Education or Indoctrination?

A number of theories currently circulate regarding conservative hostility to higher education. Some argue it’s because a lack of education will keep Republican politicians in power. Others say it’s because conservatives can’t handle hearing different opinions. Let’s consider another perspective: conservatives want their kids educated, not indoctrinated.

A class taught this spring at Ohio State University will review a parade of reasons why white heterosexual masculinity is allegedly problematic…according to its syllabus.

Parents are surely thrilled at the prospect of their children learning about problematic masculinity for approximately five to six figures of debt. What could such a course entail?

The course, “Be a Man! Masculinities, Race and Nation,” includes a variety of readings to that end, including its required textbook “Dude, You’re a Fag!” by C.J. Pascoe, which analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process, but sexual one.

Time will only tell if OSU’s Bias Response Team is deployed to examine whether Jonathan Branfam’s required textbook is considered “problematic” with a homophobic slur in the title. Perhaps other required readings make up for the gaffe.

Other assigned reading excerpts include: “Masculinity as Homophobia” by Michael Kimmel; “Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity” by Jackson Katz; “Dude Sex: Dudes Who Have Sex with Dudes” by Jane Ward; “Looking for My Penis” by Richard Fung; “Sodomy in the New World” by Jonathan Goldberg; and “Teaching Men’s Anal Pleasure” by Susan Stiritz.

Solving the heterosexual masculinity problem involves a detailed examination of homosexuality. Got it. The audiovisual material in the course is just as ridiculous for a class at a university.

The class is also expected to screen “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” the dashcam footage of Philando Castile’s murder, Key & Peele’s “Hoodie Skit,” and an episode of “The New Normal.”

Connecting any of those videos with dreaded toxic masculinity is a stretch for those outside academia. Fear not, as Dr. Branfam’s done all the heavy lifting for mere mortals.

The course is ultimately presented as a study in “feminist masculinity” that seeks to explain how ideas about masculinity “simultaneously harm yet privilege” men, the syllabus states. It also aims to explain how “beliefs regarding masculinity serve to justify certain kinds of violence by men against others, and violence against particular groups of men.”

Being a man is both a privilege and harmful. Masculine beliefs justify violence against others. Students read a “male privilege checklist” on the first day of class. If anyone can explain how this isn’t a case study of indoctrination, I’m willing to listen.

Dr. Branfam’s work isn’t confined to the halls of academia. His published material includes a children’s book teaching “gender and sexual identity.”

“It was really a result of teaching women’s, gender and sexuality studies classes at OSU,” Branfman told the [OSU] Lantern. “I often found myself thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if everyone got really clear, unstigmatized information about gender and sexual diversity at a young age instead of them having to unlearn all kinds of harmful false ideas when they’re 12 instead of when they’re 20?’”

Get them while they’re young, and they’ll sign up for your gender studies classes later. Duly noted.

The unhinged lunatics infecting academia aren’t limited to places like Oberlin or Evergreen State. Odds are your local university has someone like Branfam teaching men they are bad, evil rapists destined for a life of violence unless they rid themselves of all the harmful manly thoughts and values taught by their parents and society.

Once the diploma is secured, and the newly neutered but “educated” man walks across the stage at graduation, he will attempt to find an employer who will pay him a living wage without subjecting him to the horrific violence that is masculine thought. This “woke” individual will no doubt make every effort to point out co-workers’ problematic displays of manliness.

And he’ll blame the patriarchy when his boss finally sees him as a liability.

Conservatives aren’t willing to engage with differing opinions. Parents against sending their children to college are more wary of the gospel preached by the Dr. Branfam’s of academia. They’re paying for their children to learn useful skills and study subjects preparing them for the transition to adult life.

When the kids come back home over break and argue with their parents about the gendered violence of the NFL, Mom and Dad will call their friends and tell them to keep their children away from university.

