The Year Reheated

In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.

The year began on a highbrow note as the University of Denver’s Professor Ryan Evely Gildersleeve informed the world that laziness is a “a political stance,” a way to “combat the neoliberal condition,” and a “tool for contributing to social justice.” Half-arsed incompetence is, we were assured, both radical and empowering. The professor also shared his belief that plastic is sentient. Inanimate objects also troubled Dr Jane Bone, a senior lecturer at Monash University, Melbourne, who specialises in “feminist post-structural perspectives” and the political implications of problematic furniture. Dr Bone’s research involves quite a lot of “embodied knowing,” i.e., visiting IKEA and sitting on chairs. Her work, she revealed, is “not necessarily logical.” Further feminist insights came via Phoebe Patey-Ferguson, whose feminist fight club is “a mode of resistance,” because the spectacle of unhappy ladies body-slamming each other and breaking each other’s ribs is an obvious way to “destroy the Conservative government” and “bring down the patriarchy.”

In February, we turned our attention to the world of aesthetics, where performance artist Sandrine Schaefer presented her buttocks to the world then waited for applause. We also learned that space exploration is all about “abuse” and “male entitlement,” thanks to Women’s Studies educator Marcie Bianco. Ms Bianco, who claims that sending spacecraft to Mars is akin to grabbing ladies’ genitals, teaches “social justice courses” at Rutgers University and John Jay College.

The ability of Jordan Peterson to trigger fits of theatrical hysteria among leftwing students was a highlight of March, when an attempt to speak at Queen’s University, Ontario, resulted in memorable and telling scenes, as students unleashed their inner screeching id. Also memorable, though for very different reasons, was this short, rather lovely film by Alex Gorosh and Wylie Overstreet. And at Simmons College, where recreational indignation is very much in fashion, and annual tuition is a mere $40,000, we learned that responding to a sneeze with the words “bless you” is problematic and oppressive, and that compiling lists of things that are problematic and oppressive, and therefore to be avoided, is itself problematic and oppressive.

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For newcomers, some items from the archives:

Do Not Feed The Narcissists.

“Social justice” howler monkeys prove difficult to please.

So, to recap. Forty or so “social justice” activists disrupt a keynote address at DePauw University, holding signs that scold the audience for being insufficiently deferential to the protestors’ racial fixations and delusions of being oppressed. Being schooled in “privilege and identity,” and therefore suitably cowed and pretentious, the audience starts applauding the disruption, and applauding the scolding being aimed at them. And then those applauding are promptly scolded for doing so.

But I Am Not Androgynous

Salon’s Silpa Kovvali insists that gendered pronouns must be abolished. Everyone, she says, is a “they.”

Ms Kovvali believes that gendered pronouns and honorifics are an “outdated linguistic tic.” And not a useful, rather concise source of information, a signal of respect, and a way of clarifying who it is we’re talking about. Despite her claims, almost all of us seem quite happy to be referred to as either male or female, as if it were in fact “relevant,” and the demand for gender-neutral pronouns remains, to say the least, a niche concern. I’d even venture to suggest that some of us might feel slighted by the wilful omission of – diminishing of – our respective maleness or femaleness. However, Ms Kovvali feels a need to inform those less enlightened, i.e., the rest of us, that, “The goal is greater inclusion… to be respectful to those we write about, and to be clear to our readers.” By risking affront on a daily basis and introducing a clumsy and needless ambiguity. Because vagueness is the new clarity.

It’s A Fascist Groove Thang

Leftist students indulge in thuggery. Laurie Penny lies about it.

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He’s Being Rugged, And We Can’t Have That

Transvestite potter says Bear Grylls is a bad influence, denounces masculinity as “useless” and “counter-productive.” 

It’s true that rafting skills and urine-drinking may be niche concerns and of obvious practical use only to explorers, hardy outdoors types, and people whose package holidays have gone catastrophically wrong. But – and it’s quite a big one - there’s something to be said for seeing people in unfamiliar and rather trying circumstances achieving more – sometimes much more - than they thought they ever could. Which is both the premise and appeal of Mr Grylls’ various, quite popular TV programmes. However, showing people that they may be much more capable than they previously believed, resulting in a sense of great personal satisfaction, is apparently unimportant, a mere “hangover” from more primitive, less Guardian-friendly times.

She’s Seething With Empowerment

Polite man holds door open for woman. Woman starts screaming.

No amount of public speaking or articles in the Guardian is likely to have much effect on how people in general may view the eye-catchingly rotund in terms of physical attractiveness. It’s a pointless endeavour, like shouting at rain. The more practical alternative, the one over which a person might exert some actual leverage, is losing weight, such that one can breathe properly and is not in continual discomfort, as the author admits, or not becoming quite so huge in the first place. Thereby avoiding the mental and emotional complications exhibited above, such as acting like a mad woman and bullying a stranger for being nice to you.  

