Beware of Word Salad

So yesterday evening, I was flip-flopping between “The World Hates Me” and “I’m Surrounded By Idiots” when I decided to kill some time by wandering around Twitter. This is usually an entertaining exercise that brings you face to face with adorable animals, interesting threads, film stills etc. Last night, it led me to a link, which I foolishly clicked – I had cackled with glee at the sight of “word salad” and I have paid for this catty behaviour. If you want to have fun at the expense of others, know that karma is more real than schadenfreude (also, so much easier to spell). Because while it is a huge word salad, there is ultimately no pleasure to be derived from Brinda Bose and Rahul Sen’s “Liberal Vertigo, Eros, and the University”. Which is really ironic since Bose and Sen’s central issue with the #MeToo movement is that it is has, apparently, taken pleasure out of the classroom.

I suppose I could write a structured, formal response to Bose and Sen’s vomiticle (word vomit + article = vomiticle), sorry, essay, but at this point, I think it's bad enough that I spent the time that I did on it, womanfully soldiering my way through their verbiage. I’ve concluded that Bose and Sen wrote as much as they did because they were counting on no one surviving the word pile-up all the way to the end. I also suspect they thought their complex sentences would hide simplistic thinking and overwriting would obscure the general absence of logic. They thought wrong. Given below are selected excerpts from “Liberal Vertigo, Eros and the University”, complete with some critical commentary (aka notes written in CAPS that grew larger and larger as the piece wore on and the reader’s patience wore out).

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NOTES FROM A READING: Liberty Vertigo, Eros and the University

(All bits in CAPS and emphases – words and phrases highlighted in bold – mine.)

But today in the inexorable climate of #MeToo, a safeguard is sought against the anxieties, afflictions and displacements that accompany desire through an overwhelming rhetoric of sexual harassment, abuse, trauma and affirmative consent, divesting it of the erotic.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS EROTIC? AND HERE I THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT POWER.

DESIRE IN GENERAL HAS BEEN DIVESTED OF THE EROTIC? THAT SOUNDS...DRAMATIC. AND, SPEAKING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, INACCURATE. 

ALSO WHILE I AGREE THAT “affirmative consent” SOUNDS AS RIDICULOUS AS CHAI TEA LATTE (AFFIRMATIVE = ASSENTING, CONSENT = ASSENT; NEGATIVE CONSENT = OXYMORON), WHY WOULD YOU BELITTLE THE IDEA OF WOMEN SPEAKING UP? WHY IS IT A BAD THING IF WOMEN EXPRESS WHAT THEY WANT AND DON'T WANT?

FINALLY, GIVEN HOW MUCH OF AN EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE IN INDIAN ACADEMIA TO DISCREDIT THOSE SPEAKING UP IN THE SPIRIT OF #METOO, “inexorable” IS RICH.

The hysterical aftermath of #MeToo unleashed in limited, left-liberal, elite circles of academia in the United States and some other countries like India, has, in fact, resulted in a great disservice to the long, tough fight against sexual harassment/molestation/rape underway in all kinds of difficult locations ever since the beginnings of feminist consciousness. In a seismic shift to a politics of female victimhood, empathy and revenge, #MeToo has caused other damages too: to complex understandings of feminisms and queer sexualities, of course, as well as to the very idea of justice: by dismissing all notions of collateral damage caused by unsubstantiated “naming-and-shaming” of a “list” of alleged “savarna” sexual harassers. Rather astonishingly, all on “the list” belong to humanities and social science disciplines, a broadly left political persuasion, and a handful of well-established educational institutions in the country: this is a red flag.

FIRSTLY, WOW. I FEEL LIKE THIS IS HOW THE WRITERS LOOKED WHEN THEY FINALLY FINISHED WRITING THAT PARAGRAPH:

BUT I DIGRESS.

SO. VICTIMS WHO HAVE SPOKEN UP VIA THE LIST ARE HYSTERICAL, LOOKING FOR REVENGE AND ARE PRETENDING TO BE VICTIMS. WHO NEEDS MISOGYNISTS WITH FEMINISTS LIKE THESE?

