In which we glimpse the world through the eyes of our self-imagined betters.
The year began with news that living in Glasgow is now to be considered a work of art, according to Ellie Harrison, a taxpayer-funded artist who, coincidentally, lives in Glasgow. We also witnessed the talents of Sandrine Schaeffer, who teaches the subtleties of performance art to those less gifted than herself, and who unveiled “a series of research based actions in public spaces” – i.e., walking repeatedly past automatic doors. Gorged on art, our attention then turned to academic matters and the ruminations of Dr Riyad A Shahjahan, an exponent of “social justice theory” and “pedagogies of dissent.” Dr Shahjahan wished to impress on us that “the norms of neoliberal higher education” – specifically, expectations of punctuality and academic competence – are both racist and oppressive.
February saw a multi-million-dollar experiment in progressive crime prevention – a project that was as bold as it was unsuccessful - namely, bribing known criminals to not commit further crimes. And Ms Celia Edell, a “24-year-old feminist philosopher interested in social justice,” explored the thorny conundrum of whether feminism is compatible with the eating of bacon sandwiches.
In March, we beheld the artistic work of Sandrine Schaeffer’s students - feats that included drooling, doomed horticulture and masochistic thigh-scarring. And feminist “creative” Katherine Garcia attempted to justify her sub-optimal life choices. Ms Garcia, who describes herself as a “multi-dimensional creature” doing “enlightening work,” was shocked to discover that getting heavily into debt to pursue a grad school degree in Women and Gender Studies isn’t a sure-fire path to status and prosperity.
April was enlivened by the highly-wound students at Edinburgh University, whose meetings forbid expressions and gestures that “denote disagreement,” and where even quietly shaking one’s head is a scandalous transgression. In the pages of Everyday Feminism, Ms Kai Cheng Tom bemoaned the fact that “disorders like violent psychopathy” are “generally considered unlikeable,” and that “compassion for psychopaths, pathological liars, or narcissists” – people such as herself – is hard to come by. And over at the Guardian, Grayson Perry, a part-time transvestite and maker of unattractive pottery, disdained masculinity as “useless” and “counter-productive,” a mere “hangover” from more primitive, less Guardian-friendly times.
In May, the “social justice” juggernaut Hari Ziyad railed against conformism and idle stereotypes, while denouncing the “white supremacist cisheteropatriarchal capitalistic gaze,” and exhorting us to spend more time fretting about “gender non-conforming Indigenous people with disabilities.” And the no less non-conformist Laurie Penny announced that she “leans towards anarcho-communism,” which, rather conveniently, means that your money actually belongs to her.
Highlights of June included a visit to the MIX NYC Queer Experimental Film Festival, where Eames Armstrong and Matthew Ryan Rossetti revealed the full extent of their “emerging talents” by shedding items of clothing, chugging on beer and struggling half-heartedly with a distortion pedal. Laurie Penny returned to share her not-at-all-disastrous lifestyle advice, while listing the oppressions supposedly inherent to marriage, including the preparation of food – which unmarried people never have to do, of course – and the unpaid “emotional labour” of remembering birthdays.
In July, readers of the Guardian – a paper whose ongoing massive losses continue to mystify - were alerted to yet another alarming workplace hazard – namely, the dangers of free cake, which the paper’s columnists are apparently unable to resist or politely decline on account of all that feminist empowerment and mental independence. Days later, in the pages of Everyday Feminism, an anonymous feminist of girth explained to her readers that their not being fat makes them complicit in her oppression. You see, maintaining a body of practical proportions, such that one can be accommodated by the average cinema seat, constitutes “fat shaming” and is therefore a form of harassment.
Student activist and avowed “feminist killjoy” Josefin Hedlund turned heads in August, with her desire to correct our erotic preferences, which are unequally “distributed,” by steering us away from the “violent norms” of conventional attractiveness and agreeable personalities. Apparently, we should “resist” the “hetero- and cis-normative, patriarchal, capitalist, and hierarchical structures in society” by ogling porn featuring people we don’t fancy. Oh, and “menstrual activist” Iris Josephina Verstappen bled down her legs and waited to be applauded.
In September, we discovered that setting classmates’ hair on fire and punching teachers in the face is how black students “engage in learning.” Because, according to left-leaning educators, “African-American boys” are more “physical” and “demonstrative.” Thanks to students at DePauw University, we learned, in no uncertain terms, that there’s no way to please the competitively indignant. Such that, even if you signal your approval of their psychodrama and gratuitous disruption – say, by applauding it – this too will be deemed offensive, an insult to the protestors’ heroic struggle. We also marvelled at the mental contortions of Everyday Feminism editor Melissa Fabello, who dismissed the views of “cis, white, straight dudes” as invalid by default and unworthy of attention, and then demanded respect as “an intellectual being.”
Ms Fabello’s struggles with reciprocity and logic entertained us again in October, when she informed us that, irrespective of their behaviour, “all men” are “suspect in the eyes of feminism,” that the world “is divided into the oppressed and the oppressors,” and that the only possible salvation for an accursed male person is vicarious shame, round-the-clock anxiety, and continual deference to people like Ms Fabello. Meanwhile, at the University of California, Berkeley, leftwing students proved how not-at-all-racist they are by triumphantly abusing random white people. At the University of Cape Town, students displayed their radicalism by claiming that black Africans can throw lightning at their enemies. And Dr Jennifer Nash, an associate professor of African American Studies at Harvard, turned her mental cutting beam to the “understudied” subject of “the black female anus.”
In November, attention turned to DePaul University, where the official rationale for cancelling lectures by non-leftist speakers was that the university would be unable to protect either the speakers or their audience from disruption and thuggery by its own students. And “social justice” devotee Hannah Brooks Olsen wished to educate us about the poverty of “millennial college grads,” as experienced by herself, and which, she insisted, had nothing whatsoever to do with her own vanities and choices. Like spending $65,000 on a degree in English literature and rhetoric, and then describing herself to potential employers as “a political troublemaker.”
The year drew to a close with feminist Polly Dunning explaining how motherhood is an opportunity to berate and correct any male children. Ms Dunning, who “felt sick” at the thought of “something male” growing inside her, is now enthused by the prospect of pointing out her son’s sexism “at every turn.” And an entrepreneurial duo of “black femme freedom fighters” devised a way to exploit pretentious racial guilt by inviting white people to atone for their whiteness with monthly “reparations” of $100. People of pallor can thereby prove to their equally neurotic peers that, despite being white, they’re not like all those other awful white people.
And remember, they’re showing us the way.