Naomi and Harold at Yale
February 24, 2004 9:40 PM   Subscribe

"The next thing I knew, his heavy, boneless hand was hot on my thigh." That's the money shot from this article in which Naomi Wolf, author of "The Beauty Myth" and former adviser to Al Gore on alpha male matters, decides 20 years later to accuse ailing Harold Bloom of sexually harassing her at Yale, when she was a senior. Why now? A stunt to put herself in the news? Or perhaps to breathe new life into a moribund city magazine. (While I'm at it, here's Google on the phrase: "boneless hand." Not alpha male at all).
posted by Slagman (73 comments total)
 
I figure at least half of it is, as Slagman references, a "stunt" to get her name & cause in print.

And if she's so damned pissed off about it now, maybe she should consider another angle: if Wolf waited for TWENTY YEARS, then maybe Yale figures that it is entitled to at least a few months (if not years) to formulate a response.
posted by davidmsc at 10:09 PM on February 24, 2004


It is always shameful to see men (and I use the term loosely) focus blame or demean the victims of apparent sexual abuse.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:25 PM on February 24, 2004


Yale isn't Harvard (where this would have been answered immediately). Or MIT or the University of Chicago (where they'd just ignore it 'till Bloom was dead). It's just Yale. Nice to see that she has kept her idealism though. But I suspect the days of the woman-as-delicate-flower are over with.

That, at any rate, is what my wife said. She likes some of the stuff Naomi has written, but thinks she's being a twit here, and is just trying to re-enter the public eye. My wife also went to an Ivy Leagure school. Got an MBA. Apparently had several professors hit on her. A couple of them quite crudely. Never occured to her to feel devastated, or disempowered. In fact, she considered it education ... it took them off their pedestals in her eyes. No one in business has been able to intimidate her since. (Then again, she apparently hit on a couple of her professors, only slightly less crudely).

My wife does think that serious crimes - rape - should be dealt by castration after the first offense ... but believes that making a big deal out of something like a hand on a leg - actually trivializes the serious stuff. I don't know if I agree with her ... but that seems to be the general consensus among her female friends from business school who she stays in touch with ... and who have been emailing each other about Naomi. (Then again, these are Type A women ... who would have laughed at Bloom for a drunken pass, and kicked him in the balls without a second thought if he'd tried anything more. Maybe literature majors are different).
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:43 PM on February 24, 2004


The "Boneless hand" phrase brings to mind another unusual description, Lavaleared Thing".
posted by Trik at 11:09 PM on February 24, 2004


I dont care what anyone says, putting a hand on someone is not sexual abuse... chances are bloom had tried the old hand on the thigh trick before and it worked... it sounds to me like Klein is unable to come to grips with male sexuality-- the solution to this might be to force her to attend classes in men's studies, so that she can learn to free herself from her anti-male views. By deconstructing feminist literature to reveal its pathalogical fear and hatred of "the other", she might learn to appreciate the difficulties men face in a world where their sexual urges often trump their rational minds-- engendering foolish decisions, like coming on to uptight icicle ho's who love to playahate.
posted by chaz at 11:20 PM on February 24, 2004


chaz: I dont care what anyone says, putting a hand on someone is not sexual abuse

Really? So, say a man putting an unwanted hand on a woman's chest is not sexual abuse?
posted by gen at 11:30 PM on February 24, 2004


It is always shameful to see men (and I use the term loosely) focus blame or demean the victims of apparent sexual abuse.

Well, so much for innocent until proven guilty.

I didn't see a "she deserved it", a "she should have known better than to be in a room alone with him", a "what was she wearing", or any other sign of blaming the victim. Instead, I saw doubt cast upon the allegations based on the unignorably long delay and the rather opportunistic timing. Is your "more progressive than thou" schtick really necessary here?

I hope if you are ever unfortunate enough to be baselessly accused of something utterly reprehensible--say, child molesting--those around you would have the decency to not be half as sanctimonious as you're being right now, and would instead suspend judgement long enough to consider that, yes, making an accusation does not automatically make the accuser a victim. Not until those accusations have actually panned out. I haven't seen a response from Bloom admitting culpability for anything yet.

Or perhaps you believe in judging facts based on one-sided magazine articles.

I'm with MM's wife on this one. Especially the castration and the trivializing more serious matters part.
posted by DaShiv at 11:39 PM on February 24, 2004


Ermmm - He put his hand on her inner thigh. Big difference.
I'm suprised it caused her to vomit though. Now that's a party piece.
Here. Put your hand here.
...
[Bleurghh]
posted by seanyboy at 12:19 AM on February 25, 2004


I'm suprised it caused her to vomit though.