SECONDLY, WHAT WE HAVE IS MORE RED HERRING AND LESS RED FLAG. THE CLAIM THAT THE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT ARE A CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE “broadly left political persuasion” IS ENTIRELY BASELESS AND IRRESPONSIBLE WHEN YOU KEEP IN MIND THAT A 'COUNTER' LIST THAT MANY SUSPECTED WAS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED, WAS RELEASED AFTER THE FIRST ONE. TO CRY WOLF ABOUT A CONSPIRACY WHEN THERE ARE REAL AND CONCERTED EFFORTS TO SILENCE PEOPLE IS SHOCKINGLY NARROW-MINDED. THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE OF “broadly left political persuasion” IS ATTACKED, THE RIGHT WILL SAY IT’S ALL FOR SHOW AND HOLD UP CLAIMS LIKE THIS ESSAY TO SUBSTANTIATE ITS CLAIM THAT THE LEFT IS JUST POSING FOR ATTENTION.

#MeToo’s regressively-moral impact on academia is set to ruin all imaginative and political possibilities in the arts/humanities classroom, one of the locations it specifically targets – causing a ravaging of every idea of life dreamt, thought and lived passionately. 

BECAUSE SEXUAL HARASSMENT = “imaginative and political possibilities in the arts/ humanities classroom.” THANKS, THIS IS REALLY MAKING ACADEMIA AND LIBERAL ARTS LOOK GOOD.

In the #MeToo era, “trauma” has since emerged as the haunting spirit of our times.  The political model of sieving trauma as truth of the female subject runs the risk of what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has called, in another context, “the danger of a single story” (2009). 

IF ADICHIE SAID IT IN ANOTHER CONTEXT, WHY ARE YOU USING IT IN THIS ONE? ARE YOU NOT AWARE THAT BY DOING SO, YOU’RE MAKING IT SEEM AS THOUGH ADICHIE THINKS #METOO IS UNI-DIMENSIONAL?

In this age of moral panic, conversations around sex are becoming devoid of pleasure and humour; sex bleakly anxiety-laden, at the edge of a precipice, swift to slide into coercion, harassment and abuse.

IT’S ALMOST LIKE THESE GUYS MISS THOSE GOOD OLE DAYS WHEN PEOPLE REMAINED QUIET ABOUT HARASSMENT, LEAVING PROFESSORS FREE TO FLIRT, GROPE AND GENERALLY BEHAVE INAPPROPRIATELY WITH THEIR STUDENTS.

As a female friend speculated, how would things be different had #MeToo considered pleasurable, and not coerced, sex: a profusion of testimonies and narratives about women’s orgasms and jouissance, flowing over, and with, her pique and her pain? How would the moral brigade respond to a legion of Molly Blooms with their narratives of complicated excess?

HOW WOULD THINGS BE DIFFERENT IF WE WERE ALL UNICORNS, PRANCING WITH TELETUBBIES, ACROSS LANDSCAPES THAT LOOK LIKE DESKTOP WALLPAPERS?

THAT ASIDE, I'M A LITTLE CONFUSED. ARE THE PROFESSORS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT  “Molly Blooms with their narratives of complicated excess”? OR THE STUDENTS, WHO ARE ALLEGEDLY PART OF A CONSPIRACY TO DISCREDIT THE LEFT AND/ OR INCAPABLE OF TELLING PLEASURE FROM HARASSMENT? ALSO, THANKS FOR PRIVILEGING THE MALE PROFESSOR'S ORGASMS, JOUISSANCE AND PIQUE OVER THE FEMALE STUDENT’S PAIN AND THE COURAGE SHE’S SHOWN BY SPEAKING UP.

In today’s feminist struggles, overwhelmed by narratives of exploitation and dominance, one wonders what transpired of the allure of, and desire for, transgression – for taking risks, embracing its erotics, being improper, immoral, irresponsible, indecent, hedonist, failing miserably and yet savouring the tragedy, of redoing its boundaries to prepare better (or fail better, as Beckett would implore) for future risk?

WELL, WITH THIS ATTEMPT AT CONFLATING HARASSMENT WITH SEXUAL PLEASURE AND CRITICISING FEMALE STUDENTS FOR NOT BEING BOLD ENOUGH TO ENJOY BEING HARASSED, Y’ALL ARE DOING A FINE JOB OF FAILING BETTER. 

