We are the only site on the web devoted exclusively to intellectual conservatism. We find the most intriguing information and bring it together on one page for you.

Links we recommend
Link to us
Free email update
About us
What's New & Interesting
Mailing Lists
Intellectual Icons


Forcing Feminism Down Bored Throats
by Bernard Chapin
30 January 2004Woman

The fires of feminism have not burned down.  They still actively plague us today.

In last Saturday’s New York Times, op-ed contributor Dr. Rhonda Garelick, an Associate Professor of French and Italian at Connecticut College, openly laments that today’s female college students just aren’t as interested in being politically indoctrinated by the radical left as those of generations past.

She uses a discussion of the film Mona Lisa Smile as a basis on which to expound upon current conditions in the classroom.  Dr. Garelick finds feminist consciousness to be all too rare in today’s female undergraduates.

This article is very valuable as it showcases the way in which our universities remain under the ironclad (or whine-clad as it were) grip of cultural Marxists.  Her bias, as you’ll see, is undeniable, and the fact that it is being published in the New York Times suggests what we already know–that many in the media wholeheartedly approve of universities imparting dogma rather than truth. 

Take a glance at her description of the film and note the bias evident in an early paragraph:

The protagonist, a progressive art historian named Katherine Watson (played by Ms. Roberts), struggles to inspire critical thinking in young women who see their elite education as a passport to upper-class wifedom, not to intellectual independence. The film also reminds us of the period's political witch hunts, and of how much sexism ultimately had in common with McCarthyism. Both relied upon splitting the world into absolute categories: chaste vs. fallen woman, good citizen vs. suspected Communist.

The reviewer’s observations are far from accurate.  Note the way in which wifedom is juxtaposed with intellectual independence.  Such a relationship is counter-intuitive, and she fittingly offers her readers no proof.  Unlike financial independence, one’s mental freedom is not mutually exclusive with marriage.  A mind, regardless of circumstance, can always be free.  The professor should consult the works of Primo Levi or Viktor Frankl if she has any questions on this matter. 

Then a bogus connection is made between sexism and McCarthyism.  Again no evidence is sited which is doleful.  Apparently, comparing McCarthy with any crime or wrong is such standard fare in academe that Garelick feels no need to justify her accusation.  The McCarthy era is nearly as common in the speech of contemporary leftists as the words “multicultural” or “androgynous.”  They trot McCarthy out every time they’re challenged about anything.  They use it to imply all sorts of horrors that in fact never occurred. 

McCarthy was an unsavory character who certainly drank too much and was in love with publicity, but attempts to discover Communist agents within our government were laudable.  The efforts of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Government Operations sadly came too late.  Most of the secrets were already pilfered by the time the investigations began. 

When the left refers to McCarthyism they actually refer to a subgroup of senators probing federal workers to determine if they were members of the communist party.  It certainly wasn’t a witch hunt.  The release of the Venona Documents in 1995 showed that they were far more right than they even guessed.  Communist Party USA was absolutely a tool of Soviet intelligence. 

During the thirties and forties, American officials were incredibly ignorant about the threat posed to us by the Russians.  When Walter Krivitsky defected, our government at first didn’t believe that he was the head of European Soviet intelligence because they did not think such a post even existed. 

The voices of the left boom with phrases like “naming names” and “getting blacklisted” but they completely ignore individual words like “gulag” and “Kolyma.”  With the theft of our nuclear secrets, we, and the entire world, had every reason to fear Stalin and the American citizens he used as marionettes.  When all was said and done, some people got fired during the era.  Many dismissals were well-deserved, and, although judicial activists might deny it, there is as yet no constitutional right to be employed by the federal government.

My last point here concerns sexism.  I don’t know the link between sexism and McCarthyism but I absolutely know the link between sexism and radical feminism.  In the fantasies of relativistic gender feminists, there is no evil in the world–there are only men.  We are to blame for everything.  If they are childless it is because of us.  If they are unemployed it’s because of us.  If they feel unsure of themselves it is because of us.  Radical feminism is the most thoroughly sexist political movement in our nation.  

Then in reference to the ending of Mona Lisa Smile she notes:

But do female students today continue to ride their bicycles steadily forward, considering themselves inheritors of the hard-won freedoms of the 1960's and 70's? As a professor of humanities at a select coeducational liberal arts college, I think not. One might imagine that women benefiting from such an education would develop a particularly astute political radar.

Of course, I beg to differ.  The fact that students now pay little attention to the likes of Professor Garelick tells me that they have developed excellent political radar.  Radical feminism is a religion built on a platform of privilege, rage, complaint, and the convenient projection of all one’s personal problems onto the frames of penised “others.”  Who needs it?  No one.  These students would do best to merely lead their lives and ignore shrews who coerce them into preposterous theoretical categories.
It is a common misperception that political correctness is going the way French Catholicism, but our professor documents that it is still powerful and replicating like the Ebola Virus. 

After all, a liberal arts education aims to nurture just this brand of alertness, providing four years to read between the lines, question surface meanings, and approach the world with engaged curiosity. The skills produced by such an education should promote and sustain thoughtful critique of gender roles as well as equip students to engage in a participatory democracy.

This is a description of a liberal arts education I was quite lucky to avoid.  Mine nurtured knowledge.  Only after one acquires knowledge should one “read between the lines.”  Cynicising over everything, when you know nothing, is pointless.  I would also suspect that questioning facts before they’re learned effectively kills curiosity.

We should be thankful that she is so bold in her admissions because the above passage is a perfect summation of all that is wrong with education today.  Our youth will never appreciate civilization if they deconstruct before they comprehend.

