Tag Archives: Colette Colfer

The Spokes podcast

A new Irish podcast series produced by Colette Colfer and Terry Hackett, and presented by Colette Colfer.

John Gallen writes:

‘One of the leading female critics of feminism in the world today, Janice Fiamengo (top), has said she has received a number of letters from men in Ireland expressing concern about new rules on women-only teaching posts in Irish universities [under the Government’s Senior Academic Leadership Initiative 45 senior women-only academic leadership roles will be awarded to Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) over three years].

Dr. Janice Fiamengo, now retired, taught at the University of Ottawa as a Professor of English for 16 years. She is the creator of the Fiamengo File, a series of videos about academic feminism, freedom of speech, and men’s issues. In 2018, she published Sons of Feminism: Men Have Their Say‘, a collection of personal essays by men about being male in a feminist culture.

Below is an excerpt from her conversation with Colette. In this section Janice describes her journey through university from student to Prof and her falling in and out of love with a seductive ideology. As well as a short mention of the recent move to create a number of women-only positions at third level institutions in Ireland.’

Janice Fiamengo – “It’s hard to actually explain the power of that indoctrination, but when everyone around you accepts it. Some people, maybe, are quietly sceptical, you don’t hear voices robustly denouncing the hideous injustice and hatred of these ideologies. So you think, these people [Profs/Lecturers] are smart, they seem like good people, and there is something extremely attractive about those ideologies”

Colette Colfer “Did you have favourite thinkers at the time?”

Dr Janice Fiamengo: “I loved them all, and the more radical the better. There is something so exhilarating about that conviction, that you are advocating, that you are part of a movement that is going to overthrow injustice. And you are going to create a whole new world where nobody is ever improperly treated. Of course, the fact that white men in particular is going to have to pay for that alleged sins of their fathers that doesn’t strike you as wrong. I like all the feminists, Andrea Dworkin who was the radical feminist from the late 1970s, 1980s; Catherine McKinnon, a very radical legal theorist; Robyn Morgan.

I found them all, I loved their anger, I loved their conviction of righteousness, and of course it is very empowering for those who can see themselves as righteous victims in the schema that is being advocated, and yeah, the literal empowerment in the sense that you can speak out at rallies, in the classroom, in the public square, you can stand up and tell your story of victimisation, you can make your demands, you can shame other people merely for the colour of their skin or for their sex and most people, the vast majority will listen. And will not speak back to you. The power of that is incredible.

All you need are a few slogans and your personal story of how you were oppressed and you can go really far with that. And in fact you can now get a degree on the basis of that. So yes, it’s very seductive ideologies. I went all in, I have to admit, I was an adult, I went all in, I wrote my feminist PhD thesis and it was really only afterwards when I started teaching.

I mean, I’d already to a certain extent started to question but once I got first full time job at the University of Saskatchewan in 1999, by that point I was in my early 30s and that was when the whole thing started to look like a house of cards quite quickly because I could see that the young men in my classes were not privileged, they did not have an entitlement mentality. They, they were just, if anything, they were puzzled, they were hurt by this ideology. It had nothing to do with the way they had been brought up to be, behave, the way they lived their lives, and I just started thinking ‘wow! what a trip’, to use that language, to put on these kids.

These are 18, 19 year olds, clean-cut guys, never done anything bad in their lives, they’ve never wanted to hurt a woman, they’ve never wanted to force themselves sexually on a woman, and they’re being told that because they are male, especially of they are white, they are responsible for all the evil in the world and the only thing they can do a-la that Professor Susanna Walters who wrote the ‘Why Can’t We Hate Men’, is step back, shut up, listen, echo feminist talking points, and allow their sisters, their moral superiors to take over the world. And be thankful, that such superior moral beings exist to tell them about the errors of their ways.

That was basically it, and I thought this was just crazy and as soon as I started kind of investigating the, the lies of the whole movement became apparent to me.”

Colfer:  “OK, so the first step in you seeing was in teaching and relating to the students that were in front of you and then that lead you to explore a bit. It wasn’t that you came across a thinker that challenged you, or in a discussion.”

Fiamengo: “No. Not really.”

Colfer: “So you started to search out then?”

Fiamengo: “You know, it took a long time. I mean, it was also just becoming aware of the obvious exaggerations, and misrepresentations, of feminist scholarship ’cause I was absolutely immersed in that world. And you read all of these papers. And as you’ve, yourself have already said. In making this awful, extreme, hateful claims, the extremity of it, the hyperbole, and also the lockstep thinking, nobody ever dissenting, the vision of the world so uniformly, over and over again. The vision of the past. You know when seeing things like, talking about the suffrage struggle and associated issues, seeing claims made about how women being excluded from war was an example of patriarchal oppression of women.