ALSO, TRANSGRESSING AND TAKING RISKS KINDA SORTA SUMS UP THE LIST.

Post #MeToo, one has witnessed the dissipation of the erstwhile rhetoric of transgression and risk in many of these youth movements for sexual freedom, supplanted by a demand for “safety”, propelled by an unimaginative moral uprightness to obliterate the ferment of the erotic under the banner of “affirmative consent.” The irony lies in “safety” now becoming the radical feminist vocabulary overnight, in place of “risk”.

DAMN THESE YOUTH MOVEMENTS WHO WANT SAFETY. WHAT’S SEX WITHOUT A LITTLE DANGER OF BEING VICTIMISED? (ANS: PLEASURABLE. GENUINELY)

ALSO, ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE IDEA OF “CONSENT IS SEXY”.

Laura Kipnis has argued that anti-sexual harassment laws attempt to dilute the intellectual rigour of the classroom by striving to make it safe, sanitized (2017: 5). #MeToo has created a bizarre situation where protection is sought from unsettling ideas.

KIPNIS COMES UP REPEATEDLY IN THIS ESSAY AND IT’S HILARIOUS THAT FEMINISTS WHO HAVE IN THE PAST BANGED ON ABOUT THE LIST PREVENTING DUE PROCESS ARE NOW CITING KIPNIS, WHO HAS ENORMOUS RESERVATIONS ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT LEGISLATIONS. ANYWAY, THE MORE RELEVANT POINT IS THAT KIPNIS DOESN’T JUST SUPPORT #METOO, SHE ACTUALLY SEEMS TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF INITIATIVES LIKE THE LIST. ALLOW ME TO QUOTE: “[It] makes sense to separate out #MeToo into the sort of grassroots movement and all these women coming out and exposing things that have happened to them and talking publicly about things that were once private, and, I think, in a really interesting way, using exposé as a political tactic.”   

LATER, THE WRITERS TURN TO DAVID MAMET TO TALK ABOUT RISKY BEHAVIOUR, CHOOSING TO COMPLETELY IGNORE THE MISOGYNY THAT RUNS RIFE THROUGH HIS WORKS.

BACK TO BOSE AND SEN’S LIBERAL BASIPHOBIA (WHAT? I WAS LOOKING FOR THE OPPOSITE OF VERTIGO. #MeCanAlsoUseBigWordsSoThere)

But eros, or desire, must remain at the heart of learning or teaching methodologies; and like desire, education too must hold the power to disturb, disorient, and displace us from ourselves.

ABSOLUTELY. BUT SURELY METHODOLOGY DOESN’T REQUIRE LIVE BODILY DEMONSTRATIONS INVOLVING ERECT PHALLUS AND ITS EFFECT ON OTHER ORGANS AND BODY PARTS?

Refusing paths of political correctness and certitude, education too must continue to embrace the morally ambiguous and the ambivalent, dislocating us from our cosy corners of cerebral comfort into terrains of imaginative adventure and danger. 

TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH: TO LEARN, YOU MUST BE OPEN TO BEING SEXUALLY HARASSED BY YOUR TEACHER. OK THEN. 

It is for an inability to negotiate with this risk of being intellectually displaced that students today leave the classroom during film screenings, or abstain from discussions that violate their mental sanctity, or advocate the banning of texts, theorists and authors that do not fit neatly within ‘clean’ moral categories. This is an insult to the humanities.

EVERYONE WHO HAS WALKED OUT OF SCREENINGS OR ABSTAINED FROM DISCUSSIONS DURING BOSE/ SEN’S CLASSES, I THINK YOU HURT BOSE/ SEN’S FEELINGS.

IF ANYONE FIGURES OUT HOW THESE VARIOUS EXAMPLES OF UNRISKY INTELLECTUAL BEHAVIOUR ARE CONNECTED TO HARASSMENT, LET ME KNOW. COMMENTS ARE OPEN.

ALSO, AS FAR AS INSULT TO THE HUMANITIES GOES, THIS ESSAY IS A FINE CANDIDATE.

In fact, the only broad discipline that is severely impacted by the political implications of #MeToo is the humanities – comprising of literature, philosophy and the many arts of cinema, theatre, painting, dance and music – always taken up and historically driven by a sense of wonder, uncertainty, conflict and ambivalence, as well as rage, despair and death.

