Last week, Raya Sarkar, a law student in California, became the most recent testament to the “sorry it’s so shameful but true” adage that some of the nastiest bullies of women are none other than [gasp!] other women.
Ms. Sarkar, who is apparently an impatient upstart who hasn’t kissed enough old-school ass, vexed the self-anointed Feminist Vanguard when she had the temerity to release what came to be known as “The List,” which identified some 70 academicians–mostly in India–as sexual predators. To the chagrin of the Vanguard, some of the purported piggies are leftist allies of that very Vanguard. Rather than setting aside their conflicts of interests and engaging in a discussion about the deficiencies of the current mechanisms to help the victims of sexual harassment (female or male), a popular blog Kafila denounced her crowd-sourced initiative:
“As feminists, we have been part of a long struggle to make visible sexual harassment at the workplace, and have worked with the movement to put in place systems of transparent and just procedures of accountability. We are dismayed by the initiative on Facebook, in which men are being listed and named as sexual harassers with no context or explanation.”
Since then, Ms. Sarkar has been deluged with threats of rape, other forms of violence and a general barrage of invective. (Not surprisingly, Facebook has once again enabled this harassment.) Not all of her vicious and vile detractors are men.
While I am not surprised that a coterie of ostensible “feminists” are haranguing and denouncing Ms. Sarkar, I am dismayed. Let’s get a few things out on the table.
First, is it preferable that someone be in a position to name and defend their charges as I have done with “#HimToo: A Reckoning“? Absolutely. And for me, I only roll that way at this point in my life. Why is that? Well, there are a number of reasons. First I have skin as thick as that of a T-Rex thanks to being subjected to the kind of abuse that Ms. Sarkar is currently enduring for years. I’ve been harassed by left wingnuts (Glenn Greenwald and his troll army because I use data to argue that drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan are the least bad option), right wingnuts (because I have denounced mendacious Trump supporters like Asshat No-Imani as well as Nazi Hipsters) as well as garden variety misogyny because I am a woman with an opinion. I’m also a survivor of a variety of childhood traumas. For whatever reasons, I developed a tenacious resiliency rather than shutting down or trying to disappear as some persons do when confronted with this kind of relentless assholery. Second, I am willing to sue the fuck out of any organization or person that treats me unfairly. Third, I have no flight instinct and I do not back down. I will stand my ground until the ground gets up and leaves in exhaustion. Even before tenure, this was my personal way of conducting my business. Third, I accept the disgusting possibility that some people abuse without appreciating that they abuse or comprehend the magnitude of the injuries their behavior precipitated. In “#HimToo: A Reckoning,” I named two students I knew at the University of Hell at Chicago who sought to coerce sexual acts from me: Rob Appell (since outing him on LinkedIn, he’s blocked me there) and Al Reingold. I have no doubt that what they did to me was wrong and any man who was not raised by a jackal should have known better. But I’m also pretty damned certain that they have never thought about those events since or the lingering pain their actions caused. I sought to use my voice as an educational instrument. [I also named another student, Mitchell Gross, whose stalker behavior was so appalling and criminal that he likely knew exactly what he was doing and it seemed that some of his creepy behavior was enabled by his father. I also named a raft of faculty members at hallowed institutions including Brice Bosnich (deceased), E.J. Correy, and Dipesh Chakrabarty who knowingly harassed women (among others) with the full immunity conferred upon them by their sanctimonious institutions. These predators are indifferent to pain and suffering and deserve nothing but the most severe calumny.]
However, as I detailed in #HimToo: A Reckoning,” I know full well that when I was younger, less cunty and more vulnerable I was more timorous. I cannot expect other women to behave as I did and do at present because my life has been littered with more misogyny than I could ever recount concisely. Had I not been so cunty (perhaps genetically cunty in fact), I would have offed myself ages ago or made my peace with this shitty, anti-woman world and joined its denizens. I could have become a version of my aunt Maria Austin, for example, and joined the ranks of hypocritical fetus-fetishizing church-ladies who hold every fetus to be sacred but who do nothing for actual children and their mothers. Wagging the finger at other women can be fun and even institutionally rewarding when you’re a Shitty Feminist.
