Posted on | March 31, 2014 | 93 Comments
Professor Merri Lisa Johnson.
The director of the University of South Carolina Upstate (USCU) Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS) suffers from a “serious mental illness” and in 2010 described herself as a “newlywed lesbian” whose partner was apparently her former student.
Professor Merri Lisa Johnson published a 2010 book about her struggles with borderline personality disorder. The description of her partner in that book appears to fit a young “butch” lesbian who graduated from USCU in 2008, two years after Professor Johnson joined the faculty of the school in Spartanburg, S.C.
USCU became the focus of controversy when it was reported that the school would host a performance of “How to Be a Lesbian in 10 Days or Less” next week as part of the CWGS-hosted symposium, “Bodies of Knowledge.” When asked by Campus Reform reporter Lauren Cooley “what percentage of the funding” for the symposium “was coming from the university,” Professor Johnson replied: “Until you call and ask how much money has been spent on heterosexual literature, I’m not going to answer that question.”
In her 2010 book, Girl in Need of a Tourniquet: Memoir of a Borderline Personality, Professor Johnson describes herself as a “psycho girlfriend” with a history of dysfunctional relationships with both men and women: “Johnson combines her late-in-life coming out story (between ages 31-37) with the story of what amounts to a nervous breakdown as the result of an affair with a married lesbian colleague.” That affair “prompted her to seek professional help,” apparently around the time Professor Johnson left Coastal Carolina University to become director of USCU-CWGS in 2006. An article about the book describes Professor Johnson:
A newlywed lesbian-after-marriage, Johnson currently resides in South Carolina with her partner Stace and their two loyal shih tzus. The mixed species pack of four shares a 1920s-era craftsman bungalow fondly known among family and friends as The Haney-Johnson Halfway House for the Bright but Broken-Hearted.
Stacey Haney was one of Professor Johnson’s most honored students at USCU, receiving one of four Campus Consciousness-Raising Awards for the 2006-2007 school year and also winning an Award for Scholarly Achievement in Women’s and Gender Studies for the 2007-08 school year. Professor Johnson selected the annual CWGS award winners in her role as the center’s director. Haney served as president of the student group Upstate Feminists, and in 2008 presented a paper at the Wofford College Conference on Gender entitled, “Butch is Back: The Marginalization of Butch Feminists Across the Feminist and Queer Communities.” Haney, who graduated from USCU in December 2008, subsequently served as a teaching assistant at CWGS and in 2009-2010 took graduate courses at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, researching “new theoretical approaches for understanding transgendered identity and embodiment.”
Professor Johnson has edited feminist anthologies, including Jane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire (2002) and Third Wave Feminism and Television: Jane Puts It in a Box (2007).
In an article last fall, Professor Johnson described her “queer feminist insistence on the importance, validity, and complexity of women’s pleasure” and her “Marxist feminist distrust of pleasure under patriarchy,” adding that “teaching Women’s and Gender Studies 101 since fall 2006 . . . has firmed up my radical side.”
The National Institutes for Mental Health describes borderline personality disorder (BPD) as “a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships. . . . People with this disorder also have high rates of co-occurring disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders, along with self-harm, suicidal behaviors, and completed suicides.”