Friday, February 27, 2004

The Anxiety of His Influence

I'm not sure how I'm supposed to feel about this. Sexual Harassment is terrible, and needs to be addressed. But this passage:

There's so much ugliness in this story, and in the publicizing of it, that it's difficult to know where to start. For one thing, Ms. Wolf's tale illustrates two impossibly contradictory strains in the feminist culture that she herself promotes. Women must be sexually shameless--meaning shame-free--and society should encourage female erotic exploration. Men, however, must observe a phenomenal degree of purity--in language, eye-movement, intentions and most definitely in the placing of heavy, boneless hands on women's thighs.

This reverse-Talibanism may make sense in the steamy atmosphere of a women's studies class, but it withers into absurdity in the fresh air of real life.

Let's say, for example, that Ms. Wolf had wanted to bed her famous professor. That would be cool, right? A young woman exercising her sexual power--who is to say that she can't sleep with whomever she likes? In this scenario, the professor makes his clumsy approach, she responds and the fireworks go off Love American Style. In short, if she had enjoyed his overture--a hand on a thigh!--it would have been hunky-dory, and she wouldn't have written about it save perhaps in an analysis of May-September couplings.

Instead, he touches her leg, she recoils and he leaves. And 20 years later, in the twilight of his scholarship, Harold Bloom comes out of his house to the accusing glare of television cameras. From this point onward, a whiff of goatiness will forever cling to his astonishingly humane, passionate and abundant oeuvre.
also speaks to me. I'm not sure how to combine those two feelings...

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