Anyone who thinks females are inherently inferior to males intellectually, or in terms of strength of character, is delusional. The ongoing saga of Wilfrid Laurier University (Canada) teaching assistant Lindsay Shepherd is the perfect example of the intelligence and strength of females.
For those not aware of the great Canadian kerfuffle of 2017, Shepherd dared to spice-up a discussion of pronoun use for first-year communication students by showing a small portion of a segment previously aired by Canadian “educational public service broadcaster” TVO, in which psychologist Jordan Peterson and a truly delusional – biological sex is an artificial construct – leftist academic discuss gender neutral pronouns.
Following an alleged student complaint, Shepherd was called to a meeting where she was chastised by two academic superiors supported by Adria Joel, Acting Manager, Gendered Violence Prevention and Support. Assistant professor Nathan Rambukkana led the inquisition. (The National Post provides a good summary.)
The gibberish below, from Rambukkana’s self-penned biography, provides insight as to his “positionality”.
My work centres the cultural study of discourse, politics and identities. I track flows of discourse as they move in and out of the public sphere influencing both individual and group identities, embodiments, and politics—both within cultural groupings and between those groups and the larger structures of society.
Specifically, my research addresses topics such as digital intimacies, the relationship of intimacy and privilege, hybridity and mixed-race identities, the social and cultural aspects new media forms, and non/monogamy in the public sphere. It is situated disciplinarily at the nexus of communication and cultural studies; methodologically within discourse analysis; and draws theoretical energy from a wide range of sources such as feminist, queer, postcolonial, and critical race theories; semiotics, affect theory, event theory and psychoanalysis.
My book, Fraught Intimacies: Non/Monogamy in the Public Sphere (UBC Press, 2015) explores the increased mediation of non-monogamies since the early nineties—in every medium from television, to film, to self-help books, to the Internet—and how such convergent mediation opens these discourses up to societal scrutiny, as well as transformation. By exploring the privileged logics that frame our conceptions of intimacy, I explore the political and cultural implications of how we frame non-monogamy broadly in sexual discourse, as well as how the public sphere presences of three major forms of non-monogamy (adultery, polygamy and polyamory) display a complex relationship with “intimate privilege,” an emergent state in which one’s intimacies are read as viable, ethical or even real.
My new research is on the history of digital intimacies. This project investigates the intimate potentials and problematics of social media forms, drawing critical insights from intimacy theory (a subset of queer theory), but extending its ambit to consider multiple forms of digitally mediated togetherness. This project employs discourse analysis in combination with digital humanities methodologies to investigate past, existing, and emerging forms of digitally mediated intimacy. These include such topics as hashtags as technosocial assemblages; MMOs and avatar infidelity; the politics of race-activist hashtags such as #Ferguson; haptics and digital touching; and the emerging sex robot industry. In conjunction with this project I also edited the collection Hashtag Publics: The Power and Politics of Discursive Networks (Digital Formations series, Peter Lang, 2015). This collection investigates the diversity of publics that hashtags address, with politics and positionalities ranging from subcultural and community maintenance; to speaking back to state, corporate and societal power and privilege.
In the course of raking Shepherd over the coals, Rambukkana and co-inquisitor Herbert Pimlott, compare psychology professor Jordan Peterson to Hitler and question his scholarship. Dumb move buckos:
Rightly sensing impending danger, Shepherd, only 22, wisely decided to record the three-on-one meeting. She quickly submitted the recording to various media outlets, which picked up the ball and ran with it.
Leftists are, of course, aghast at Shepherd’s insistence on independent thinking, Here’s committed feminist Aimée Morrison, Associate Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Waterloo, massaging the facts in a piece titled SMART, CLEVER, OR WISE? (while reading, bear in mind Morrison is an English language professor):
I cannot bring myself to write a word about the debacle at Laurier.
Unable to write a single word, Morrison somehow musters the strength to write many:
Generally, I am massively disappointed in the WLU administration, in the mainstream media coverage of this as “free speech”, in Shepherd’s overwhelming arrogance and bad faith throughout, and in her immediate supervisor’s really poor handling of the issue when it was flagged by the undergraduates in the TA section. I really feel for those students, the ones who took a real risk in bringing this to the prof’s attention and have seen their situation on campus rapidly deteriorate as a result of everything that’s happened since.