Harold must be one really unattractive guy.
posted by moonbiter at 2:02 AM on February 25, 2004


He's not the prettiest knife in the cupboard.

posted by seanyboy at 2:33 AM on February 25, 2004


Females have groped my arse, a number of times.

It has traumatised me.

It happened over a number of years, some time ago, but Naomi gives me hope that I may get justice for the, what I feel I'm entitled to call, 'rape-lite' that I suffered.

I have been sexually abused and that was my story.

</language and trivial life-events as a publicity and political tool>

on preview: I wonder how traumatic an incident it would have been if he'd been Brad Pitt and she'd been up for it? Does it only become abuse if you don't much fancy the groper?
posted by Blue Stone at 2:43 AM on February 25, 2004


DaShiv: Well, so much for innocent until proven guilty.

Why now? A stunt to put herself in the news? Or perhaps to breathe new life into a moribund city magazine. (While I'm at it, here's Google on the phrase: "boneless hand." Not alpha male at all).

I figure at least half of it is, as Slagman references, a "stunt" to get her name & cause in print.

Reread (with dictionary close at hand) my comment and note that word "apparent". It was actually a part of the sentence. Did you see it? Did you understand all the words?

Now reread the comments above, and let us all know exactly who was being blamed and judged in comments before all the facts are in in this case. For some reason, you didn't see any problem there, did you? Nope. All your indignation was really reserved for those accused of sexual abuse. Interesting.

Dashiv: making an accusation does not automatically make the accuser a victim.

But you really didn't think twice about the lady in question being accused of seeking attention or trying to sell magazines, did you? Interesting.

Perhaps you believe in judging facts based on the comments in a Metafilter thread?

I repeat: It is always shameful to see men (and I continue to use the term loosely) focus blame or demean the victims of apparent sexual abuse.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:44 AM on February 25, 2004


The no-doubt redoubtable Mrs. Mulligan is bemused. After all, what's a little low level sexual aggression? Merely an extra-curricular rite of passage, isn't it? What's the problem? Toughen up girly-girls! Save your outrage for flagrant violations, and learn to endure the merely lecherous.

But for Mrs. Mulligan's weaker little sisters, those lacking her massively girdled self-confidence, perhaps we could mete out some measure of empathy - some disgust at the fact* that an unfortunate number of tenured egoists often bully young women with other than an educator's zeal. Perhaps we could, as the article pleads, streamline methods of redress - take some of the Tailhook out of the gauntlet.

(*Yes, this stuff happens. Regularly. Predictably. Certainly. Trust Me On This.)

Whether or not Wolf is engineering a timely and profitable attack of the vapors is not something I can know. But regardless of her motivations, or the veracity of her particular claim, the problem (and it is a problem, despite Mrs. Mulligan's bemusement) does exist.
posted by Opus Dark at 3:13 AM on February 25, 2004


Bothering to read the article makes it pretty clear that Wolf chose to publish an article as a last resort, after years of Yale officials ignoring her requests for an off-the-record meeting about not Bloom, but the efficacy of Yale's sexual harrassment greivance procedures.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:27 AM on February 25, 2004


the victims of apparent sexual abuse.


English is not my first language, but shouldn't that be "alleged", not "apparent"?

since nodoby here -- I guess -- was present there, we just don't know -- this whole thing is either sexual harassment or slander. either way, it's really really bad.
waiting 20 years to speak up shouldn't be considered a problem: if she was harassed, she is perfectly free of taking all the time she needs before she feels like talking about it in public. if she's smearing her former teacher, there are obviously no time limits on slander. so the time factor is not a biggie and it shouldn't be: 20 minutes, 20 weeks, 20 years, it shouldn't matter, as long as the accused is still alive and able to respond (confess, deny the charges, sue for slander, etc)

of course her story looks good for a number of reasons: harassment is a very sad fact of college life and it happens more often than slander, so the chances are against Bloom. also, she's not looking for money -- statute of limitations, etc. I cannot possibly by the "publicity stunt" angle -- nobody in her right mind would use this story as a publicity stunt, not someone in Wolf's position.

but still, all we have is two people alone in a room 21 years ago.
finally this cases are all about a "she said, he said" situation, as all of us who have seen (or read) Oleanna very well know. and people usually end up believing who they want to believe, because there is no evidence to back up either side of the story.

not to mention, I've heard so many appalling tales from (female and male) friends that I am by now under the impression that American campus politics -- especially when alleged sexual harassment by faculty is involved -- are the proverbial can of worms -- but I do think that Yale's modus operandi, even if they're obviously scared shitless of lawsuits and bad publicity, is very very sad and lame -- at the very least Brodhead and Levin could have been more of a mensch and really try to deal with the situation. you obviously can't stop a professor from harassing a student, but when allegations are brought to your attention, you simply cannot act like Wolf said they did.

