The Other McCain

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The Queering of Feminism at Vanderbilt

Posted on | October 21, 2016 | 3 Comments

“Heterosexuality . . . is a highly unstable system, subject to various slippages, reliant upon carefully constructed individual performances of identity, and dependent upon the exclusion of homosexuality for its very identity. One could say that queer theory normalizes homosexuality by making heterosexuality deviant. Homosexuality ceases to be the exclusive site of sexual difference.”
Arlene Stein and Ken Plummer, “‘I Can’t Even Think Straight’: ‘Queer’ Theory and the Missing Sexual Revolution in Sociology,” in Queer Theory/Sociology, edited by Steven Seidman (1996)

“Welcome to WGS 160: Sex and Society. In this course we’ll work to develop a critical awareness of the historical, cultural, and social contexts of sexual diversity, discrimination, and sexual violence, while paying close attention to the centrality of sexuality to identity. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, we’ll also explore how systems of oppression such as heterosexism, racism, classism, and nationalism/Westernism mutually construct one another.”
Professor Rebecca Chapman, Vanderbilt University

“Society has dictated to women that we must act in accordance to its rules to maintain the heteronormative world in which we inhabit and by doing so, has placed limitations on the livelihood of women. . . .
“As Dr. Chapman stated in class, bodies who are read as female are more susceptible to being raped. In my opinion . . . sexual objectification, sexual socialization, heteronormativity, and sexual subjectivity, play a part in exacerbating this newfound rape culture. . . .
“Many times, rapes are justified using heteronormative logic.”

Takeydra Jones, Vanderbilt University, “Heterocentric Perpetuation of Rape Culture,” Oct. 15, 2014

A major difficulty faced by critics of radical feminism is demonstrating the connection between (a) the theories propounded by feminist intellectuals, and (b) the way these theories influence the beliefs and behaviors of students subjected to feminist indoctrination on college and university campuses. Quoting examples of the anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideology that defines 21st-century feminism, I have explained this in “The Queering of Feminism and the Silencing of Heterosexual Masculinity“:

According to feminist theory, male sexuality is inherently oppressive to women. . . . Feminists condemn any expectation that women naturally desire heterosexual relationships, and therefore might wish to make themselves appealing to males. Heterosexuality is “an institution of male domination,” as Sheila Jeffreys and her colleagues declared in 1981, and it is an “illusion that heterosexuality is the norm,” as Professor[Susan] Shaw and Professor [Janet] Lee more recently declared in their popular Women’s Studies textbook. The penis is a “weapon against women,” as Professor [Dee] Graham explained, women are victimized by “the coercive power of compulsory heterosexuality,” according to Professor [Stevi] Jackson, and masculinity causes “sexual violence . . . a physical reaffirmation of patriarchal power,” according to [Sara Carrigan] Wooten.

By demonizing men as oppressors, and stigmatizing normal male sexual behavior, feminist theory treats the male heterosexual perspective as fundamentally invalid, so that any man who objects to feminism’s insulting anti-male rhetoric can be disregarded. Indeed, any argument in defense of male heterosexuality is apt to be condemned as hate speech — “misogyny,” “rape culture,” etc. — on the 21st-century campus.


Feminism’s anti-male/anti-heterosexual ideology has given rise to the “campus rape epidemic” myth, fostering a climate of sexual paranoia among young women that Wendy McElroy rightly calls “hysteria.” Of course, the typical college boy is not a rapist, but because feminism treats normal male behavior and attitudes as inherently wrong (“sexist”), college girls are taught to regard the mere presence of males as a menace. Anything a man says or does could be a “triggering” experience, so she needs the shelter of “safe spaces” to protect her from emotional trauma.

Documenting the connection between what professors teach in the classroom and the attitudes of their students is difficult, because university Women’s Studies is a field generally shrouded in secrecy. Feminist ideologues who preside over these academic indoctrination programs learned long ago that their radical anti-male beliefs could not withstand external scrutiny. Professor Mary Daly banned male students from her classes at Boston College until a federal lawsuit over this discriminatory policy forced her retirement. Because controversy often erupts when the content of Women’s Studies classes is made public, even the syllabi for these courses are seldom available except to students enrolled in the courses, who are forbidden from recording the lectures.

