One of my guilty pleasures is reading the Twitter feed of Real Peer Review. The condescending wit is well deserved in most cases—Sociologists waxing about human supremacy and Postmodern Studies researchers doing autoethnographies of their experiences exploiting third world men for sex. A few other recent gems include a hegemonic Snooki post-feminist narrative analysis and a vegan exploration of the “construction of gender.”
While I giggle at the utter insanity of it all, a part of me sniffles in self-pity. That part is the one that remembers that I, too, am indicted in the contemporary social science hellscape. I am a Sociology student.
However, the (very small) size and location of my University, UNB Saint John, gives me the unique opportunity to witness and participate in microcosm the current state of the social sciences. Saint John is a conservative, working class, blue-collar city, and the vast majority of the student body are from the greater rural and municipal area. If there ever was a place to readily dismiss the social sciences as impractical hogwash, it’s Saint John—And it is.
The Sociology department specifically has undergone some recent changes attempting to redirect it towards meeting the demands for pragmatism, merging the subject with other, ‘real-world’ topics such as Urban Studies, Health, and (soon) the Environment. The purpose seems to be to address the usual criticisms aimed at the field… That it doesn’t lead to work or deal with practical issues. A quick Google search shows that other Universities in Canada and the United States are taking similar steps to combat their consistently declining social science/humanities enrollments.
While I can hear STEM-supremacists clapping now, I, for one, do not meet these changes with excitement or optimism despite the fact that I recognize the field is in crisis. UNBSJ’s moves might seem smart and progressive, but only superficially.
Take, for example, the very real, very important issue of student post-graduation employment. The skills a social science student leaves University with are oft-maligned and hardly in door-busting demand. But why? Is it truly because the field as a whole is useless? Or could it be because it has largely abandoned its traditional foundation of critical thought in favor of social justice wokeness and excessive deconstructionism—creating cookie cutter ideologues with inflated grades of far too many people?
In moving social science away from its roots and merging it with other fields, Universities are reducing the culpability of those cringe-worthy folks Real Peer Review rightfully mocks—the individuals who are responsible for social theory becoming weaponized
It is letting the scholars of black anal eroticization misappropriate the rich history and vast contributions of the social sciences. It is suggesting that meaningful work in the field cannot exist independent of another propping up its academic endeavours. It is delaying the clichéd hard look the social sciences must take at itself if desires genuine survival, and to not be immortalized on a satirical Twitter feed.
Summer of 2017, pre-Sokal Squared, I shamelessly tested the limits of Sokal-hoax logic, submitting a pathetically underdeveloped paper exploring a Feminist reading of the characterization of Sandy Cheeks from SpongeBob SquarePants. I got an A. And the worst part is, I only felt confident doing it—the GPA-vain honours student I am—because I knew I would get an A. I knew that so long as I walked the mandated line, the quality or contributory factor of the work simply would not matter. I still feel dirty about it.
It is this kind of ideological rigidity that has transformed the social sciences from an area driven by vigorous debate and lively academic interrogation to the beast of irrelevance it has become recognized as today. The post-Frankfurt School weaponization of social theory chastises dissent and promotes hivemind in every Critical XYZ Studies classroom. Students are not invited to partake in the magnificence of the investigative process but told to follow an ideological template. This has robbed them of their right to develop one of the most valuable and vendible skills that a person can have: The ability to think.
But the issues with the declining value of a non-STEM university education is far from isolated to the climactic dogmatism of the field. It is not as simple as blaming the zealots spitting pablum at the front of the class, though I wish it were. Doctrinaire professors are easy to hate, and even easier to blame for the current state of academia, and certainly they have their role. But so does grade inflation and an over-abundance of social science degrees in the marketplace. Universities have long shifted towards a business model which has sought profit and status as primary motivators, rather than the intellectual endeavour and protection of controversial and promising minds and ideas.
Entering University STEM, there is a litany of requirements. Certain grade achievements from high school in math, chemistry, biology, and/or computer sciences. Some universities even encourage students to submit letters of recommendation from high school teachers in those subjects to strengthen application and demonstrate success. Exiting STEM, by and large, means entering into fields which have regulatory bodies and licensures which demand quality compliances in order to secure employment.
