UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion has hung vertical banners across the main campus reminding students of the contemporary university’s paramount mission: assigning guilt and innocence within the ruthlessly competitive hierarchy of victimhood… “I will acknowledge how power and privilege intersect in our daily lives,” vows an Asian female member of the class of 2017. Just how crippling is that “intersection” of “power and privilege”? The answer comes in a banner showing a black female student in a backward baseball cap and a male Hispanic student, who together urge the Berkeley community to “Create an environment where people other than yourself can exist.” A naïve observer of the Berkeley campus would think that lots of people “other than himself” exist there, and would even think that Berkeley welcomes those “other” people with overflowing intellectual and material riches. Such a misperception, however, is precisely why Berkeley funds the Division of Equity and Inclusion with a cool $20 million annually and staffs it with 150 full-time functionaries: it takes that much money and personnel to drum into students’ heads how horribly Berkeley treats its “othered” students.
Jade Haney on blatant indoctrination and replacing facts with pretentious guilt:
Jack Flotte, a member of Regis University’s Social Justice and Spirituality Committee, opened the session by scolding his white peers and professors on their state of “white fragility,” saying, “Like it or not, we are already accomplices. The question becomes: to what end are we partners in the crime of continuing to perpetuate these systems that dehumanise and oppress people?” Flotte also advised white students and faculty to “spend less time being upset about accusations that you’re complicit and that white people are bad and spend more time being mad at the racism and suffering,” adding, “Stop changing the subject when race does come into a conversation. Not that you understand this concept of white fragility. You’re going to be made uncomfortable as white folks when the conversation of race comes up. But, just get over it and then channel that energy. Channel that guilt into activism.”
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.
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.
I’ve always been a feminist. I’m lucky. My mother, Jane Caro, is a feminist, as is my grandmother, and both always have been. It’s something I’ve never questioned and always felt confident and strident about. Just ask me about it at a dinner party (if you dare...)
Setting aside the prospect of some horrendous dinner parties, note Ms Dunning’s satisfaction with a set of assumptions that are stridently voiced and “never questioned.”
Motherhood has been quite a confronting experience for my feminism so far, and I'm sure it will continue to be. Ever since discovering I was pregnant it’s been a process of adjusting and reconciling my biology with my ideology, particularly when I discovered that my baby, my most-beloved Alfred, would be a boy.
That little red light is a warning sign.
I had never wanted a son. In fact, I had decidedly not wanted one. I wanted daughters, probably because I am one of two daughters and six granddaughters, no sons or grandsons. This seemed altogether to fit in with my feminism better… There were dark moments in the middle of the night (when all those dark thoughts come), when I felt sick at the thought of something male growing inside me.
Yes, I know. The little red light is flashing now. Best cover it with a towel.
In this patriarchal world, this world where even the best men (and women, for that matter) engage in casual and ingrained sexism, how will I raise a son who respects me the way a daughter would?
Oh sweet naïveté. But thank goodness that Ms Dunning, who “felt sick” at even the thought of “something male” growing inside her, is totally opposed to all that “casual and ingrained sexism.”
It’s a question I’m asked occasionally: “why do you use gendered pronouns for your son?” It’s no surprise, as I move entirely in queer circles, and am a non-binary person who uses “they” pronouns for myself instead of “he” or “she.” So naturally people wonder why I’m not allowing my son that neutrality.
I’m not sure that wilfully disregarding your son’s biological sex, and actively challenging it with a hint of self-congratulation, is actually neutrality.
My son was born with a penis and testes. They were identified five months before he was born. Everyone around me had started to ask the fatal question, “boy or girl?” every time they saw my bump. My brain screamed “neither” – it’s nothing! It’s a bundle of cells that doesn’t even have fingers yet!
My employer bought me a weird, cutesy towel-tree in a pastel blue, with little cars and aeroplanes on it. I shudder to think what the girl towel-tree looked like.
