The Ovary Tower

Posted: May 26, 2008 12:00 AM
The Ovary Tower

This column will come as quite a surprise to feminists across my campus and across the nation. It will mark the first time I have come to the defense of a university – this time, my own – for its promotion of a radical feminist to an important administrative position. Kathleen Berkeley, our new Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, will, in all likelihood, be more surprised than anyone.

After Dr. Berkeley was appointed to her new position, three male professors in the College of Arts and Sciences commented to me on the appointment. Their concern about having an extreme feminist in such a position was apparent – although it could not be given full public expression for obvious reasons.

I want to make clear in a public forum that those who oppose the Berkeley appointment are over-simplifying the issue. To say that there is a danger in appointing people with extreme political views to administrative positions may be true. But it is also true that having them in the classroom can be quite dangerous. A brief look at some of the reviews of Dr. Berkeley’s classes on might illuminate the discussion – although the limitations of these reviews must also be addressed:

“One word: feminazi”

“I agree with everyone who points out Dr. Berkeley's militant feminist attitude. She seemed to think that anyone who was not angry with all males to be an enemy.”

“Angry- feminist bomb- throwing leftist.”

“Worst teacher I've ever had. Seems clueless about any history other than her brand of leftist ‘I Am Woman Hear Me Roar’ rhetoric.”

“NEVER EVER EVER TAKE ONE OF DR BERKELEY'S COURSES. she is mean, never satisfied, won't answer a question, and expects WAY TOO MUCH!!! she is a horrible teacher and a hardcore feminist and will rip you apart! STAY AS FAR AWAY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!!!”

“Dr. Berkley is a mean spirited woman that cannot teach a class without her militant feminism directing her agenda.”

“Dr. Berkley is not a good professor. She is mean-spirited and a militant feminist. She is not open to all points of view. She publicly chastises students and drives the class towards her liberal points of view. In her defense, she is very intelligent.”

Of course, those defending Dr. Berkeley’s teaching record would be quick to point out that reliance on such anonymous reviews is dangerous at best. But her detractors would be quick to respond by noting that no other feminist professor at UNC-Wilmington – and there are scores – has been criticized as often on for imposing her militant political views on a captive audience of students.

But, of course, if feminists were smart – a prospect not addressed directly in the present column – they would be willing to concede that there is some validity to the claim that Berkeley is sometimes unprofessional in her injection of extreme political views in the classroom. Given that her present appointment calls for a reduction in her teaching load it could be spun as an “administrative solution” to a “teaching problem.”

And that really gets to the heart of my support for Dr. Berkeley’s recent promotion. I am willing to support an increase in fanaticism in the administration if it will give students at least a small break from their constant exposure to fanaticism in the classroom.

But of course there is one minor criticism of the Berkeley appointment that remains unanswered; namely, that it is hypocritical (and sexist) to promote an anti-male professor to an important administrative position when an anti-female professor would not be similarly rewarded.

A response to that criticism should not be difficult. All the administration needs to do is to search the content of for a male professor at UNC-Wilmington who is as consistently criticized for expressing “militant anti-female” views in the classroom. Then, he should be given a special appointment to the Dean’s Office serving right alongside Kathleen Berkeley.

Of course, we all know that no such professors exist. They’ve all been dismissed in the name of gender equality.