Sources of campus intolerance

Feminism is not so much an attack on toxic masculinity” as on feminine modesty, the feminine mystique” of Betty Friedan’s devising. To feminists, modesty diminishes women’s power and keeps them dependent on men. Yet it is to be replaced by the notion of a safe space” that will protect women and liberate them from the need to defend themselves in the hostile environment presupposed by the so-called virtue of modesty. A moment’s reflection suggests a certain resemblance between the old-time feminine modesty and the newfangled safe space. In both, women are dependent on men to defend them

But feminism is not the only source of intolerance in the universities today—nor the only reason for my disinvitation. It is joined by the notion that free speech is an expression of one’s power rather than a contribution to truth or toward a reasonable settlement. In this notion, speech is more determined by one’s desire to get the better of an opponent or to defeat an enemy than offered as persuasion to an audience. Speech is like a gesture or wail of defiance, a rallying cry, or shout of triumph. It is defined as coming from within oneself against the hostility awaiting from others in the outside world; it is not defined by the need to address them, their needs and their opinions. Speech is irrational rather than rational, for this view regards reason as nothing but an instrument of power with no power of its own.

Harvey C. Mansfield (italics added)

April 15, 2019


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