Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Wolf Not Crying Wolf

Feminist Wolf on justice warpath

Well, I'm not Naomi Wolf's biggest fan, but I don't doubt her story.

For one, Professor Bloom, whose theories of literary cycles and of "fear of influence" frankly blow away in intellectual magnitude Wolf's dumbed-down Jungianisms and easy syntheses of higher feminist thought, hasn't threatened a libel suit that I know of.

For two, the tenured are notorious horn dogs, perhaps not anymore than any other profession, but, in my opinion, heretofore they have been given a free pass. Politicians like Packwood and Teddy Kennedy, athletes, and managerial types are consistently the poster boys of sexual harassment, and rightly so, but I'm willing to bet that the tweedy dorks of Academe as a whole are every bit their equal.

"When the 53-year-old Bloom leered and put his hot, heavy, boneless hand inside her thigh all those years ago, Wolf lacked the nerve to tell him to bugger off, which would surely have been a better response than throwing up in the sink, as she did."


On the other hand, "Camille Paglia, who was taught by Bloom, has harried Wolf for 'batting and bobbing her boobs in the face of men and making a profession out of courting male affection.'" This has a ring of truth to it. But I doubt it did when Wolf was an undergrad, when this harassment took place. I think Paglia's right that Wolf's a notorious opportunist, but, again, it doesn't pertain to Wolf's student years.


This has happened to someone important to me, and so I post the story. What's so bad about this, beyond the ugly power game that is played in garden variety sexual harassment, is that in a teacher-student context it can quash a student's interest in her subject, disillusion her in regard to her academic career in general, and, in extreme cases, can destroy her idealism, especially when the professor is an instructor in some of the philosophical or moral courses or studies, for instance the social sciences. In other words, it's not as likely that sexual harassment by a Chemistry professor will sour the student on science, but it is more likely that harassment by a respected Sociologist will sour the student if both share the same ideology.