In which we marvel at the mental entanglements of our self-imagined betters.
Our year began in academia with a discussion panel of stern and pious ladies. Among them, Professor Judy Haiven, who believes that male students mustn’t speak first and must always defer to women, until the menfolk learn their place in the ‘progressive’ pecking order. Professor Haiven denounced the evils of an alleged male “monopoly” in a campus environment where women outnumber men, and while sitting on a panel with no male participants, and with no-one present to argue a substantively different view. Days later, and while reminding the world that she’s “a Journalism Fellow at Harvard,” our dear friend Laurie Penny struggled with the thought that printed newspapers tend to have an even number of pages. And artists Eames Armstrong and Matthew Ryan Rossetti showed us how to improve Shakespeare by “transgressing conventions,” “destabilising visibility,” and shrieking incoherently in various states of undress.
In February, Professor Janice Fiamengo, a critic of campus feminism, illustrated just how readily feminist “activism” blurs into sadism and sociopathy, while exposing how leftist groups are indulged by administrators with what amounts to a unilateral license for thuggery, disruption and physical violence. A sort of light relief came via an introduction to mukbang, the South Korean phenomenon of watching strangers eat, prodigiously and at length, on the internet. Further distraction was offered by the world of performance art, students of which shook our tiny minds with “intersectional meaning,” “the politics of identity” and three whole hours of radical pavement mopping.
The rise of the hipster breakfast alarmed us in March, as did the more disastrous pretensions of ‘progressive’ education policy, in which classroom aggression was excused on grounds of race and imagined group victimhood, resulting in a widespread surge in violent assaults against staff and other students. As students’ hair was set on fire and female teachers were repeatedly punched in the face and hospitalised, “restorative justice co-ordinator” Eric Butler boasted, “I don’t blame, I don’t punish.” Adding insult to very real injury, white teachers who found themselves being beaten in class were subsequently asked not to press charges, because of the difficulties facing young black thugs burdened with criminal records.
April brought us the exquisitely tiny dramas of students at Harvard, where the emotional perils of a radical poetry slam became all too apparent, resulting in one student’s claim of fearing imminent death. Meanwhile, students at Stevenson College were left “harmed” and traumatised by an insufficiently sensitive buffet. Thankfully, saner voices prevailed in the pages of the Guardian, where Deborah Orr explained, or rather asserted, that the only vital qualification for presidential office is the possession of a vagina, the “symbolic power” of which “transcends all else.”
In May, we witnessed the intellectual heft of the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, including her belief that obesity isn’t chiefly a matter of inactivity and overeating but instead has a more pernicious cause, i.e., a lack of socialism: “It is inequality and disrespect,” we learned, “that makes people fat.” Though chunkier readers should note that waiting for a socialist revolution probably isn’t the best way to lose those extra pounds. We also pondered the deep ruminations of Marxist philosopher Adam Swift, who insists that reading to your children causes “unfair disadvantage” to the children of parents who are negligent and stupid, and should therefore induce feelings of guilt and discomfort. To our Marxist intellectual, being a competent, caring parent is something to atone for, being as it is an act of class oppression.
Self-imagined truth-teller Tiffanie Drayton was a highlight of June, as she presented the rules of dating brown-skinned feminists much like herself - rules that happily coincide with lots of opportunist freeloading. Because demanding that male suitors pay for everything, every time, is proof of her independence and empowerment as a radical black woman. Another treasured moment came in the shape of Mr Reed Altemus, a performance artist intent on “subverting oppressive discourses” and ending war and poverty. By amplifying his trousers. And the Guardian’s Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett shared her romantic recollections of being raised in a squat - an “Islington house furnished from skips” - before inviting readers to “imagine what you and your friends could do with a crowbar, a guitar,” and someone else’s property.
In July, the militant eco-collective Deep Green Resistance told us of their plans to “abolish masculinity,” “abolish whiteness” and bring about “complete economic collapse.” Thereby saving the world from people like thee and me. While the Guardian’s Aisha Mirza bemoaned the “psychic burden” of living among white people, which is worse than being mugged.
The politics of ostentatiously non-conformist hair was explained to us in August, thanks to Annah Anti-Palindrome, a woman who channels her hatred of “everyone around me” into her feminism. The same month also introduced us to the comically neurotic Melissa Fabello, whose interracial dating advice entails regular confessions of “white supremacy,” which “has to be acknowledged – and dealt with – constantly.” Especially before any sex can commence. Oh, and Guardian columnist George Monbiot revealed his hitherto secret passion for scavenging roadkill - and waving dead, twitching squirrels at bewildered children.
September was enlivened by another collection of agonised tweets from our leftist betters, while Guardian contributor Amy Roe indulged in a spot of recreational outrage and shared her harrowing experience as a “sweat-shame” survivor.
The eternally downhearted Michelle Hanson was inconsolable in October, on discovering that the superhero dolls bought by small children are not in fact geared to the ideological preferences of a self-described “single older woman” who writes for the Guardian. Thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Inclusive Excellence Centre, we learned that questioning the premises of “microaggressions” is itself now deemed a “microaggression” and therefore impermissible. And thanks to the left-leaning Independent, we learned of the alleged social benefits of paedophilia. The Independent also introduced us to the child-rearing skills of “non-binary” parent Dorian Stripe, who delights in buying dresses and tights for their infant son, and only grudgingly uses the pronoun ‘he’, supposedly because of the “one in one hundred chance my son will be transgender.”
In November, “intersectional feminist” Rachel Kuo instructed the unthinking white masses on the preconditions of ordering takeaway from any “ethnic” restaurant. A list that includes being intimately acquainted with regional politics, colonial history, and issues of “labour equity and immigration policy” – all before ordering that hot tossed chicken and sticky rice. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s Osman Faruqi, a “Sydney-based writer and activist,” demanded that someone else – taxpayers on the other side of the world – should pay for his leisure activities. Specifically, by nationalising Twitter. Mr Faruqi was subsequently astonished to hear that many readers had assumed his article was a cunning satire of leftist entitlement. Apparently, this failure to appreciate his seriousness and insight merely “shows how right-wing our political debate has become.”
And the year drew to a close with Laurie Penny touring the United States, after touring much of Europe and visiting Australia, and once again explaining how hard it is to be so radically left-wing, to be Laurie Penny. In the pages of Salon, Harvard-educated Silpa Kovvali was modishly insisting that gendered pronouns and honorifics are an “outdated linguistic tic” and therefore to be done away with. “Gender-neutral language should be the norm,” said she, on grounds that gendered pronouns are only accurate and expected practically all of the time. And on the cultural front, we savoured the delights of radical feminist poetry, courtesy of Ms Anna Binkovitz, and the breath-taking artistic feats of Ms Sandrine Schaefer, who inspired deep thought on many, many levels by gnawing at a lettuce while sprawling in her underpants.
Yes, we covered some ground.