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What Women’s Studies Teaches

Toni Airaksinen (@Toni_Airaksinen on Twitter) attends elite Barnard College, but she is on scholarship and comes from a blue-collar Midwestern background, which probably accounts for both her common sense and extraordinary courage:

As a student at Barnard College, one of the few women’s colleges in America, identifying as a feminist is de rigueur. Just like lamenting the cost of tuition or complaining about dining hall food, feminist ideology is a hallmark of the conversations here. Yet, I adamantly shun the contemporary feminist movement that sweeps liberal arts campuses like mine, and you should too. . . . Contemporary feminism inculcates adherents into a cult of victimhood and exquisite vulnerability — it panders to women’s traumas and teaches them that they have been victimized solely because they are female. Women’s only sin? Living in a world dominated by the patriarchy. . . .

Here I will interrupt Ms. Airaksinen to call attention to the fact that (a) she is saying what any intelligent observer of contemporary feminism knows to be true, and yet (b) she is one of the very few young women who is willing to speak this truth. Feminist hegemony in academia — not just at Barnard, but pervading our institutions of higher education — exercises a frightening power to intimidate its critics into silence, as George Lawlor discovered at England’s Warwick University.

Even where self-identified feminists are a minority, these True Believers are very vocal and active, and the radical mob will use terroristic tactics to smear and harass anyone who dares to stand up against them. The same dynamic typifies the gay-rights movement or any other progressive “social justice” cause. If you have read Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak-Catchers, or Destructive Generation by Peter Collier and David Horowitz, you understand how these movements always become radicalized. But now let’s return to Ms. Airaksinen’s personal account of campus feminism:

My indoctrination into the feminist orthodoxy began when I was 15 and still in high-school, while taking classes at Cleveland State University. I signed up for Women’s Studies courses, and after reading books written by feminist luminaries like Gloria Steinem, I was hooked. In one year, I took three Women’s Studies classes. My professors taught me that, because I was a woman, I was victimized and oppressed. Prior to enrolling, I did not see myself that way. Students were told that we are supposed to be angry. Rage was a “normal” reaction. To dismantle the systems of oppression, confrontation was required. For me, and many of my peers, these classes made us feel heady with righteousness. . . .

Again, I will interrupt Ms. Airaksinen (because I’m a patriarchal mansplainer like that) to remind you how my Sex Trouble series has highlighted the Feminist-Industrial Complex of Women’s Studies programs. Some 90,000 U.S. students annually undergo the “indoctrination into the feminist orthodoxy” Ms. Airaksinen describes, and anyone who examines Women’s Studies textbooks (e.g., Feminist Frontiers, edited by three lesbian professors) understands how these courses teach young women that they are “victimized and oppressed” and that they “are supposed to be angry” about these “systems of oppression.” It’s not just the elite schools, either. Cleveland State has a Women’s Studies department that offers both a major and minor in studying “the role of gender in shaping human societies of the past and the present.” This interdisciplinary program includes such courses as “Psychology of Women” (PSY 255), “Race, Class and Gender” (SOC 201), “Sociology of Gender” (SOC 317), “Gender Issues in Literature” (ENG 363), “American Sexual Communities and Politics” (HIS 327), “Class, Gender and Sexuality in China” (HIS 381), and “Women and the Goddess in Asian Religions” (REL 363). The department’s interim director, Professor Mary Ellen Waithe, is editor of the 4-volume series A History of Women Philosophers. In 2010, Professor Waithe’s salary was $88,567, whereasmedian household income in Cleveland is $26,217. So the Women’s Studies director is paid more than three times the annual income of the average Cleveland family and runs a program that teaches college girls to view themselves as victims of “systems of oppression.”

Nice work, if you can get it.

Toni Airaksinen became disillusioned with Women’s Studies at Cleveland State, but found an even worse climate at Barnard College:

I did not set out to attend a women’s college. However, as a first-generation student from a welfare household, I was on the hunt for colleges with generous financial aid. Barnard fit the bill. I brushed off my prior uncomfortable entanglements with feminism (or “social justice,” the more inclusive term), and gave it another chance at Barnard. However, not only did the same paradigms manifest themselves that I saw in my classes at Cleveland State, in fact, it was worse. The overarching narrative of victimhood and vulnerability pervaded itself through all parts of campus life, from the school newspaper to the conversations I had with other students. My first week, for example, I was warned never to go to “East Campus” — the Columbia University residence hall where “all the rapists live.” [It is important to note that Barnard and Columbia share a campus and have intertwined academics] Men were all potential rapists, especially Columbia men. When I brought up the fact that I was probably more likely to be assaulted while in my urban home neighborhood than on the pristine Columbia campus to a friend, I was told I was definitely wrong. “Columbia protects rapists,” and “rapists live here,” I was told. My rebuttals and questions fell on deaf ears.

