To some in academia, federal Title IX regulations that effectively limit sports opportunities in college for men who are inclined to pursue them in order to create athletic possibilities for women who could care less do not go far enough. “Too often in the media there has been this polite silence, if not an active suppression, of sexual diversity in the women’s sports community, which is part of an anxious feminization of women’s sports more generally,” UC-Riverside English professor Jennifer Doyle said in an interview with Ryan Brown that appeared in the July 15, 2011 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Doyle spells out the type of diversity she has in mind. “I’ve been writing a lot on my blog about the Nigerian football association’s hiring of an extremely conservative Christian coach who basically has led a campaign to eradicate lesbianism from the national squad,” Doyle said. “Her behavior ranges from kicking players off the squad to holding pray-the-gay-away sessions as part of training.”
Actually, “Pray-the-gay-away”, as Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid points out, is a term coined by gay rights activists, not Christian ones. Doyle told Brown about the genesis of her blog, From A Left Wing.
“About four years ago I moved to England for a year, and while I was there I played for the Hackney Women’s Football Club, a lesbian feminist football club that was founded in the 1980s,” Doyle remembered. “It was the first time I was part of a feminist group that was not an academic one and the women I played with were real provocateurs in terms of pushing me to politicize my relationship to the game.”
“In her book Sex Objects: Art and the Dialectics of Desire (Minnesota, 2006), Doyle shows how the declaration that a work of art is ‘about sex’ reveals surprisingly little about the work, the artist, or the spectator,” her university website claims. “Sex Objects moves readers beyond debates about pornography and censorship to show that sex in art is as diverse as sex in everyday life: exciting, ordinary, emotional, traumatic, embarrassing, funny, even profoundly boring.”
“In chapters on the ‘boring parts’ of Moby Dick, the scandals that dogged the painter Thomas Eakins, the role of women in Andy Warhol’s Factory films, “bad sex” and Tracey Emin’s crudely evocative line drawings, and L.A. artist Vaginal Davis’s pornographic parodies of Vanessa Beecroft’s performances, Doyle challenges simplistic readings of sexualized art and instead investigates what such works can tell us about the nature of desire.”
Of her sports commentary, Doyle told Brown that, “I’m actually very happy to see my work take this turn because I can engage more directly with student athletes in my class.” Her students , athletic or not, do not always appreciate this constructive engagement.
On RateMyProfessors.com, one of her favorable reviewers noted that “Doyle is passionate about what she is teaching, granted the topics are often a little self-servicing, but she chooses subject matter that everyone should be exposed to (however taboo).”
Her unfavorable reviews can be absolutely scorching. “She is the absolute WORST teacher I have ever had at UCR,” one disgruntled student wrote.”
“She turned my english 20B class into a class solely about her! If this were a class about her, I could definitely get an A, in terms of an english class…GOOD LUCK!”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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