April 7, 2011

Wendy Kaminer "can't find feminism" in the charges of sexual harassment aimed at Yale...

"... at least not if feminism includes independence, liberty, and power for women."
 Instead I find femininity -- the assumption that women are incapable of fending for themselves in the marketplace of epithets or ideas, the belief that women are rendered helpless by misogynist speech and the sexist tantrums of their male peers....

What accounts for such feminine timidity, this instinctive unwillingness or inability to talk or taunt back, without seeking the protection of university or government bureaucrats?...

Decades ago, when Catherine [sic] MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin, and their followers began equating pornography with rape (literally) and calling it a civil-rights violation, groups of free-speech feminists fought back, in print, at conferences, and in state legislatures, with some success. We won some battles (and free speech advocates in general can take solace in the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the right to engage in offensive speech on public property and public affairs). But all things considered (notably the generations of students unlearning liberty) we seem to be losing the war, especially among progressives.

45 comments:

Carol_Herman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carol_Herman said...

Men took a beating when women got introduced to college campuses. And, then, after Western Civilization was tossed out ... the new approached toned down the academics. Latin went out the window. Lots of colleges let you in without having to do math.

And, then the women came along and took over the humanities.

In today's world this degree doesn't give you much for your mountain of debt.

Because I'm fascinated by this higher education stuff. (And, 20 years ago I read Eugene Robinson's SNAPSHOTS FROM HELL, about Stanford's MBA program.) I'm reading AHEAD OF THE CURVE, by Philip Delves Broughton. Who went through the Harvard MBA program.

Sure. 895 students. 32% of them from foreign countries. And, the women. Where this book spotlights the "nazi" crap men put up with ... when they have to share a group with a woman who wants to lead.

Not all of it comes up smelling like roses.

MayBee said...

I was just talking about this with my girlfriends yesterday. The more women are sexually empowered, the more they (can't say "we") ask to be protected from their decisions, and the more they want men to take responsibility for theirs.

edutcher said...

The whole idea of feminism is that they want to be equal - until it's inconvenient.

The little girls at Mills College who went on a crying jag because the place might be integrated (sexually) or the countless liberated women who coo at some MCP could they please go out and run up their car window when it rains because they don't want to get their hair wet are perfect examples.

Kudos to Miss Kaminer for honesty.

Scott M said...

Where do contemporary Disney/Pixar "princesses" fit into the feminist/femininity spectrum?

It's long been my observation that the makers of recent (say, 90's on) animated family movies have made their female leads, more often a princess of some sort than not, strong, capable characters in their own right. Sometimes they go overboard, but I think they've struck, and continue to strike, a decent balance.

My sister-in-law, a robofeminist, sent my wife a book titled "Princesses Ate My Daughter" which bemoans little girls and their attraction to this characters. In fact, it looked like an anti-pink jihad, but I only cracked open the book a bit before it singed my fingers too much to hold on.

On the other hand, I just sat down and watched "Tangled" last night. Excellent family movie. Excellent strong female character (incredibly well-realized from a production standpoint, too) along with an excellent, strong male character. And a strong horse, but I digress. The main female character was a very strong, very capable, and, frankly, a very feminine role.

Is there no place in the feminists' world for princesses? Must all young girls pine to one day belong to the Unshorn Sisters Of The Apocalypse local?

Synova said...

"...we seem to be losing the war, especially among progressives."

I can't say that I agree with the notion that anything at all about the pro-sex-trade-porn thing is "feminist" but it wasn't ever about free-speech for most of the "feminists" trying to promote the sex-trade as woman-empowering instead of objectifying. It may have been silly to equate it with rape, but it was certainly the polar opposite of "I am a human being and ought to be treated like a real person."

And then, of course... Clinton.

"Decades ago" feminists were dealing with legal limitations on women's equality and expectations that supported that, such things as owning property or even purchasing things one decided to purchase. And they also were dealing with the notion that the "nurse" or the "secretary" was pretty much a harem member. Perks for the boss.