ACCORDING TO THIS LOGIC, THE CLASSROOM SHOULD BE A SAFE SPACE FOR MURDER AND MURDERERS TOO. 

LESS FACETIOUSLY, THE AREA IN WHICH #METOO HAS HAD A TANGIBLE IMPACT IS THE BUSINESS OF AMERICAN ENTERTAINMENT, WHICH IS NOT THE SAME AS THE HUMANITIES. ALONG WITH THE MEDIA AND THEN SOCIAL MEDIA, COMPANIES HAVE FELT PRESSURED INTO TAKING NOTE OF ALLEGATIONS AND ACTING UPON THEM. YOU'RE FREE TO HAVE ISSUES WITH THAT, BUT TO SUGGEST THAT INDIAN ACADEMIA HAS REACTED THE WAY THE HOLLYWOOD ESTABLISHMENT DID TO #METOO IS LAUGHABLE.  

None of these registers sit well in the current neo-feminist dispensation of unquestioning solidarity with the traumatized female victim of a hetero-erotic classroom.

ZOMG! THEY GAVE US A WHOLE NEW NAME, Y'ALL! 

(Simba: neo-feminists; Rafiki: paleo-feminists)

How did #MeToo manage to dilute a labyrinthine, voluptuous, turbulent human relationship marked by eros, and whittle it down to this piteous, anonymous, cowardly movement of mass hysteria about heartless male lovers in relationships gone wrong?

JUDGEMENTAL MUCH? HOW DID #METOO MANAGE TO DILUTE YOUR INTELLECTUAL CAPACITY TO THIS PITEOUS, COWARDLY MASS HYSTERIA? IF THERE IS ANY SILVER LINING TO THIS WORD SALAD, IT IS THE UNSPOKEN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT THAT RAYA SARKAR AND THE LIST RATTLED INDIAN ACADEMIA AND FORCED IT TO CONFRONT HOW EVEN IN SEEMINGLY PROGRESSIVE SPACES, INEQUALITY AND SILENCE HAVE BEEN NORMALISED. ABOUT BLEDDY TIME. 

ALSO,THEY’RE NOT “heartless male lovers” – AT THIS RATE, YOU’LL START ROOTING FOR ‘EVE-TEASERS’ – THEY’RE PROFESSORS ACCUSED OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT.

We are forced to encounter in the classroom work that might morally repel and yet entice through the political and the aesthetic. 

WORK, YES. A PIECE OF WORK, NO.

A humanities education effects violent realisations about the sadomasochistic nature of our erotic desires, that take us away from ourselves in sometimes wanting the very object that unsettles us in our politics and personhood – undoing our sense of coherence, fixity, and stability – and disclosing the terrible truth that none of us can claim to occupy a political position of pure moral righteousness.

BECAUSE PALEO-FEMINISTS ARE THE ONLY ONES ALLOWED PURE MORAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.

I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE A MOMENT TO THANK MY TEACHERS FOR NOT HAVING MOLESTED ME IN ORDER TO GIVE ME A HUMANITIES EDUCATION.

The University Grants Commission (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2015, adopted by all public and private universities in India, effectively reduces the personhood of women to potential victims, and buttresses an infantilized, heteronormative model of femininity even before women have entered university campuses.

IF THIS IS TRUE, THEN ALL THE MORE REASON TO NOT PUT FAITH IN DUE PROCESS, N’EST CE PAS?

By disallowing women any agency and personhood except in terms of potential victims of abuse who need protection, both the administration and ‘the list’ apparently differ not at all in their political imagination of women’s freedom, which they see in safety rather than in risk.

LOGIC IS CLEARLY NOT EITHER BOSE OR SEN’S STRONG SUIT. THE LIST IS NOT A RULE IMPOSED UPON THOSE UNDER ITS SPHERE OF INFLUENCE. NEITHER DOES IT ASSUME WOMEN ARE VICTIMS. ON THE BASIS OF AN EXTRAJUDICIAL PROCESS, IT SAYS THE ACCUSED ARE GUILTY OF VICTIMISING SPECIFIC WOMEN. IF THERE’S ANYTHING THE LIST ASSUMES, IT IS THAT WOMEN ARE NOT FREE TO SPEAK UP AND NEED BOTH SAFER SPACES AND MORE ALLIES.

