Another day, another university student falls victim to SJWs–that was my first thought upon reading this account of Kieran Bhattacharya, a UVA student who dared to ask critical questions about Critical Race Theory at a panel discussion.
After the event, assistant professor/organizer Nora Kern found them “a bit too pointed,” so she filled out a kind of formalized complaint called a “professionalism concern card” against him. Kern found Bhattacharya “antagonistic,” perceived “frustration/anger” from him, and judged him “disrespectful.”
From there, the UVA administration escalated its response against Bhattacharya. They began by offering meetings to help him “understand” and “cope” with conversations. They sent him a letter reminding him about “mutual respect” and how to “express yourself appropriately.” Then they suggested counseling. Then they demanded counseling and a psychological evaluation. When Bhattacharya continued his penchant for asking clarifying and critical questions about all these accusations and mandates, it only cemented the administration’s views.
The end result, according to Reason, was that Bhattacharya “was ultimately suspended for ‘aggressive and inappropriate interactions in multiple situations.’ On December 30, UVA police ordered him to leave campus.” They add the comment:
UVA’s administration engaged in behavior that can be described as “gaslighting.” Administrators asserted that Bhattacharya had behaved aggressively when he hadn’t, and then cited his increasing confusion, frustration, and hostility toward the disciplinary process as evidence that he was aggressive. And all of this because Bhattacharya asked an entirely fair question about microaggressions, a fraught subject.
Bhattacharya is suing UVA on free speech grounds, and his lawsuit has been allowed to proceed. I wish him success in that.
This kind of thing has become such a dog-bites-man story that I almost didn’t even bother to read past the headline at first. Yes, we all know that universities aren’t places for free inquiry or critical thinking any longer. Yes, we know they’re infested from top to bottom with SJW’s who are only capable of overcoming criticism by fiat. Yes, we know innocent students get cut down pretty regularly when they become that one stalk of wheat that stands a little higher than the rest. But when I did read more, something different struck me about the whole the situation this time around.
When you look at the narrative as a whole, it’s exactly what a man trying to push a rational argument onto an insecure wife or girlfriend looks like.
It starts with presenting a reasonable challenge to something she said. But if the initial response to that challenge isn’t immediately and completely accepted, she has to attack whoever made her feel threatened. The conversation swiftly departs from both reason and the original topic. Instead, it gravitates towards things like tone, fairness, feelings, and so forth. Proportion is quickly left in the dust as each perceived peccadillo becomes a representative of every peccadillo that’s ever been inflicted on her. If neither party just lets the matter go, the gaslighting about aggression starts. Counseling is first suggested and then demanded. Finally, the inevitable break-up happens.
So to put it briefly and bluntly, there is a very clear feminine pattern to the whole debacle. It certainly brought Isaiah 3:12 to mind:
My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.
Going back to check the details, I wasn’t surprised that the principle defendants mentioned in the article were, indeed, both women. Yes, that’s offensive, and I’ll get into the nuance later on. But for now I want to consider a question raised by that pattern: How much of the problem with Western Universities is a problem with leftism, and how much is a problem with having put too many women in charge?
Back in the day, I took a class on epistemology taught by a professor who was both far-left and a committed logical-positivist. A few days into the course, I politely challenged him on one of the contradictions in that line of thought. Rather than trying to discipline me, his response was actually to come over and shake my hand–thanking me for opening up a critical discussion because too few of his students actually do that. And we proceeded to have a polite and edifying one.
Why did he do that? Because at the end of the day, whatever our philosophical differences, the man was still good at being a professor. He knew that understanding was borne out of rationally challenging ideas. He recognized value in debate and critical discussions in the academy. Interestingly, he didn’t really dispute that logical positivism was contradictory. His take was more of a conviction that contradictions or no, it was the only way forward for human unity. He believed it was impossible for philosophy to return to anything else, and no viable alternatives were forthcoming. That conviction also gave him sufficient confidence that he never really felt threatened when a student challenged his worldview.