As is typical of English majors, who generally see themselves as smarter than average, Morrison is a dolt. She starts off by incorrectly stating “generally” but then provides specific but erroneous examples. Morrison provides no examples of Shepherd’s “arrogance” and “bad faith”. Neither does she substantiate the rapid deterioration of the situation of the student or students – the number is unknown – who lodged informal complaints against Shepherd.
Morrison goes on to almost nail it:
What I want to discuss here is that it has been clear to me for a long time and is hopefully becoming clearer to a lot more people that academics may be research-smart but they’re not culture-clever and it matters.
“Not culture-clever” translates as out of touch with reality and totally lacking common sense.
Shepherd–with her surreptitious and leaked recordings, with her brand new Twitter and strategic follows, with her framing of a bad teaching decision as academic freedom and free speech, with her canny deployment of White Lady Tears (TM)–is absolutely, 100% running circles around administrators and professors of all sorts who somehow cannot frame a response to this that doesn’t advance an anti-intellectual, transphobic, misogynistic, white supremacist alt-right agenda. It’s an amaaaaaaaazing degree of incompetence. She doesn’t seem to be terribly smart, but my god, is she clever. And she’s totally winning at this in ways that make all of us lose.
Professor Morrison’s command of English does not extend to an understanding of “clever”. It’s no wonder Shepherd is making fools of these leftist simpletons.
Should she have been called into such a formal meeting with so many people in it with no real warning? No. Of course not: the optics are terrible and it escalated the issue really quickly. Probably, she should have been better supervised before that point. The recording is kind of damning: just listen to it, and if you kind of believe in “free speech” and “due process” and “academic freedom” you’re going to hear her as a victim.
The “optics are terrible” because the recording is hard evidence that leftist academics, who dominate most universities, support free speech, due process and academic freedom only for fellow social justice warriors.
Did the press coverage completely misunderstand her role in the university? Yes. It blindly repeated her claims of “losing her job” (she doesn’t have one; she has a stipend).
Morrison does not grasp that a job is work whereas a stipend is a payment.
It talked of formal reprimands when instead she was being asked to share her lesson plans in advance–look, when I supervise TAs, **I write the lesson plans for them**.
Formal or informal, the reprimands delivered were savage.
[The press] might have been corrected on these matters, but a herd of academics ran to their op-eds to foment about free speech and evil administrations. I could not have been more shocked if I’d woken up with my head stapled to the carpet.
Someone should foment a head-stapling for this technicolor dunce.
Progressive academics, we need to get clever.
Maybe Shepherd, a lefty herself, might be willing to do cleverness tutoring.
The battle for hearts and minds on Twitter and in the op-ed pages moves fast, and the agenda is being set by the alt-right. We need to get serious about learning how to effectively engage on these platforms, and fast. Because from what I’m watching, never have such a collection of highly educated and possibly even well meaning people undermined their own careers, scholarship, and values so quickly and effectively as they have these week, and made themselves look stupid losing a public relations battle to a 22 year old alt-right provocateur.
Most leftists are no more well meaning than is the alt-right.
Morrison then goes totally snow-flaky:
Me, I know I failed. The very first day this story showed up in the local paper, I knew exactly what was going to go wrong. I should have written an op-ed myself and I should have done it that day. But I was anxious and insomniac and I felt too angry to do it right. I figured someone else would take care of it. They didn’t. Only now are we getting better nuance here, and that’s partly my fault.
We can talk about how we can avoid doing this to ourselves again, and it’s something I’m thinking about a lot, and I’m going to sit in this corner by myself until I can figure out where to start. This mess is so big: I had no idea so many of us were so ill-equipped to put down an out-of-line, intellectually nonsensical MA student who inappropriately introduced a transphobic “debate” into a class on sentence structure. This should be a wake up call. I hope it is.
Should she sit in the corner until she figures out she lives in fantasyland, Morrison will be there forever.