Campus Free Speech

Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus

Future generations will look back on the recent upheavals in sexual culture on American campuses and see officially sanctioned hysteria.

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LauraKipnis.com

Future generations will look back on the recent upheavals in sexual culture on American campuses and see officially sanctioned hysteria. They'll wonder how supposedly rational people could have succumbed so easily to collective paranoia, just as we look back on previous such outbreaks (Salem, McCarthyism, the Satanic ritual abuse trials of the 1980s) with condescension and bemusement. They'll wonder how the federal government got into the moral panic business, tossing constitutional rights out the window in an ill-conceived effort to protect women from a rapidly growing catalogue of sexual bogeymen. They'll wonder why anyone would have described any of this as feminism when it's so blatantly paternalistic, or as "political correctness" when sexual paranoia doesn't have any predictable political valence. (Neither does sexual hypocrisy.) Restoring the most fettered versions of traditional femininity through the back door is backlash, not progress.

I didn't exactly mean to stumble into the middle of all this, and I hope that doesn't sound disingenuous. Sure, I like stirring up trouble—as a writer, that is—but I'm nobody's idea of an activist. Quite the reverse. Despite being a left-wing feminist, something in me hates a slogan, even well-intentioned ones like "rape culture." Worse, I tend to be ironic—I like irony; it helps you think because it gives you critical distance on a thing. Irony doesn't sit very well in the current climate, especially when it comes to irony about the current climate. Critical distance itself is out of fashion—not exactly a plus when it comes to intellectual life (or education itself). Feelings are what's in fashion.

I'm all for feelings. I'm a standard-issue female, after all. But this cult of feeling has an authoritarian underbelly: Feelings can't be questioned or probed, even while furnishing the rationale for sweeping new policies, which can't be questioned or probed either. The result is that higher education has been so radically transformed that the place is almost unrecognizable.

There are plenty of transformations I'd applaud: more diversity in enrollments and hiring; need-blind admissions; progress toward gender equity. But I dislike being told what I can and can't say.

When I first heard, in March 2015, that students at the university where I teach had staged a protest march over an essay I'd written about sexual paranoia in academe, and that they were carrying mattresses and pillows, I was a bit nonplussed. For one thing, mattresses had become a symbol of student-on-student sexual assault—a Columbia University student became known as "mattress girl" after spending a year dragging a mattress around campus in a performance art piece meant to protest the university's ruling in a sexual assault complaint she'd filed against a fellow student—whereas I'd been talking about the new consensual relations codes prohibiting professor-student dating.

I suppose I knew the essay would be controversial—the whole point of writing it was to say things I believed were true (and suspected a lot of other people thought were true), but weren't being said for fear of repercussions. Still, I'd been writing as a feminist. And I hadn't sexually assaulted anyone. The whole thing seemed incoherent.

According to our student newspaper, the mattress carriers on my campus were marching to the university president's office with a petition demanding "a swift, official condemnation" of my article. One student said she'd had a "very visceral reaction" to it; another called it "terrifying." I'd argued that the new codes infantilized students and ramped up the climate of accusation, while vastly increasing the power of university administrators over all our lives, and here were students demanding to be protected by university higher-ups from the affront of someone's ideas—which seemed to prove my point.

The president announced that he'd consider the petition.

Maybe it was shortsighted, but I hadn't actually thought about students reading the essay when I wrote it—who knew students read The Chronicle of Higher Education? I'd thought I was writing for other professors and administrators. Despite the petition, I assumed that academic freedom would prevail—for one thing, I'm tenured (thank god) at a research university. Also, I sensed the students weren't going to come off well in the court of public opinion, which proved to be the case. Marching against a published article wasn't a good optic—it smacked of book burning, something Americans generally oppose, while conveniently illustrating my observation in the essay that students' assertions of vulnerability have been getting awfully aggressive in the past few years. Indeed, I was getting a lot of love on social media from all ends of the political spectrum, though one of the anti-PC brigade did email to tell me that, as a leftist, I should realize that these students were my own evil spawn. I was spending more time online than I should have—though, in fact, social media was my only source of information about the controversy: No one from the university had thought to let me know I was being marched on. (I wasn't teaching that quarter and was trying not to be around much.) I first learned about the events on campus from a journalist in New York.

Let me be the first to admit that being protested has its gratifying side: When the story started getting national coverage, I soon realized my writer friends were all jealous that I'd gotten marched on and they hadn't. I began shamelessly dropping it into conversation whenever possible—"Oh, students are marching against this thing I wrote," I'd grimace, in response to anyone's "How are you?" I briefly fantasized about running for the board of PEN, the international writers' organization devoted to protecting free expression.

Things seemed less amusing when I got an email from the university's Title IX coordinator informing me that two graduate students had filed Title IX complaints against me on the basis of the essay and "subsequent public statements"—this turned out to be a tweet—and that the university had retained a team of outside investigators to handle the case.

This article is adapted from Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, available now from HarperCollins.

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  1. I like the idea of the ultra-left wing eating the left-wing alive.

    Anything that accelerates the inevitable collapse of progressivism is a positive, in my book.

