Heretics in the Femfog

January 28, 2016

This sorry episode not only offers a glimpse into the niche world of medievalism, but is reflective of the current state of academia as a whole. Scholarship must involve the free exchange of ideas. Yet modern academia, when confronted by unpopular opinions, is unable to respond with anything but naked hostility and purging. Like Henry V dealing with Lollards, heretical ideas are not open for debate. Take, for instance, the following statement by one of the academics quoted above:

Patriarchy does oppress men, if not in the same way as it does women, and the only way out of that is through taking apart the patriarchy, feminism’s avowed goal. I’m glad that’s settled.

The matter is settled, see. There is no need for argument. Don’t worry—we’ve had it figured out for a while now.

This is how academia operates: There are certain unquestionable rules, chief among them being Thou Shalt Not Question Feminism, and these serve as the starting points from which further jargon flows. To question feminism is not only heresy, but will also be construed as an attack against women. Telling men to be strong instead of weak is also an attack against women. Basically, unless you are saluting a picture of Rosie the Riveter while making an oath to Mother Gaia, you are attacking women.

Rejecting the works of an author who was, until very recently, greatly admired, because of his opinion on modern social issues, is an emotional reaction that makes little logical sense. It is bizarre to think that Frantzen’s prior works about cooking in the Middle Ages or whatnot are somehow tainted because of a recent and unrelated controversial opinion that he holds.

Medievalists and other scholars would do well to remember that the pendulum has a tendency to complete its swing. Sixty years ago, attempts were made to rid academia of socialists. Those attempts failed, and within a couple of decades the forbidden ideas became prevalent, then mainstream. It is anyone’s guess how long it will be before today’s academic heretics manage to break out of the fog and grasp the pulpit.

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