The second call will be to the school, demanding a refund.

h/t Andrew King

Ghomeshi, Anger, And College Kids

You’ve probably heard by now Jian Ghomeshi, a former Canadian radio host accused of rape by four different women, has been found “not guilty” in a Canadian court of sexual assault charges.  Moreover, the opinion released by Justice William B. Horkins focused heavily on the testimony of the alleged “victims,” which he found to be completely lacking in credibility.  In other words, they might have lied, and the lies of four women destroyed a man who had a career before his life was drawn and quartered with rape charges.

The legal sphere has responded as most lawyers would.  Rick Horowitz noted this was a rare “not guilty” on a rape case since he began practicing law.  Scott Greenfield does as Scott does, and reflects on the double standard between presumption of innocence for every crime except rape, and how those who dogpiled on Ghomeshi with rape charges might have considered those basic things like having their testimony used against them on cross-examination.  The almost universal nod was that this is a good verdict.  Ghomeshi’s case was an affirmation of why an adversarial system is necessary.

And then Buzzfeed came along with this little number, and I’m back posting again: “I Hope The Ghomeshi Verdict Makes You Fucking Furious,” penned by Scaachi Koul, a senior writer for Buzzfeed in Toronto.  In case you can’t tell, Ms. Koul isn’t an attorney, and she’s extremely mad Jian Ghomeshi isn’t facing a gallows right now.

Buzzfeed isn’t a place where you can attempt to find any semblance of actual thoughtful legal insight or analysis.  But it will get clicks, especially with inflammatory headlines like that, and it bears at least a means of looking at why Ms. Koul is so angry.  Anger is conflict, and it’d be nice to see why Ms. Koul is so upset.

The Jian Ghomeshi verdict wasn’t surprising—sexual assault survivors are rarely heard by the justice system, and worse, the Crown botched the case entirely. Still, the way in which the verdict was read by Justice William Horkins told any assault survivor, and women in particular, that your story doesn’t matter. He read for around an hour, barely touching on the allegations against Ghomeshi and instead, spending most of his time going over the inconsistencies in the survivor statements.

Except that it didn’t tell “any assault survivor,” or “women in particular,” that “your story doesn’t matter.”  What Justice Horkins’ verdict focused on was the testimony of the “survivors” was not credible, and therefore established reasonable doubt for the allegations levied against Ghomeshi.  If there’s a bench trial involving rape accusations, one factor necessary to consider is witness testimony, and whether it’s enough to establish reasonable doubt.  That’s what the law does, and if it means acknowledging “survivor” testimony isn’t credible then that’s what will happen, no matter how angry Ms. Koul gets.

And then there’s the fact that this judge stuck to the law, and Ghomeshi’s attorney once defended someone else on a different case but by all that is good and holy, that guy was BAD, and he got away with it!  Or in Ms. Koul’s own words,

Ghomeshi’s lawyer once (successfully) defended Michael Bryant, the judge on the case has a bad record with sexual assault complainants…

And the verdict.  Oh how the verdict wasn’t enough for every woman who ever “survived” sexual assault.  Instead, it was an indictment against every woman who decided to follow due process and report their attackers to the police.  What Ms. Koul wanted was a tummy rub and a confirmation that her feelings meant more than the actual truth.  She didn’t get that, and her outrage shows.

[Horkins] detailed the confusion around timelines, the positioning of people’s hands, the deviations in stories that arise when you try to recall a decade-old traumatic experience. Every debunked stereotype people still seem to believe about sexual assault complainants, this judge trotted out: why did Lucy DeCoutere write to Ghomeshi after her alleged assault? (The rest of us, meanwhile, were asking, how does that fucking matter??)

For those who prefer a “saved you a click” synopsis, the link to  “debunked stereotypes” is another Buzzfeed article written by a Canadian feminist that conflates every possible fact and misconstrues empirical evidence in a manner that suits the writer’s own personal need to feel believed, validated, and loved.  And the details mattered to Horkins because he was required to make a finding of guilt or innocence on charges that can bring prison time.  When you’re dealing with a person’s life, that’s the least you can expect from a jurist.

