Well, that was a much longer hiatus than what I had initially planned. I’ve been immersed in research, exams, and romantic languages for several weeks. That said, I’ve got a ton of material to share, and plenty of thoughts to get out. Expect a fair bit of material over the next while.
Just to play a bit of catch-up, here’s a short commentary that I put together back in May (or thereabouts) when this was whole issue was a little fresher. While the controversy has died down a bit, the underlying issues haven’t, so here’s my take on it.
The Kipnis Controversy
Laura Kipnis is right, and her critics prove it.
Kipnis talks about sex between students and professors, which seems to set many people on edge. But she’s an academic critiquing academia, so naturally this is the example she uses. She could just as easily have talked about the kindergarten teacher marrying the principal, the hygienist dating the dentist, Dr. Smith sneaking a quick kiss with Nurse Brown, or the CEO having a romantic weekend getaway with his secretary.
Anyone who thinks that the above examples of romance across power differentials are ‘wrong’ is either a moron or is pushing an ideological agenda. These are consenting adults, doing adult things, with other adults. These things happen in the real world, and it’s nothing to get all hot and bothered about. Romantic relationships are messy sometimes. If your boss asks you out, and you’re tempted to accept because he’s got great hair and a winning smile, go for it. Or don’t. It’s up to you.
Kipnis’s point is that university should not be just an extension of childhood; a sort of prolonged (sometimes very prolonged) adolescence. High school is over. University students can drink, drive, screw, vote, smoke, and be sent to war. Whether they like it or not, they need to wear their big-kid shoes. Because that is what the world demands. Keeping these ‘kids’ in a state of exaggerated innocence which is well past it’s sell-by date is both foolish and, ultimately, crippling.
University isn’t a forward extension of childhood, it’s a rearward extension of adulthood in a difficult world full of tough choices, plain truths, devilish lies, and a whole lot of really great things. ‘Safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’ are hollow inventions devised by shallow students who have been enabled by kooky ideas to try to shape reality to their own liking. They want to change the world, speak truth to power, fight the system, overthrow the heteropatriarchy, and make a difference. YES THEY CAN! As long as no one has the temerity to express a different opinion or make them feel uncomfortable.
They need to grow the hell up.