I already wrote up a non-partisan blog entry about Horowitz’s speech at the University of Arizona this evening, so I thought it would be more appropriate to explain my views in a separate entry.
Horowitz believes that there are college professors across the nation that are trying to indoctrinate liberal views into academics, and he’s definitely correct. I’ve experienced this firsthand in my Women and Literature course, where I spent most of the class period trying not to lose my temper with the subject matter.
It’s very true that gender oppression against women has negatively shaped this society, but the course does not even pretend to show another side to this argument. Instead, we are reminded every day that women in B.C. and 17th century time periods were viewed as subordinate. This would be an interesting topic if the professor explained the other side of the story-That there are powerful women who have made changes in the world.
After spending two months analyzing sexism in the King James version of the bible, the class began reading Sophocles’s Antigone, which is about a brave woman as a tragic heroine. Instead of focusing on the fact that Antigone breaks gender structural codes, we studied the ways in which women like her were killed and a danger to society.
Then we learned about Aristotle’s The Generation of Animals, where he equated women with animals. The females in my class wouldn’t stop laughing as this subject was discussed, and their fake laughter as a release of angry emotion was really rather disruptive and inappropriate in the classroom environment.
I recognize that women have suffered discrimination, and it devastates me as a female myself, but anyone would agree that it’s boring to regurgitate the same idea over and over again.
On my most recent midterm, I was asked to respond to these passages:
“I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband….Woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from mad. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. Women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate.” (Corinthians, King James bible)
“We are only women, we cannot fight with men…I am helpless, I must yield to those in authority.” (Ismenes in Antigone)
“I will carry her far away out there in the wilderness and lock her living in a vault of stone.” (King Creon in Antigone)
The right answer to these questions requires submitting to the professor’s view that women were subordinated in BCE. Yes, it’s true, but no student should be forced to answer a question a certain way, and how else am I supposed to respond to any of those passages in a way that I can express that I am not offended by past beliefs? It’s sad that the bible on my bed stand states that I am subordinate, but I don’t feel like dwelling on it in a midterm, nor do I want to pinpoint that Ismenes is a typical weak female character in Antigone. Then there’s Creon who just wants to lock Antigone away as he does with all women in society.
As much as I love my professor, I’d be lying to say her course didn’t have a liberal agenda behind it, and this is exactly what Horowitz is fighting against. He doesn’t think I should have to write what my teachers want to hear on my tests. Call me a sell-out, but I’ll do it to get a good grade (I got an “A” on both exams because I take my classes very seriously, but I shouldn’t be put in this position in the first place. There’s no way I would have aced either test if I stated my true beliefs.
As Horowitz said, the issue isn’t about what is taught, but about what is being left out. If I’m going to learn about female discrimination, I also want to learn about powerful women in more recent times. Antigone was a strong character, but the text is overshadowed by sexist propaganda. Instead of reading Lucille Clifton’s Good Woman next, I’d like to see more from Maya Angelou and Zora Neale Hurston who don’t agonize over oppression on every page of their books.