If a University were to turn out poor STEM graduates, it would become readily apparent and known. By contrast, arts degrees have no such quality control, making them ripe for exploitation by the profit-hungry institution. Students of low or no interest, preparation, or future planning can be lured in immediately after high school with the promise of delaying adulthood for another four years. They sit in pointless classes, racking up incredible debt, while churning out mediocre essays every few months for mediocre grades in subjects they’ve not a clue or care about. Social Sciences and Humanities have gone from being the core lifeblood of the University, fields for sweat-drenching thought, to a cash cow comprising of gape-mouthed teens being spat at by ideologues.
As someone who genuinely cares about my education and has had the honour of being accompanied on my journey by some wonderful, passionate professors, what is being done to the social sciences and humanities is nothing short of depressing for me. I sometimes wrestle with the thought of my rapidly approaching post-graduation life, knowing I’ll be continuing on to a Master’s in order to increase the value of my oversaturated degree.
And after, I’ll likely have to continue on to a PhD to increase the value of that oversaturated degree.
And after, I’ll just find a ditch to lay in, because there are no jobs for PhDs. Universities aren’t hiring fast enough. They’re oversaturated.
But maybe I won’t be able to find a ditch. Maybe they’ll be oversaturated, too.
Consent culture is touted as the antidote for rape culture. Only it’s not really the opposite or a salve, but a perpetuation of the infantilization of women. Articles abound on how rape culture is perpetuated, by parents to children, in entertainment, and by women’s fear of men. Consent culture posits that the asking of women for their permission prior to the commencement of sexual or romantic contact could remedy this. The preponderance of rhetoric around consent does not liberate women, or even give them the autonomy it seeks to, but turns romance into bureaucracy.
Consent culture seeks to redefine how we think about relationships, sex, and our own impulses. There’ve been hot takes about how it’s wrong to make little kids hug their grandparents and missives about how a yes can be retracted in medias res. On some college campuses, there’ve been directives on asking for consent during every step of a sexual encounter, while still having the conceit that if the sex is later regretted, it can be reclassed as rape, despite consent. Now we’re treated to a new kind of ask for consent, consent for sexting.
“Ask consent for all sexual encounters, yes, even sexting. I just came up with this script that you’re all welcome to borrow!”
The message is that this is how intimacy should be initiated, cordially, without nuance. Rather, a straight appeal to the logical mind is what’s required. If this is the kind of message you feel you must send to find out if a person wants to sext with you, perhaps that’s not the right person to sext with. Are we so closed with our feelings that we can’t express them except in the form of yes or no answers to direct questions? This seems like the type of question one should only ask if they’re sure of an affirmative response.
The reaction to the consent for sext script was swift and fierce. But as we try more and more to control what we say, how we say it, and the thoughts from which our expression derives, this is the direction in which we’re headed. Mediated communication, even in our most intimate moments, a script for how to talk to those we feel passionately about simply to ensure that no one is offended, are the ways we are being directed to initiate and stay in romantic relationships.
Does asking for consent in this way work? Does it achieve the goal of getting someone to read your illicit thoughts? The response to this request to sext could go one of two ways: yes, or no. If yes, the initiating sexter may imagine that this is a green light to off-screen romance, but what if the mere act of asking has an impact on the answer? Perhaps the respondent, in saying okay, is actually feeling coerced by the existence of the question into accepting the terms of this new form of contact. This script is intended for both the asker and the asked, after all.
If that’s the case, then gaining consent isn’t even a good enough measure of her willingness to sext with you. As this poster points out:
In this context, consent culture is an extension of rape culture. It’s not something that can stop women from getting into uncomfortable situations, but the first bit of pressure that leads them down the road to coercion, where every yes is more easily followed up by an additional yes. How do you tell a guy whose sexts you’ve accepted that you don’t want sex, is the question this post asks.
Both the initial script of how to ask someone to sext with you and the note about how the expression of consent is not evidence of consent assume that a woman does not know her own mind. Either she needs to be asked directly if she is interested, presumably because she has not given any indication of being intrigued by her potential suitor, or even when she affirms her intention, she is not telling the truth.
There’s this idea that we know what healthy relationships look like, and that we can engineer them, from the outset, to follow a prescribed course to attain that result. This new relationship model is in direct reaction to the old patriarchal one, where men led the family and women submitted to their husbands. That model still works for many families– are those couples doing their relationship wrong, even if those within the family are thriving?
Romance isn’t really an appeal to logic and reason. What works for one couple may not work for another. Individuals don’t come to relationships from a position of knowing what they want, how to get it, or even fully how they want to be treated. We’re all basically damaged, and the implementation of checklists into relationships makes things worse, not better. There is no script for how to communicate, despite the tweets or BuzzFeed quizzes. There is only, as always, open communication, respect, kindness, love, and honesty. Nothing else is even remotely relevant. Speak with an open and loving heart. Don’t let romance be carried off by paperwork and rules of wokeness.
