via Chronicle of Higher Education, in which Marc Bousquet mansplains what’s wrong with academic feminism. The article starts out well by outlining the “normalization and feminization” of contigent faculty in higher education. Whose to blame for this? Why the feminists of course!
“What’s mainstream academic feminism’s response to this situation? A cry for “comparable worth” evaluation of paychecks across disciplines, so that faculty positions with similar responsibilities, qualifications, and skill sets are similarly paid? No, most academic feminism subscribes to a version of the pipeline thesis.
Well, is academic feminism at least burning with outraged solidarity at all of the women shunted disproportionately into contingent positions? Again, no: Most female contingent-faculty leaders I know are bitter at the hilariously narrow version of women’s solidarity practiced by tenured feminists. “Why should I make common cause with beaker cleaners?” one lecturer quoted a tenured female scientist as saying when asked to support fair evaluation for contract renewal of Ph.D.-holding female lecturers on her campus. Female lecturers teaching lower-division required courses are commonly the targets of sexist evaluation by students and experience discriminatory employment outcomes as a result. According to many female lecturers, all too often the tenured feminists have nothing to say. At nearly every college I’ve ever visited, the women’s faculty group was a more comfortable home for female administrators than for female faculty serving contingently.
In some ways, of course, the influx of women into higher education is a feminist achievement to be celebrated. It is obviously better to have lots of women in college rather than, say, prison. But in the steadily more gendered exploitation of graduate assistants, undergraduate workers, outsourcing, debt peonage, and so on, higher education is deserving of critical scrutiny.
In an increasingly authoritarian national, corporate, and educational culture—producing ever more feminized workplace cultures and ever more masculinized leadership cultures—what sort of leadership should we ask from academic feminists?
On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with the fact that many academic feminists hope to place more women in campus administration. It is common for organizational-sociology studies to find that more women in senior administration tends to have a modest impact on gender equity, particularly in terms of hiring more female assistant professors.
On the other hand, it may be even more urgent to remedy the low involvement of academic feminists in AAUP, the labor movement, academic unionism, and solidarity movements with female faculty (not to mention female staff). ”
Christ on a cracker — what planet does this guy live on? There are plenty of feminists involved in AAUP and other campus organizations dedicated to gender equity and other social justice issues. Doesn’t he at least read the Chronicle’s own Tenured Radical? Grr, this makes steam come out of my ears!