Wednesday, April 5, 2017

‘Unwanted Advances’ Tackles Sexual Politics in Academia; New York Times, April 5, 2017

Jennifer Senior, New York Times; 

‘Unwanted Advances’ Tackles Sexual Politics in Academia

"Among the educators who recently found herself at the treacherous intersection of free speech and sensitivity politics is Laura Kipnis, a film professor, cultural critic and dedicated provocateur at Northwestern University. Responding to a new campus directive that prevented professors from dating undergraduates, she wrote an essay for The Chronicle of Higher Education in February of 2015 entitled “Sexual Paranoia Strikes Academe.” Within days of publication, she was brought up on Title IX complaints for creating a “hostile environment.” She spent 72 days in the public stockade for it, until the university cleared her of any wrongdoing.

Kipnis has now written a book, “Unwanted Advances,” about feminism, relationship statecraft and the shadow world of Title IX investigations. It is invigorating and irritating, astute and facile, rigorous and flippant, fair-minded and score-settling, practical and hyperbolic, and maybe a dozen other neurotically contradictory things. Above all else, though, “Unwanted Advances” is necessary. Argue with the author, by all means. But few people have taken on the excesses of university culture with the brio that Kipnis has. Her anger gives her argument the energy of a live cable."

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