#MeToo and the UGC guidelines have managed to create an eroto-phobic ambience on university campuses that seeks to purge desire, politics, and queerness from all practices of pedagogy and leisure. The UGC handbook prohibits “sexual harassment” variously defined as “an unwanted conduct with sexual undertones if it occurs or which is persistent…”, “making sexually coloured remarks”, “showing pornography” (2015)[ii] – in this time of escalated panic about sexualities, these laws and guidelines are anathema to the humanities classroom.

FOR THE LOVE OF THE CLITORIS, HARASSMENT IS NOT EROTIC. STOP ASSUMING WOMEN STUDENTS ARE SO CLUELESS THAT THEY CAN’T TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BEING TAUGHT IDEAS IN CLASS AND INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR TARGETED AT INDIVIDUALS, DESIGNED TO SEXUALISE AN ASEXUAL RELATIONSHIP.  

The #MeToo movement is built on sexual paranoia …

 NO IT ISN'T

…distinct from allegations substantiated by specific charges, investigated and proven, which would fall in the “due process” trajectory.

IT ISN’T THE LIST’S FAULT THAT INSTITUTIONS DIDN’T PROBE THE ALLEGATIONS IT MADE. WEIRD HOW WHEN SOMEONE NAMED IN THE LIST WAS PROBED –  LAWRENCE LIANG –DUE PROCESS DID FIND HIM GUILTY.

AT THIS POINT, THE WRITERS GO ON TO QUOTE THAT THOROUGHLY CONTEMPORARY TEXT MAGNA CARTA, DATED 1215. BECAUSE HOW ELSE WILL WE UNDERSTAND WHAT DUE PROCESS MEANS IN 2018?

In the classroom, the humanities scholar made to suffer the ignominy of being deprived of the freedom to know and think about life at large is the collateral damage caused by #MeToo today.

NO, THE HUMANITIES SCHOLAR IS JUST DEPRIVED OF THE FREEDOM TO BEHAVE INAPPROPRIATELY, PARTICULARLY WHEN IT’S A STUDENT-TEACHER RELATIONSHIP.

The liberal elite associated with a handful of universities in India, torpedoed by the effects of the #MeToo movement among certain social classes and occupations, seems to be in such a vertiginous spin about an erotic trace in the teaching-learning experience at university.

WHAT EFFECTS PRECISELY?

A liberal vertigo is set to overtake our university classrooms: how can we rescue life and literature from this affliction?

BY NOT WRITING CRAP LIKE THIS ESSAY?

But of course, now there is no comedy: sex is always and only patriarchal, spiraling all women everywhere into a vortex of female fear, resentment, outrage and suffering. It spawns sisterhoods of empathy and terror, devoid of laughter and lightness, of sexual passion, play, banter, risk and transgression that constitute the imaginative possibilities of the arts. Lysistrata has been enjoyed by generations of literature students for its boisterous energy and sexual, comic spirit embodied by raucous women. Soon it will be incomprehensible in classrooms, that women’s solidarity can be impetuous, rollicking and bawdy when it is about sex.

1.       SPEAK FOR YOURSELF (OR BETTER YET, FIND NEW FRIENDS AND NEO-FEMINIST LOVERS)

2.       THERE ARE LEAPS OF LOGIC AND THEN THERE IS THE CONCLUSION THAT PROTESTING AGAINST HARASSMENT WILL MEAN PEOPLE WON’T UNDERSTAND SEX COMEDIES.

If one attempts to take emotion seriously, the secret, as some great Marxist thinkers have shown, is to restrain oneself from indulging in any frenzy arising out of pathos.

OH NO, THEY’VE BROUGHT OUT MARX. *REACHES FOR THE WHISKY*

Now, it appears, we have abandoned the rigours of structural analysis – even while, ironically enough, a ‘structural feminism’ is being invoked – and have turned affect into a most juvenile fetish. Students and teachers of literature are using the word “catharsis”, for example, in an astoundingly effortless manner that belies all their training in terminological distinctions. This is sometimes naïve, but often calculated.

