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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.

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