ITHACA, N.Y. (U-WIRE) — Why can’t students be allowed to develop into good, honest individuals? Why do universities insist on forcing half-baked notions and ill-conceived theories on them? Young men and women should be encouraged to grow morally and intellectually, instead of being force-fed reasons why they should hate each other (excuse me, that’s, the Other). Just as we corrupt minority students with ideas of racial separatism, we pollute young women with something called “academic feminism,” which preaches hatred and mistrust instead of equality and understanding.
Surveys indicate that 70 percent of women don’t consider themselves feminists; and 70 percent of those who do consider themselves feminists don’t identify strongly with the term. Moreover, women under 25 are least likely to identify with the term “feminist”; women over 55 most likely. But in universities, feminism flourishes as another successful example of an academic conspiracy theory. This time, our professors tell us, it’s the males who oppress — always (and only) the males. According to the standard pronouncements, males have exploited women since the beginning of time, but now women have begun to break free of their chains.
Academic feminism, thus, is a technique by which a critic is able to determine the last remaining vestiges of the patriarchy — that is, the male-dominated society that men across the globe secretly formed thousands of years B.C. to keep women subordinate. Academic feminists have discovered that men have done this by promoting such sexist beliefs as “objectivity” and universally true knowledge. Newton’s “Principia Mathematica” was called a “rape manual” by Sandra Harding, author of “The Science Question in Feminism”, because Newton asserted — as men are known to do — that calculus was a branch of mathematics that was and would always be objectively true: man or woman, Anglo or Aleutian. No matter who does it, if y = sin x, then its derivative is cos x. Objectivity principles are attacked because they were developed by human beings, and humans are supposedly unable to ever escape subjectivity and understand abstractions.
To support this view, one particularly interesting basis of feminism has been their critique of formal logic, affirming that “logocentrism” (beliefs centered around the importance of language and logic) and “phallocentrism” (beliefs centered around the importance of the male reproductive organ) have united to form “phallologocentrism” and even “carnophallologocentrism” (all of which are terms that are actually in use). The conclusion to be drawn is apparently that meat-eating men are overly concerned with thinking logically.
Feminist scholars, on the other hand, encounter no such distractions. At Boston College, students enroll in Mary Daly’s “Mythic Patterns of Patriarchy I,” part of a series of courses examining “patriarchal religious myths and symbols,” as well as “the social constructions of reality that are engendered and legitimized by such myths and symbols.” During a very important section of the class, students scrutinize the unrelenting prevalence of all those various “manifestations of phallotechnology.” This is, obviously, a crucial factor in the development of a student’s intellect, and we can take comfort in Boston College’s assumption of the lead in the study of a subject so critical to modern society.
While we’re discussing education essentials, let me mention that, instead of Chaucer, Milton, Hemingway or Dickens (none of whom were offered when I looked) or any of a score of authors to complement the single course on Shakespeare, the University of California at Santa Cruz has decided to take a peculiarly leftward route to enlightenment. They offer “Feminist Cyborg Fiction.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, students now have the unprecedented opportunity to read about alien abductions of African-American women, “a lesbian of color vampire,” and the incredibly intriguing “Jewish near-future cyborg.” So many important works discussed in such a short amount of time! Let’s hope the professor does justice to the complexities of such issues. (Perhaps we should simply be happy that at least they’re reading books and not subverting the status quo by watching “Days of Our Lives” like they do at the University of Wisconsin in “Daytime Serials: Family and Social Roles.”)
Or, consider Camille Paglia, who, in addition to her other interesting notions designed to thwart the patriarchy, has jumped on the Marquis de Sade restoration bandwagon, apparently declaring that it is silly for students to read great works for the sake of growing as people, especially when such titillating fare is available. Sade is “a great writer and philosopher whose absence from university curriculum illustrates the timidity and hypocrisy of the liberal humanities.” His “endless murders and disasters are there for contemplation, not moral lesson,” because “these are ideas, not acts.”
How can reading about a man who takes pleasure from raping babies and throwing them into bonfires be said not to have moral consequences, especially when combined with academia’s current obsession with the idea of personal truths and moral relativism? Who knows? But, we can be pleased that Paglia has discovered a truth that we haven’t — a man’s bowels and sodomy in particular provide a “ritual entrance to the underworld,” as she has written, and so represent a rejection of established patriarchal religious beliefs. What fun.
And so on and so on. As if the relations between the sexes weren’t difficult enough.
Christopher Sant’s column originally appeared in Thursday’s Cornell University Daily Sun.