Bruce Arthur, dubbed Sportswriter of the Year in 2012 by Sports Media Canada and featured in Sports Illustrated’s list of top 100 people to follow on Twitter, may sound like your average sports columnist, but there’s much more to the man than hot takes and sports. He also has a passion for hurling abuse at strong conservative women. Specifically, Candice Malcolm.
Malcolm is the founder of True North, an independent media outlet in Canada. She tweeted out a reply to Justin Ling, a man who describes himself as a “consulting killjoy,” “perpetually unemployed” and “painstakingly uninteresting.”
Ling had said in a Hill Times article that True North, the independent news outlet founded by Malcolm, was a “tiny start-up” from “worrying ends of the spectrum.”
Malcolm stood up for herself and her outlet:
And this is when Bruce Arthur showed exactly why he was voted by SI as one of the top 100 people to follow on Twitter, saying to Malcolm: “You’re garbage.”
At first, I was confused by this nasty response. But then I looked into who this guy really is. It turns out he’s the kind of guy who would imply that if you watch conservative news programs like former hockey legend Bobby Orr does, then you might be a “white supremacist.”
Slandering people and blithely calling a woman “garbage”? I think Trudeau should reconsider all of that media bailout money he’s giving the Toronto Star and Arthur.
According to today’s woke standards, Arthur—a mediocre white male—should be cancelled for typing such a reply to a female journalist. It’s the kind of thing that is condemned as “hate”—rooted in misogyny and toxic masculinity. Will that happen in this case? Of course not. You see, Malcolm is conservative and Arthur is liberal. The standards are never applied equally.
Candice Malcolm has stood up for Canadians, our freedom of speech, our servicemen and servicewomen, tackled terrorism, broken stories others only wish they could have, and has taken the Trudeau government to court for and won on behalf of freedom of the press. For a sports columnist to state that Malcolm, an obvious pillar of Canadian media is “garbage” is completely inaccurate and out of touch.
Freedom of speech belongs to everyone. That freedom should not be limited or suppressed. Arthur has the right to hurl insults at conservative women all day long if he so chooses. But it does speak to his lack of character. How we use our language is a choice we make, and this choice was, quite frankly, garbage.
Bruce, if you want to save your credibility, take the plank out of your eye before commenting on the speck you see in someone else’s. Or, just stick to the sports highlights and leave the real work to Candice Malcolm and True North.
I guarantee that Malcolm would still defend your ability to speak freely and call her names. That’s the kind of professional she is.
“The world is going to hell.” Every day, in every news outlet, we are bombarded with this notion. Climate change irrevocability, civil strife, increasing racism, terrorism, homophobia, and poverty. The west is in a navel-gazing spiral of negativity and self-hatred. We verbally flagellate ourselves with condemnation of our own wealth, of our carbon footprint, of our inability to fix all the problems instantly, effectively, and permanently. We are stuck in a loop of negative self-critique that any therapist would diagnose as suicidal, and in fact, suicide rates are rising. But it’s time we looked at some facts and started telling ourselves a new story. As it turns out, we don’t suck.
One of the biggest critiques of the west is that there is rising inequality, that the poor are getting poorer while the rich keep getting richer. However, that’s not actually true. It’s a lovely narrative for those who favour wealth redistribution because the perception of injustice spurs people on to figure out how to rectify that. The only problem is that it’s untrue. Of course, there are problems, there always are, but they’re not nearly so bad as we are led to believe by popular media representations, and they’re getting better.
A recent article in The Economist shows just how off our thinking has been with regard to wealth inequity. New research confirms that the basis for this belief in increasing financial disparity is inaccurate. The claims of inequity were founded on four presumed truths. These are that the top 1% of earners have soared high above the rest of us in wealth accumulation, that household incomes have languished, that worker exploitation has hurt labour while lining the pockets of wealth capitalists and that the accumulation of assets the wealthy hold have been skyrocketing in value.
However, “…some economists have re-crunched the numbers and concluded that the income share of the top 1% in America may have been little changed since as long ago as 1960.” Unaccounted for in the analysis of wealth inequity were the changes with regard to Medicaid expansion, pension dividends that go to middle-earners, the vast underestimation of “inflation adjusted median income growth in America from 1979-2014.”