    1. Give it a rest already. I’m tired of this magazines comment section being highjacked by hyper partisan lunatics. In a democracy, the idea is to work with others with differing but overlapping ideas to build coalitions that get things done. Libertarians share at least as much on principle with liberals as we do with conservatives, and now that the Republicans have been taken over by the Trump wing & has abandoned even the pretense of support for free markets *and* Team Red controls all three branches of govt, it’s time to start thinking seriously about building an antiauthoritarian coalition with whoever is willing to help tap the breaks (libertarians were physically attacked at Republican conventions during the Ron Paul campaign & goons like yourself would still have us believe that Team Red deserves unwavering, unquestioning, libertarian support). Instead of reaching across the aisle & looking for ways to reinforce libertarian ideas in the culture wherever they appear, your first reflex is to spout tribal, zero sum, vaguely threatening bullshit about the left devouring one another. That sort of ugly caveman Us vs Them philosophy shares more with Mussolini than it does Milton Friedman.

      1. You assume that I support “Team Red” unequivocally. I don’t.

        You don’t create a more libertarian society by reaching across the aisle. This is the exact thing that the Founders WARNED against.

        Why would you be interested in seeking a mutual understanding with people who think that anyone that disagrees with them are literally evil.

        1. You don’t create a more libertarian society by reaching across the aisle.

          So what do you do? Hunker down with all the other angry libertarians and argue about philosophy? Become a Republican?

          1. …the other angry libertarians and argue about philosophy?

            It is what we do best, isn’t it?

            1. Everybody’s good at something.

        2. “You don’t create a more libertarian society by reaching across the aisle. This is the exact thing that the Founders WARNED against.”

          From your lips to God’s ears!

          Little gets done by consensus. And, what does get done is usually a travesty.

      2. “it’s time to start thinking seriously about building an antiauthoritarian coalition with whoever is willing to help tap the breaks”

        Assuming you are not being sarcastic, go fuck yourself with an authoritarian broomstick, why don’t you.

      3. Fail in the 3rd sentence.

        “In a Democracy…”

        We aren’t in a Democracy. We haven’t ever been in a Democracy. Democracy is a a dirty word, and was ridiculed by our Founding Fathers. Until you can use precise, correct words, nobody will ever take you seriously.

        Oh, and as a Libertarian, you’re right. I share as much with Republicans as I do Democrats. That is, I share nothing with either party as long as they support the growth of government and the use of force to attain their ends.

        1. We aren’t in a Democracy. We haven’t ever been in a Democracy.

          That is technically true, but a stupid complaint. It is extremely common usage to refer to republics with democratically elected governments as “democracies”. Which is why people say things like “direct democracy” or “absolute democracy” when they want to talk about a pure democracy.

          The only people who won’t take you seriously are nerdy obsessives who take everything literally.

          1. But you’re forgetting that being pedantic allows him to be sanctimonious.

          2. It’s not a stupid complaint. It is a sometimes effective way to get the majority rules fanatics to pause for a second and consider that we don’t live by majority rule alone; that there is a Bill of Rights for a reason.

            I’ve found myself doing this since grade school when a minority of people within a group would voice opposition to what the majority wanted to do. Someone from the majority inevitably would demand a vote and then go on to say, “Ha, ha majority rules!”. For them, that was always justification for their side, even when they were about to do something stupid or absurd.

            We are a democracy only marginally. And for good reason. A lesson we best not forget.

      4. Nothing says classical liberal like supporting hiring practices based on diversity of melanin content and genital plumbing. Oh, and feelings, never forget the feelings.

      5. I’m glad you believe you can work with a group that seeks to silence all dissenting views.

        It won’t work, and hasn’t for a while now, but your optimism is cute, at the very least.

        Can you honestly imagine somebody in the same ballpark as Libertarianism getting into any major office as a Democrat? There is a reason why it does not and will not happen.

        1. Same ideological camp as Islam. “Our way or no way!” or “Our way or you die!”. There is ZERO compromise with them. If they do offer a compromise it’s only to get the others to weaken their position to make them easier to attack, either with violence or by other means.

          The goal is *always* total destruction of those they oppose – and they are typically quite outspoken about that being their goal. If you refuse to believe they really mean what they say, you’re an idiot and doomed to eventually become one of their victims.

          When some person or group says they want to ruin you, destroy your life or kill you, believe they really mean to do so and have nothing to do with them. If they haven’t (yet) targeted you, judge by their behavior towards others, and have nothing to do with them because you’ll get burned too.

          1. @Galane:

            That is the way of the gun control advocates. Their underlying theme that they deny repeatedly is the outright banishment of possession of firearms with an exception for their chosen betters.

            I’ve wanted to believe them when they say they are only for “sensible legislation”. But, they never cease. And, they never will.

            I live in CA with more than 20,000 gun control laws in effect. And yet, they bleat for more every day.

      6. Libertarians share at least as much on principle with liberals as we do with conservatives

        Oh yeah, that old notion of “liberals care about freedom in the social realm, if you narrowly define “social” as vagina”

      7. …it’s time to start thinking seriously about building an antiauthoritarian coalition with whoever is willing to help tap the breaks…

        Well, good luck with that. Most factions at the present time embrace some flavor of authoritarianism, with the most strident objections to the current government coming from people who are demanding more authority for the state, not less. When so much of the left has embraced the idea of the total state (state control of retirement, state control of healthcare, state control of employment, state-sponsored censorship, state-sponsored disarmament, etc.) it will be an arduous task finding the lonely dissenters among those on that side of the ideological spectrum.

