Monday, January 1, 2018

More Pricks Than Kicks

Laura Kipnis, the author of the Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus would not exactly be considered a guiding light of the #Me Too movement, but her review essay of former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson’s Be Fierce: Stop Harassment and Take Your Power Back in The New York Review of Books (“Kick Against the Pricks,”12/21/17) shows an almost uncharacteristic empathy for the plight of women in the workplace and elsewhere. If one weren’t aware that Kipnis (along with Camille Paglia) has often undertaken an adversarial stance in the face of the current uprising, one wouldn’t have been surprised by her iteration of accusations against the injustices perpetrated by the hegemonic and patriarchal structure that dominates most institutions both in and outside academia. But at the end of her piece, the Kipnis that has been needle in the side of the revolution  raises her provocative head. “There’s a built-in weirdness to possessing a sexuality, whatever your gender," she writes. "It reminds us that we’re animals; it’s bendable into perverse configurations, which is maybe what we also like about it. We’re afflicted with bizarre a moral dreams on a nightly basis. Our fantasy lives don’t always comport with our ideas about who we should be. We go to work and have to pretend we don’t have genitals under our clothes, and that our coworkers don’t either. Maybe this is more a problem for biological men, given their physiology, which externalizes desires more blatantly; women are afforded more secrets. But women can be weirdos and sadists too: the worst fictions about us are that our natures are pacific and oppression has made us nobler people. Online feminism is itself a playground of bullying and viperishness, most of it under the banner of rectitude...It's not exactly new that sexuality fractures self-coherence.” Amen.

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