Now don’t get me wrong: The fact that every philosophy professor I had was a committed leftist is still problematic. The fact that a student has to be well-prepared to defend the good, true, and beautiful before studying the subject matter under them is also problematic. And as I’ve written before, certain leftist philosophies like Critical Theory are so anti-reason that they’re incompatible with meaningful higher learning. But in many cases, one could still learn a lot from good leftist professors, question them critically, and get along with them well so long as one applied himself.
But none of those things are possible under professors and administrators who act like insecure women that find reasonable argument threatening. That’s a big problem with the feminization–or perhaps emasculation–of higher education.
Now we come to the nuance and disclaimers. Am I saying that women should never be professors or administrators? No. I suspect all women act like this at least some of the time, but not necessarily all or even most of the time. If you go back and read carefully, I said that this is how arguments with insecure women usually go. While insecurity holds a more prominent place in women’s psyches than men’s in general, obviously some women will end up acting this way a lot more often than others. Some may barely act this way at all.
Well, can’t men act that way too? Absolutely. But then you have to stop to consider exactly what kind of men we’re talking about. For the most part, they’d fall into the “gamma male” category that Vox Day coined. Gammas are essentially men who have adopted more feminine character traits. They tend to be insecure, passive-aggressive in conflict, strategically and superficially “nice”, dishonest for the sake of social appearance, and catty. And because they’re male and therefore absolutely terrible at being women, men & women alike tend to find them repulsive. While feminine character traits are great in women, they aren’t at all great in men.
But how did these gammas pick up all those feminine traits anyway? There could be a lot of different reasons, of course. Their fathers could have been distant, absent, or weak (or conversely, so buffoonishly alpha that they treated their boys as failed competitors rather than as sons, and drove them away from masculinity.) Their mothers could have been overbearing, passive-aggressive nags, or simply single. They could have spent a lot more time growing up with female teachers and day-care workers than with any positive male role models. Nevertheless, one way or another, they learned how to get by in life through pleasing women in the way that a child would–but never how to stand on their own two feet or to get along with women in the way a man would. They lack the ability to provide security for themselves or others.
So then isn’t the problem more with insecurity than with female inclusion? Well, yes and no. Perceptions of security are one of the areas in which men and women tend to diverge pretty significantly–and it’s a matter of both design and experience. While I’m not going to get into the details here, men are expected to be able to provide security for themselves. When we feel insecure, we generally try harder to generate that security. But despite the feminist girl-power tropes, women typically gain their security from men in one way or another. Maybe that’s directly through a strong relationship with a father, husband, or brother who supported them well or whom they know is looking out for them. Or maybe it’s simply through benefiting from an advanced civilization built primarily by men. Either way, when women feel insecure, they generally appeal to an amenable authority. Accordingly, avoiding the kind of pervasive insecurity that leads to situations like the one at UVA requires a strong masculine foundation.
The West’s rampant feminism has, of course, eroded that foundation terribly. This didn’t merely happen through the inclusion of women in higher education, but through redesigning it so that women rather than men would tend to excel in it. Should we really be surprised that institutions reorganized by women and gammas will start seeing rational criticism as a threat that must be excised and punished through policy? You can also see the same kind of dynamic at work in HR departments, social services, and other professional settings where women end up ruling.
Now, despite how some people will want to read this post, it’s not a call to throw women out of universities and other professional settings. Women have always participated is such settings to some degree, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is, however, a call to reevaluate our assumptions about increased female inclusion being a positive goal. Many of our attempts to reengineer institutions to provide a level playing field for the sake of female inclusion have turned those institutions into overbearing monstrosities. Despite the frantic claims of liberals and conservatives alike, the West doesn’t actually need more women in leadership. As American Christian men build replacements for our institutions, we’re going to need to consider how much inclusion we actually want.
It’s easy for conservatives to blame leftism. They’re used to it, it’s comfortable, and there’s a lot of truth to it. But it’s not necessarily the only or even biggest problem. I don’t blame anyone for being offended at this prospect. But if we only consider the mistakes that our decayed culture allows us to consider without offense, we’ll never make sufficient use of the opportunity to learn from them.