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Knowledge is so Destabilizing

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Firstly, sorry we’ve been away from our beloved castle of ZING and BURN.

Paprika and I have been busy dealing with the fallout of some state legislature based anti-intellectualist fuckery in our University.

Basically, the humanities are in the crosshairs, as usual. I don’t have a lot to say about things right now, but this? This is some fuckery.

You guys won’t be interested with the gory details, and I don’t have the energy to explain the whole thing, suffice it say– red state asshattery at it’s finest. First you manufacture a budget crisis, then you use that “crisis” as a tool to dismantle structures which might foster dissent toward your bullshit. Works like a goddamn charm. Except that it creates a brain drain. We don’t have a whole lot of brains to spare in South Dakota (no, seriously, by sheer numbers. We have a population of only about 800,000 here), and most of the young people leave as soon as they can, because there are no jobs. I know both of us here are P&P will be relocating in the next couple of years.

This. But in the crosshairs. Noooooo!

But there’s something interesting to me about anti-intellectualism and gender. It is a well documented phenomenon that as soon as women begin making significant inroads into a specific field, that field suddenly loses much of luster and funding. This is as true in the sciences as it is in the humanities. Biology and English (my degree!) are very much perceived as girly, especially certain subsets of such, and are also chronically underfunded.

In our  current atmosphere of authoritarian dick waving,  there is no doubt that, in public discourse, this is some hippie shit. Bio is for the fucking tree huggers, and English is for the fucking pointy headed elites, amirite? Biology is destabilizing and threatening because it reveals the bare truth about the natural world– it is alive, and we are inextricably bound up with it, full stop. Mass extinction affects us too.

English is destabilizing because– well. People write. Unauthorized people. People of color, genderqueer and transgendered, gays and lesbians, even us filthy commie pinko feminists. A literate population well trained in the art of critical thinking and argumentation is worse than useless for the authoritarians.


Both of these are destabilizing because they are fields in which the critical contributions of women have gone well past the tipping point– one can no longer insist that it is simply a few outstandingly “masculine” women who have managed to transcend the terrible curse of the vagina to produce important scholarly work. There are just too many outstanding biologists and writers and professors and scholars who are not white het cismen for that argument to fly.

The solution of course, has led to a weird sort of dissonance. They’ve painted themselves into a corner of sorts, by clinging fiercely to math, engineering and physics as the only really worthwhile subjects, because mighty wang power. Soon enough, even that will be gone, and the howls of the Kay Hymowitz’s of the world will increase tenfold. How are (these imaginary) men to figure out who they are what they ought to do without someone inferior to compare themselves to!?

So I think this fuckery is gendered. I think it’s racist. I think it’s homophobic and transphobic. I think it’s all about silencing dissent.

I don’t believe that the highest human purpose is cooking books and pushing money higher up the food chain, stamping out widgets and boot licking and living small stifled fearful little lives, isolated and boxed in, afraid to eat, afraid to have sex, afraid to say the wrong thing, afraid to step out of line, fed spoonfuls of the most trite and banal entertainment, kept exhausted and ill, and breeding. I have all of the scholars and writers and scientists who came before to thank for my lack of belief in the ugly little world that I’m being told is my birthright. I honor them by fighting, even if it’s a losing fight.



About Pepper

Pepper Lee Hales is a twenty something, married, vicious feminist liberal. She likes dogs, cats, spiders, epistemics and cake.

5 responses »

  1. Well, and don’t forget that Biology is nothing more than a disguise for Darwinism, and the Darwinists want nothing more than to rob of us of our Cherished And Undeniably True Beliefs, just as their Satanic master commands them.

    Or, to put that another way: in addition to everything you just said, there’s a badly misplaced and poorly disguised persecution complex in there, too.

    • Oh yeah, Biology gets it coming and going. There’s basically no part of it that doesn’t piss off the right wing.

      And absolutely, there is a persecution complex, toward both the humanities and sciences, because you know, inconvenient facts and shit. And also, it sucks when people can rip your arguments to shreds without breaking a sweat.

  2. Anyone paying attention to how Biology had it’s own issues with Physical Law envy back in the day? And how, even now, we really would like to be Physics, so we try to come up with and apply Universal Laws that don’t actually work and study systems in labs when those systems don’t really work in labs? Is that a side note or am I contributing?

    Hey. At least I’m trying to be intellectual again. Life has a way of coming in and fucking that up sometimes. With no help from the haters, on occasion.

    Oh hai. Missed you guys.

  3. @ Nikki

    I’ve missed you too. Internet hugs if you want them. I’ve been AWOL for a surprise hysterectomy. I hope you’re doing ok.


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