One way to document the influence of feminist ideology is by tracing the use of specific terms from the academic jargon taught in university Women’s Studies programs, which was why I was doing a Google search for a combination of terms — “rape + objectification + heteronormative” — that yielded as the top result a page from a blog created by students in “Sex and Society” (WGS 160), as taught by Professor Rebecca Chapman during the Fall 2014 semester. Posting to this blog was a mandatory requirement for students in Professor Chapman’s class:

Over the course of the semester you are required to complete a series of posts involving our course blog category: “What’s Sex Got to do with…_____?” This category is for posting images, memes, links, news items, Buzzfeed quizzes, or anything else that you feel speaks to issues related to the politics of sex, sexuality, discrimination, and/or our readings and class discussion. It could also include anything that you believe especially deserves a feminist, Marxist, social constructivist and/or queer analysis.

This requirement produced an extensive online record of what students were learning in this freshman-level course at Vanderbilt University (annual tuition $45,610), and the category of “objectification” on this student blog was what turned up as the top result in my Google search.

Any intelligent person who studies feminist theory must realize that “objectification” is simply a pejorative epithet used by feminists to stigmatize men’s normal attraction to women. This anti-male propaganda rhetoric can be traced back to the 1968 protest against the Miss America pageant, when feminists condemned pageant contestants who “epitomize the roles we are all forced to play as women,” proclaiming that “women in our society [are] forced daily to compete for male approval, enslaved by ludicrous ‘beauty’ standards we ourselves are conditioned to take seriously.” Insofar as any man admires a woman’s beauty, or otherwise feels erotic interest toward her, feminists pronounce him guilty of “objectification.” If there is any way for a heterosexual man to escape this condemnation — to find a woman attractive without “objectifying” her — no feminist has ever described it. Every way a man might express sexual interest in women is always wrong (“sexist”), according to feminism, and no woman should ever “compete for male approval.”

Professor Chapman’s success in promoting this prejudice was evident in her students’ contributions to the course blog, which reflected the assigned readings for this Women and Gender Studies class. Three textbooks were required: Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus by Kathleen A. Bogle (2008); Introducing the New Sexualities Studies, edited by Steven Seidman, Nancy Fischer, and Chet Meeks (2011); and The Social Construction of Sexuality by Steven Seidman. The prominence of Professor Seidman on this list is significant, because he is a leading proponent of Queer Theory, who has written and edited such books as Queer Theory/Sociology (1996), Difference Troubles: Queering Social Theory and Sexual Politics (1997), Handbook of Lesbian and Gay Studies (2002, with Diane Richardson) and Beyond the Closet: The Transformation of Gay and Lesbian Life (2004).

Queer theory “normalizes homosexuality by making heterosexuality deviant,” as Professor Arlene Stein (Rutgers University) and Professor Ken Plummer (University of Essex) explain in their contribution to the 1996 anthology Queer Theory/Sociology, edited by Professor Seidman (SUNY-Albany). This hostile view of heterosexuality as “deviant” — a social problem to be discouraged — has been enthusiastically endorsed by Women Studies professors like Mimi Marinucci (Eastern Washington University), author of Feminism Is Queer: The Intimate Connection Between Queer and Feminist Theory (2010). Given the prominence of Professor Seidman in the field of Queer Theory, therefore, the fact that two of his books appeared on Professor Chapman’s syllabus could be considered an endorsement of this anti-heterosexual agenda, even without the testimony of her students to confirm this.

The Social Construction of Sexuality denies that there is anything natural about sexual behavior. Human beings have no biological impulses, no innate reproductive urge, no physical, psychological or emotional need for sexual intimacy, according to this theory, so that it is wrong to speak of any sexual instinct or “sex drive” in humans. All our behaviors, attitudes and preferences are “socially constructed,” according to Professor Seidman, which means that it wrong to believe men are naturally attracted to women, or vice-versa. In his book, Professor Seidman condemns any belief in heterosexual marriage as “the model or ideal of intimacy,” because this “devalues” and “stigmatizes” other “intimate choices.” Furthermore, Professor Seidman explains in Chapter 12, “privileging heterosexuality means enforcing a gender order that sustains dichotomous gender roles that constrain men . . . while systematically disadvantaging women.” So while arguing that all sexual behavior is “social constructed” (i.e., there is no natural form of sexuality), Professor Seidman insists that heterosexuality is inherently harmful because it requires “gender roles” that oppress women.