      8. Even if progressive philosophy shares some values with Libertarian philosophy, I still think we would be better off without it. The fact is modern progressives actively try to stifle speech and unilaterally oppose gun rights. Are they against the NSA? In theory, but not in practice. They pay lip service to the idea of legal marijuana, but expend no political capital on the issue. They are for gay marriage, but that’s a settled question anyway, and their efforts to compel businesses to perform services have had more influence on gullible Libertarians than Libertarian views have had on the progressive movement.

      9. Excellent irony, excellent trolling, or dumb shit?

      10. “Give it a rest already. I’m tired of this magazines comment section being highjacked by hyper partisan lunatics”
        Bye.

    2. Right, because the lunatic left fringe “eating alive” the left-leaning but not completely loony left – many of whom still at least recognize the importance of classically liberal values like free speech – will really bode well for the future of liberty in this country.

      1. If my putative allies were to suddenly attack me, I might just rethink who I should be allies with; oh, I’d also be training my fire on those who intend to devour me – until the barrel is smoking.

        1. Smart liberal?

          Keep your powder dry!

      2. The only way progressivism dies is implosion.

    3. Progressivism has it’s place, but not when it tries to replace free thought and instill authoritarianism. The far right is just as bad, probably worse when it comes to free thought and what people do with their minds and bodies. It’s all bad when people start limiting our liberty and saying it’s for our own good.

      1. Progressivism : utopianism = socialism : communism. they both claim that’s not the goal, but once you accept the former, the latter is just the endpoint of the same logic (term used loosely)

      2. As a political movement… sorry, but it does not have a place.

      3. “and saying it’s for our own good.”

        Are you saying my mother and father were liars? 🙂

    4. This is not collapsing progressivism. The Progressive Movement will collapse when Social Security and Medicare run out of other people’s money.

  2. “though one of the anti-PC brigade did email to tell me that, as a leftist, I should realize that these students were my own evil spawn.”

    Though probably a hateful email, it is a valid point. How many on the Left refuse to condemn this kind of activity? Still, the rational Left (which would include this author apparently), should be supported.

    1. It’s not so much that they’re refusing to condemn it as it is they’re being subjugated by it.

      They’re terrified of opposing them.

      1. “They’re terrified of opposing them.”

        They should be!

        A call to arms.

      2. “They’re terrified of opposing them.”

        They should be!

        A call to arms.

    2. Still, I do not necessarily agree that old-school left-wingers such as Kipnis deserve our support. They are solely responsible for the scourge of progressive domination of media, education, and culture. They did, indeed, bring this upon themselves and upon our country.

      1. Really? Can you list some things that Kipnis did to bring this on herself?

        1. Did you actually think I meant Kipnis specifically, or leftists in general, which is what I quite clearly implied?

          1. You said that Kipnis doesn’t deserve our support. If she didn’t personally do anything to bring it on herself, I’m not sure why you’d say she doesn’t deserve support. Kipnis isn’t the left in general, she’s one person who can be judged on her own merits and history.

            1. “You said that Kipnis doesn’t deserve our support”

              No actually, he said

              “Still, I do not necessarily agree that old-school left-wingers such as Kipnis deserve our support.”

              1. “You said that Kipnis doesn’t deserve our support”

                No actually, he said

                “Still, I do not necessarily agree that old-school left-wingers such as Kipnis deserve our support.”

                Yeah, Zeb. He was clearly talking about people like Ms Kipnis and not Ms Kipnis herself.

                1. “Yeah, Zeb. He was clearly talking about people like Ms Kipnis and not Ms Kipnis herself.”

                  Agreed, as he claimed in his post here.

                  “Spinach Chin|4.17.17 @ 10:11AM|#

                  Did you actually think I meant Kipnis specifically, or leftists in general, which is what I quite clearly implied?”

                  Zeb claimed “You said that Kipnis doesn’t deserve our support. ” which is not supported by the posts.

                  1. OK, you had “necessarily” in there. So you are right, you don’t necessarily include her in those who don’t deserve support. My bad.

                    It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine when people condemn individuals based on vaguely defined groups they belong to.

                    1. But, when you use Kipnis as the example which defines the class of leftists you are talking about, you can perhaps see why people would think that you are saying she does not deserve support.

                    2. I agree only that we should strategically support certain leftists when it serves an anti-progressive narrative.

          2. “Old school leftists” almost certainly encapsulates 1960’s civil rights movements, anti-war protesters, and other people who spoke out against entrenched inequality of various sorts. Going even further back, progressivism can be associated with the rise of capitalism and democracy over autocracy. I understand these historical groups’ connections to modern, let’s say “less sympathetic” leftist movements, but I’m genuinely curious to know how far back this goes for you. Like at what point did progressivism Go Too Far.

            1. Aided the rise of capitalism and democracy? Really? You mean when they were gushing over the wonders of Hitler and Stalin right up until the bullets started flying? You mean the progressives who started the eugenics movement? Those antiwar protesters who just loved them some castro and guevara?

              Champions of capitalism and democracy not so much. Progressives are the definition of centralized government control.

              1. You seem to be defining anything you dislike as “progressive,” and anything you like as, i don’t know….rational? Libertarian?

                The Magna Carta was progressive, for its time. The formulation of the United States was extremely progressive (even now, to a degree. Few violent revolutions result in democracy).

                Progressivism is belief in the idea that advancements in science, technology, and social organization (quoting Wikipedia) result in an improvement for the human condition. Denying progressivism in all iterations is to deny progress itself. I’m not here to defend every wacko offshoot group campaigning for communism, I’m stating that some level of progressivism is clearly a good thing, and asking were it goes too far.