While we could always do better, the fact is, we could do much worse. It’s hard for us to believe that we are not the worst people in the worst time frame in the entirety of human history, but as we berate ourselves for being so terrible, we should take a moment to note that poverty is in drastic decline worldwide.
In a Q&A on his YouTube channel, Dr. Jordan B. Peterson notes that: “It is by no means self-evident that things are getting worse… In the last 15 years, the millennium goal for the UN was to have world poverty, like absolute poverty, that’s less than $1.50 [down] by 50% within 15 years, and that was actually reached ahead of schedule. We’ve lifted hundreds of millions of people into the middle class in the last 30 years. There is increasing inequality in the west because the working class has taken the brunt of that redistribution to third world countries. But really there’s no starvation in the world anymore, except really for reasons of misdistribution and political purpose.
“People are becoming richer and more educated all the time. And we are waking up to our planetary responsibilities, and once people stop starving to death, and having to burn dirt and eat substandard food that they’ve scraped out of the ground they do start to turn their attention to things that are more aesthetic. … I don’t see an alternative [to capitalism] that has manifested itself that doesn’t have far more negative consequences. … The most successful societies by virtually any metric are the capitalist societies.”
Shocking, I know, but it’s true. The west and western culture is not the worst thing ever to happen to the world and humanity. We don’t have to wipe ourselves off the face of the earth or stop having babies just to save everyone from our wretched, horrid, greedy, trolling selves. We have actually been helping. Poverty is in decline, and along with it, our general sense of self-respect.
It’s time to tell ourselves a different story, one that involves trying our hardest to make things better for all people, because that’s what’s really going on. People are getting tired of this same, sad story. David Byrne recently launched Reasons to Be Cheerful as an antidote to all the bad news. It collects stories about all the legit good things happening in the world, and those that reflect innovation, compassion, and cooperation between people and cultures.
A narrative that gives us an inkling into our successes, not just our failures, would help us to push forward more than the hopeless one we are constantly being fed. One of our biggest issues is that, as things improve both in the west and worldwide, we raze the definition of success and replace it with an even higher measure.
We have lived up to so many of our goals, yet every time we attain one, we move the goal further on. It’s like we’re climbing a ladder and with every rung, we look up at the next one and see how much further away it is than the one we just climbed. This is not a call to let ourselves off the hook, we know how much work there is to do, we hear about it from every source every day. But the progress of democratic capitalism, with a healthy amount of checks on the power of the free market, is an effective tool for the betterment of us all. Let’s stop hating ourselves—what we’re doing is actually working.
It was inevitable.
A big story about hockey.
A horrifically bad take by Nora Loreto.
Loreto is the notorious activist best known for one of the most-ratioed tweets of all time in Canada following the Humboldt Broncos tragic crash:
“I’m trying to not get cynical about what is a totally devastating tragedy but the maleness, the youthfulness and the whiteness of the victims are, of course, playing a significant role.”
Now, Loreto is back with yet another garbage take in the wake of the Don Cherry situation:
“Question: why is Hockey Culture the front line of Canada’s culture wars?
It’s because hockey is the most intense location where we form the white supremacy and misogyny on which Canada’s entire system is built and maintained.”
At this point, it’s almost like Loreto is trying to be a caricature of far-left sentiment, which ironically is quite effective at gaining attention (as shown by the fact that I’m writing about it here).
Yet, it’s instructive to note that there is a certain (small) small segment of the country that actually believes that stuff.
They actually think hockey is about “white supremacy” and “misogyny.”
Of course, believing that requires somehow ignoring the fact that hockey often brings people of different backgrounds together to wear the same uniform, push towards the same goal, and feel a common identity, which is among the best ways to reduce racism and promote understanding.
And considering that women’s hockey is an incredibly popular and growing sport in Canada and that Canadians have been repeatedly brought together by cheering on our Canadian Women’s Olympic team, it takes a truly stunning level of ignorance to believe that hockey is about “misogyny.”
But ignorance is what the far-left is all about, and they seem to enjoy trying to tear down everything that Canadians like while promoting everything that isn’t Canadian.
For example, the far-left has endless bad things to say about Canada’s “values,” yet rarely—if ever—criticizes Communist China or any of the countries that actually commit horrific human rights abuses. Instead, they seek to divide our nation, turn Canadians against each other, denigrate our traditions, and wipe away our history.
Loreto has the right to her opinions (even if in my opinion they are total trash), and people have the right to disagree with her. That said, the vast silent majority of Canadians will need to start speaking out more and more, in order to stop the small (but loud) far-left from further influencing the direction of our nation with their unhinged insanity.