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"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Introduction To Feminist Theory

Posted on | April 27, 2015 | 39 Comments

Until I started studying radical feminism, I never thought of “normal” as an achievement. “If you want to understand feminism, begin by studying abnormal psychology,” as I explain on page 18 of Sex Trouble: Essays on Radical Feminism and the War Against Human Nature. Perhaps no entirely sane person would ever sign up for a university Women’s Studies class, but if she did, it might permanently warp her mind.

Consider, for example, “Introduction to Feminist Theory” (GGS 228), a sophomore-level course in the Global Gender Studies program at the University of Buffalo. This is one of the “Core Curriculum” classes required of every student who wishes to major or minor in this subject, and here is the official course catalog description of what the 19-year-old sophomore will be taught in GGS 228:

Introduction To Feminist Theory
Introduces to the complexity of feminist thought and theorizing through a discussion of many of the major schools of feminist thought and past and present debates within feminist theorizing as it has developed both within the United States, and abroad. A solid grasp of the core theories, their fundamental approaches, their insights into social phenomenon and the key criticisms of each, will allow the student to enter into and participate in the ongoing conversations that characterizes feminist thought. Feminist theory has always developed in tandem with feminist movements and activism. Thus, throughout the course, students will not only learn about feminist theories, but also apply the tenets of different theories to current issues and modern problems. Theories are not meant to be passive ideas unrelated to our everyday reality, but are meant to be used as tools to analyze the world around us. As a critical theory, feminist theory aims not only to produce knowledge, but also to provide a base for action. Feminist theories ask us to rethink what we mean by sex and gender, how we understand our sexuality, the roles, status, and ideals assigned to men and women in our societies and how we reward and punish individuals that question, challenge or deviate from these roles. Feminist theory engages with issues of social inequality, oppression, and sexism, and invites us to imagine strategies for creating a world where there is more equality and liberation.

You see that feminist theory is not “passive ideas unrelated to our everyday reality,” and therefore what students learn in GGS 288 cannot be separated from “feminist movements and activism,” so that students are expected to “apply the tenets of different theories to current issues and modern problems.” Notice also that students are required “to rethink what we mean by sex and gender.” The professors in charge of these feminist indoctrination programs are invariably of a type Eric Hoffer called The True Believer, because only a devoted ideologue would get a Ph.D. in this stuff. So, which lunatic is in charge of this particular asylum? During the Spring 2015 semester at the University of Buffalo, GGS 288 was taught by Assistant Professor Christine Varnado:

Dr. Varnado teaches courses in sexuality and gender theory, literature and the humanities, and qualitative methodologies. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia’s department of English and Comparative Literature, combining a specialization in the drama and prose of the English Renaissance with focuses on queer theory and the histories of sexuality and gender. She is at work on a book project, The Shapes of Fancy: Queer Circulations of Desire in Early Modern Literature, which expands the category of what can be called queer desire beyond historical evidence of same-sex sexual practices, to modes of feeling and desiring (such as longing for impossible transformation, or being used) that have often been overlooked in the period, thereby exploring the queer potential of readerly identification and recognition for studying desire in other historical moments. An essay on what offstage and un-staged sex looks like, “Invisible Sex!” will appear in the upcoming collection Sex Before Sex: Figuring the Act in Early Modern Literature. She has been active in the Shakespeare Association of America, the Modern Languages Association, and the American Comparative Literature Association. Varnado’s other teaching and research interests include witchcraft and witch persecutions, performance theory, bodily sex and reproduction, ethnography and ritual in the trans-Atlantic sphere, death and memorialization, literary theory, and cultural studies.

To summarize, then, Professor Varnado is interested in queer theory, queer desire, queer potential and also witchcraft.

Pat Robertson could not be reached for comment.

You know that Women’s Studies courses are taught to more than 90,000 students annually in programs at some 700 U.S. colleges and universities. You know this because those numbers are cited on page 29 of Sex Trouble, and you have read my book, haven’t you?

Knowing how many Women’s Studies programs exist, therefore, the reader may ask, “Stacy, what drew your attention to this particular course, taught by this particular professor, at this particular university?” Behold, the GGS228 Tumblr.com account:

we are members of an “intro to feminist theory” course
in buffalo, ny looking to prove theory and tumblr
can exist together in harmony.