The sex-worker and porn thing, in my opinion, was most likely the same beast as the Virginia Slims "You've come a long way, baby," ads to promote smoking. Smoking was a *man* thing that women weren't to do. The sexual double standard was a *man* thing and some women seem to view anything that a man does as inherently worthy... like college or professional level team sports.

But it wasn't about "free speech" and progressives haven't been about "free speech" since forever. Some people who were liberals used to be, before they started thinking of themselves as progressives.

A certain segment of our population has been excessively concerned with stopping anyone from giving offense and concerned with the protection of victim classes and how dreadfully important it is not to make those victim classes feel bad.

And this person expects that among "progressives" someone is going to catch on that a fainting spell and timid cringing is encouraging the perpetuation of weakness?

They weren't "free-speech feminists" they were "Men are whores, we demand the right to be whores, too, feminists."

Clarity helps.

Voltimand said...

DOE's current "Sexual Harassment Guidance" defines hostile environment SH entirely by hypothetical examples. In these examples the perps are all males.

As such, this piece of federal regulation is challengeable as violating the first amendment protection against bills of attainder, because it assumes that heterosexual males as a group are the ones that can be expected to be guilty precisely because they are heterosexual males. It is possible that the same can be said about the "Violence Against Women" Act.

EDH said...

These incidents aren't opinions offered in discussion forums or the campus newspaper.

Like the Westboro Baptist case, I don't view all of these incidents as instances of "pure speech" that should never be subject to reasonable time and place restriction, especially given the framework of sexual harassment law already imposed in schools and the workplace.

In 2006, a group of frat boys chant "No means yes, yes means anal" outside the Yale Women's Center. In 2010, a group of fraternity pledges repeat this obnoxious chant outside a first-year women's dorm. In 2008, pledges surround the Women's Center holding signs saying, "We love Yale sluts." In 2009, Yale students publish a report listing the names and addresses of first-year women and estimating the number of beers "it would take to have sex with them."

MayBee said...

They weren't "free-speech feminists" they were "Men are whores, we demand the right to be whores, too, feminists."

But they've become "Men are whores, we demand the right to be whores, but we don't want to be called whores by men and if we act whorey when we are drunk it is the man's fault", feminists.

MayBee said...

In 2006, a group of frat boys chant "No means yes, yes means anal" outside the Yale Women's Center. In 2010, a group of fraternity pledges repeat this obnoxious chant outside a first-year women's dorm. In 2008, pledges surround the Women's Center holding signs saying, "We love Yale sluts." In 2009, Yale students publish a report listing the names and addresses of first-year women and estimating the number of beers "it would take to have sex with them."

Oh my. Four incidents in 5 years. What are the odds that any one person saw any of these things?

I thought sexual harassment was supposed to be about power. These guys have no power over any of the women who saw their antics. In fact, that it was pledges doing the chanting indicates it is *they* who were the targets of humiliation, not the women.

Synova said...

Publishing the names and addresses seems like something that should at least end up getting someone in trouble, just on privacy issues. I can see having a privacy policy where any student has the right not to be identified individually and harassed, and providing someone else's contact information and where they live with a suggestion that others join in is not acceptable, IMO. Not in "school" and not in "real life" either.

Then again, the solution may be creative retaliation instead of appealing to authority. So long as the creative retaliation doesn't get you arrested.

Lucien said...

@synova & MayBee:

What's with this calling people whores? It smacks of a casual misogyny and offhand criticism of people just for being sexually active -- or perceived as more sexually active than the person using the slur. It's also inaccurate to the extent that it implies that anyone is having sex for money, and if it were accurate seems awfully mean to sex-workers.

Are shocked, shocked, to find that college students are promiscuous?

Sofa King said...

Like the Westboro Baptist case, I don't view all of these incidents as instances of "pure speech" that should never be subject to reasonable time and place restriction, especially given the framework of sexual harassment law already imposed in schools and the workplace.

Obviously. But, then you can't claim "sexual harassment" as the charge. That's not a time/place/manner restriction, it's a content restriction.