IT’S HUGELY IRONIC THAT AN ESSAY THAT GOES OUT OF ITS WAY TO MANIPULATE TEXTS, MAKE HALF-BAKED ARGUMENTS AND REACH UNSUBSTANTIATED CONCLUSIONS IS COMPLAINING ABOUT THE QUALITY OF ANALYSIS.

It is interesting indeed that a feminist initiative that at first had focused on women alone, as a strategy for finding strength in solidarity in the face of serious sexual abuse, morphed into a vicious retributive movement even as it gained some power and prestige.

I KNOW, RIGHT? OH WAIT, YOU MEANT THE LIST. I THOUGHT YOU FINALLY HAD A MOMENT OF INTROSPECTION AND WERE TALKING ABOUT THE PALEO-FEMINIST RESPONSE TO THE LIST.  

Watkins is particularly scathing about the new practice of trial by social media, “which abandoned any notion of fair hearing”, and how in “the most grotesque cases… zealots set about extirpating works from the canon.”

WHY BOTHER TO POINT OUT THAT HER CRITICISM IS ABOUT #METOO IN HOLLYWOOD? AND LET’S TOTALLY IGNORE THIS BIT ABOUT #METOO FROM THE ESSAY:

“There were chilling accounts of retribution exacted by men whose advances had been rebuffed. As a moment of collective consciousness-raising, it was both therapeutic—breaking the oppressive silence, the nightmarish inability to scream, that many young women experience as part and parcel of male molestation—and evidential: an indication of the scale of sexual aggression as a social fact. For the most part, as with Tarana Burke’s original Me Too initiative, or ThinkOlga in Brazil, the focus was on the women themselves, rarely naming names or calling for retribution. It catalysed innumerable face-to-face conversations between women, about their own range of experiences and those of their friends, on a scale probably not seen since the 1970s. It drew in men, as sympathizers, in a way that would have been unimaginable back then.”

INCIDENTALLY, FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN THE SUSAN WATKINS ESSAY, IT’S HERE.

RETURNING TO BOSE AND SEN’S ESSAY, WHICH TURNS ITS ATTENTION TO ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AGAINST SADANAND MENON:

The last is where #MeToo comes to rest: everyone has the right to be ‘hurt’ and then call it violence.

THIS IS GROSSLY UNFAIR AND CONTEMPTUOUS OF THE EXPERIENCES OF WOMEN WHO HAVE BEEN AFRAID OF PRECISELY THIS SORT OF REACTION. 

But empathy is a deficient, sentimental, moral category when used for interrogative thinking.

AND WHAT’S THE CORRECT CATEGORY – MORAL OR OTHERWISE – FOR ACJ BACKING MENON AND DISMISSING HIS COMPLAINANTS EVEN BEFORE A PROBE HAS BEEN CONDUCTED INTO THE ALLEGATIONS?

If progressives have decided to abandon all values of criticality and deliberation for sentimental “belief”, they need to discard the subterfuge of thought altogether.

AGREED. EXCEPT AT THIS POINT, IT APPLIES TO YOU AND WHAT YOU'VE WRITTEN IN THIS ESSAY.

In a post-Rancière world …

*GROANS AND REACHES FOR MORE WHISKY*

 …in which The Ignorant Schoolmaster has fired our dream of democratic classrooms, no one is any longer a ‘mentor’. So also we learn from Brazilian educator Paolo Freire, best known for his philosophy of critical pedagogy, that one must be humble as a teacher to really learn. After such knowledge, how can we insult the complexity of the human being whom Geetha refers to as the ‘mentee’, who must remain in obeisance to her mentor, the wise genius?

IN THE SAME WAY THAT YOU’RE INSULTING ALL OUR INTELLIGENCE WHEN YOU CLAIM THERE’S NO POWER STRUCTURE IN CLASSROOMS (PARTICULARLY IN INDIA WHERE THERE’S A HIERARCHY FOR EVERYTHING) AND THAT TEACHERS DON’T OCCUPY A POSITION OF SUPERIORITY RELATIVE TO THE STUDENTS? THERE ARE SOME CLASSROOMS THAT DEMAND HUMILITY FROM TEACHERS, BUT THERE ARE MANY MORE THAT ALLOW TEACHERS TO BE DOMINANT. THAT, AS A MATTER OF FACT, IS WHAT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL. EVERY CLASSROOM DEMANDS OBEDIENCE FROM STUDENTS AND FREQUENTLY, OBEISANCE AS WELL. IF YOU DON’T KNOW THAT, TRY HAVING A CHAT WITH STUDENTS OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM.