The reader who clicks that link (and keeps scrolling) will discover that there are very good reasons why the proceedings in Women’s Studies courses are generally not discussed outside the classroom. There is a vast gulf between the esoteric doctrine and the exoteric discourse of feminism. What the True Believer must believe — e.g., the social construction of the gender binary within the heterosexual matrix — is not subject to debate within academia. Yet these ideas are so seldom discussed outside academia that whenever I attempt to explain feminist gender theory to people, the reaction is invariably the same: “They don’t really believe that stuff, do they?”

Oh, believe it they most certainly do! And if anyone at the University of Buffalo (or any other institution of higher education in America) does not believe feminist gender theory, they’re being awfully damned quiet about their dissent. Why? Because disagreeing with feminism makes you a sexist; any expression of dissent from feminist ideology could be used as “evidence” of discrimination under Title IX; therefore, no university administration can tolerate opposition to feminism on campus without risking a federal civil rights lawsuit.

By defining disagreement as hate, you see, feminists have effectively prohibited criticism within academia and banished opponents from campus. This is why students go berserk when someone like Christina Hoff Sommers appears at Oberlin College. Because criticizing feminism is quite nearly illegal in 21st-century academia, students have never encountered an articulate exposition of opposing viewpoints. Indoctrinated to consider feminist ideology as synonymous with Truth, Enlightenment and Virtue, students believe that only ignorant bigots can possibly disagree with them. Feminist consciousness makes them intellectually superior to others, as Professor Sandra Lee Bartky explained: “Feminist consciousness is consciousness of victimization . . . to come to see oneself as a victim.” Disagreeing with a feminist means you are supporting oppression by denying her victimhood.

Crazy? Sure, it’s crazy, but if every college-educated person is required to believe it, “insanity” becomes a synonym for “education.”

Please, go to the GGS 228 Tumblr.com account and keep scrolling. See what these students have to say about “patriarchy” and “heterosexuality” which, as readers of Sex Trouble know, are two ways to say the same thing: Women are oppressed because they are heterosexual (pp. 12-13), and women are heterosexual because they oppressed (p. 105). In feminist theory, males are only ever discussed as oppressors and rapists. No man is deserving of respect or admiration, nor can any man be trusted. What you find these University of Buffalo students saying on their Tumblr.com blog is exactly what feminists say in the quotes found on pp. 48-53 of Sex Trouble: Heterosexuality is imposed on women through “institutionalized force” (Kate Millett, 1970), “programming” (Andrea Dworkin, 1974), a “patriarchal system” of “sexual repression” (Ann Jones, 1990) and “male power” (Dianne Richardson, 2000). There is no reason, according to feminist theory, that any woman should ever find a man attractive or desirable as a romantic partner.

As she obtains feminist consciousness of her victimization, the student understands that, as Professor Joyce Trebilcot explained, patriarchy “depends on the ability of men to control women through heterosexuality” (quoted on p. 100 of Sex Trouble) and, oh, look, what is this? “Smash the Patriarchy,” says the GGS 228 Tumblr.

There is an old saying that if someone says “it’s not about the money,” you know it is about the money. Feminist theory’s substitution of the word “gender” for “sex,” by the same token, tells us: “It’s about the sex.” And what do you think students in GGS 288 learn about that?

The other day in class, discussing heterosexuality as dependent on romantic love ideals and how it fails to address many of the evils behind it (i.e. rape, domestic violence, possession, etc.), made me wonder about all the hopeless romantic movies I have fallen in love with over the course of my 19 years and really reevaluate why I actually liked this certain genre. I do believe that it is because at a very young age, we are socially conditioned to admire those types of movies, and the reoccuring idea of heterosexual love, that of a strong aggressive man sweeping the damsel in distress off her feet in order to save her from whatever she is “distressed” about, without a second thought about any other types of love, such as lesbian , gay, bi, etc.
I can’t help but wonder that if at, lets say the age of 4, instead of Pocahontas falling in love with John Smith, she finds herself deeply in love with her best friend Nakoma, or a spin off The Lion King revolving around Timon and Pumbaa’s love affair, we would certainly think nothing of it, similar to the way we view heterosexuality and all the movies that portray it. If we had in fact, grew up with this type of cinema as the norm, then I do believe many of us would reevaluate why we are heterosexual, or why we think we are.