By assigning this book as required reading for her freshman-level course on “Sex and Society” at Vanderbilt, Professor Rebecca Chapman thereby offered this as the university’s official view of human sexuality. If students in WGS 160 were provided with any alternative theory — perhaps one involving chromosomes, hormones, hereditary traits, and sexual dimorphism — there is no indication of this on the syllabus. Instead, what we find is students like Takeydra Jones blaming “heteronormative logic” for rape. In support of this, Ms. Jones cites two assigned readings from Introducing the New Sexuality Studies, one by Professor Deborah Tolman (Hunter College/CUNY) and another by Professor Kristen Barber (Southern Illinois University). Ms. Jones asserts that “women are sexually objectified as props for men and their desires” and that “sex is about male dominance and female subordination.” This is very radical feminism and, considering that Ms. Jones based her argument on assigned textbook readings, we must conclude that this view is endorsed by Professor Chapman, representing ex officio the institutional authority of Vanderbilt University.

The chancellor of Vanderbilt University is Nicholas Zeppos, who is married to Lydia Howarth, with whom he has two sons. Does Chancellor Zeppos objectify his wife as a prop for his desires? Does the Vanderbilt chancellor dominate his wife, imposing “subordination” on her? Would we be “privileging heterosexuality” to speak of Nicholas Zeppos’s marriage as a “model or ideal of intimacy”? Is the chancellor of Vanderbilt, whose annual salary exceeds $2 million, “enforcing a gender order” that is “systematically disadvantaging” his wife Lydia?

Probably the chancellor and his wife would object to anyone who described their marriage this way, and yet this is what is being taught to Vanderbilt freshmen in the Women and Gender Studies program. These teenage students, whose parents are paying $45,610 a year in tuition for them to attend Vanderbilt, are being indoctrinated in an extreme version of feminist ideology that blames “heteronormativity” and “gender roles” for every evil in human society, especially including rape.

The WGS 160 blog’s entries tagged “heteronormativity” include this one:

We have talked about many concepts, but the idea of heteronormativity seems to come to mind in every one of them. Our society is extremely heteronormative . . . It comes down to something so simple as stating that heterosexuality is privileged in our society. . . . [I]t is going to take a lot of time and hard work to make our society completely equal in sexual orientations.
In addition, the idea of heteronormativity completely enforces gender stereotypes in our society. Males are the dominant gender, and females are left behind them. Heterosexuality enforces this because in the relationship, males are the bread winners and are supposed to have traits like dominance, physical strength, toughness, and being emotionless. Females, on the other hand, are supposed to stay at home and take care of children, cook, and clean and have traits like care, love, emotion, and less physical strength than men. Heteronormativity enforces these stereotypes because in a heteronormative relationship, these traits and ways of life are how it’s “supposed” to be.

Here’s a simple question: Why?

It is crucial to ask why are men or women “supposed” to be certain ways? Who “enforces gender stereotypes in our society”? How and why are these stereotypical “traits” enforced by heteronormativity? Isn’t it true that men with certain traits, such as high incomes and physical strength, are considered more attractive by women? Isn’t it possible that Chancellor Zeppos’s $2 million salary might have something to do with his wife’s willingness to provide him “care, love, emotion,” etc.? While I doubt whether his physical strength or toughness has anything to do with his job at Vanderbilt, probably his wife doesn’t think of Chancellor Zeppos as a weakling. My point — in case it was not obvious — is that “heteronormativity” confers advantages on men and women who possess traits generally considered desirable by the opposite sex, so that men normally strive to be what women want men to be, and vice-versa.

This takes us back to the 1968 Miss America protest and the feminist complaint that women were “forced . . . to compete for male approval,” that women are “enslaved by ludicrous ‘beauty’ standards.” Again, why?

Why is “male approval” so necessary to women that they consider themselves “forced” to compete for it? And how do “standards” of beauty, as epitomized by Miss America contestants, “enslave” women? Oh, that’s right — “heteronormativity,” a word feminists had yet to invent in 1968, but which explains what the Miss America protest was really about: Feminists dislike the normal behavior of normal men, including the normal man’s admiration of beauty. Of course, feminists don’t complain that women have their own normal behavioral patterns of typical traits and attitudes, likes and dislikes. It never occurred to any feminist that men may consider ourselves “forced” to compete for female approval. Are men “enslaved” by the “standards” women expect us to uphold?