Second, is it preferable that we have a process that treats women fairly, punishes their accusers, acquits the innocent and protects all parties from retaliation? Of course it is. I would also like to have halal (and kosher and jhatka) pork shoulder produced from a magical (read: “scientific” if you are not a dumbass science-denying American) procedure that grows pork shoulder from stem cells, that involves no harm to any animal, is low calorie and has pro-health benefits. However, I’ve been employed in several different kinds of businesses spanning international organizations (United Nations), quazi-NGO (USIP), the private sector (RAND) and academia and hate to break the news to the Vanguard: this goal will not materialize in any of our life times.
Third, the reality is that women who do come forward to name these powerful men will suffer career-afflicting blow-back as I detailed from my own experiences at the University of Chicago. The only reason why I took on Dipshit Chakrafuckery (Dipesh Chakrabarty ) was because I was willing to change careers, yet again. Most people are more risk averse than I am. For those persons, leaving a career field after doing a dog-damned doctorate is not an option that seems reasonable or rational. Shutting up and putting up, in contrast, are the reasonable and rational routes.
I want to make very clear to the Holier-Than-Thou Vanguard of the Feminist Movement in their Heads that I followed proper procedures at the University of Chicago and nothing happened to my abusers while I endured sustained grief. I bore the cost of my abusers’ actions–not my abusers who continued to abuse because they never faced adverse consequences for this actions. [This is basic game theory, by the way.]
Since writing of my experiences, countless persons have contacted me to say that nothing has changed. The lack of justice coupled with feared and actual retribution keep women and men who suffer this professional pestilence from reporting.
Until someone is promoted to full professor, these assholes can ruin our career by precluding us from finishing our dissertations, undermining our job searches with their whisper campaigns, use their influence on editorial boards and/or positions as reviewers to ensure that we don’t publish, etc. [Yes. This happens with peer-reviewed journal articles. Don’t believe me? Just ask any editor how “double blind” submissions are in reality. The more arcane and specialized your work, the more obvious it is that it is your arcane and specialized work under review.]
These perduring, well-documented and extremely obvious realities should be easy to grasp even by the sophisticated intellects of the of Kafila Feminist Mafia. As a consequence of this concatenating fuckery, most victims of harassment do not speak out; rather, they endure it or they leave their jobs or educational programs while the abusers continue to enjoy impunity and immunity to destroy other lives.
Fifth, I want to also be clear that men are also victimized. Victimizers are also diverse and include men and women who may be straight or LGBTQI. (Think of a mural of abusers and it will likely resemble an “Evil Benetton” advert in a fat fashion magazine.) We need an inclusive discourse that recognizes that victims and victimizers are diverse. No one has the corner of this lamentably robust market.
Finally, it would be terrific if smart people– like these so-called feminists criticizing survivors who want justice now–focus upon the art of the possible in the present while continuing to nurse some dream of the art of the perfect that will likely materialize along with unicorns (which are very popular right now) and pots of gold at the end of rainbows.
The pursuit of the former undermines the latter and we need the latter…now.
These purported feminists rallying around their prized institutional approaches that have produced asymptotically zero results (and will continue to do so in perpetuity) are redolent of chickens marching around with signs demanding that we all “eat more chicken.”
Ms. Sarkar has done more to expose the perfidious wretches that use their powerful perches to harass than any of her detractors. The campaign against her strengthens the hands of abusers and silences more victims by demonstrating that those who speak up will not only get grief from the abuser and his community of despicable defenders and enablers..but also from a community of women whose professional commitments compel them to defend the abusive vulgarians rather than revile them. (And please. I cannot entertain their feigned surprise and dramatic outrage (performed on cue) at the naming and shaming of some of these assholes. Everyone knows who these men and women are who exploit their power to harm their subordinates in the academy and beyond. To pretend otherwise is insulting to our collective intellects.) That these self-anointed feminist vigilante attackers should be supporting the victim rather than heaping further victimization upon her or him should go without saying. But, unfortunately, it evidently does need saying.
Shitty feminism is perhaps the kindest expression for the violence this self-righteous Vanguard is doing to a young woman struggling with reality rather than contributing (peer-reviewed) articles to the Marxist Fairy Dust Monthly or rallying around an institution that doesn’t give a shit about her and, more importantly, never will.
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