                1. Now who’s moving the goal posts? And I note that you conveniently neglect to include the wiki section on eugenics. That was one of the supposedly beneficial applications of science and technology that the progs endorsed.

                  Progressives != anything tied to progress. Far from it. The progressive movement started in the late 19th century and we’ve been sick with its fever to varying degrees ever since. It has nothing to do with the so called classical liberals and nothing to do with liberty.

                  1. Clarifying my position in not moving the goal posts, not intentionally anyways.

                    Like I said, I’m not trying to defend every wacko offshoot. EVERY philosophy, every political movement, has some morally corrupt portion that is both linked to that philosophy and also indefensible. The fact that you can point to some gross outcome, somewhere, is not the refutation of progressivism you think it is.

                    Can I surmise from your post then that you think any changes in the social order since, say, 1890 have been harmful?

                    1. You’re hardly clarifying when you intentionally ignore the eugenics movememt and prohibition. Simply waving your hands and claiming that those were just some fringe position goes beyond misleading. In fact you’re going to be hard pressed to justify all the bodies the progressives have left in their wake over the last century.

                    2. RE: You’re hardly clarifying when you intentionally ignore the eugenics movememt and prohibition.

                      I’m intentionally ignoring them, I’m just not talking about them right this very second. I asked what I thought was a straight-forward question; now I realize it’s perhaps not as straight-forward as I thought. Still, getting hung up on bad ideas from nearly 100 years ago should not be enough to damn an entire school of thought just because people from back then and from now use the same word to describe their ideology. Clearly, no one from the modern progressive movement is calling for a revival of eugenics or prohibition.

                    3. Correction: I’m *not* intentionally ignoring them, etc.

                    4. Eugenics & prohib’ns are different things. Prohib’n is also different from sobriety.

                      Fire is good. Burning somebody’s bldg. is bad. Eugenics is good. Making people breed or not breed is bad.

                  2. In other words the “liberals” are the least liberal bunch there is. While whining and protesting etc that conservatives want to control everything everyone does – it’s the “liberals” who have founded and supported most of the stuff they try to pin on conservatives.

                    They can holler about freedom all they want, but we can see by their actions what they really mean is freedom for *them* while they subjugate everyone who doesn’t kowtow to *them*.

                    They protest “corporate welfare” and “excessive profits” and “slave labor”, while toting around their iPhones and Macbooks – made by the worst offender of everything they’re protesting. In other words they really don’t care about any of that, they just want to destroy specific companies that aren’t their Favored One.

                  3. Eugenics is good per se, especially as we’re about to have the tools to really do it. Just because it was attempted badly in the past doesn’t mean it’s bad. It will be a beneficial appl’n of sci & tech.

                2. Self described progressives absolutely supported those things. You are confusing progressivism with Classical Liberalism.

                  “Denying progressivism in all iterations is to deny progress itself.”

                  Which is why we are only talking about the political iterations. Social organization and technological advancement are good things in general, but government is not the proper conduit for them.

                  1. “but government is not the proper conduit for them.”

                    Don’t tell government that!

                    I work in government and our motto is, “we’re from the gubbermnt and we’re here to help!”

                    Don’t you forget it. ;-(

                3. I mean “Progressivism” as a movement, not as actually making progress in science and technology, etc.

                  I dunno – did that really need to be stated?

                  Obviously, some (many?) 60’s era hippies turned into Republicans, or otherwise gave up their youthful foolishness when they got a career and families. But can it really be argued that they are not responsible (ultimately) for what’s happening on college campuses and newsrooms? They created a monster that got out of hand, and that they can’t (or won’t) control.

                  1. Don’t blame 1960s hippies. The hippies I know are libertarian or apolitical, always were. Blame this new breed that has less to do w the hippies, more to do w the leftists who were contemporaneous to & preceded the hippies. They hated the hippies then, still want nothing to do w them now. I don’t know how hippies get the blame; maybe it’s like conflating libertarians w LaRouchians, which casual observers did fordecades.

              2. Centralized government is the utopia they’d like to have.

                But, they’ll take political correctness and control of speech until they can achieve their nirvana.

            2. When they started advocating for the use of government to *force* their views on everyone else.

              1. RE: When they started advocating for the use of government to *force* their views on everyone else.

                ….That’s a thorny, tangled thing you bring up.

                Is it really un-libertarian for a black man to say “hey I’d really like to stop getting pulled over by the police, despite having done nothing wrong?” Is it really freedom-hating for a woman to advocate for changes in the business world towards sexual harassment and hiring behaviors?

                The line you’ve drawn might sound good, but it looks a whole lot different to someone who’s being treated poorly because of the way they were born.

                1. ” Is it really freedom-hating for a woman to advocate for changes in the business world towards sexual harassment and hiring behaviors?”

                  …by simply issuing rules that do the same thing, but against men?

                  Dirty secret time: HR, who handles most hiring decisions, has been run by women for a very long time. Those “horrible” men who did all of those terrible things — almost universally hired by women.

                  And why should men TODAY be punished for what men in the PAST allegedly did? Is it progressive to punish the child for the action of the parent?

                  “The line you’ve drawn might sound good, but it looks a whole lot different to someone who’s being treated poorly because of the way they were born.”

                  So, your issue ISN’T with unfair treatment. It is just with who is targeted. Awfully consistent of you.