So, slap them with disorderly conduct citations, fine. Speech code violations? That's offensive.

MayBee said...

It smacks of a casual misogyny

Even calling men whores smacks of misogyny?

MayBee said...

Are shocked, shocked, to find that college students are promiscuous?

I find it funny that you are using "college students are promiscuous" as an argument *against* using the words "slut" or "whores".

Defenseman Emeritus said...

Are shocked, shocked, to find that college students are promiscuous?

I personally am not shocked by it, but the fact that promiscuity is commonplace does not make it admirable.

MayBee said...

Admirable or not, the idea *used* to be that guys could get away with being promiscuous (slutty, whores) but women were supposed to be "good". Women fought for the freedom to be equally promiscuous, but really only want men to be responsible when things go awry.

You think the sorority/dorm girls don't email each other about how many drinks they'd have to have to have sex with Male Student X?

Even in the link, a pro-feminism commenter disagrees with a male commenter by saying his penis is small.

Synova said...

What Lucien? Shall I say slut instead, or loose? Easy?

Promiscuity.

The old double standard. Why is calling men whores because they had a cultural approval and expectation of trying to get laid as often as possible, and that's okay, a casual misogyny?

The thing really is that it *is* about sex-workers in this context because that's what the vagina warriors and "sex is power" feminists were about. And while I'm libertarian enough to figure that if someone wants to sell their body for sex they probably should have the legal right, I also figure that you should be able to sell your kidneys for cash and rent out your womb for big bucks.

Promiscuity (let us by all means use the fancy, non-offensive, term for it) is good for, oh, spreading deadly viruses, confusing paternity, short-circuiting sex as a pair-bonding tool, and any number of less than admirable things. The sex trade, legal or not, and what is given away free to everyone, is about depersonalizing sex.

As a sailor I once knew said... at least your own hand doesn't give you a disease.

Are we really not supposed to use our common sense and judgment to understand that treating other people and yourself like interchangeable masturbation devises is maybe not entirely laudable?

Heaven help us we accidentally sound judgmental or something.

All the "strong" and "powerful" promiscuous sorts might feel bad.

rhhardin said...

"You will be my only one,
and I will be your queen"

Tiffany Eckhardt real audio

(modern real players may ask permission to download an older sipr9 codec)

Carol_Herman said...

When the pendulum swings it knocks off plenty of heads.

In the 1950's, Bill Holden made a movie with Audrey Hepburn. In one scene there are two strangers sharing a cab ride, when the Holden character asked the Hepburn character: "Are you a virgin." The movie got X rated for this! (But, sure. People when to see it, anyway. Or as the Catholic Church learned, banning stuff from the pulpit just made best sellers.)

Still, when Obama was born back in 1961, it was considered a disgrace to be born a bastard. But by the end of the decade? Women pushed the envelope open. And, at least hippies, going off to communes. And, getting welfare. Discovered that white women, too, could have out-of-wedlock babies.

Today? It's not uncommon for a woman to find it difficult to find a husband. But getting pregnant is easy. (As is living at home with da' parents.)

The pendulum, however, probably won't swing back to PROHIBITING behaviors people, today, no longer causes being ostracized.

Heck, so many marriages are so dependent on both parents working, that kids are put in day care almost right after being born.

Scott M said...

Heck, so many marriages are so dependent on both parents working, that kids are put in day care almost right after being born.

I'm not sure this is true. People make choices and have to live with those choices. The more responsible people make choices within their means and it's certainly within your means to downsize your previously childless couplesome into a single income.

What it usually comes down to is a decision of whether or not the marriage wants to have one of the parents home with the kids, or whether they value their lifestyle more...already under assault as usually 1/4th of one of their incomes is going to go child care.

There are many reasons why people choose the latter and not all are selfish from the parents' POV. However, I get the sense that few women, and fewer men, want to have to stay home with kids these days.

Lucien said...