but then again I'm not American, so what do I know about all this. please take this comment with a pound of salt.


this is a very interesting part of Wolf's story, one university administrators should really think long hard about::

An unwanted hand on a thigh from a date was nothing. Nor was it an emotional crisis. I wasn’t that vulnerable. What it set off was a moral crisis, shaking my confidence in the institution I was in.

and this:

If the administration knew and did nothing—because the teacher was valuable to them—they had made a conscious calculation about his and our respective futures: It was okay to do nothing because I—and other young women who could be expected to remain silent—would never be worth what someone like Bloom was worth.

it's hard to deny that it's true. a star like Bloom is literally more important than a hundred students to Yale.
posted by matteo at 3:28 AM on February 25, 2004


What I found annoying about the entire business is that the victim claims that Yale did nothing then about it and continues along this path of doing nothing. It was not that long ago that in fact women were not allowed into Yale...things have changed. It was not long ago that there was a quota system for allowing Jews and other minorities into Yale. That has changed.
Did the incident happen? Most likely, and I have reasons for saying this. What then is her motivation for writing this up? She does not plan to sue, it seems, and she seems unscathed by it all, so either she wants Yale to change its way of treating such stuff (and I claimit has), or she merely needs a topic and a publication to puff her status.

As for students and teachers--been there. Done that. In fact I have beenmarried for some 20 years now to a former student of mine.
posted by Postroad at 3:28 AM on February 25, 2004


Undoubtedly Opus is right about a problem existing, and if a post-grad (grad in US) student is in the position of having a tenured supervisor abuse his position by harassing her (or him even) then they're in a very vulnerable position. Certainly in the UK the supervisor is required to sign off students before they can submit their PhDs, have powers to almost immediately kick the student out if they suddenly decide that the student is not up to the task, the whole thing is subject to oversight from academic peers of the accused harasser who will often have historical ties to the accused, or are concerned over their university losing face of losing valuable staff and even if the university finds that harassment took place then the student doesn't have a supervisor and probably has enemies in their dept. Plus the while process of investigating can take so long that the students study programme is irretrievably damaged and they may even find that their funding has been reassigned.
posted by biffa at 3:33 AM on February 25, 2004


Flitting about on the Net, I came upon this piece by a contemporary of the "outraged feminist of Yale" This extract by Anne Applebaum:"But in the end, what is most extraordinary about Wolf is the way in which she has voluntarily stripped herself of her achievements and her status, and reduced herself to a victim, nothing more. The implication here is that women are psychologically weak: One hand on the thigh, and they never get over it. The implication is also that women are naive, and powerless as well: Even Yale undergraduates are not savvy enough to avoid late-night encounters with male professors whose romantic intentions don't interest them.

The larger implications are for the movement that used to be called "feminism." Twenty years of fame, money, success, happy marriage and the children she has described in her books -- and Naomi Wolf, one of my generation's leading feminists, is still obsessed with her own exaggerated victimhood? It's not an ideology I'd want younger women to follow

Read it in its entirety at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3557-2004Feb24.html
posted by Postroad at 4:34 AM on February 25, 2004


> "The next thing I knew, his heavy, boneless hand was hot on my thigh."

Don't know about the facts of the case but I recognize the prose style. Somebody has been reading a certain kind of novel. Manuel the gardener placed his burning phallus in her quivering quim.
posted by jfuller at 4:45 AM on February 25, 2004


Camille Paglia has had something to say on the topic too.
posted by biffa at 4:57 AM on February 25, 2004


First off, big surprise that Harold Bloom is a letch, or a putter-of-hands-on-thighs. I read this article yesterday before the thread and was sort of suprised at Wolf's conflating of two issues, one of which seems major and one minor. The Bloom/Wolf interaction, while not cool, seems to be not the major issue. Wolf's successes and accolades seem to point ot that fect that while the incident was traumatizing, she was able to get through it and achieve [though perhaps not get an A in the class -- but heck I'd take a B for a class I never went to].