                  1. Funny how the mostly atheist left hangs so much of their ideology on the concept of original sin.

                2. ‘”Is it really un-libertarian for a black man to say “hey I’d really like to stop getting pulled over by the police, despite having done nothing wrong?”‘

                  No, but this not what BLM is asking for or, at least, it doesn’t end there. The movement has co-opted a legitimate cause to the end of a host of big government initiatives.

                  “Is it really freedom-hating for a woman to advocate for changes in the business world towards sexual harassment and hiring behaviors?”

                  Stopping harassment? No. Changing hiring behaviors through regulation? Yes. Redefining harassment to include microaggressions and other crap? Yes.

            3. Progressivism is a specific political ideology that some confuse with ‘liberal’ in a direct assault on the ethos of Classical Liberalism (which is actually quite decent). This is absolutely intended by the true Progressives.

              Don’t use Progressive unless they are Progressive. If you use Progressive in place of Liberal you’re doing it wrong. I fully admit this is a quite common misconception, and most people who refer to themselves are ‘Progressive’ are, in fact, not.

              If you think ‘Progressive’ is just a word that means ‘I like progress’ you have, like many others, been hoodwinked into an incurably authoritarian ideology through the redefinition of words. Look at their history and you’ll see a lot of bodies.

              1. RE: BYODB’s entire post

                I don’t necessarily think that of progressivism; I in fact just looked up the definition of progressivism for the first time on Wikipedia as I wrote that comment. I used it to make a contrast between what is a more textbook definition of the word, and what seems to be its more common use as “something I don’t like.”

                I’m still struggling with this though: what is progressivism?? Is the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s progressive or liberal? Is the Women’s Rights movement in the 20’s progressive or liberal? Is Occupy Wall Street progressive or liberal?

                1. If you don’t think that about Progressivism as inherently authoritarian than you haven’t read enough about the Progressive movement throughout this century. I suggest more research than the Wikipedia listing since their take on things is somewhat slanted, especially when it comes to modern progressivism. (Not surprising since Wikipedia is more or less open source, meaning that Progressives can whitewash their own Wikipedia page.)

                  ‘Liberalism’ has become a bad word because of the Progressives, and that’s a real shame. I would suggest looking up ‘Classical Liberalism’ and reading that to gain insight.

                  I could accept that bad actors within the Progressive movement gave them a bad name if it wasn’t for the sheer volume of those bad actors within their movement for almost 100 years now. At a certain point you need to call it what it is, and you can see these impulses in the Progressive movement today with calls to censor everything from textbooks to what you can say in public.

                  Consider that the movement was born of the intolerant Religious right and you can begin to see why it’s as screwed up as it is today. It’s a supreme irony that it’s a feature of the left these days, albeit devoid of it’s original religious underpinnings.

                  1. “Their take”? You know, you can edit Wikipedia.

                    1. You know, you can edit Wikipedia.

                      Until your edit is deleted.


                2. “What is progressivism?? Is the Civil Rights movement in the 60’s progressive or liberal? Is the Women’s Rights movement in the 20’s progressive or liberal? Is Occupy Wall Street progressive or liberal?”

                  It’s not the Civil Rights movement or the Women’s Rights movement (both are more Classically Liberal in the sense that they demanded equality of rights), but it is the Occupy Wall Street movement as they wanted equality of outcomes enforced by the state. Progressives are only interested in relative rights whereas your Classical Liberal is about equal rights; and yes there is a difference.

                  In fact, in many ways, Progressivism is antithetical to Liberalism since a ‘true’ Liberal (yes yes, I know, no true Scotsman) would be more interested in equality of Natural Rights instead of selecting certain groups for superior rights.

                  Truthfully though, Classical Liberalism is all but dead in these United States which is why you see so many people conflate ‘Progressive’ and ‘Liberal’. There’s simply no intellectuals left to defend the ethos.

                  1. RE: BYODB

                    Excellent post(s). Would it be fair to say though that classic liberalism and progressivism are closely related?

                    Honestly the more I read about this (done in 5 minute increments at work), the more I suspect that “progressivism” is a pretty mercurial concept. I’ve seen several fairly distinct (and equally plausible) definitions just in this and other comment sections.

                    1. In my opinion, no. The tenants of Progressivism haven’t changed since F.D.R. or Woodrow Wilson, but the excuses for it have. It went from Religious reasons to Secular reasons yet the goals remain the same. Somewhat ironically it’s a deeply Regressive movement.

                      If you really want to know more I’d suggest looking into philosophers of the Enlightenment period since these guys are the specific people the Progressives want to supplant. It’s an insidious, uninformed, and disingenuous philosophy that doesn’t believe in the simple agency of the individual. That alone should cause anyone to be wary, but for some reason if you put a nice sounding title on authoritarianism people will defend it to their dying breath.

                      These things aren’t even taught at the collegiate level anymore, by-and-large, which is one reason why most people don’t have a foggy clue on what any of it means in a historical context. How could they, without seeking it out on their own?

                      In a sea of ignorance redefining words to mean the opposite of what they should is a powerful weapon; make no mistake, we are indeed living in the dark ages of philosophy and well into the decline of logical thought. RE: Post-Modernist Philosophy, look it up. This is what many places teach these days, and it’s anathema to rational thought and discourse.

                    2. RE: Postmodernist philosophy

                      What a bunch of nonsense! I utterly despise relativistic morality, too often finding it invoked as an smokescreen for intellectual laziness. This seems to apply a similar thought process to EVERYTHING. I took several philosophy classes in college (just for fun), and never ran in to this. I remember covering many of the major names starting with the Greeks and going up through the Enlightenment period before branching off in to more applied philosophy.