If anyone finds "promiscuous" too pejorative, that doesn't seem like a good reason to use more pejorative terms (Whore, slut, loose, easy (OK, loose & easy aren't THAT pejorative)). I'm happy with "sexually active" --but then I think sex is a good thing.

And yes, I think casual use of terms like slut and whore is misogynistic, even though such words are occasionally aplied to men. Women do tend to receive more criticism for being sexually active than men do and the remedy is not to double-down on the name calling.

MayBee said...

Lucien- do you think the Federal government needs to get involved in cases of name calling on private college campuses?
Or do you think it is something strong women
a)can bear and
b)also engage in

Methadras said...

What I read in this is that women, on a level playing field can't muster it, so therefore they need the artifice of government to bolster them as a wedge into the male-o-verse. Women have been sold a bill of goods and they can't see it.

Beth said...

Synova,

I was and am a free-speech feminist. I don't enjoy porn, and I'm not a third-wave feminist who buys into the whole "I'm empowered by being a stripper" thing.

But I knew in the 1980s and know now that targeting porn by sketching out a series of perceived connections to violence against women would quickly turn into a reason to censor things important to me. Once you make a case for censorship, you can't control that beast. That's the reasoning I heard from other free-speech feminists as well. The existence of so-called "we want to be whores, too" feminists doesn't mean there aren't, and weren't, free-speech feminists.

MayBee said...

So Beth,
As a free speech feminist, what is your opinion on the goings on at Yale?

Lucius said...

Lucien, monogamous married people are "sexually active" too. That term doesn't provide much clarity.

I realize that, from your perspective, there's no demand for 'clarity' here because you're not arguing a moral problem with promiscuity.

But that doesn't deny others the right to argue that there *is* a moral problem and, therefore, should be language that discerns between one variety, or level, of sexual activity and another.

wv: "squallop" A squalid trollop-- is that too misogynistic?

MayBee said...

Lucien: but then I think sex is a good thing.

All sex? All sexual behaviors?
It's all good?
What does this statement even mean?

Scott M said...

"slut" and "whore" regardless of whether attributed to a man or woman, really only have any weight in the context of an extended group of people that know each other. Even on a mid-sized college campus, unless you're circle of friends and the aforementioned "slut" or "whore" intersect, there's little or no meaning and little or no downside to hooking up with that person.

That being said, it's extremely bad, socially and in the normal ebb and flow of interpersonal relationships, to sleep around with people within the same extended group. Your reputation takes a hit every time with some members of that group. Plus, every single time you are with a new partner, you degrade that act with someone you might eventually develop a deep, meaningful relationship with.

Trust me. I know of what I speak, er, write.

Beth said...

Maybee, that's a broad question. My opinion of the goings-on is that frat boys are nitwits. But that should be obvious to any observers. Prosecute behaviors, not speech. If they commit an act of vandalism, or block access to a building or office or dorm, or they're drunk and disorderly, all those things have consequences.

I'd also expect other students to respond with the kinds of social engagement that isolates the frat boys. Make them the figure of public scorn, or, if it seems a better strategy, ignore them and let them flail away. I'm not there so I don't know what specific strategies would work best.

mariner said...

"Unlearning liberty".

That's a distressingly apt turn of phrase.

MayBee said...

Thanks, Beth. I agree with you. I wish the Department of Education (Office of Civil Rights) agreed with us.

mariner said...

Synova,
Publishing the names and addresses seems like something that should at least end up getting someone in trouble, just on privacy issues.

It seems likely to me this was a response to the feminist tactic of publishing men's names and labelling them "rapists" or "potential rapists".

mariner said...

Carol_Herman,
When the pendulum swings it knocks off plenty of heads.

That's a good one, Carol.

MayBee said...

Reiterating what I think is an important point-

When it is the fraternity pledges doing the chanting, they are supposed to be the objects of humiliation, not the women. They are being made to do something everyone would agree would harm them socially.

William said...

