Defined by Whining
March 12, 2009
Heather MacDonald takes a look at Victimology 101:
In December 2008, Yale University president Richard Levin announced a series of budget cuts to compensate for a 25 percent drop in the value of Yale’s endowment. This February, the university launched the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Resources to provide support for Yale’s homosexual community. According to its director, the new office is intended to make the “University feel like a friendly place as opposed to an alien, hostile place” to gays. The recession, it appears, is going to have little impact on the academic culture of victimology and the ever-growing bureaucracy that supports it. The idea that Yale is an “alien, hostile place” to gays is one of those absurd conceits that could only be maintained in the alternative universe of academia. Yale students and faculty are undoubtedly the most tolerant, least homophobic people on Earth; Yale helped launch the field of gay studies three decades ago and has only increased its involvement since.
Ah, but the drama must go on indefinitely. That’s the whole point. A while ago, in a post on the academic radical, I noted a tendency towards escalation:
The problem is that adversarial role-play has little to do with reason, refutation or how the world actually is. It does, however, have a great deal to do with how those concerned wish to seem. In order to maintain a self-image of heroic radicalism - and in order to justify funding, influence and status - great leaps of imagination, or paranoia, may be required. Hence the goal posts of persecution tend to move and new and rarer forms of exploitation and injustice have to be discovered, many of which are curiously invisible to the untutored eye. Thus, the rebel academic tends towards extremism, intolerance and absurdity, not because the mainstream of society is becoming more racist, prejudiced, patriarchal or oppressive – but precisely because it isn’t.
Unsurprisingly, this appetite for grievance and indulgence has been exploited and internalised by many students, especially those entranced by tribal identities and the leverage those identities make possible. (Not least among those who believe we live in the 1950s.) MacDonald goes on to list Yale’s pandering to this particular tribe, including lectures, conferences, professorships, elaborate nondiscrimination policies, the establishment of a Lesbian and Gay Studies Centre, the hiring of “special assistants for LGBTQ issues,” oral history projects, “critical analysis of queer and normative sexualities,” the provision and subsidy of “safe spaces” for LGBTQ students, and courses in “music and queer identities” and “gender transgression.” She continues,
In light of this history, one might think it impossible to maintain that Yale needs a new LGBTQ office in order to “feel like a friendly place as opposed to an alien, hostile place” to gays. Especially since the director of that new office, Maria Trumpler, has already been serving as “special assistant to the deans for LGBTQ issues.” But Trumpler herself charges that Yale has heretofore failed to confer on gays the power to form a community. If you’re tempted to ask why students require administration backing in order to form a “community,” you don’t understand the co-dependent relationship between self-engrossed students and the adults whose careers consist of catering to that self-involvement. Students in today’s university regularly act out little psychodramas of oppression before an appreciative audience of deans and provosts. The essence of those psychodramas is to force the university to recognize a student’s narrowly defined “identity” through ever more elaborate bureaucratic mechanisms. Rather than laugh the student players off the stage, the deans, provosts, and sundry other administrators willingly participate in their drama, intently negotiating with them and conferring additional benefits wherever possible.
In other words, enabling, in the pejorative sense. Obviously, as a gay man, I too feel aggrieved and entitled. Entitled, that is, to say, “Get the hell over yourselves, you whiny, parasitic little bitches.”
Ahem. Take a few minutes to read the whole thing.