Author: Daphne Patai

Daphne Patai is professor emeritus in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of, "What Price Utopia? Essays on Ideological Policing, Feminism, and Academic Affairs," among other books,

Women's March - March 22, 2018

Who Needs Facts When Female Feelings Will Do?

Many able commenters on the #MeToo phenomenon and the sex wars miss the most vulnerable dimension of feminism. The underlying issue is that feminism has not consistently held itself to standards of logic, evidence, and rationality. In fact, the rhetoric of feminism has long utilized postmodern disavowals of evidence and logic (labeling them “masculinist”). After […]

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Student Protest at Duke Alumni Meeting -

Those Darling Duke Student Protesters

Really, you must admit that student protestors are becoming ever more adorable, kind of like naughty children who first act rambunctiously and then go running back for comfort to the elders they’ve just annoyed. The latest case in point is laid bare in a series of articles in Duke University’s campus paper The Chronicle. It […]

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The Battle Over Pronouns Coming to a College Near You

Last year, Jordan Peterson, a professor at the University of Toronto, made news when he refused to use the invented pronouns of the transgender movement as prescribed by Canadian law (see chart). Pronouns these days are a new battleground, as recommendations admonish us all that the standard English pronouns, which traditionally distinguish she from he, […]

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Professor-Student Sex—Just a Problem of Dirty Old Men?

A drearily familiar depiction of lecherous professors and innocent students appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education December 7, unsubtly titled “Dirty Old Men on the Faculty.” It lacks all nuance and context and resolutely ignores the reality that college students – who are adults, not children — often pursue their professors. Fortunately, more illuminating […]

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‘We Made This (Harassment) Law Up From the Beginning and Now We’ve Won’

“The sexual harassment racket is over,” Peggy Noonan excitedly declared in the Wall Street Journal last week. No longer need we be stumped by conundrums based on “he said/she said.” Instead, Noonan rejoices that “now predators are on notice.” Overlooked in the celebration, however, is that the presumption of innocence—long problematic in sexual harassment charges– […]

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How Colleges Promote Censorship and Undermine Free Speech

In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley writes: “There isn’t any need for a civilized man to bear anything that’s seriously unpleasant.”  In his sanitized future, general happiness and social stability are achieved not via threats of legal action but rather through perfect genetic and behavioral engineering, endless indoctrination, anodyne feel-good phrases and drugs, and organized […]

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Student Grievance: Righting Imaginary Wrongs

In the persistent demands for submission to the current campus orthodoxy of verbal policing, there is evidently not a shadow of concern for the creation of ethical individuals capable of thinking for themselves. Instead, a distinctly authoritarian streak is proudly proclaimed in the assaults and threats angry students launch at others. Ironically, the less there […]

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Why Can’t a Woman Be More Like a Trans?

The dislocation of reality continues apace, helped by academics who think renaming things can induce the physical world to alter its course.  On the Women’s Studies List, which has existed for more than 25 years and has over 5,000 subscribers, yet another acrimonious discussion recently unfolded about who is excluding whom. Turns out some trans […]

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How a University Moved from Diversity to Indoctrination

Academe these days is full of code words.  Diversity is one of the most popular, and has increasingly become an article of faith at American colleges.  Its usefulness depends on ambiguity. While the public and media may believe it means openness to previously excluded students and studies, the reality is that “diversity” is a brazen […]

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How Diversity Came to Mean ‘Downgrade the West’

There was a time, within living memory, when the term multiculturalism was hardly known.  More than twenty years ago, Peter Thiel, cofounder of PayPal and in late July speaker at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, wrote a book with fellow Stanford alum David Sacks called The Diversity Myth: ‘Multiculturalism’ and the Politics of Intolerance […]

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Political Tests for Faculty?

What’s going on when a public university feels entitled to ask potential faculty members questions clearly aimed at ferreting out their political and social commitments? Such questions, reminiscent of loyalty oaths and the demands of totalitarian regimes would seem to have no place in an educational institution in modern-day America.  But for some years now, […]

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Classic books

Why Is It So Hard Now to Read a Book?

I was thinking about the issue of time this past week, while doing what I call cross-reading:  reading items online and pausing every few minutes to look something up on a web browser and then returning to the original reading.  This is a high-stimulation way of reading, producing an ultrathin layer of information about many […]

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THE NORMALIZATION OF BAD IDEAS

By Daphne Patai While American education goes further down the tubes, lame-brained notions are raised to levels of respectability in academe that should shock any halfway reasonable person. What has happened is the normalization of bad ideas, thanks mostly to identity politics. We constantly hear that we live in a hopelessly racist and sexist society, […]

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How Political Correctness Corrupted the Colleges

How can it be that, in the face of daily news of murders, grotesque punishments, and open oppression by radicals abroad, here at home American college students, who have grown up with degrees of freedom and autonomy virtually unknown in most times and places, agitate for restrictions on their own campuses, demand rules, regulations, and […]

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Kim Jong Un - CNN

North Korea Has Taken Over Academe

Perhaps it’s time for universities to institute a course in logic as a basic requirement for all students. Then we might encounter more rational and thoughtful protests taking place all over the country, instead of the spectacle of students demanding that professors and administrators be fired for using words or voicing opinions disapproved by minority […]

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College Students Now–the Good and the Bad

First, the good news:  My undergraduate students here at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are quite literate, contrary to all the bad press and fears. Every week I give them a 20-minute writing assignment in class, the sole preparation for which is having done the week’s homework.  Turns out they write pretty well; arguably, in […]

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Ray Bradbury Saw the PC Lunacy Coming

Ray Bradbury, born in 1920, a fearless defender of the imagination and scathing critic of political correctness long before the term was even invented, died on June 5th, 2012. His last published piece was a brief autobiographical essay in The New Yorker (June 4, 2012) called, ironically, “Take Me Home,” in which he describes his […]

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No Time for Conservative Faculty

I’m totally baffled by the general looniness that seems to pop up when the liberal-left side talks about Republicans and the wealthy.  And it all “trickles down,” so that students parrot the same attitudes.  Today a student of mine from last year, who’s smart and nice, said in passing that the Tea Partiers are “racist.”  I said, […]

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How to Fight for Free Speech on Our ‘Sensitive’ Campuses

About fifty undergraduates from around the country gathered outside of Philadelphia, on the campus of Bryn Mawr College, between July 15 and 17th, to discuss the struggle for free speech on American campuses. The event was the third annual Campus Freedom Network (CFN) conference organized by FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Teaching […]

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Standpoint Theory Arrives At The Court

One of the key contributions of second-wave feminism to the academy is what is known as “standpoint theory,” which asserts that members of oppressed groups have special “ways of knowing” based on their group’s unique experiences. The problem standpoint theory attempted to address is how to respond to the apparent monopoly of knowledge and power […]

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Want to Teach Here? Then Tell Us Your Politics

It’s hard to say just when universities ceased to believe that education was a worthwhile mission. But that they have done so is beyond question. Among many signs of this reality is the anxiety to redefine the university’s task. After all, educators who no longer expect or demand serious intellectual effort from their students are […]

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