I would like to offer an important correction to Carol Herman's 12:58 post. The movie to which she is referring was The Moon Is Blue. That movie did, indeed, star William Holden but the female lead was Maggie McNamara and not Audrey Hepburn. Maggie McNamara despite early hopes never became Audrey Hepburn. It's loose talk and unfounded gossip such as Carol engages in that ruins a girl's reputation.

Gene said...

Hard core leftists don't believe in free speech and never have. Once when I asked the chair of the women studies program at Long Beach State University why she wouldn't let Christian women post fliers on the women studies bulletin board, she replied: "I'm a Marxist. I don't believe in free speech."

Any tolerance at all that progressives have for free speech goes right out the window when the speaker is alleged to be racist. When a black stripper accused the Duke lacrosse team of raping her in a frat house bathroom, it became clear right from the start that the accuser, who had a long standing problem with drugs, had made up the assault. The administration knew about the supposed victim's long sordid history with cops, accusations and drugs. Yet the Duke president still proceeded to fire the coach, cancel the season and help the police prosecute the team.

"Even if they didn't rape anyone," the president famously said, "what they did do was bad enough."

Well if the victim wasn't sexually assaulted, what could have happened to her that was so bad?

Easy.

Some lacrosse players traded racial insults with the two strippers. One of the strippers got pissed when some players complained about their uninspired drunken show and in response she called them "short dicked white boys."

In return one player told the women to "thank her grandfather for my cotton shirt."

To the president of Duke, such a racist comment was worse than rape itself and could only be expunged by prosecuting half the team for sexual assault. It didn't matter that no sexual assault took place. "What they did do was bad enough." They hurled a racial insult. And that could never be either forgotten or forgiven.

William said...

When I read over the offenses that the Yale males committed, the only one I would object to was rating the girl's pictures. That seems mean spirited and cruel. The "no means yes" seems intentionally gross but in the way of rough kidding rather than intimidation or harassment. Each generation has its own way of dipping a girl's braids in the inkwells. As a comment, it is more deserving of an eyeroll than outrage. The Yale male's crude sense of humor is matched by the Yale female's poor sense of proportionality. Such people deserve each other.

JimM47 said...

"The Yale male's crude sense of humor is matched by the Yale female's poor sense of proportionality."

In my experience there is usually a causal connection running between the two.

Martha said...

Women in the seventies had to forfeit any appearance of femininity to compete on par with men. They dressed in masculine looking suits looking more like wannabe men than femme fatales. This denial of inborn femininity came at great personal cost. It was still a man's world and women entered at their peril.

So maybe women acting feminine at Yale and seeking protection from the crass and coarsening verbal insults of male students is progress. Girls now feel they are entitled to act like girls. And succeed as students at Yale.

Freeman Hunt said...

Thank you, Kaminer.

What a bunch of babies. If a bunch of guys act like jackasses, tell them that you think they're acting like a bunch of jackasses. If they do something low class and cruel, tell them that you think what they did was low class and cruel.

Men like women; they are not out to make permanent enemies with them.

To run to the government over this fulfills every stereotype of women being weak and needing coddling. You won't be taken seriously if you argue for equal rights and treatment one minute and then turn around and argue for special assistance in dealing with the normal world because you're a bunch of wussy crybabies. As a woman I find it offensive to be portrayed in this way by other women.

Big Mike said...

But all things considered (notably the generations of students unlearning liberty) we seem to be losing the war, especially among progressives.

No, ma'am, you already lost it among alleged "progressives."

Suggest you move down to Texas and have someone's grandma teach you how to kick the living shit out of a man who disrespects you.

(Barbara Bush, the one married to G.H.W., will do for a start.)

Big Mike said...

(Or you could come to Virginia and ask to speak with my wife.)

jamboree said...

Andrea Dworkin, who I didn't read until she died, was hugely intelligent. Depressing as hell, but intelligent. So depressing, so accurate in describing an actual root belief system that exists whether we want to acknowledge it or not, that I can only read her in very. small. doses. and survive. Like venom.

Freeman Hunt said...

It seems I found it so offensive that I couldn't write properly. Oh well.