The blindness to it, the men are the ones being maimed and killed in order to protect the women and you’re [feminist theory] saying that, that is an example of patriarchal oppression of women, and that, those kinds of claims, in every situation imagineable even when the mangled bloodied bodies of the men are right there for all to see, those claims are just made over and over again. Yeah, it just struck me as obscene after a while. So, you know, so for years then I dissented, I began to, when I would review books of feminist criticism, for example, I would voice my dissent. Although at that point I still kinda considered myself within the feminist camp.”



Colfer: “You did mention Ireland …are you aware of much of what is going on in Ireland yourself, have you heard of anything, been in contact with people?

Fiamengo: “I do get letters from Irish men and certainly the one issue I’m very aware of is that there is a very strong move going on in a number of Irish universities to have women-only positions. Because certainly there has been this notion that women have been held back,  for centuries, and now at last it is women’s time and so we’re going to create all these professorships that are only available to women. We could spend an hour just talking about that.

This notion that we’re gonna make a generation, or more… certainly that kind of hiring has been going on, maybe not that quite officially, it’s been going on in Canada and the United States for decades. It creates all sorts of problems, and of course it creates, inevitably, resentment on the part of the men who were excluded from those positions, understandably so. But also creates a lot of problems for the women hired into them as well.”

Full podcast here


A podcast of thought-provoking conversations with interesting people from diverse backgrounds.

Presented by Colette Colfer, a lecturer at the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and produced by Colette with her husband Terry Hackett.

Latest episode: Jonathan Haidt (above). A supporter of  greater diversity of viewpoints on college campuses and one of the signatories of ‘A Letter on Justice and Open Debate‘ which was published online by Harper’s Magazine this week.

Colette writes:

Haidt is an American social psychologist and the author of over 90 academic articles and three books. In this episode of Spokes Jonathan talks about the American based international organisation The Heterodox Academy (HxA) which he co-founded in 2015 and which promotes open inquiry and viewpoint diversity in academia, he also touches on topics such as group think, orthodoxy, religion and politics….


Previously: Hello, Yes, I’d Like To Cancel My Subscription To Harper’s

Poet Colette Colfer

Ode To The Y Chromosome

(After David C. Page)

Picture a sun the size of a crumb
Bright yellow, translucent, the sphere of the ovum
In its nucleus heart are strings strung with beads
Making 23 chromosomes carrying coding for genes

A wriggly sperm reaches the egg, breaches its skin
It’s also carrying 23 strings
Their contents combine, a cocktail shake, a cellular fusion
A throw of the dice landing code for a human

The chromosomes are paired up as life-long lovers
One from the father and one from the mother
Each pair matches in pattern and size
Unless the X chromosome is paired with you – Y

You are only present in roughly half the population
And exist as the result of an ancient mutation
The 23rd pair is where you reside
Y do I love you, Y oh Y

You’re the only one who goes it alone
Out of all of the 46 chromosomes
The others all match in homologous pairs
So their genes in meiosis can cross over to be shared

Instead you’re mismatched with the magnificent X
And in germ cells you’re in sperm cells, never in eggs
If you were paired with just a Y the cell couldn’t survive
But your pairing with the X means you can’t recombine

So you alone out of all chromosomes
In cell division to haploid result in a clone
So the Y of the father is the Y of the son
And the father’s own father also had the same one

That Y can be traced to Africa, to scientific Adam
And every generation since Adam has had ’em
But your roots go back further to our reptilian phase
When you split from the X and went separate ways

Back when we were reptiles our offspring were eggs
It was incubation temperature that determined our sex
But you underwent a mutation with the SRY gene accretion
And took control of sex control for no apparent evolutionary reason.

You’ve been around and evolving for 300,000,000 years
And now some are saying you’re about to disappear
I’m here with this ode, I’m defending your honour
Against those who’re predicting that you are a gonner.

