"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

"There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong." - H. L. Mencken

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"The presumption on campuses today is that any sexual relation between a teacher and a student constitutes sexual harassment... The policies assume that there is, in fact, no such thing as a consensual relation between a teacher and a student...

Students do not have full freedom of choice; thus their consent is not true consent but merely the appearance of consent. The very existence of 'a professional power differential' between the parties means a relationship will not be treated as consensual, regardless of whether consent was in fact granted...

As a teacher of feminist theory, I recognize this critique of consent. It is based on a radical feminist critique of heterosexuality. Students cannot “really” consent to sex with professors for the same reasons that women cannot “really” consent to sex with men. Feminists saw that economic arrangements make heterosexuality generally “compulsory” for women. In a society where women are economically disadvantaged, most women must depend upon sexual relations with men (ranging from legal marriage to literal prostitution) for economic survival...

The crucial question is whether women are treated as mere sex objects or whether we are recognized as desiring subjects...

I don’t think you could get [university administrators] to agree to policies likewise prohibiting heterosexuality on the grounds that the power differential means a woman’s consent is always to some extent coerced. Yet campuses around the country are formulating and enforcing policies that are the equivalent of the much-decried and seldom-embraced fringe feminist injunction against women sleeping with men.

As a feminist, I am well aware of the ways women are often compelled to sexual relations with men by forces that have nothing to do with our desire. And I see that students might be in a similar position with relation to teachers. But, as a feminist, I do not think the solution is to deny women or students the right to consent. Denying women the right to consent reinforces our status as objects rather than desiring subjects...

Prohibition of consensual teacher-student relations is based on the assumption that when a student says yes she really means no. I cannot help but think that this proceeds from the same logic according to which when a woman says no she really means yes. The first assumption is protectionist; the second is the very logic of harassment. What harassment and protectionism have in common is precisely a refusal to credit women’s desires. Common to both is the assumption that women do not know what we want, that someone else, in a position of greater knowledge and power, knows better."

--- Feminist accused of sexual harassment / Jane Gallop


Background (book overview):

"Sexual harassment is an issue in which feminists are usually thought to be on the plaintiff's side. But in 1993 amid considerable attention from the national academic community Jane Gallop, a prominent feminist professor of literature, was accused of sexual harassment by two of her women graduate students. In Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, Gallop tells the story of how and why she was charged with sexual harassment and what resulted from the accusations... She argues that anti-harassment activism has turned away from the feminism that created it and suggests that accusations of harassment are taking aim at the inherent sexuality of professional and pedagogic activity rather than indicting discrimination based on gender that anti-harassment has been transformed into a sensationalist campaign against sexuality itself"
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