Urge Northeastern University to Sanction Dr. Suzanna Danuta Walters
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On June 8th, 2018, Dr. Suzanna Danuta Walters - professor of Sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University, and editor of the Gender Studies journal Signs - published an opinion piece in The Washington Post entitled "Why Can't We Hate Men?" The title of this article immediately struck me as deeply offensive, but having earned my B.A. in Literary Studies, I am well acquainted with the technique of authors and journalists who employ shocking and/or hyperbolic headlines or titles simply to hook their audience. Thus, I decided to give Dr. Walters the benefit of the doubt and read the article.
It is difficult for me to adequately express how deeply this article disgusted and offended me, and I say that as a 25 year old, unmarried, agnostic woman. I'm by no means one of the "incels" she derisively refers to in the article. In fact, as a college-educated woman (with a liberal arts degree, to boot), I might well be a member of the demographic she had hoped to reach. If so, let me be the first to say that she missed the mark, and catastrophically so. I have never, in all of my years in institutions of higher education or at academic conferences, heard a PROFESSOR - much less a professor of Sociology and Gender Studies - openly condone and encourage hatred of an entire group of people based solely on one demographic trait. I am not sure how things work at Northeastern University, but at my alma mater and most other colleges and universities with which I am familiar, students are taught that it is categorically wrong to hate or prejudge an individual based simply on the color of their skin, their social class, their religion, their sexual orientation, or their gender or gender identity. For lack of a better word, I was absolutely flabbergasted that a professor would shirk the message that "Hate Has No Home Here" and publish such a vitriolic condemnation of all males based simply on their gender and nothing else.
Male college enrollment has been on a steady decline for some time now - and after reading this article, it's little wonder why. Per the U.S. News & World Report profile of Northeastern University, your student body is approximately 49% male. Imagine, if you will, being a young man and knowing that a professor - perhaps even one of your professors - hates you, and encourages others to hate you as well, without even knowing you as a person. "Hate" is a very strong word, yet Dr. Walters employs it cavalierly and without reserve. She also writes (to any male who might have suffered the grave misfortune of having come across her article): "Don’t run for office. Don’t be in charge of anything. Step away from the power." Since when, exactly, has it been acceptable to try to dissuade someone from running for office or even attaining a position of leadership within their workplace, place of worship, or anywhere else based solely on their gender? I thought that that was the exact kind of toxic, hateful thinking that feminism claims to fight? I am absolutely appalled that a university professor would publish a piece like this, and I feel deep sympathy for any male students who happen to attend Northeastern University. I thought that institutions of higher education were striving for inclusivity and equality amongst students; evidently, I was woefully mistaken. Having read this article, I very much doubt that Dr. Walters treats both male and female students equally (after all, she confesses that she hates men - all men) and I likewise doubt that she encourages any male students she might have to strive for positions of leadership within their communities. In fact, I very much doubt that she encourages them to do anything other than sit down and shut up. I very much hope that her hatefulness does not represent the University as a whole. I would hope that your institution strives to foster an environment of inclusion, not exclusion, and particularly not exclusion based solely on demographic traits such as gender.
To be perfectly clear, I am no enemy of free speech and freedom of expression. Dr. Walters had every legal right to say what she did, and The Washington Post had every right to publish it. However, that doesn't make it right for her to have said what she did, and I do not believe that a college professor (or anyone in such a privileged position of influence) should be allowed to spew hate speech (and let's be perfectly clear; Dr. Walters' article is the very definition of "hate speech") totally unchecked and with absolute impunity. We as a community have just as much right to condemn what she said, and Northeastern University has every right to take punitive action against her. The fact is, if a professor from any university - even the most conservative - published an op-ed piece which openly condoned and encouraged hatred towards women, the LGBTQ+ community, African-Americans, Latinx individuals, or literally any other demograpic group then they would most likely have their ties to that institution severed, and rightfully so. As I said before, Dr. Walters' article is the very definition of "hate speech," and I would urge the University in the strongest possible terms to take some kind of punitive action against her, if for no other reason than to show that hate indeed has no home at your university.
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