In fact, men devote enormous effort to winning female approval, and no feminist would ever waste time listening to any man complain that the standards by which women judge men are “ludicrous.” Why? Because women don’t care about men’s feelings. Period. End of sentence.

The student who says it is a “gender stereotype” of “heteronormativity” for men to be “emotionless” fails to ask the crucial question: Why?

It is not a “stereotype,” but quite rational, to expect that men will strive to affect a pose of imperturbable calm — cheerful, sanguine confidence — if these are traits which women generally admire in men.

One notices, for example, how feminists viciously mock advocates of “men’s rights.” Why? Because they regard these men as whiny losers, which is how all women view any man who complains about his life.

Women only admire men who succeed — winners — and if a man loses, he is expected to accept defeat with stoic silence. Women have zero sympathy for any man who loses a competition, and certainly no woman respects a man who complains that the competition was unfair.

Anyone who carefully observes human behavior understands this, and if men seem “emotionless,” we should not be surprised. Therefore, no matter how badly a man might get screwed over in a divorce settlement, he is expected to laugh this off — c’est la vie! c’est l’amour! — rather than to complain that the judge was biased against him. However cruel, selfish and vindictive his ex-wife might be, the divorced man is expected to accept his fate placidly, to “take it like a man” and never complain.

Life is simply not fair. Adults have a responsibility not only to accept the inevitable unfairness of life, but also to teach young people how to cope with the harsh realities of human existence in an unfair world.

Complaining about “heteronormativity” is the ultimate in useless whining, because (a) heterosexuality is and must always be normal, and (b) anyone who doesn’t understand this needs to re-take Biology 101.

It is only the extraordinary affluence that industrial capitalism produces, and the taxpayer-supported welfare programs that our astonishing prosperity makes possible, that permit anyone to imagine that our society could survive without “gender roles,” “heteronormativity,” etc. And we find that such fanciful beliefs are associated with cultural decadence — declines in religious belief and patriotism, rising rates of divorce, crime, suicide, and drug addiction. Birth rates in the United States are at an all-time low, and sexually transmitted diseases are at an all-time high. Prostitution and pornography are rampant. Heroin overdoses are a more common cause of death in many states than automobile accidents. Our borders are being overrun by an endless invasion of illegal immigrants. We have seen a surge of race riots from Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore to Charlotte. Police are targeted for assassination, and we have been repeatedly attacked by Islamic terrorists. American civilization is collapsing into anarchy, and what are students paying $45,610 a year to learn at Vanderbilt University? The evils of “heteronormativity” and “gender roles,” in classrooms where the textbooks are written by advocates of Queer Theory.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Life at Vanderbilt University is a cultural center and a place of affirmation for individuals of all identities, and a resource for information and support about gender and sexuality. LGBTQI Life serves all members of the Vanderbilt community — students, faculty, staff, and alumni — by creating educational, cultural, and social opportunities. The office also supports and advises LGBTQI-related campus groups and activities.

How many LGBTQI students are there at Vanderbilt? There are fewer than 7,000 undergraduates at Vandy and, while they might enroll an unusually large number of sexual deviants, do they really need an office with four staffers to provide “information and support” to these weirdos? How much money does Vanderbilt spend on its LGBTQI support program? How much does the university spend on the Women’s and Gender Studies department? And what do they spend on football? In case you haven’t noticed, the Commodores are one of the worst teams in the Southeastern Conference, and are currently fifth place in the SEC East. Are Vanderbilt football players enrolled in WGS 160? Are they being taught not to exhibit “traits like dominance, physical strength, toughness,” and is that why they’ve only won three games this season?

Pardon me for suggesting that Vanderbilt might win more games if they started enforcing heteronormative gender roles, but when Vandy students talk about “reclaiming the F word,” it’s obviously not football.



3 Responses to “The Queering of Feminism at Vanderbilt”

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    […] The Queering of Feminism at Vanderbilt A major difficulty faced by critics of radical feminism is demonstrating the connection between (a) the theories propounded by feminist intellectuals, and (b) the way these theories influence the beliefs and behaviors of students subjected to feminist indoctrination on college and university campuses. […]