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