Freire and Rancière’s overlapping ideas on a democratic classroom find remarkable echoes in Upendra’s Baxi’s essay, “Teaching as Provocation”: “…teaching requires a profound inversion of roles: the teacher has to be taught and the taught in turn teaches something to the teacher…” (1990:152).

SURE. BUT HOW OFTEN DOES THAT HAPPEN? AFTER ALL, IT’S NOT LIKE THE TEACHERS WHO WROTE THIS ESSAY WERE WILLING TO LEARN ANYTHING FROM THE STUDENTS WHOSE TESTIMONIES LED TO THE LIST.  

Today’s liberal conservative mentors and mentees are clearly in counter-revolution against an earlier radical generation of thinkers about education.

TAKE ME TO YOUR PLANET.

hooks maintains that the only way to undo or overturn the binary of mind and body is through a sustained feminist critique of education and pedagogical practice, for feminism has tried to blur the easy categorical differences between the “public” and the “private” since the second wave.

DOES HOOKS ALSO SUGGEST WE BLUR THE NOT-SO-EASY CATEGORICAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CONSENSUAL AND NON-CONSENSUAL?

hooks’s propositions stand against the new feminist dispensation, the flag bearers of #MeToo and “the list”, who invoke Black feminists time and again, but ignore the political and pedagogic concerns that hooks raises in arguing that one cannot segregate education from the erotic drive.

UNLESS HOOKS CONFLATES EDUCATION WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT, THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR HER TO BE IN THIS ESSAY AND NO REASON FLAG BEARERS OF #METOO AND THE LIST SHOULDN’T INVOKE HER.

There has not been enough discussion on the exclusionary profile of #MeToo, primarily a white women’s movement in the West…

WELL, YOU’VE JUST SPENT THOUSANDS OF WORDS DISCREDITING A NON-WHITE WOMEN’S MOVEMENT IN THE NON-WEST. SHALL WE DISCUSS THAT? (PLEASE SAY NO. #NoMoreWordSalad)

On the race question, Ashwini Tambe writes recently in Feminist Review, “…We know the history of how black men have been lynched based on unfounded allegations that they sexually violated white women. We know how many black men are unjustly incarcerated. The dynamics of #MeToo, in which due process has been reversed—with accusers’ words taken more seriously than those of the accused—is a familiar problem in black communities. Maybe some black women want no part of this dynamic” (2018: 200).

WAIT, ARE YOU SERIOUSLY SUGGESTING THE PRIVILEGED MEN OF THE LIST EXPERIENCE BIASES THAT ARE SIMILAR TO THE RACISM EXPERIENCED BY BLACK MEN?

WHILE ON THE SUBJECT OF TAMBE’S ESSAY, ALLOW ME TO QUOTE ANOTHER BIT THAT’S A LITTLE MORE RELEVANT TO THE IDEA OF HARASSMENT (EMPHASES MINE):

Coercion, in other words, should be defined by more than just whether someone says yes or no. It hinges on whether one has power over that other person such that they might interpret a request as force — or even as a threat. If s/he faces negative consequences for saying no to a sexual advance, then that sexual advance is coercive.

BACK TO BOSE AND SEN, WHICH I’M DELIGHTED TO REPORT IS FINALLY DRAWING TO A CLOSE:

It is difficult to imagine a more regressive feminism than one that pits male intellect against female body (and) desire in the university.

TELL THAT TO THE CHAPS DOING THE HARASSING, NOT THE VICTIMS.  

#MeToo’s “lists” made collateral damage of some men, and victims of all women, in a hysterical heterosexual meltdown, mostly invisibilizing other genders and sexualities. Its aftermath in academia may continue to be fired again not by rightwing extremists, but by the same liberal left, hell-bent on founding a new gender radicalism for the twenty-first century. If the flames catch for a longer run, they will create a humanities woefully, widely stained by another collateral damage, of new generations deprived of learning about life in its full-throatedness. 

THIS PARAGRAPH WORKS BEST IF YOU READ IT WHILE “MAN IN THE MIRROR” PLAYS IN THE BACKGROUND.