Flatter, Mythologize, Rinse, Repeat

According to the New York Times, Laurie Penny is oppressed, and also a cyborg.

By all means take a moment to realign your mind with the notion of Ms Penny as a “cyborg” writer and in some way marginalised - “marked as other” – and struggling against the pressures of not being heard. Except of course when she’s on TV, or Five Live, or Radio 4, or when airing her various and bewildering concerns in the pages of the Guardian, the New Statesman and the Independent.

There’s more, should you want it, in the greatest hits. And tickling the tip jar is what keeps this place afloat. 

The Year Reheated

In which we marvel at the mental contortions of our self-imagined betters.

The year began with searing insights from the world of academia. Specifically, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where black student activists denounced objectivity as an “alienating” concept, and issued numerous demands, allegedly to challenge stereotypes of student laziness and inadequacy. It turns out that the way to avoid any appearance of such things is to complain about the “stress and anxiety” of being corrected, or disagreed with, especially by people who are insufficiently brown and deferential. Elsewhere, the psychological reverberations of Donald Trump’s election victory continued to be felt, as when a charmingly progressive lady sensed a fellow plane passenger’s failure to vote as she did and promptly threatened to vomit on him. Other pious lefties signalled their moral superiority by planning to sabotage transport infrastructure, stranding and distressing countless random people, and thereby reminding us that “social justice” posturing is often difficult to distinguish from petty malice or outright sociopathy. Meanwhile, Laurie Penny preferred to advocate “spite” as a guiding progressive principal, as if this were a new and novel development.

February provided further illustrations of this fashionable malice, as when educators at the University of Cincinnati bemoaned the fact that their attempts to inculcate unrealism, dishonesty and pretentious racial guilt were still being met with pockets of resistance. Objecting to slander and brow-beating by bigoted mediocrities is, we learned, merely “white fragility” and therefore, somehow, damning proof of racism. Racial fixations were also in play at the Writing Centre at the University of Washington, Tacoma, the stated goal of which is to “help writers succeed in a racist society,” a goal to be achieved by denouncing grammar as “an unjust language structure,” and the correction of punctuation as “an oppressive practice.” Because those ungrammatical job applications, the ones enlivened with incomprehensible sentences and lots of inventive spelling, will do just fine. We also learned of the steep price to be paid for small acts of courtesy – namely, holding open a door for a Guardian contributor with weight issues and a gift for hysterical screaming

Accessorising was an unexpected topic of discussion in March, when the crushingly put-upon students at Pitzer College, Claremont, California, informed the world that “winged eyeliner and big hoop earrings” are “an everyday act of resistance,” and should therefore be the exclusive ornamentation of the slightly brown and radical. Elsewhere, at Middlebury College, Dr Charles Murray attempted to give a lecture on, among other things, the dangers of tribalism and social fragmentation, only to be met with tribal hysteria and an actual riot, complete with slanderous chants, hospitalised staff and students wearing ski masks

In April, the immense, frustrated love machine Caleb Luna wondered why his Grindr profile attracts so little interest. Carefully sidestepping the possibility of weight loss, Mr Luna decided that the rest of us must “interrogate” our “phobias,” which is to say our preferences, and consequently start lusting after “alternative bodies.” Specifically, bodies like Mr Luna’s. Avoiding the obvious was also a theme in the world of performance art, where Shannon Cochrane and Márcio Carvalho unwittingly entertained us with their deep thoughts, shifting paradigms and heads wrapped in meat. Another highlight of the month came via Everyday Feminism’s Emily Zak, who wanted us to know that the allure of fresh air is, like everything else, terribly oppressive, due to the “painfully heteronormative” nature of wildland firefighting, and a shortage of adverts featuring gay people kayaking in a suitably gay-affirming manner. 

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But Why Aren’t People Rushing To Buy My Art? 

In which we brave the bleeding edge of conceptual performance.

For those who may be confounded by the profundity of the piece, a handy walk-through guide points out that the performance will encourage among onlookers “a deeper level of critical thought.” The guide notes, rather earnestly, that the first attempt, by Mr Carvalho, to envelop his head in bread, string and assorted meat products, prompted more amusement from the tiny audience than the subsequent repetition of it by Ms Cochrane. This is presented as an invitation to “a fundamental shift in paradigm” and some allegedly profound insight into gender politics. Or, how “different actions are read on different bodies.” Our artistic deep thinkers are seemingly unaware of the concepts of novelty and diminishing returns.

An Eighteen-Year Project

Proud feminist Polly Dunning shares her experience of motherhood.

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.” 

Insufficiently Swiped

Immense, frustrated love machine Caleb Luna wonders why his Grindr profile attracts so little interest.