Isn’t it just terrible when people buy you gendered baby gifts? The unenlightened fuckers.
I have a large, supportive biological family, who are (as the vast majority of people are) uneducated on trans issues and the nature of pronouns. While the majority of them support my right to parent how I wish, very few of them would respect “non-standard” pronouns – they would revert to using whichever pronoun they think matches his genitalia whenever I’m not in the room, and even when present, they would need constant correction.
Pronoun correction, it’s what brings a family together. Though when relatives do this kind of thing during pregnancy, I suspect they’re not cooing about foetal genitals as such, so much as the psychology, the maleness or femaleness, that they generally signify and prefigure. Those cooing relatives may be affectionately anticipating what kind of person that little “nothing” may become.
This gets to the heart of why I made this decision: using non-binary pronouns is exhausting.
Well, quite. And at this stage of the game, it does look like an affectation that’s more about the parent than the child. After all, gendered pronouns are only apt almost all of the time.
As the ultimate private institution, the family is a stubborn obstacle to the great collective effort. Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward. “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility,” [MSNBC host, Melissa] Harris-Perry said of child-rearing, “and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”
This impulse toward the state as über-parent is based on a profound fallacy and a profound truth. The fallacy is that anyone can care about someone else’s children as much as his own. The former Texas Republican senator Phil Gramm liked to illustrate the hollowness of such claims with a story. He told a woman, “My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do.” She said, “No, you don’t.” Gramm replied, “Okay: What are their names?” The truth is that parents are one of society’s most incorrigible sources of inequality. If you have two of them who stay married and are invested in your upbringing, you have hit life’s lottery. You will reap untold benefits denied to children who aren’t so lucky. That the family is so essential to the well-being of children has to be a constant source of frustration to the egalitarian statist, a reminder of the limits of his power.
Echoes of this attitude – that your children shouldn’t be privileged in your affections above the children of others - can be found in the pages of the left’s national newspaper. As, for instance, when Arabella Weir insisted that parents must make sacrifices - not for their own children, of course, which would be selfish and irresponsible - but of their own children. For the Greater Good. Children, see, must learn “who to be wary of, who to avoid, how to keep their heads down” by mingling conspicuously with “people of different abilities” and “local roughs,” including local roughs who see bookish children as prey. By Ms Weir’s thinking, if you had a grim and frustrating experience at a state comprehensive school, you should still want to inflict that same experience on your own offspring. Ideally, by sending them to a disreputable school with poor educational standards, demoralised teachers and lots of people for whom English is at best a second language. This, then, is what makes “a good, responsible citizen.”
The notion of children as collective property, something to be distributed for optimal social effect, as determined by the left, isn’t hard to find. Nor is it hard to find the penalties for thinking otherwise. As when the Guardian’s education journalist Janet Murray, who is presumably familiar with the eye-widening surveys of state schooling teaching staff, decided to spare her daughter those same physical and psychological thrills. And was promptly denounced by her readers in no uncertain terms. At least a dozen commenters called Ms Murray “selfish” on
grounds that she is paying extra for her child’s education while also paying
via taxes for a state system that she doesn’t regard as fit for use. (Paying
twice, for her own child and for others, apparently makes her “elitist,” “uncaring”
and mean.) Amid the inevitable accusations of racism and moral degeneracy, several readers took comfort, indeed pleasure, in the belief that Ms Murray would soon be fired for her heresy thus leaving her unable to afford her daughter’s tuition. Proof, if more were needed, that the Guardian is read by the nation’s most caring, enlightened and tolerant people.
Readers will recall Amanda Marcotte, a popular leftwing feminist whose wisdom has entertained us more than once. Not least with her famous publishingblunder and subsequent, rather competitive, displays of racial consciousness. Nor should we forget Amanda’s belief that the inclination to reproduce is a dastardly social construct “preserved” by unnamed villains solely to ensure that women without children aren’t recognised as “complete individuals.” Some may treasure memories of Amanda’s evidence-free claim that critics of academic feminism, among them Daphne Patai and Christina Hoff Sommers, are “trying to oppress women.”
