Author Archives: Claire Potter

November 5, 2014, 11:36 am

What Would Phyllis Schlafly Do? A Grassroots Education Policy for 2016

phyllis-schlafly-215958_w1000

While you were talking about Lena Dunham, Phyllis and her friends were getting the vote out.

You know that political culture is in complete disarray when large numbers of feminists, who otherwise believe that every other issue they hold dear will be put in jeopardy by a Republican Congress, are arguing about whether Lena Dunham is a sexual predator (or not) rather than getting the vote out on Election Day. I didn’t see one Facebook post in my circle from academics who were pounding the streets, working the phones, or driving the elderly to the polls one at a time.

Could we progressives get over cultural politics that divert us from actual policy agendas and electing knowledgeable people who know how to govern? This is the greatest weakness in both parties right now, but in this round it was the Democrats who to…

Read More

October 26, 2014, 7:47 am

Academic Life Made Simple: Five Things to Think About

good-job-not-done-anything-stupid-in-five-minutes-funny-retro-poster

Thinking about behavior and attitudes that are taken for granted in the academy can be useful.

These are not the only five things, but here goes:

When discussing a problem at your university with colleagues, think twice before laying wholesale blame on “the administration.” You might ask: when there are so many administrators to blame for so many things, why not? Here’s why: other than alienating lots of decent, hard-working administrators who actually make our work lives possible, even poorly functioning universities are not made up of opposing teams scoring points on each other. Some administrators will publicly support policies they disagree with, and oppose privately, because that is the expectation in a hierarchical organization. In addition, blaming a faceless “other” actually impedes what needs to…

Read More

October 18, 2014, 11:00 am

Feminism and Country Music: Gasoline and Matches?

Rayna_Jaymes

Connie Britton, a.k.a, Rayna James: the people’s feminist?

The Radical household caught up with Nashville last night, one of our favorite shows. Serious debate ensued.  Will Juliette Barnes keep the baby? How very doomed is Deacon Claybourne’s new relationship with Luke Wheeler’s backup singer, since he will always be in love with Rayna Jaymes — who is engaged to marry Luke? How many people over 40 were having flashbacks, not just to “the accident,” but to Princess Di, as Rayna and Sadie Stone fled the paparazzi rioting outside the wedding dress store in a souped up Mustang convertible? When did actress Connie Britton, who plays Rayna, become the ultimate abortion counselor, here and on Friday Night Lights? 

These are the questions that consume us, even as work piles up in the in box. SPOILER ALERTS BELOW …

Read More

October 17, 2014, 10:57 am

Feminazis Insist Sex Be Consensual, Frighten Boyz

schonberg-fish-nakedA friend of mine observed recently that the heightened attention to campus rape has a familiar pattern: when it’s time to take action, suddenly women drop out of the conversation.  How do men feel? How will men be newly victimized by women? Will California’s new “Yes Means Yes” policy for its public higher ed system make men frightened to initiate sexual relations for fear they will be driven from campus by feminazis on the march?

I read these things and think: imagine what heterosexual life — or any other aspect of higher education — might be like if feminists really were in charge! Wouldn’t it be cool to find out, even for a day?

But no. Conservative pundits predict that putting women in charge of anything, except for child-rearing, only brings out the worst in the menz. As conservative journalist Ross Douthat puts it in a blog post about “Yes Means Yes,” or what are now…

Read More

October 12, 2014, 3:08 pm

Sexy Darwin

EvolutionI want to start this post, which is really about science and it’s various discontents, by saying: The Nation, a publication to which I am extremely loyal, does not publish enough in its regular edition, or even its blogs about LGBT people. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that it is no longer fashionable on the left, especially among radical queers, to push publications like The Nation to take LGBT people’s politics,or their lives, seriously. Despite the fact that millions of queers are homeless, poor, racially and sexually discriminated against, there appears to be a general consensus that in the hierarchy of global and national suffering, we simply do not rank.

