Sunday, 20 August 2017

Laura Kipnis

I have recently become intrigued about Laura Kipnis's views on feminism. This new interest is in conjunction with some other issues I have been thinking about regarding PC, trigger warnings, victimisation as well as certain fears reserved for women.

My view on trigger warnings so far has been the following: if it doesn't hurt anyone to do them, why not provide them? After a discussion with a friend, she suggested that no one has had a problem with the messages that prelude films, indicating any sexual scenes or aggressive language etc. This seemed compelling and viable and made me wonder why all of a sudden warnings akin to these should be considered controversial. I felt that so long as no one is excused from course material in a university class, a trigger warning may be helpful. Moreover, who am I to judge what someone else may find harmful, offensive or traumatic, as this of course differs depending not only on identity politics, but also on personal experience?

Identifying as a feminist through and through, I was interested to hear more about Kipnis's views on victimisation and female agency.

I suspect this is the first of many blog posts on these issues.

Below include some quotes from Kipnis's essay 'Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe' published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 2015.

The link to the article:

“somehow power seemed a lot less powerful back then”

“It’s the fiction of the all-powerful professor embedded in the new campus codes that appalls me”

“I’d always thought inappropriateness was pretty much the definition of humor—I believe Freud would agree. Why all this delicacy? Students were being encouraged to regard themselves as such exquisitely sensitive creatures that an errant classroom remark could impede their education, as such hothouse flowers that an unfunny joke was likely to create lasting trauma”

“Let’s face it: Other people’s sexuality is often just weird and creepy. Sex is leaky and anxiety-ridden; intelligent people can be oblivious about it. Of course the gulf between desire and knowledge has long been a tragicomic staple”

“but what do we expect will become of students, successfully cocooned from uncomfortable feelings, once they leave the sanctuary of academe for the boorish badlands of real life?”

“What struck me most, hearing the story, was how incapacitated this woman had felt, despite her advanced degree and accomplishments”

“Get real: What’s more powerful—a professor who crosses the line, or the shaming capabilities of social media?”

“These days the desire persists, but what’s shifted is the direction of the arrows. Now it’s parents—or their surrogates, teachers—who do all the desiring; children are conveniently returned to innocence. So long to childhood sexuality, the most irksome part of the Freudian story”

“The feminism I identified with as a student stressed independence and resilience. In the intervening years, the climate of sanctimony about student vulnerability has grown too thick to penetrate; no one dares question it lest you’re labeled antifeminist”

“Sexual paranoia reigns; students are trauma cases waiting to happen. If you wanted to produce a pacified, cowering citizenry, this would be the method. And in that sense, we’re all the victims”

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