Ms Marcotte’s recent ruminations involve sympathy cards for men and women affected by abortion. Of particular interest to Amanda is the sympathy card for men whose partners have chosen to abort their child-to-be:
The card is question is produced by the Fatherhood Forever Foundation, a religious organisation opposed to current abortion law. Now one might disagree with the motives of the organisation and one might find the cards grimly cheesy and a dubious commercial prospect, but that isn’t what caught my eye. What’s interesting are the reactions of Ms Marcotte and her readers in a post titled Thwarted Sperm Finally Have An Advocate. It goes without saying the Sisterhood isn’t thrilled:
Anti-choicers [are] pretending that they just discovered they oppose abortion because it violates men’s rights over their uterine property (established by the “poke it/own it” law laid down in beer commercials).
Apparently abortion must be – can only be – an issue of “uterine property” and patriarchal control. After all, what other considerations could possibly be in play?
If he cares about the embryo so much then he should get to work on inventing a way to transfer the pregnancy into his own body. Oh, you don’t want this thing to leech off your body for several months? Well, I don’t either.”
Won’t someone think of the Man-Child?
Your sperm is in our thoughts and prayers.
The special sort of douchebag who would get all butthurt because his sperm was rejected is probably likely to have behaved like a complete and utter cock before the decision to abort.
Because if a woman chooses abortion and her male partner isn’t entirely happy at this outcome, even if he agreed with it and would defend it in principal, he must be a douchebag, a deadbeat or a dick. Such things are simply known by the ladies at Team Pandagon, where righteousness prevails, prejudice is unheard of and telepathy is commonplace.
Assuming you have any choice at all, picking their first school is also an alarmingly revealing moment for anyone who considers themselves to be a good, responsible citizen.
Weir’s definition of a “good, responsible citizen” will become apparent in due course.
It is a time when you find yourself assaulted by all sorts of terrors, nerves and unanswerable questions, most of which are so unedifying you cannot believe you are thinking them. Suddenly you forget about everyone else; it is all about your baby and only your baby.
Some might think of that as where ideology collides with actual parenting.
When it was our turn to decide, my husband and I were in the happy financial position of being able to consider private schools. We did not contemplate that option for long. Neither of us was educated privately…
Actually, Ms Weir attended the hardly-rough-and-tumble Camden School for Girls, a voluntary aided school, whose alumnae include Emma Thompson and Eva Germaine Rimington Taylor. Arabella is, lest we forget, the daughter of former British ambassador Sir Michael Weir and not short of a bob.
…and most of the least socially and emotionally capable people I know went to posh schools.
For us, then, it was a choice between the two local state primaries equidistant from our house. One is regarded as the Shangri-la of primaries, principally because it has an extraordinarily low number of disadvantaged kids despite being opposite a massive council estate. The other is much more representative of the area’s demographic. We chose the latter because we liked the school and because it felt like the right thing to do.
Here, the “right thing to do” has a sacrificial air and seems to mean trading educational opportunity – say, in terms of motivation, class size and a culture of learning - for an approved and “representative” social mix, i.e. one which involves mingling conspicuously with those deemed “disadvantaged”. Thus one’s leftist credentials can be seen by passers-by. Is this really about doing the right thing? Or is it just a matter of admiring one’s own socialist credibility?
Four years ago, following an unlucky combination of events, including the then headteacher’s departure, some disruptive building works and a fairly poor Ofsted report, the middle-class parents began to leave like rats from a sinking ship. At the very moment the school community was in greatest need of applied, dedicated parents and the enormous benefit their presence would contribute to halting the school’s further decline, they left.
For shame. Parents must make sacrifices, you hear? Not for their own children, of course, or for their peace of mind, but for the Greater Good.