Generalizations about “liberals” and “feminism” undercut potential value of student blog.
One of the ongoing critiques of political correctness, or “PC culture,” is that it silences people who disagree, creating a tyranny of the majority. This is one of the main points of His Campus, a website run by Kenyon students that went live last week. The stated purpose of His Campus is to encourage free speech on college campuses, specifically by countering the “politically correct majority.” They have every right to criticize “PC culture,” but that means I have every right to tell them that they’re wrong.
I grew up in Berkeley, California, one of the most liberal places in the country. Berkeley is much larger and much more liberal than Kenyon. The only conservatives I knew before coming to Kenyon were the guy who makes all of Karl Rove’s super PAC ads and my uncle in Los Angeles. If there were multiple views, it was a communist trying to convince a socialist that revolution is necessary. I spent most of my time there arguing with people because there was only one point of view represented at any given time; I have this obnoxious habit of advocating whatever position is not represented in a given conversation. Growing up, I spent a lot of time taking positions that I didn’t necessarily believe in because it is hard to find the “truth” when only one side is represented. As a first year, I, along with all other Quest for Justice students, read John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, which discusses the problems that occur when only one perspective is accepted. He calls it “tyranny of the majority.” I was struck by this argument because it clearly articulated something I felt in Berkeley, and I think it expresses the problem that the authors of His Campus are trying to articulate.
However, my main issue with His Campus is that several of their articles are ill-informed and make sweeping generalizations. Their articles “Dear Liberals” and “Men and Feminism: I Don’t Hate Women, I Just Don’t Agree With The Message of Feminism” make bold statements about all liberals and all feminists. Most liberals and most feminists are nothing like the fictional people they describe. Arguably, generalizations are also a problem for Her Campus (full disclosure, I write for Her Campus), but the diversity of the writers themselves and the content they discuss make generalizations difficult. For example, I do not write Her Campus articles about “feminism,” per se. I think my articles are feminist because they focus on economic and national security analysis. According to His Campus, this is not feminism because I’m not bashing men or screaming about how amazing abortions are. That is not what feminism is. Those ideas are the beliefs of a few loud people who call themselves feminists. Feminism means something different to all the people who call themselves feminists, and criticizing all feminists for loving abortions, or all liberals for shutting down dialogue, is exactly the same as progressive Kenyon students categorizing you as a bigot because you happen to be a white male.
I spent last semester working on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign as a community organizer. Organizing in Ohio, one of the problems I saw was that “PC culture” alienated white, rural voters. As Kenyon students, you should be able to understand what your classmates are talking about when they say it is important to them that you use their correct pronouns or that you don’t make racist, sexist or homophobic comments; it is important to recognize that we all come from different backgrounds and have different levels of familiarity with these issues. We at Kenyon have a problem — on both sides of the aisle — with assuming our opinions are infallible or that people who don’t understand are wrong, terrible people. His Campus is just as guilty of that as the liberals they criticize.
Feel free to critique us all you want. But please make sure your facts are accurate (unlike your article about the wage gap, which you thankfully deleted) and your arguments are valid, because that’s the only way we’ll be able to have legitimately constructive dialogue.
Jessie Gorovitz ’19 is an economics major from Berkeley, Calif. Contact her at email@example.com.
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