                      Thanks for the education, though.

                    3. “In a sea of ignorance redefining words to mean the opposite of what they should is a powerful weapon”

                      Alice in Wonderland?

                      Government speak?

                      It’s been done for a long time for various purposes. Some entertaining and some, not so much.

                    4. You’re looking at human behavior & opinion, so all -isms are mercurial, except those of which there are very few -ists or -ics.

            4. “but I’m genuinely curious to know how far back this goes for you. Like at what point did progressivism Go Too Far?”

              Oh, I’d say it was about the time they (think of Alger Hiss & Julius Rosenberg) were passing those secrets to the Soviets. Or was it when Hanoi Jane was over there riding in the North Vietnamese tank with the combat helmet on, getting her picture taken for propaganda purposes?

              1. Re: Hanoi Jane.

                It was an anti-aircraft gun.

                1. And yet, she was never charged with treason?

                  Go figure.

                  I guess we could say, at least they honored freedom of speech back then. 🙂

          3. So you’re basically a collectivist when it comes to people you disagree with?

            If a Presbyterian lets his dog shit on my lawn, have I been wronged by all presbyterians?

            1. When a principle tenant of Prebyterianism is “Your dogs should be able to shit on other people’s lawns, and we are willing to use force to make sure it happens”, yes.

              1. Tenant? Who they renting from?

                1. You know what he meant and his point is valid.

                  Incorrect stereotypes are factually incorrect. But, when any group supports a particular tenet, then saying that’s what they do is pure fact.

        2. Yes. She achieved tenure and the protected status she relishes.

    3. Still, the rational Left (which would include this author apparently), should be supported.

      You give her way too much credit. There is nothing rational about:

      There are plenty of transformations I’d applaud: more diversity in enrollments and hiring; need-blind admissions; progress toward gender equity.

      There are rational portions of the Left, she’s not one of them. She’s literally the exact same leftist she always was and, rather admittedly, is only pissed off because the animal they’ve bred and cultivated bit her instead of the person next to her. If it had bit the nearest Y-chromosome carrier to her, she’d be wholly supportive.

      1. Yup.

      2. Exactly what I say above. If this happened to some white male, no problem.

      3. Progress towards all of those items she elucidates will occur when those affected take responsibility for themselves and push into the program. The barriers at this point in time are so minimal, as to be inconsequential.

        The reason that the results remain less than ideal are because we’ve raised a couple of generations of self-defined victims who won’t even get off their asses and try and instead blame the system.

        It would appear that the author, despite her success in academia and in writing, is in fact an example of this. It’s just never good enough. It’s just never fair. The outcomes must be equal.

    4. I notice that solid lefties like Kipnis only criticize even the loons on the Left when they themselves are being abused by those loons. Otherwise they are silent at best and overtly complicit at worst. Another example is the recently victorious UVA sexual assault administrator plaintiff in the Rolling Stone civil suit. She undoubtedly was an advocate of the “women don’t lie about sexual assault ” school of “thought” (ie, dogma) before she herself became a victim of it.

  3. Despite being a left-wing feminist

    Si=o, you’re basically part of the problem you’re now railing against.

    1. Definitely. But she apparently doesn’t recognize that at all.

  4. It’s hard to read this article without laughing at Kipnis and her ilk. They created the beast, and now it’s eating them.

  5. The hypocrisy of “gender” feminism, which used socialized government and force to enforce their wanted outcomes, is now finding the the outcomes forced on them uncomfortable. And Libertarians say to them, DUH.

    1. I was watching a football newsreel the other night and got to thinking.

      I think we could speed the downfall of progressives by simply enforcing racial and gender quotas on pro sports the same way we do in all other forms of employment. Even the military!

      A little race and gender based hiring to make things more “fair”. Level the playing field and all that.

      It would probably be the best thing to happen to certain racial minorities and women since emancipation and gaining the right to vote! It might certainly wake the rest of the sleeping proletariat wake up.

  6. “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?”

    -Some guy with sexist facial hair

    1. “Whether God is dead or not hardly matters, for we would use him no differently anyway.”

      ? Some other guy with sexist facial hair

  7. Sexual Paranoia was my nickname in college.

  8. Restoring the most fettered versions of traditional femininity through the back door is backlash, not progress.

    Something about phrasing, feminism, and the back door.

  9. Restoring the most fettered versions of traditional femininity through the back door…

    These euphemisms…

    1. Sounds vaguely pornographic.

      I’m sure somewhere on teh Interwebz there is a copy of “Sexual Paranoia: Back Door Backlash 3” floating around…

  10. Worse, I tend to be ironic?I like irony; it helps you think because it gives you critical distance on a thing. Irony doesn’t sit very well in the current climate, especially when it comes to irony about the current climate.

    Irony, noun – A strange coincidence.

    This is the new definition of irony. Any writing that you think is following the old definition of irony is going to be taken literally. People be dumb.

    1. Are you suggesting that irony isn’t like “rain on your wedding day,” or “10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife?”

      1. It’s more like a guy winning the lottery then dying the next day.

        1. That’s not ironic. That’s plain old bad luck!

          Although his wife may not think so. 🙂

  11. Restoring the most fettered versions of traditional femininity through the back door

    That’s hot.