It’s true you’re short and stubby, a third the size of the X
Under a microscope you’re bushy while the X is like a hedge
You’ve been shrinking as a result of hundreds of gene deletions
But your acquisition of the DAZ gene was relatively recent

It’s unfair the way you’re depicted as a joke in cartoons
You’re the only chromosome who is ever lampooned
No, you don’t have genes for TV channel flipping
for reading on the loo, loud farting or spitting

There isn’t a gene for air guitar
For identifying aircraft or an obsession with cars
You go deep – to the molecular level
And when you’re present you’re ubiquitous in the body that’s assembled

You do carry the coding for the scrotum and the testes
And also for the penis which is surely the best bit
It can switch in just an instant from being flaccid to an erection
A daily living metaphor for death and resurrection

Some think your function is limited to the reproductive tract
But this idea is a fiction, it isn’t a fact
You’re in charge of spermatogenensis and you’ve cell-housekeeping genes
You play a role in the body’s health and susceptibility to disease

For example you’ve no hereditary protection against haemophilia or colour blindness
and your presence means a lesser chance of rheumatoid arthritis
The fertilized egg, the founding cell, is the printer for 10 trillion cells
With instructions for organ construction and for how they function as well

It’s not true that all humans share 99.9% of their genomes
That’s only true for those with the same 23rd pair of chromosomes
Bill Clinton’s code is 98.5% the same as a XY chimpanzee
That’s the same similarity he has to his XX wife Hillary

In the East you are worshipped in giant sculptures of the erect phallus
In the West we have the limp appendages of David and Adonis
I think we should celebrate you with an ithyphallic God called Y
Y I do love you Y oh Y

Colette Colfer


Free tonight?

Colette will give the first live performance of Ode To The Y Chromosome at Spokes poetry and open mic at Phil Grimes, Waterford City, County Waterford at 8pm.

Previously: Colette Colfer: How Do I Know?

Thanks John Gallen



By Colette Colfer (above)

I am a woman, how do I know?
Because my body tells me so
I’ve a womb and ovaries, a breasty chest
I’ve carried a baby in my belly nest
I am milk, I am blood
My diploid cells are double X

But what is a woman?
Can we illuminate the detail?
Would you agree that it’s a noun
Meaning adult human female
Where female is a basic
Biological distinction
That’s used in both the plant
And the animal kingdoms.
The female produces
The larger gamete
But these need the male
To make reproduction complete

So female and male
Are a complementarity
A holy grail
Of unity, polarity
As day is to night
And yin is to yang
As black is to white
Woman is to man

Oestrogen testosterone
X and Y chromosomes
Each cell of our body
Is stamped with our genome

These cellular differences
Have a wider significance
Influencing personality traits
Life experiences, interests.
Less women than men
Are in engineering and mining,
Bin collection, construction,
Fishing, truck driving

It’s only women who’ve experienced
Down through the centuries
FGM, menstruation huts,
Magdalene laundries.
In countries where fornication
Is still considered a crime,
It’s the woman who’s punished
Far more of the time
You can never tell by looking
If a man has had sex

But you can with a woman
Because she carries the egg
And pregnancy is a visible sign
That can result in honour killings,
Imprisonment, honour crimes
Meanwhile the man has to deal with
Paternal uncertainty
So the pressure’s on the woman
To be a virgin, to live chastely

There have been changes
With industrialisation
Contraceptives, technology
We now have gender quotas,
Women’s toilets, changing rooms
Women’s sports and awards
And all-girl schools
At the same time we have feminism
And hashtag me too

Does it really matter
About the words that we use?
Some say woman
Is not about biology
That a woman can be a woman
Regardless of physiology
That it’s nothing to do
With the production of eggs
And it’s completely independent
Of what’s between a person’s legs

That ‘woman’ is identity
And how a person feels
It’s femininity, hair styles
Mascara, high heels
Manicures, blusher
Lipstick and dress.
Can you still be a woman
If you don’t shave your legs?

What’s the point anymore
In sex-segregated spaces
When males can now access
Women-only places?
This year a male won a women’s
World championship cycling race
A female boxer fought a male woman
And ended up with 7 staples in her face

Males can use women’s shelters
A male has won ‘Woman of the Year’
But women are being told
There’s nothing to fear.

Languages evolve
And meanings can change
But biological differences
Can’t be erased

People will just come up with
Different words and labels
To distinguish the differences
Between males and females
Some say we should say ‘womex’
To get rid of the men
Some say ‘people with a cervix’
Or there’s ‘pregnant people’ as well

There’s also ‘uterus havers’
‘Birthers’, ‘gestators’
‘Ovulators’, ‘bleeders’
Or my favorite – ‘menstruators’.

I am a woman, how do I know?
I am
Because my body
Makes it so

Colette Colfer

Thanks John Gallen