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16 November 2014

Paperback, published HarperCollins 1994.
A friend sent this to me and I promptly read it over the next couple of days. If it wasn’t that I lived through a lot of this nonsense I’d have assumed this was some sort of humor parody, except that it isn’t. For instance in the alphabetical listing I find…coffee, asking a woman student out for, with the entry…a male faculty member who asks women students out for coffee outside of class or a drink to talk about Wittgenstein, God, death,. Or for that matter, liberty, is leaving himself open to accusations of sexual harrassment or worse. (I find that true enough, it’s always been a bit chancy for a male professor to ask women students to meet him outside of class in a social setting.) But the next entry is:
coffee, failing to ask a women student out for… with the entry ‘a male faculty member who ‘shuns female members outside of class for fear of accusations of sexual harrassment is guilty of a subtle but harmful form of sexism that can serious impact our performance in the classroom and our plans for future study…’ At which point I felt really sorry for male faculty members. And I disagree. If a faculty member of any gender wants to discuss the work of any student then the faculty member has an office and s/he can leave the door wide open. A faculty member should not be expected to discuss anything that isn’t pertinent to the course of study they teach, and preferring not to fraternize with all/any students in a social setting cannot in my opinion be construed as sexism in any way, shape, or form. However, it would be advisable to keep that general, as in, don’t fraternize with any of them, rather than with only those students of your own sex. The things about this book is that most of the entries are directly attributable to the writing/public utterances of specific people. And I’d have to wonder firstly how many of them now regret ever saying things so daft, and secondly if they still espouse those beliefs? Some have been State, University, county, laws in the past and I hope to heaven that they were repealed at some stage.
I also eyed one entry with utter disbelief. In fact I read it several times to obtain the full flavour and then sat there trying to work out what complete halfwit ever came up with such an idea/suggestion and may have honestly believed that it was reasonable. The entry is listed as conceptual rape, and says that this is “the imagined participation in sexual activity with a person whose explicit consent to be included in each and every fantasized act has not been specifically obtained in advance. If the imagined sex occurs while the perpertrator is on a date with the survivor, or if the survivor is someone whom the perpetrator had previously dated or wishes to date in future, the offense may be classified as conceptual date rape. I can only assume that this entry at least is intended to be humorous, because it would be unprovable, unprosecutable, and unenforceable. This book is a written tomb of some incredibly silly feminist quotes and beliefs of their day, and I lived though that time so can only say that I do remember some of them, didn’t agree at the time, and agree even less these days. It reinforces the idea that those earlier feminists were ridiculous, humourless, and without common sense. And you know what? Some of them were and this proves it. It behoves us women to remember that driving an idea into the ground can be counterproductive.

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