People who teach 4:4 (4 courses per semester) are heroes. I only taught four classes yesterday, for the first and the last time this semester, and I still haven’t fully recovered a day and a half later. I have no idea how people do it on a regular basis and remain even minimally effective.

This is one of those structural problems in the American higher ed system that we need to discuss without sighing for the mythical 1950s when the grass was greener and the profs were whiter.

On the positive note, starting from tomorrow I only have 2 classes which are 2 sections of the same course. Except for once in 3 weeks when my blended course meets.  I also have 9 students doing independent research projects to supervise. Life is good.

The Conservative After My Heart

This is the kind of Conservative that I like:

At a time of serious economic crisis, when millions of Americans are seeking relief from unemployment and falling real incomes, cretins like Representative Akin should be driven out of politics to open up opportunities for those who aspire to help Americans to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And no, Representative Akin, that does not include the happiness either of you or of the rapist. Both of you have placed yourselves outside the Constitutional contract on which the future of this nation rests.

I wish we heard more of such passionate, reasonable, logical and humanistic voices from the Conservative side.

I told you, people, that there are very intelligent, normal Conservatives in this country. Unfortunately, their opinions get drowned out by the shrieks from the anti-intellectual fringes.

Has the American University Changed for the Worse?

There is this article on the changes within the American system of higher education that many people like and quote. I suggest you read it because it makes some very interesting and convincing arguments.

I, however, hated it. The main reason is that right after first reading the article I alighted on the following excerpt from an American newspaper in the 1920s:

I surrounded the relevant words in red for you. Professors are men, got it?

Of course, this magical university that the author of the OP bemoans is not that of the 1920s but of the 1950s and 1960s. However, as a recent immigrant with the name that sounds like ‘Tanya Kolbaskova”, I could only strive for a position of a cleaning lady at that amazing, super-inclusive, ultra-intellectual university of the 1950s. I couldn’t even aspire to be a secretary at that university because of my accent.

The blogger I quoted speaks of “a slow and ruinous trend” that has destroyed the American system of higher education. I would have to practice an extreme degree of oblivion not to recognize that, for all its disadvantages, this trend has brought me a possibility to practice a career where I can engage my intellect and not be discriminated against. I look around at the faculty meeting and see that over half of my colleagues are female. And now we have finally started seeing faces that are not white at that table. I’m sorry, but this matters to me. I’m not ready to immolate myself at the altar of some middle-class WASP who isn’t capable of listing these hugely positive advances alongside the negative developments because for him or her people like my female, immigrant and non-white colleagues are too insignificant even to be mentioned.

As this blogger says in an earlier post:

In the 1970s, more than 70% of all college professors were hired as full-time, tenure-track faculty. As you might expect, they were given private offices in which to do their work and meet with their students and colleagues. They had office staff to assist them in their daily activities.

Of course, the gender breakdown between those full-time professors and the assisting office staff is never mentioned. I think we can all make a pretty good guess at what it was, though. Seriously, all that is missing from this quote is to say that after teaching his one lecture a day, every professor had money and leisure to go get his shoes shined by a servile black person who knew his place in the world and didn’t get above his station too much, after which the fortunate tenured intellectual could proceed to his home where a perky housewife would gladden his heart with her Saran-wrapped body parts.

Continue reading “Has the American University Changed for the Worse?”

Do Ukraine and Russia Need Feminism?

I have an extra reason to dislike FEMEN and Pussy Riot that I want to discuss here. I would have been bugged by their actions no matter what, but it especially pains me that they have chosen to call themselves feminists.

Russia and Ukraine are in dire need of a strong feminist movement. I watch a Russian TV program and every other woman shares that she was a victim of violence at the hands of her father, husband, boyfriend, or a male acquaintance. Or all four. Every other Russian or Ukrainian movie shows a female character who is viciously raped by a man and who comes to realize that it was all for her own good and she has to love him in return. Rape is tragically under-reported and under-prosecuted because the victims are treated like garbage and like they deserved it.

A big reason for this is the myth of male scarcity. It is drummed into women’s heads that men are hard to come by and have to be tolerated no matter what they do to you in order to be retained in your life. This is the legacy of the post-WWII generation that did experience a lack of men after the horrifying losses of the war.

In the 1970s-1980s, when a generation of women born after the demographic balance was reestablished grew up, a veritable avalanche of movies filmed by men and books written by men promoted the belief that men are still scarce and have to be placated at any cost. Since then, the narrative of gender relations has not changed.

There is a dire need in these countries for a feminist movement that will create a different narrative, that will engage in a painstaking, slow work of addressing every instance of sexism. But who wants to waste time on boring hard work, right? It’s much more fun to wave your breasts around and jump on an altar, making headlines and getting your picture taken. In the meanwhile, the very word “feminism” is getting discredited. The feminists who do want to do the work and make real change find themselves in a situation where anybody who hears the name of their movement immediately associates them with fame-seeking silly clowns.

FEMEN and Pussy Riot never did a thing to advance the rights of women. They are shrewd enough, however, to realize that calling themselves feminists will attract the attention and support of gullible Westerners who are dying to find familiar labels they can attach to an alien cultural reality in order to make it more comprehensible.