But you do have to credit The Nation with publishing more about sex in the last few years.  JoAnn Wypijewski is doing a great job with the Carnal Knowledge feature, and no longer a backup to Katha…

Read More

October 9, 2014, 9:23 am

History Listmania, Thursday Edition

tee-rhrOnce You Get A History BA, Don’t Forget To Go to Wall Street: That font of scholarly wisdom, USA Today, weighs in with the top ten colleges where you should go to major in history. You will be shocked – shocked! – to learn that six of them are Ivy League Universities, all but two are private schools, and only one (William and Mary) is a liberal arts college. Why? To summarize, you should study history at these schools because they “are highly competitive and attract both excellent students and well-respected faculty. Many of the schools are Ivy League institutions that have a reputation for providing the finest education available, leading students towards prosperous careers.”

Not to rain on anyone’s parade, but those highly prosperous careers are probably not in history. As Karen Ho points out in Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (Duke, 2009), Wall Street recruits…

Read More

October 2, 2014, 11:41 am

Department of Not-Useful Research: “Women” Prefer “Gay Porn”

18724101Remember that scene at the beginning of The Kids Are Alright (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010), in which “the moms” watch gay male porn while their attempt to perform lesbian sex is a total fail? I remember my creeping embarrassment at this scene, not because of the porn but because I hate lesbian bed death jokes. It turns out that I missed the point. Amanda Duberman at The Huffington Post reported yesterday that women’s taste in pornography runs away from violence and “female friendly” products (whatever that is), and runs heavily towards queer porn featuring men and women. As it also turns out, Cholodenko was offering me  information – in addition to signaling that the whole movie would be a lesbian bed death joke.

Silly me. You have to understand: I write about porn, I research porn, I have friends and former students who make porn, and I’ve got a book manuscript under revision that …

Read More

September 28, 2014, 1:55 pm

When Gerda Lerner Calls, Answer

UW-Madison_history_professor_Gerda_LernerBecause it’s always Women’s History Month here at Tenured Radical, I’m happy to announce that Why Women Need to Climb Mountains – A Journey of Discovery with Dr. Gerda Lerner, the documentary about this pioneering historian of women, is well on its way to completion.  But we need your help.

As Director Renata Keller and producer Kathy Bayer write,

We’re thrilled to have completed production on the first and only documentary about pioneering feminist historian Dr. Gerda Lerner. After 2 years of hard work, navigating financial and practical challenges, and unfortunately losing Gerda in the middle of filming, we’re very happy to have come this far.

We’ve received financial support from foundations in Austria and the US, as well as generous individuals worldwide – and we still need to raise $62,000 (48,000 euros) to edit and complete the film this winter. We hope to…

Read More

September 25, 2014, 4:00 pm

Hello? No, Ello!

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 3.56.05 PMAs if we at Tenured Radical did not spend enough time on Facebook, Twitter, Google Hangouts, Skype and blogging, now there is this Ello thing. Ello? Ello is a new social networking site that advertises itself as “totally ad-free. Ello does not sell data about you to third parties, including advertisers and data brokers,” they promise.

News of this Ello started popping up in my Facebook feed last week. Queer academic colleagues were vowing to leave the Big Blue Monster because of a policy that forces San-Francisco based drag queens to use their legal names. It is not just drag queens, and has only been enforced in the Bay Area: I think Facebook is forcing everyone everywhere to use their legal name, but drag queens and friends of drag queens are particularly incensed about it for obvious reasons. Because everyone who is Leftish makes policy with their feet and their pocketbooks…

Read More

September 21, 2014, 10:43 am

Becuz the Marketplace? Obama Administration Persists In Higher Ed Fumble

reality is overratedIn today’s New York Times, Susan Dynarski politely explains why the latest Obama administration plan to address the high cost of college without any public finding is a neoliberal farce. Because affording higher ed is all about having the information to make responsible choices! Once you know that, is there anything else the federal government could do?

Well, one strategy would be to not misrepresent the origins of the tuition problem: shrinking public dollars for higher education. Dynarski frames this about as clearly as an education writer could without saying outright that  covering up cost-shifting to students and their parents is a scandal of epic proportions, and the Obama administration is now complicit in that scandal by offering up a version of Consumer Reports and hoping that no one notices for at least two years that it is not a plan. It is not a policy either, except …

Read More