At Above The Law, Tamara Tabo does the unthinkable. She refuses to be the victim.
As a university employee, my personal experience with Title IX has been discouraging, frustrating, alienating. I have been recruited to join complaints against male colleagues, most recently against someone with whom I was friends outside of our workplace. I have, when I refused to be a complainant, been interviewed as a witness. I have, when interviewed as a witness, been grilled over a multitude of conversations and social interactions that took place away from campus, in the company of adults, that I never expected that I would one day have to explain in a formal setting.
I quickly realized that Title IX can be applied in ways that don’t tolerate ambiguity or, God forbid, a bawdy sense of humor.
This stemmed from a post about the unfortunate link in an email to students by Drexel law professor Lisa McElroy:
Professor Lisa McElroy frequently uses TWEN to update assignments and such, and this was sent [out on Tuesday, March 31] with an erroneous link. The posting was for her first-year Legal Methods writing class.
The porn hub link is legit. She cancelled her afternoon upper-level classes.
The link had to do with something called “anal beads.” I neither know, nor care, what that means. If you know, keep it to yourself. I mean it.
While McElroy was suspended for the error, and is under investigation to determine whether she created a hostile educational environment, Tabo notes that this might be a very different discussion if her first name was Joe.
But what if Lisa McElroy were a man? Would observers be as quick to give the benefit of the doubt? If a male professor foisted anal-bead porn on an unsuspecting class of students, would we wonder, even if just a little bit longer, if he meant to do it? Would we be as forgiving, even if we concluded that the porn link was a terrible mistake? Would people argue that he created a hostile environment for his female students, no matter what?
It may be that Tabo is still being a bit overly forgiving, in that it might not matter whether “he meant to do it,” as intent is a courtesy no longer in favor. As I recently quipped on the twitters, “there’s a reason why they call it ‘mens’ rea.” This was immediately misunderstood and seized upon as demonstrable proof of the patriarchy, rather than a joke.
And that’s where Tabo’s refusal to condemn others, even though she has long enough blond hair to justify it, betrays her failure to appreciate her victimhood. Does she not get it? Is she a disgrace to her gender, a traitor to the cause?
Or does Tamara Tabo just have a sense of humor, an appreciation of irony, an ability to laugh off a theoretical harm done by mistake, by dumb chance, rather than leap up to the podium and demand that we burn the witch?
For crying out loud, people, lighten up. Not every word spoken is a smack to someone’s self-esteem, artfully crafted to cause other people to cry and feel badly about whatever inner demon haunts their deeply sensitive soul.
A transgender candidate for student counsel at the University of Oregon demanded the removal of the (I have no clue whether to call the person him or her, so I circumvent the pronoun rather than add to the hurt) opposing slate for addressing the candidate as “Ms.” rather than the preferred “Mx.” Is “Mx.” a thing? Beats the hell out of me.
But if Elle Mallon’s cry of misgender was made just to screw with people, and is really one totally ironic gag, then it’s brilliant. On the other hand, if it’s for real, it’s just nuts.
There are bad things that happen to people that are worth getting angry about, worth complaining about, worth seeking punishment about. And then there are things which just aren’t. We’re losing, assuming we haven’t already lost, the distinction, as if many are searching under rocks for reasons to be offended.
There used to be a thing called a “dirty joke.” Some would laugh. Some would frown. Some would wag their finger at the teller. But they wouldn’t clutch their pearls, file a complaint and demand a federal investigation. I get it, there are places we no longer go, and we shouldn’t. But if you are looking for victims, you will likely find them for pretty much anything said these days.
I tried, briefly, to be more sensitive in my use of language to avoid unintentionally offending anyone. I quickly realized that the effort was a fool’s errand, as there was always someone to be offended no matter what was said. I wasn’t up to the task.
But then, I’m a guy, a grey-beard and a curmudgeon. What’s Tabo’s excuse for finding jokes funny, not searching under rocks to find reasons to be offended and refusing to don the mantle of victimhood? What the hell is wrong with her, having a sense of humor and forgiving a mistake even if there is a fragile teacup left broken?