have a young woman at work to suck their cock.”
"Did anyone rise to contest such outrageous slander directed at all or even most men? On the contrary. It is hard to imagine any other group of people in the United States today who could be so crassly maligned in a public setting without arousing immediate protest (6-8)."
I would like to take a second to accentuate the fact that these things are occurring at such schools as Harvard and Yale University. The infamous 2006 false rape case, in which 88 faculty speaking for five academic departments and 10 academic programs ganged up on three falsely accused students and presumed their guilt based on nothing more than their genetic code, occurred at Duke University, a school which is nicknamed “the Harvard of the South.” In their in-house publishing company, Princeton University publishes The Canon of American Legal Thought. A canon, in academic terms, is what the Victorian poet Matthew Arnold said, “the best that has been thought and written.” In the table of contents for this publication, we find that for each stratum of philosophy there are a variety of authors giving voice to each. But when we come to section where gender theory intersects with legal theory, we find one voice alone representing that school of legal thought: Radical Feminist professor Catharine MacKinnon. We will discuss MacKinnon in more detail later.

What is important to take away from this is that these are not backwoods community colleges tucked away in a geographic corner and marginalized from the discourse on what constitutes acceptable academic practice and philosophy. These are Ivy League institutions that set the standard not only for their respective schools, but for much of the academic establishment in the Western world. What is supported by one Ivy league school will be supported by a thousand more for that fact alone.

The prevalence of misandry in some of our most prestigious schools is not that surprising when you think about it. Being among the top tier institutions, they have a natural incentive to recruit the newest and most cutting edge scholars who promote philosophies that push the boundaries. Unfortunately, one of those newest philosophies is Radical Feminism.

Cathy Young is an old-school Feminist who disagrees with what she calls “establishment Feminism.” In an article in the Boston Globe, she writes:

“Critics of radical feminism have been often accused of exaggerating the importance of a handful of male-haters in the movement. Yet Dworkin was never relegated to the lunatic fringe where she belonged: her texts have been widely assigned in women's studies courses, and prominent feminists from activist Gloria Steinem to philosopher Martha Nussbaum have offered their praise, treating her hatemongering as extremism in defense of the oppressed.” – Cathy Young, Boston Globe, April 2005
But Andrea Dworkin’s work is not just advocated in classes on Women’s studies. Her work is also picked up by other academics, such as professor Robert Jensen of UT Austin, who in his closing speech at the [pro-Feminist] Men's Action Network concludes with the closing remarks of Andrea Dworkin's "truce" speech, saying to men:

"We do not want to do the work of helping you to believe in your own humanity. We cannot do it anymore. We have always tried. We have been repaid with systematic exploitation and systematic abuse. You're going to have to do this by yourselves from now on, and you now it."

Jensen later says that "that is really the challenge: for us to take up the gift that Feminism has offered us." I do agree with professor Jensen on some things: extreme Feminism does present us with a challenge. And I also agree with professor Jensen that men do need to assert their humanity, and that Radical Feminism will not be helping us get there. 

We will explore more of the phenomenon of rape hysteria by faculty and administrators in our next post in this series.