Here’s a paragraph from Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory on the recent and highly laudable court decision to reject a suit against Columbia for offering women’s studies classes:
As a graduate of a same-sex college, where I took too many women’s studies classes to count, I will admit that these courses have their faults. I was often the student in the back of the room squirming in discomfort at statements that lacked intellectual rigor. Any challenges to the party line felt unwelcome. (This led to a rebellious period where I read everything that Camille Paglia had ever written, while scribbling affirmatory, self-justifying exclamation points in the margins.) There was indeed extremist religious fervor in some of the feminist theories we studied — but, uh, that was also true in my seminar on world religions. And, as any college graduate knows, the truth is that any discipline can be inappropriately politicized or politically correct.
Is it just me, or does this little bit of token-woman personal history (‘I’m not like those other loser feminists! I’m rigorous!) shed some light on the frequent tendency of Salon’s Broadsheet to slide from actual feminist analysis toward Redbook magazine territory–not to mention Salon’s otherwise inexplicable desire to continue giving the asinine and obsolete Paglia a platform? While Clark-Flory casts her women’s studies critique as a kind of youthful rebellion, she uses much the same approach in the article itself: by demonstrating that she can see the point of the lawsuit, even as she celebrates its defeat, she disidentifies with those who would simply echo the feminist party line, casting herself as more thoughtful and measured. It’s a classic liberal move, one that associates any firm political positions with ‘extremist religious fervor.’ In fact, it echoes the logic of the lawsuit in question, which uses the principles of ‘balance’ to insist that if we have women’s studies, which attacks men, it’s only fair that we have men studies, to defend them. Actually, the point of feminism is not to ‘balance’ misogyny with feminism, but to eradicate the former, even if it means not always giving the Roy Den Hollander’s of the world a ‘fair’ hearing. Maybe if Clark-Flory hadn’t been so busy reading Paglia she would have learned this in her women’s studies class.