    1. And that’s funny as hell.

  12. The “left” [if I may be permitted to paint a fairly wide swath here] originally founded itself on fighting more or less real oppression and morphing any an all forms of ism [race-ism, sex-ism, etc] into horrific crimes against humanity. Their intentions were essentially good, as in fighting the good fight, and supporting things like civil rights and gender equality.

    Problem is, there is no end to this crusade. Everyone wants to have some of the cake, and the way to do that is to keep expanding the menu of grievances into broader and increasingly subtle manifestations.

    Claiming offense, especially through a bonafide “ism” has been the most effective polemic cudgel of the past 50 years; it causes the accused offenders to duck and cover, and gets nearly unlimited attention and coverage. It just works so well that there can never be an end to it, so it must progress and develop to fit the narrative of the day.

    The “victim” is the new strong being on the block, and as long as it works it is here to stay. It demands attention, immediacy, redress, consideration, and compensation. And it works as a powerful tool against your enemies who is pretty much anyone who does not give you what you want.

    1. The “victim” is the new strong being on the block, and as long as it works it is here to stay.

      As I as mentioned last week…

      “The meek shall inherit the earth.”

      1. “Blessed are the cheesemakers?”

        1. “Did he say big noses?”

        2. It refers to any manufacturer of dairy products. ..

  13. “Future generations will look back on the recent upheavals in sexual culture on American campuses and see officially sanctioned hysteria.”

    I always like to think that what I find absurd at present will be frowned upon by future generations. However, history is not linear and the public can go collectively insane at any given point in time.

    1. Right. Future generations may indeed look upon some of this stuff as absurd, but they will most likely have their own absurdities that they fail to recognize.

    2. You’re both right because you’d think we’d be more intellectually evolved to avoid what’s happening on campuses.

  14. By the title of the book alone, it looks like she’s born again.

  15. They’ll wonder how the federal government got into the moral panic business, tossing constitutional rights out the window in an ill-conceived effort to protect women from a rapidly growing catalogue of sexual bogeymen

    Paranoid people vote.

  16. I briefly fantasized about running for the board of PEN, the international writers’ organization devoted to protecting free expression.

    Why did you fantasize about that? Were you hoping to turn it back into a place of free expression, like universities used to be?

  17. I’ve always been a live and let live kind of person. Back when I was a kid I never understood the opposition to the ERA. Why shouldn’t females be treated as equal to men? Both my parents (of differing genders, to betray my era) were of equal rank in my eyes. Why couldn’t a female be a doctor or a male a nurse? I didn’t see what was so fundamentally wrong about “feminism”.

    Then I get to college and I still couldn’t see anything fundamentally wrong with feminism. Sure, the “feminists” I ran into were bit loopy and radical. Insisting that lesbianism was true feminism and abortion to be it’s sacrament. But the core idea of equality before the law was still sound.

    Over the decades these stories of wild eyed feminists became more and more radical. Today it’s beyond radical, beyond even absurdist. It’s clearly a bastard child of postmodernism, but it seems beyond even that. The goal is not equality, or justice, or even getting rid of uncomfortable-ness. The goal is destruction for destruction’s sake.

    1. Considering that post-modernism denies all the tenants of the Enlightenment, yes, pretty much everything can be heaped on that blame pile.

      Post-Modernism is the death of thought.

  18. So you’re clearly pulling for a return to prohibition? It workwd so well the first time. The fact the you simply wish away the great sins of progressivism is not the great defense of it that you think it is. Progressivism gave us:

    Eugenics
    Prohibition
    Minimum wage laws
    Defense of Hitler and Stalin
    Progressive income tax
    The welfare state
    Environmental extremism (anti-gmo, fracking, nuclear…)

    Good luck coming up with enough to counter those evils.

    1. Is Eugenics such a big thing in your neck of the woods? I figure it must be given the attention paid to it in these pages. The comments, anyways. To me eugenics is a relic of the past like phrenology. I don’t understand what makes it so important to you.

      1. Eugenics may not be around, but it was the natural result of the progressive ideology. The reason it no longer exists merely because progressives incorporated liberalism into their doctrine. Without the liberalism (ei. individuals matter) then progressives would still be clamoring for the purity of the group at the expense of the individual.

        p.s. Also, progressives are still first in line calling for the abortion of less-than-perfect fetuses. How is that not eugenics? They don’t use sterilization anymore, because they don’t have to. A woman that carries a Downs Syndrome baby to term is treated like a vile reactionary.

        1. “Eugenics may not be around,”

          But it is still number one on the list of evils facing our campuses, according to the commenter. Number two is prohibition. I would have thought that use of alcohol on campus was quite popular and any movement to ban it would be miniscule. I think there are more pressing issues we face. War & peace, for example.

          “How is that not eugenics?”

          Because eugenics is a programme of ‘racial hygiene.’ One can abort an unwanted foetus for purely personal reasons with any concern for the purity of the race.

          1. No, eugenics is making people genetically better, period. What’s been overlayed onto that is not what’s underneath.

      2. To me eugenics is a good thing that got labeled as to all the bad attempts to implement it. It’s not a relic, it’s the coming thing.

    2. Defense of governments and religions that oppress women to the extremes of mutilation and various forms of brutal murder for anything their husband or other male family member decides has offended them. That while simultaneously complaining about “systematic oppression of women” in the societies that don’t do anything remotely like what goes on in much of Africa and the Middle East.