This deliberate slander — the insistence that every male student should be feared as a rapist, and that university administrators “protect” these sexual predators — has become so widely accepted among young feminists that Toni Airaksinen’s skepticism could result in her being labeled a “rape truther,” to use Amanda Marcotte’s term. Yet it is impossible to believe that girls at Barnard College are in more danger from male students at Columbia (annual tuition $51,008) than from random dudes on the streets of New York City, where there were 348 murders in 2015. Perhaps some Women’s Studies majors at Barnard should research the question, who is raping whom in New York City?

The fifth and final suspect in the horrific gang rape of a Brooklyn teen was nabbed at school Tuesday — while two of his accused pals claimed the girl was having sex with her dad before they got there and that she gave them consent, law enforcement sources said. Two of the suspects — Shaquell Cooper and Ethan Phillip, both 15 — grinned as they were being hauled off to court to face charges Tuesday. Cooper, Phillip and two alleged cohorts — Denzel Murray, 14, and Onandi Brown, 17, of Brooklyn — were charged as adults with rape, forcible compulsion, criminal sex act and sex abuse. The fifth suspect, Travis Beckford, 17, was taken into custody at Samuel J. Tilden High School at about 11?a.m. Tuesday, according to authorities. Police filed the same charges against him, and he too was expected to be prosecuted as an adult, sources said. Two of the teens admitted to cops that they had sex with the 18-year-old girl after finding her drunk in the Osborn Playground in Brownsville at about 9 p.m. last Thursday, but they insist it was consensual, sources said.

My hunch is that the Brooklyn gang-rape victim was not a Barnard College student, nor are Shaquell Cooper, Ethan Phillip, Denzel Murray, Onandi Brown and Travis Beckford ever likely to be residents of Columbia University’s East Campus, where “all the rapists live.” One notices that feminists only seem to care about rape when it fits their preconceived ideological beliefs about the pervasive evil of white males who are allegedly “privileged” under “the systems of oppression.”

So-called “intersectional” feminism involves the idea that it is not merely sexism which feminists must target, but also other “systems of oppression” such as racism, capitalism, imperialism and, of course, homophobia. Feminism Is Queer, as Professor Mimi Marinucci says. A movement that is anti-male, anti-marriage and anti-motherhood must ultimately also be anti-heterosexual. Yet, despite the fact that many eminent feminist intellectuals have made this point explicitly — “heterosexuality as an institution and an ideology is a cornerstone of male supremacy,” to quote Professor Charlotte Bunch — any critic of feminism who calls attention to this will be denounced as a homophobe. When feminists make heterosexuality the target of a political attack, however, is no one allowed to say a word in defense of heterosexuality? Certainly, I enjoy it and many women seem to like it, too.

If 97.7% of Americans are heterosexual, must we remain silent while the 2.3% minority denounce us as perpetrators of oppression? We are not supposed to notice the extraordinary influence of radical lesbians in academic feminism, even though this is openly acknowledged within the movement, as I explain in Sex Trouble (pp. 109-120):

In 1980, Australian feminist Denise Thompson described how “countless numbers of lesbians” joined the feminist movement because it offered them “the possibility of a cultural community of women whose primary commitment was to other women rather than to men.” Furthermore, Thompson added, the rise of the feminist movement produced a “mass exodus of feminist women from the confining structures of heterosexuality” in such numbers as to raise questions about “the institution of heterosexuality in the consciousness of those feminists who, for whatever reason, chose not to change their sexual orientation.” And why shouldn’t this have been the expected result? Women “changed their sexual/social orientation from men to women,” Thompson explained, “in response to the feminist political critique of their personal situations of social subordination.” If the personal is political (as feminists say) and if women’s relationships with men are “confining structures” of “social subordination,” why would any feminist be heterosexual?

Once we understand this, what is the most obvious logical inference we could make about the shrieking hysteria of campus feminists who have falsely claimed that our nation’s universities are in the grip of a “rape epidemic”? If we know that there is no such epidemic — that rape is quite rare at Columbia University, no matter what her Barnard classmates tried to tell Toni Airaksinen — what could possibly explain these false assertions? Is it merely a coincidence that many campus feminists are lesbians who seek to inspire other female students to adopt an attitude of hatred, fear and resentment toward their male classmates?

“Don’t go over to East Campus,” lesbians at Barnard College tell the pretty freshman girl. “All those Columbia boys are rapists!”

This feminist propaganda requires the Barnard girl to believe that Columbia boys — brainiac nerds with 4.0 GPAs and near-perfect SAT scores — are insatiable sexual beasts. Pardon me for believing that former high school Science Club presidents and National Merit Scholar finalists are less prone to rape than Shaquell Cooper, Ethan Phillip, Denzel Murray, Onandi Brown and Travis Beckford.

“Women are a degraded and terrorized people. Women are degraded and terrorized by men. … Women’s bodies are possessed by men. … Women are an enslaved population. … Women are an occupied people.” — Andrea Dworkin, 1977 speech at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, in Letters from a War Zone (1993)

Feminists get angry whenever “women’s bodies are possessed by men,” and they also get angry when women don’t support feminism’s totalitarian movement to destroy civilization as we know it.

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