Thus said a University of Buffalo sophomore in September 2014,, and another student in the same class was even more explicit:

Walking out of Feminist Theory on Wednesday I heard someone whisper to a classmate something along the lines, “… every time I walk out of this class I just become more sexually confused!” Evidently, what she said was meant to be humorous, but I couldn’t agree more with what she was really trying to say.
By taking Gender Studies classes, we are all very fortunate to see the world from a different, gendered lens. Sure, learning about different types of feminism and how gender effects our daily lives are incredibly important and relevant subjects, but the more I seem to learn, the more I question how the person I am today seems to be merely product of socialization.
Although I don’t agree entirely with radical feminist thought, it undoubtedly transmits revolutionary ideas that lead us to engage in introspection. This week I have definitely been looking back on instances or practices that could have possibly socialized me to be who I am today – which has proven to be very unsuccessful.
I am, and will always be, a feminist… but how are we supposed to get anywhere successfully if we can’t even agree [or in my case even understand] the roots of the problem(s) we face?

Both of these students were quoted verbatim, typos and all, with the emphases in the original. Students complain they “become more sexually confused,” as they are taught that their sexual identity and orientation are “socially conditioned” by “romantic love ideals.” Remember that, as the course description for GGS 228 explains, “feminist theory aims not only to produce knowledge, but also to provide a base for action.”

What kind of “base for action” is provided when teenagers are taught that heterosexuality is synonymous with “rape, domestic violence, possession, etc.”? What feminist action might be inspired by teaching college sophomores an ideology that never speaks of males except as dangerous, untrustworthy, violent oppressors? Gosh, I just don’t know.

Within academia, no one can criticize these radical ideas because campus feminists use terroristic tactics to silence dissent. If you dare contradict their totalitarian anti-male hate propaganda, they will accuse you by name of “perpetuating rape culture.”





 

Comments

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • iTellthetruth

    You hoes better know your damn role!

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  • RS

    Sure, learning about . . . how gender effects our daily lives are incredibly important and relevant subjects . . . .

    Quite.

    Towit: I can pee standing up.

  • http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/ Evi L. Bloggerlady
  • robertstacymccain

    And, of course, she meant “affect,” not “effect,” but hey, she’s a Gender Studies major, right?

  • RS

    My wife has a Ph.D. in language. English is her fourth language and her 800 page two volume dissertation was written in same. She is beside herself at what passes for university level humanities courses these days, the quality of academic prose and the Illiteracy (her term) of modern academics. Suffice it say, the error you cite would cause a major deduction in any paper she graded.

  • Adobe_Walls

    If I’ve understood what the feminists you’ve quoted wrote, feminism is merely another plot by the patriarchy (blessed be it’s name) to control women. Surely a conspiracy as ageless, thorough and all powerful as the patriarchy (blessed be it’s name) would have perceived the danger in it’s early stages and molded it from it’s inception to suit it’s purposes.

  • Nan

    If we found your secret abode, would we also find a crazy ton of empty liquor bottles in the recycling? Because this stuff would drive me to drink. These Bs are batshit crazy – that’s the medical diagosis.

  • Fail Burton

    That could be called Introduction to Failure.

    Here’s the difference between what they say inside and out:

    “Do you believe that women should have equal rights to men? Great! Then you are a feminist.” – Anita Sarkeesian on the Colbert Show

    “we don’t want equality within these oppressive systems.” – Anita Sarkeesian on an Australian panel discussion “How to be a feminist”

  • Fail Burton

    Older people seem to be driving younger people nuts.

  • SouthOhioGipper

    If disagreement equals hate anyway, then let’s just hate them for real and actively work to damage their reputations and lives! Why is it that we the “privileged ones” cannot use our total control of the system to just wipe them out?

    I just wish I could find a group of men who are willing to go to the same extremes feminists go to. For instance a few masked people could run into a feminist rally with stink bombs and urine filled soaker soaker and completely ruin their rallies. We need to adopt the same tactics they use.

  • Steve Skubinna

    I doubt you can damage their reputations and lives any more than they are doing it themselves. These people are essentially unemployable outside a university gender studies program. That’s a very small pool, and they keep peeing in it.

  • SouthOhioGipper

    Why are they so powerful then? Why do they have to power to destroy young mens lives at will and we don’t have the power to stop them politically or socially?

    If their ideas are SOOO CRAZY.. why are they so powerful that they can get laws passed that completely strip college men of their rights.. and why are college men putting up with this crap? Why are they so apathetic?

  • Prime Director

    the social construction of the gender binary within the heterosexual matrix

    socially constructed in a hayekian sense, i.e. the result of human action but not human design, yes

  • Daniel Freeman

    The biggest lie of feminism is that men are misogynists — that we hate women. It’s quite the opposite, so we tend to bend over backward to give them what they say they want.

    What would happen if they held a sex war, and men showed up?