But why did the system fail so many women who are “survivors?” And why should people be angry?  Ms. Koul will be happy to explain that to you too.

The courts and the judicial system let the things we know not to be true about sexual assault—that there is a “right” way to act after you’re assaulted, that women never contact their alleged abusers, that they would never consider trying to find normalcy by moving on, and fast—take control over the narrative of the case. (Emphasis added)

There’s the touchstone of Koul’s entire invective.  The Narrative.  The Narrative here is that women are always raped when they say a man raped them, that no woman ever lies about being raped, that when we first hear a woman voice her pronouncement of rape that we must LISTEN and BELIEVE, as Cernovich says, because reasons.  And if the woman is found to later have lied about being raped, then it doesn’t really matter, because the Narrative is more important than the truth.

Let me give you two other examples in the United States where “The Narrative” was more important than the truth.

1. “Jackie,” Sabrina Rubin-Erdley, and Rolling Stone’s now discredited story “A Rape on Campus.”  Sabrina Rubin-Erdley wanted a lurid story that would sell magazines, and she bought into “Jackie’s” story of a gang rape on the University of Virginia campus. As the story unfolded, “Jackie” was discredited, Sabrina Rubin-Erdley was found to have been a fabulist writer who did no fact checking whatsoever, and Rolling Stone had to issue a retraction.  Now they’re looking at millions of dollars in lawsuits.

Even after “Jackie’s” story was discredited, we were told “So what if she lied?  The narrative is more important.  There’s a rape epidemic against women and it has to stop.  You should always believe a victim.” That statement changed later to “You should generally believe victims,” but you get the point.  The truth means nothing when it doesn’t serve the “narrative.”

2. Paul Nungesser and Emma Sulkowicz.  The “Mattress Girl’s” story wasn’t true, and didn’t hold weight with either police or the Title IX kangaroo court that heard her allegations of rape.  Yet Nungesser will forever be branded a rapist, and when Sulkowicz left the school her “work” continued with a short-lived career as an adult film actress.

When Mattress Girl took her mattress across Columbia University’s stage, the university’s Dean didn’t shake her hand when presenting her diploma.  He had no reason to, because the school was facing a multi-million dollar lawsuit as a result of her “endurance performance art.”  Despite lying, Sulkowicz was branded the hero, and Columbia and Nungesser the villains, because The Narrative was more important than the truth.

And so Anger is all they have left, because every time a lie is exposed, the concept of “victim-blaming” as opposed to “show us evidence” is whittled away.  And Ms. Koul wants you to buy into her anger, because that’s all she’s got left.  She has no valid arguments to support why Jian Ghomeshi should be found guilty of sexual assault, no fact-based support, so just get angry.

But I hope you’re fucking furious. If you’re not, I hope you find a way to your rage, because I think it can help you here. Cut off friends who think those women lied, lecture your parents if they don’t understand rape culture, talk to your co-workers about this flaming dog-shit day and how it could happen to any of you. Let your body crack wide open and fill the world with your anger because anger gets shit done.

I mention all of this because a kid came to my door today selling candy for an organization that tries to scam kids with promises of a college education.  He told me that he wanted to go to the University of Tennessee, and study chemical engineering.  His mother lived in Section 8 housing, and he wanted to make sure his family was taken care of when he got to college.

I told the kid to go to a trade school instead.  Not because I didn’t want to see him get a college degree.  Not because I particularly thought chemical engineering was a bad field absent jobs.

It was because the kid was a fifteen year old young black man, and the last thing he needs in the South is a charge of him raping a white woman on a college campus.  That’s what the anger and rage of people like Ms. Koul will accomplish. That’s why I told a young black man to avoid college like the plague.

And that’s why anger has no place in a discussion about rape, “victim blaming,” or any of the other buzzwords that people want to use when discussing cases like Jian Ghomeshi’s.