The option of weight loss isn’t explored, at all. Instead, it seems, we should all “interrogate” and “expand” our desires via immersion in intersectional dogma: “You can start by diversifying the range of bodies you allow into your pool of sexual possibilities,” says he. Thus empowered, we will overcome our “phobias,” which is to say our preferences, and consequently start lusting after “alternative bodies.” Specifically, bodies like Mr Luna’s. 

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Or, So Empowered, Yet Oppressed By Everything. 

Faced as we are with the news that Everyday Feminism may soon flicker out of existence, leaving a gaping void in our intellectual lives, perhaps it’s time to revisit some of the many offerings to have entertained us, albeit inadvertently:  

Lofty Beings

Feminist “creative” and “multi-dimensional creature” Katherine Garcia attempts to justify her sub-optimal life choices. Things go badly wrong.

The Mouthing Of Bollocks

Rachel Kuo tells us how to order takeaway in a suitably fretful and intersectional manner.

Undone By Her Radical ‘Do.

A “white grrl with dreadlocks” atones for her “whiteness” and “appropriated” hair.

An Intellectual Being

Melissa Fabello is a feminist intellectual and therefore terribly oppressed. How dare you question her?

Fat We Can Fix, The Excuses Are Trickier

An empowered feminist of girth says not being fat makes you complicit in her oppression.

Poverty And How To Get There

“Social justice” devotee describes herself to employers as “a political troublemaker,” and wonders why employment is hard to find.

Do Not Date Bedlamites

Melissa Fabello shares her interracial dating advice with those less enlightened. Naturally, it’s complicated.

Unseen Energies

“As a witch,” says Kris Nelson, “it is my responsibility to engage in radical politics.” She’s also clairvoyant and sells magic sea shells.

Oh, you laugh now, but who will scold us when they’re gone?

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For newcomers, more items from the archives:

An Intellectual Being Rides Again

Empowered feminist Melissa Fabello explains the deep, deep trauma of being disagreed with.

Ms Fabello chastises those who ironically use the term “social justice warrior” – which, she explains, is an “invalidating behaviour,” one that can get “really oppressive really quickly.”

We Can’t Promise Not To Hit You

The Clown Quarter is a foretaste of left’s corrected, more compassionate society. Hence all the threats and punching.  

To recap, the university’s stated rationale for censorship is that it can’t protect either the speakers or their audience from disruption and thuggery by its own students, which is quite an admission, really. And as we’ve seen, the threat of physical intimidation and mob harassment – by these would-be intellectuals of the left – is quite real. What the university doesn’t admit, however, is that this problem won’t be solved by banning any speakers deemed remotely controversial – in this case, two speakers who prefer evidence and debate over threats and hysteria. The problem will only be addressed, or begin to be addressed, when leftist students no longer feel that mob censorship and physical intimidation are things they can get away with, and get away with repeatedly, without facing consequences. Say, being expelled.

You’re Doing It All Wrong.

Avowed “feminist killjoy” Josefin Hedlund wants to correct your erotic preferences and make them egalitarian. For “social justice.”

Love and sex are unequally “distributed,” says Ms Hedlund, with an unfair amount of both going to people who are deemed lovable and attractive by the people loving them, and not to insufferable sociopaths with horrific disfigurements. Or, one suspects, self-styled “feminist killjoys.” And this is because of capitalism. It’s “obvious,” you see. 

There’s more, should you want it, in the greatest hits. And tickling the tip jar is what keeps this place afloat. 

The Year Reheated

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.

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For newcomers, more items from the archives:

Well, Soil Is Sort Of Brown

Your furniture choices are informed by the “crisis in white identity,” says sociology lecturer. And Gardeners’ Question Time is all about race.

Given the Guardian’s intense gravitational pull on certain kinds of stupid, it was perhaps inevitable that Dr Pitcher would find a welcome there. Now it turns out that squirrels are yet another proxy for “our” unspoken racial sentiment. Our esteemed intellectual, who divines hidden racism by means of his third eye, is hurt by the avalanche of mockery aimed at his earlier pronouncements, claiming his words have been misconstrued, while also claiming that same derision proves him right, and while repeating the very claims that resulted in laughter. He does, however, concede that “the uprooting of… Japanese knotweed is... not necessarily motivated by racist intent.”  

Ladies First

You men must learn your place in the progressive pecking order.

“On television interviews, on platforms and political meetings, at any presentations — if there’s no woman speaker, then the event does not take place,” says Professor Haiven. By which she means, such gatherings should not be permitted. She’s quite emphatic on this point. Professor Haiven is also keen on punishing people who say things of which she doesn’t approve, and which she casually conflates with acts of violence. And this great thinker can denounce the evils of an alleged male “monopoly” in an environment where women outnumber men by quite some margin, and while sitting on a panel with no male participants, and with no-one willing to argue a substantively different view. 