  19. RE: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus

    This is nothing more than political correctness on steroids.
    The sexual paranoia comes from male-hating feminazis who think anyone with a penis is out to oppress and rape them.
    The next step is to eliminate all males from campus unless they were castrated.

    1. “The next step is to eliminate all males from campus unless they were castrated.”

      What was that about sexual paranoia?

  20. “for one thing, I’m tenured (thank god)”. So most of us go through life without tenure and do just fine. Maybe the academy would be better off if tenure were abolished? Tenure seems to support some pretty bizarre behavior on the part of faculty, administration and students. Maybe if all knew that they had to follow certain norms of behavior when together on campus we’d have campuses more open to the exchange of ideas.

  21. College was so much easier in the late 70s, early 80s when everyone just wanted to get laid….

  22. “…one of the anti-PC brigade did email to tell me that, as a leftist, I should realize that these students were my own evil spawn.”

    Yup. Tell them they can aggressively protest anything and everything they don’t like, for any reason at all, even when they’re the ones in the wrong – it will come back to bite you.

  23. They’ll wonder how the federal government got into the moral panic business, tossing constitutional rights out the window in an ill-conceived effort to protect women from a rapidly growing catalogue of sexual bogeymen.

    FedGov who WERE in control at the time never have been concerned about constitutional rights, protecting women, or any sexual bogeyman. Nope.

    Remember WHO was faux president at the time. Remember WHERE he was “educated”, and some of the political activists with whom he was involved. Remember two of the signficant political works he not only had read and studied, but wholeheartedly endorses….. yes, I mean Marx and Alinsky. If you are at all familiar with either one, and you should be, you will comprehend that this sort of activity is precisely the sort of destabilising conduct recommended by Alinsky. This aspect of culture and society is one of many the kinyun undertook to attack. Don’t be fooled… it was never about justice, protecting anyone, or even accreting power to new centres. Nope. Purely and simply just one more means of bringing about chaos by targetting one aspect of our cultural standards.

  24. Excellent article thanks for not siding with the snowflakes 🙂 .

  25. I suspect that the root of this hysteria, aside from the compliance of school officials, has something to do with naive young women being traumatized by the fact that the young attractive male peer they eagerly slept with multiple times in the hope of getting into a relationship with him didn’t follow through with an offer of a relationship and moved on. You then get a “retroactive withdrawal of consent.” The hysteria overall is basically a slow motion retreat from the campus “hookup culture” but done so in a way that allows the feminists who encouraged that culture in the first place to save face by blaming men for something they helped engineer.

    1. 50-ish years of easy, mostly successful, contraception. No more the unwanted pregnancy as the prime consequence of pre-marital hanky-panky.

      No more physical consequences of sex between two healthy people who aren’t married to one another.

      Can’t pin down the hot guy into marriage or paying child support, so claim after the fact the sex she wanted wasn’t. That’ll show the jerk who only wanted a fling.

      The first question asked should be “Were both parties intoxicated?” if the answer is yes the next words spoken should be “Case dismissed!”.

    2. Until feminists demand the banning of alcohol, I won’t take them seriously on the issue. Most of these “rapes” are drunken fucks and that is all.

      Sure, banning alcohol would do jackshit for women making poor decisions on what cock to shove into their vaginas, but they’d show some interest in attacking one of the key things that lead to those poor decisions.

      College kids have gone from demanding colleges end in loco parentis policies to demanding rules that’d make Pilgrims say “Man, that is pretty far out there”

  26. Welcome to the revolution.

  27. I continue to advocate for pressuring employers to never hire these people. And by these people I mean anyone who’s ever attended one of these schools. Trust me American universities are not special. Moreover this is a generation who lives and breathes conferences, TED talks, foundations and the like. Pressure those organizations to boycott those students and former students as well. If that doesn’t work shout them down, smash their venues and employ the very same tactics against them.

  28. I am gratified to hear that the situation on college campuses has changed so very much since I was a professor thirty years ago.

    Then there were professors who were frowned on but never disciplined for “dating” a series of co-eds, sometimes when they were in their classes and sometimes not. (Heaven forbid that such conduct would be considered unethical or unprofessional or be prescribed by an academic code of ethical behavior.)

    Then the administrators would do virtually anything to hush up any scandal, be it sexual, racial or just plain Greek or Jock thuggery. Don’t want to upset the alumni, do we?.

    Now it must be that none of that is at all true. Right? So it would seem from this essay.

  29. More and more leftist students are adopting the behavior of Hitler’s Brown Shirts: disruption, yelling, screaming, and violence.

    Campuses may soon see regular violent outbreaks between leftists and conservatives, and between feminists and conservative men and women. There will be blood.

    Luckily, a price is being paid:

    Campus leftists = liberals.
    Liberals = Democrats.
    Democrats = this:

    “The whole Democratic Party is now a smoking pile of rubble: In state government things are worse, if anything. The GOP now controls historical record number of governors’ mansions, including a majority of New England governorships. Tuesday’s election swapped around a few state legislative houses but left Democrats controlling a distinct minority. The same story applies further down ballot, where most elected attorneys general, insurance commissioners, secretaries of state, and so forth are Republicans.” http://www.vox.com/policy-and-…..ile-rubble

    As for the sexual paranoia (“Unwanted Advances”), I sincerely believe it all could have been so very different — so much better — between men and women. Maybe there’s still hope. See:

    “How We Waded Into The Sexual Harassment Quagmire: Digging Out With True Equality” http://malemattersusa.wordpres…..-quagmire/

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