Double Standards in Philosophy

Recently I was made aware of two cases of tenured male philosophy professors allegedly behaving badly and which resulted in a firing and a resignation (no doubt in lieu of firing). 

One engaged in the same exact thing Professor Kukla did, which is to say, engaging in what is widely considered to be sexual harassment by inviting without cause and outside the proper context for another person to have sex with you. 

The other did something far less bad: he merely reported on his blog about a graduate student teaching a course who was discriminating against a student who didn’t share her liberal views.

What’s interesting about the latter case is it happened at Marquette, a Catholic university like Georgetown, where the administration used its “Catholic identity” as justification for firing the professor. 

What’s interesting about the former is Professor Kukla commented on it in a blog post

Here she is:

In one sense, it is gratifying to see this issue get attention in the wake of McGinn's resignation. At the same time, I have found it frustrating watching people gleefully vilify and demonize him. Not because he wasn't creepy and way out of bounds, but because the kind of remarkably inappropriate 'banter' he engaged in and his complete tone-deafness to the power dynamics that structure the performative force of that banter happen ALL THE TIME in philosophy, as far as I can tell. Through his pompous and narcissistic attempts at self-defense, McGinn made himself an easy target for ridicule. I worry that this has allowed us to write him off as a moral monster, rather than reflecting on just how pervasive this kind of behavior is. In fact, I think that McGinn's clear belief that his inappropriate sexualized communication made him somehow a bold, hip, unconventional intellectual is implicitly shared by many men in the profession.

You know, one can take Kukla’s comments and in light of the current controversy, easily insert her name in place of McGinn’s.  And her statement would be equally true.

Let’s try it:

In one sense, it is gratifying to see this issue get attention in the wake of Kukla’s actions. At the same time, I have found it frustrating watching people gleefully vilify and demonize her. Not because she wasn't creepy and way out of bounds, but because the kind of remarkably inappropriate 'banter' she engaged in and her complete tone-deafness to the power dynamics that structure the performative force of that banter happen ALL THE TIME in philosophy, as far as I can tell. Through her pompous and narcissistic attempts at self-defense, Kukla made herself an easy target for ridicule. I worry that this has allowed us to write her off as a moral monster, rather than reflecting on just how pervasive this kind of behavior is. In fact, I think that Kukla's clear belief that her inappropriate sexualized communication made her somehow a bold, hip, unconventional intellectual is implicitly shared by many queer radical feminists in the profession.

Rebecca Kukla has been called the Donald Trump of Georgetown.  She is for all intents and purposes the McGlinn of Georgetown, too.  Except unlike McGlinn, Kukla still has her job and the administration has remained silent, and our University’s various institutions allegedly dedicated to fair and equal treatment, creating an environment free of sexual harassment, and destroying rape culture, have all chosen to remain quiet and not speak up in this instance. 

It’s almost as if liberals have a policy of not calling out sexual harassment and rape culture, or simply being cool with it, so long as the perpetrators are on the left and the victims are on the right. 

It truly is amazing what you can get away with when you’re a liberal. 

Boycott the Philosophy Department.