The Root of Sexism

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

In an age rich in anomalies, here is yet another one: The very quarter which pumps out reams of studies on the dangers of sexism can’t get its collective mind off the root of that word. “A few weeks into the term, Deborah Stearns asks her Montgomery College students to do something they’ve probably never done in a classroom before: to name all of the sexual terms that they know, no matter how vulgar or taboo they might be,” Rachel Louise Ensign wrote in the March 11, 2011 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.”By the end of the class, the students have put together a lengthy and varied list.”

“I don’t just do it for shock value,” Stearns told Ensign. “I do it to explore our social attitudes about sex.”

“That creative approach to teaching her students both inside and outside the classroom earned Ms. Stearns, a professor at the community college in suburban Maryland, the honor of Maryland Professor of the Year.”

“The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) have named Dr. Deborah Stearns at Montgomery College as the 2010 Maryland Professor of the Year,” her place of employment proudly announced in a November 18, 2010 press release. “Dr. Stearns was selected from more than 300 top professors in the United States.”

“If I can spark my students’ curiosity and get them to want to learn more; if I can help them develop an appreciation for scientific research and evidence-based knowledge, then I have given them vital tools for success and personal growth,” Stearns stated at the time. “College is not just a place to learn theories and facts: It is where we learn to see the world in new ways, where we can find our passion for learning.”

“It is a place of transformation, and my mission is to facilitate positive change in my students’ lives.”

Dr. Stearns also teaches at Georgetown and George Mason Universities. Her ratemyprofessor.com reviews at Georgetown are overwhelmingly favorable, one of them is really overwhelming. “OMD-I am madly in love with Professor Stearns,” one reviewer wrote. “I don’t know if she’s into women, but I don’t care because my love would go unrequited either way.”

Among her extracurricular activities at Montgomery College, Dr. Stearns oversees the annual production of The Vagina Monologues on campus, Ensign informs us.

Yet and still, for live action productions, she’s got nothing on Northwestern University’s John Michael Bailey. “More than 100 Northwestern University students watched as a naked 25-year-old woman was penetrated by a sex toy wielded by her fiancee during an after-class session of the school’s popular ‘Human Sexuality’ class,” Kara Spak reported in the Chicago Sun Times on March 3, 2011. “The woman said she showed up at the Feb. 21 lecture in the Ryan Family Auditorium in Evanston expecting just to answer questions, but was game to demonstrate.”

“The course’s professor on Wednesday acknowledged some initial hesitation, but said student feedback was ‘uniformly positive.’ And Northwestern defended the class and its professor.”

Since Spak’s story appeared, both the professor and Northwestern have apologized for the performance. The young lady who performed the act, though, is still bragging about it on her Twitter account, which has hundreds of followers.

Truly, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org

 

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