  • Daniel Freeman

    We can’t use the same tactics because men and women are different. When a FEMEN activist glitter-bombed the president of the European Central Bank, her neotony made it cute. I might be able to look so harmless, but it would take work, and she didn’t even have to try.

  • Daniel Freeman

    Oh look, you have a troll for an avatar and your profile is private. I wonder what you are. /sarc

  • SouthOhioGipper

    I understand, it’s just in the world I live in, far far outside academia and deep in the blue collar working class.. people just don’t care about optics or image or what they may look like. They just kick the living crap out of anyone who insults them and if a jail sentence or other form of punishment is handed down to them, they gladly go to jail and reminisce about how they still kicked the crap out of their adversary.

    I really think that most middle class, college educated folks, don’t have the first clue about how the working classes interact with each other on a daily basis. It is brutal, dog eat dog,” I will kill you and take whats on your plate too bich.. what ya gonna do about it?”

    Then, I see the everyday circumstances of my life being theorized and churned over by people who never grew up in that environment, and can’t possibly have the slightest inkling and pat themselves on the back and say “We’re so smart, we know the working class better than they know themselves.”

    it really pisses me off! I just hate the fact that geeks, nerds, and other “intellectuals” with their fancy degrees and ivy league egos have the temerity to tell me about my own circumstances as if they know better than I what they are.

    Like the whole “you vote against your best interests by being a republican” meme. That insults my intelligence and tells me that I’m to stupid to know where my best interest lies.

  • Daniel Freeman

    All you have to do is just keep on talking. Say what you really think, just like that. Our task here is to change the culture, which happens by changing people’s brains, which we can do through their eyes and ears. Do the work and have hope.

  • Steve Skubinna

    Surely. Were I to charge the stage at such an event, however benign my intent, every security guy in sight would dog pile on me.

    I think 6’2″ and 220 lbs transcends cute and harmless.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Our esteemed host began:

    Until I started studying radical feminism, I never thought of “normal” as an achievement.

    And now you know why schools give out awards for just showing up.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Don’t most of them minor in English? Apparently you found one who did not.

    Of course, criticism of grammar is racist, sexist and heteronormative, and you should be roundly denounced for your microaggressive criticism of her.

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    Then the environmentalists would give him props for recycling!

  • http://www.journal14.com/ Dana

    SOG wrote:

    I really think that most middle class, college educated folks, don’t have the first clue about how the working classes interact with each other on a daily basis.

    No, they really don’t; the college edumacated middle class has become increasingly separated from the working class, and you can see it in how they vote: far too many of them believe that they know what’s best for the working class, and vote for policies that take decisions away from the working class, because we blue-collar people is just too stupid to know how to run our own lives.

  • robertstacymccain

    The dichotomy between feminism’s esoteric doctrine and its exoteric discourse is one of the key points I make in “Sex Trouble.” Honestly, I think most feminists have become so accustomed to this — speaking “mainstream” language to gain acceptance while fully aware of the fundamental radicalism of their goals — that they don’t even understand how dishonest it is. Furthermore, there are rather few educated and articulate critics of feminism, and thus it is easy for feminists to dismiss opponents as ill-informed bigots. It’s not until you go deep into the study of feminist theory, and then step back to view it objectively — the 30,000-foot perspective — that you realize what is really happening with the movement. And it’s scary.

    I keep saying: “People need to wake the hell up!”

  • Squid Hunt

    “Until I started studying radical feminism, I never thought of ‘normal’ as an achievement.”
    You know these lines would make excellent bumper stickers.

  • Squid Hunt

    If applying logic to arguments is sexist and heteronormative, then proper grammar is certainly verboten.

  • Squid Hunt

    Right. It’s a conspiracy to make women seem lunatic and out of control. But only the crazy ones.

  • Squid Hunt

    Strangely, I’m suddenly reminded of Black Panthers standing outside a voting booth swinging clubs telling people they better vote for Obama. Know your roles indeed, ladies. Or the left will have some strong words for you.

  • Daniel Freeman

    Even at 5’8″ and with a really trustworthy face, such that strangers tell me their innermost secrets, I would still have to act innocuous in order to get that far. All she had to do was act out.

    Men and women are different to begin with, and then feminism has propagated a threat narrative about men. Size differences are just an excuse that they use in their arguments; when it comes down to it, a small man is still a man.

  • Gunga

    Also, sarcasm is rape…

  • Gunga

    …for people who don’t mind having their cars vandalized repeatedly.

  • Squid Hunt

    Worth it.

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