Furthermore, think of the inanity of a person believing that critiquing gender roles is an inherent part of higher education.  Denying reality and screaming at biological imperatives will certainly get you a doctorate in Women’s Studies but will accomplish little else.  Writing polemics about gender should be no more a part of a university education than the study of this week’s Super Bowl over/under score. 

Then we receive some good news:

Feminist awareness and political questioning are just as hard for me to inspire as they are for Miss Watson in the movie. While my own college days in the 1980's overflowed with heated debates about women's rights and cultural politics in general, such fervor now seems absent from campus life.

Let’s question surface meanings and read between the lines of what she wrote.  What she’s really implying is that, “In my own college days there were no debates.  We ran the campus and people were afraid of us.  Now, everyone knows radical feminism is one big cesspool and that fills me with sadness.”   I hope it stays that way. 

Is feminism obsolete?  We can only pray, but here’s her analysis:

Although virtually all of my female students expect to pursue careers, this is where their enlightenment seems to end. For them, the reassuring power of a college degree to unlock professional doors seems to have rendered "feminism" obsolete. In other words, the fires of feminism may have burned down to the ashes of careerism.

What can be said of such sentences?  I guess “no” is the best way to begin.  No, the fires of feminism have not burned down.  They still actively plague us today.  They caused a “war between the sexes” and have, perhaps irreparably, damaged relations between men and women.  Radical feminism has created a cult of homosexuality and demoted heterosexuality to being just another lifestyle choice.  Feminism has lowered birth rates and produced misery for those who bought into its infantile dreams.

Next, Dr. Garelick gives us a glimpse into a classroom I have never seen:

It is still common for even the very brightest female students to hold their hands over their mouths when they speak, or to cut off their own remarks, mumbling, ‘Forget it, it was stupid.’

In the nine college classes that I’ve taught the students were predominantly female and I never heard one of them say something like that.  If I gave them the option of talking all the time discussion would be all that ever occurred.  Besides, isn’t she forgetting the alternative hypothesis?  Some of what these students have to say may well be stupid.  That being said, their self-censorship benefit’s the class. 

To Dr. Garelick’s bewilderment, students are not always on her wavelength:

When I call them on this, asking them to consider the political ramifications of such undermining behavior, they are surprised — surprised, that is, to be asked to read their own sexual politics.

Okay, now we know why a few cover up their mouths–because the questions that are asked of them are stupid.  No wonder students don’t engage her in political discussions.  It’s because her opinions are sophomoric.  I’d do the same thing if I were stuck in her class (after pointing my finger and laughing at her first, but then again, I already graduated from college).

Next she delivers to us the smoking gun:

Despite some reawakening of student activism via Howard Dean's Internet-based campaign, in my experience, attempts to introduce contemporary politics into classroom discussions meet with blank stares. Even this past year, as our country began a war, I encountered mostly silence when I broached the topic of Iraq, a mix of paralysis and anxiety, plus some disgruntlement over my deviating from the syllabus.
But each year, frankly, I feel increasingly compelled to look beyond my syllabuses and to devote myself more to teaching "wakeful" political literacy: the skills needed to interrogate all cultural messages.

Disgruntlement over deviating from the syllabus?  She’s a French professor.  What the hell is she doing talking about Iraq!  The students disgruntled?  Wait until she consults with their parents as the average yearly tuition at Connecticut College is $37,900 (I’m not kidding, check their webpage).

To me, Dr. Garelick is a perfect example of feminist empathy, and by that I mean she doesn’t give a damn about anyone else.  She’d rather feed her poor students post-modernist diarrhea than what the university hired her to teach.  What happens when the students never learn French?  Not everybody is lucky enough to obtain a cushy university job and some of these students may actually have to one day speak another language in order to get a job. 

Most probably, this anti-scholar gets more and more bored with the areas in which she has been entrusted to ovular so she decides to spoon feed undergraduates tripe that they could get for several thousand dollars less by simply buying a copy of The Nation or The Progressive.  But what more would one expect from someone who writes academic papers on Richard Simmons and his outrageous dieting? 

As a conclusion she spews one last slander,

Ultimately though, if students resist such reading and suffer from amnesia in politics — sexual and otherwise — it's because they drink from the same pool of Lethe we all do. A film like "Mona Lisa" merits more than our own complacent smiles. The troubling 1950's [read “stable” here] may not be quite the quaint relic we think they are.

 I, for one, just wish that the basket cases from the 1960’s become quaint relics and stop poisoning our culture and institutions.  I eagerly await the time in which they retire from public life and scratch by on the millions they have extorted from our taxes.  The lysergic personalities of the radical professorate have done more harm to this nation than Mad Cow Disease ever will.  

Although Roger Kimball, in an interview not yet published, predicted to me that they’ll be around for a good bit longer:

Alas, tenured radicals, by virtue of the institution of tenure, have one important characteristic in common with the lowly virus: they are self-replicating. It’s been my observation that students have moved decidedly to the middle over the last couple of decades. I have seen no comparable movement among faculty. The reason? They staff the appointment and promotion committees, and those they appoint and promote are as near as possible to being clones of themselves. It will be another generation, at least, before the radicalism of the 1960s works its way through the university and other institutions of high culture.

At present, we should at least be cautiously optimistic that the likes of Dr. Garelick understand that the speech code glory days are over. This pyrrhic victory alone is worth a worldwide Mona Lisa smile. 

Bernard Chapin works as a school psychologist full-time, a college instructor part-time and writes whenever possible.

Email Bernard Chapin

Send this Article to a Friend