Answers On A Postcard, Please.

Squat enthusiast invites readers to “imagine what you and your friends could do with a crowbar, a guitar,” and someone else’s property. 

Says Ms Cosslett, “Communes represented a different way of being – sharing the cooking, the cleaning and the childcare was not only practical but also beneficial to the wellbeing of the members.” Readers who as students shared a house and cleaning duties, in theory at least, will no doubt testify to the practicality of this approach and the lofty hygiene standards that invariably resulted. Now imagine those high standards applied to parenting and childcare.

There’s more, should you want it, in the greatest hits. And tickling the tip jar is what keeps this place afloat.

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For newcomers, more items from the archives. A ladies-of-the-left edition:

Do Not Date Bedlamites.

Melissa Fabello, managing editor of Everyday Feminism, shares her interracial dating advice with those less enlightened: 

If you’re creasing the sheets with someone and you’re continually fretting about pseudo-sociology and imagined racial power dynamics, and about who’s being “marginalised” by virtue of their melanin levels, and thinking about sex “in relation to social power,” then it doesn’t sound like a relationship so much as an elaborate fetish. Seemingly oblivious, Ms Fabello goes on to stress the wickedness of “racial fetishization” and of “exotifying” sex with “people of colour.” “It’s never appropriate to stereotype people,” says she. And yet her own article is premised on “othering” and “exotifying” people with browner skin than hers. Chiefly by viewing them as eternal victims of some all-pervasive “white supremacy,” which apparently renders them “marginalised” and powerless, and in need of endless, neurotic accommodation by immensely sensitive white people, even in the bedroom. 

The Mouthing of Bollocks

“Racial justice educator” Rachel Kuo tells us how to order takeaway in a suitably agonised and intersectional manner: 

For Ms Kuo, neurotic fretting is, and should be, a staple of eating out: “Food can be used as a tool of marginalisation and oppression… It’s critical for us to reflect on how we perceive the cultures that we’re consuming and think about the relationships between food, people, and power.” And yet the family running my local Chinese takeaway actively encourages heathen white folk to sample their wares, regardless of whether those paying customers are intimately familiar with All Of Chinese History. And I very much doubt that they expect their patrons to acquaint themselves with “the complex relationships and power dynamics between Asian countries” and issues of “labour equity and immigration policy” as a precondition of buying hot tossed chicken. No. What they want is custom. Pretentiously agonised pseudo-sensitivity is, alas, not billable.

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Today’s Word Is Chutzpah

Living in Glasgow for a year is art, says taxpayer-funded artist who lives in Glasgow.

Writing in the Guardian, Liam Hainey rushes to defend Ms Harrison’s low-effort art project, denouncing “budget butchers” and asking his readers to “look at the bigger picture.” All while carefully ignoring anything that might trouble the assumptions of the freeloading arts community. Mr Hainey, a former Green councillor, dismisses the widespread mockery of Ms Harrison’s hustle as “predictable.” But he doesn’t seem to grasp that much of the mockery occurs because hustles of this type are themselves so predictable – that what we’re seeing, yet again, is a display of arrogant presumption, one that’s routine among a socially and politically narrow subsidy-seeking caste. And so Mr Hainey tells us, triumphantly, that the money isn’t in fact being wasted because it was already earmarked for art that would probably be unpopular and which nobody asked for.

Lofty Beings

Feminist “creative” Katherine Garcia attempts to justify her sub-optimal life choices. Things go badly wrong.

In financial terms, the lifetime return on an arts degree is very often negative and there’s something to be said for practicality, especially if your background is a modest one. Social mobility presupposes a certain realism, a pragmatism, and making choices accordingly – say, with regard to the costs and benefits of tertiary education, which is for most an expensive one-time opportunity. I’m inclined to suggest that getting into further debt for a grad school degree in Women and Gender Studies, as Ms Garcia did, is possibly not an ideal way to help one’s family economically, or indeed oneself.

Slacking for Social Justice

Riyad A Shahjahan says we must “disrupt Eurocentric notions of time.” Because punctuality is racist and oppressive.

As the exact nature of Dr Shahjahan’s problem has been buried under rhetorical rubble, I’ll translate as best I can. You see, being expected to keep up with the pace of lessons and deliver course work on time can induce feelings of discomfort and inferiority in those less able and conscientious, thereby resulting in “exclusionary effects,” which, it turns out, are oppressive and unjust. However, armed with postcolonial theorising, and by stressing the mystical exoticness of people with browner skin, we shall set the people free from the “dominant culture of disembodiment” and the “temporal colonisation of our bodies” – i.e., expectations of punctuality, attentiveness and general competence. Yes, we must “contest the insertion of the body into the market.”  

There’s more to poke at in the updated greatest hits. And tickling the tip jar makes my phone go ping. Which is nice.

The Year Reheated

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

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