The larger issue is the institutional disrespect she received from Yale, both at the time and still. I can't speak for most women, but I know a few people who have gotten unwanted attention from popular/powerful men and were told to sweep it under the rug for their own sake, and the reputations of the men involved. This helps no one. If the hand-on-thigh episode is deemed to be no big deal, then it should be stated so out in the open. If it was an infraction of policy, it should likewise be dealt with. The reason Yale has policies in place is, theoretically, so this sort of thing gets dealt with equally and appropriately, not passed on in secret whispers or written on bathroom walls. Generally we see activist celebrity-types using their "power" to get people to fall all over themselves and maybe righting some wrongs, in good ways, bad ways and silly ways [Penn Gillette at airport security, Woody Harrelson and his four marijuana seeds, Scwarzenegger, whatever]. Yale's response seemed to say "No matter how famous you are, you can't touch the famousness of this instituion." On the other other hand, big slow-moving institutions have always been big and slow-moving and a series of people not returning phone calls does not a consipracy make. Wolf's campaign to make Yale accountable seems muddled and mixed with her needing some sort of closure on that icky episode with Bloom, and it's not tough to see how Yale -- leery of a lawsuit maybe -- is having a hard time figuring out exactly what she wants and how to deal with it. Maybe this article will kick their ass in a useful direction or give Wolf the closure she is looking for.
posted by jessamyn at 5:19 AM on February 25, 2004


To throw an accusation 20 years after the fact smacks of ulterior motive. Just like what happened to Arnie when he was running for governor. When the allegation concerns an event that happened years ago, the likelihood is that it's slander. The reasons for slander are many.

It is always shameful to see men (and I use the term loosely) focus blame or demean the victims of apparent sexual abuse.


Apparent? What's "apparent" about it? The only thing that is apparent is your knee-jerk reaction to the man perpetrator/woman victim stereotype.

The larger implications are for the movement that used to be called "feminism." Twenty years of fame, money, success, happy marriage and the children she has described in her books -- and Naomi Wolf, one of my generation's leading feminists, is still obsessed with her own exaggerated victimhood? It's not an ideology I'd want younger women to follow

Interesting read on feminist myths (Christina Hoff Sommers)
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:47 AM on February 25, 2004


One hand on the thigh, and they never get over it.

Ignoring an assault, no matter how easily one is able to absorb it, won't raise society's entry-level grace requirements one jot nor tittle.

Then again, it's certainly easier to raise society's perceived level of grace by simply raising its institutional tolerance for certain kinds of behaviour. If women wish to raise the institutional tolerance for the uninvited application of de-boned hands to their inner thighs, it is their prerogative.
posted by Opus Dark at 5:50 AM on February 25, 2004


am I reading that article right? Yale asks Wolf to come hold speaches, Wolf asks Yale if they do things different from back in her day - if they don't, she will not come, Yale says they'll call her back with an answer. Next time they do call is to ask her to hold another speech. Answer the Q already Yale. It seems so simple.....
posted by dabitch at 5:54 AM on February 25, 2004


I just want to add that if we're going to point out Wolf's overwrought line about the "boneless hand," then we should give Bloom equal time:

He leaned toward me and put his face inches from mine. 'You have the aura of election upon you,' he breathed.

Best. Sleazy intellectual pick-up line. Ever.
posted by Prospero at 5:55 AM on February 25, 2004


f&m: I'm not going to argue the semantic difference between "alleged" and "apparant", as matteo has already pointed out. All I can add is that nobody is ever above criticism, ever, especially when their "victimhood" is in doubt. And feel free to criticize Bloom all you want--I don't have a dog in this race. The motives of both sides are open to discussion.

Now reread the comments above, and let us all know exactly who was being blamed and judged in comments before all the facts are in in this case. For some reason, you didn't see any problem there, did you? Nope. All your indignation was really reserved for those accused of sexual abuse. Interesting.

There's a difference between questioning the accuser's motives and "blaming and judging". Nobody said it's her fault (blaming), and nobody has said her allegations were groundless (judging). Sorry, no soup for you.

But you really didn't think twice about the lady in question being accused of seeking attention or trying to sell magazines, did you? Interesting.

Perhaps you believe in judging facts based on the comments in a Metafilter thread?


By creating a media storm for attention, she's inviting attention and analysis upon her own motives (not to mention the damage already done to Bloom's, of course). Again, nobody has blamed or judged her, nor debated the facts of what actually happened. We've just speculated on her timing and its repercussions. Your indignation is totally misplaced if you think an academic celebrity like Wolf is above this type of scrutiny.

As for your accusation that I'm judging facts based on comments here, I challenge you to find where I've passed any judgements upon the factual accuracy of her allegations. What a stupid cheap shot.

Damn, I can't believe I've actually stooped to calling f&m out for his usual inane rhetorical baiting. A new Mefi low for me.
posted by DaShiv at 5:58 AM on February 25, 2004


To throw an accusation 20 years after the fact smacks of ulterior motive.

She has one, and she plainly states it in the article: to force Yale's hand with regard to their sexual harrassment policies. Yale wouldn't repsond to her off-the-record queries, and so she decided to make the matter public, so that they'd have to deal with it.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:01 AM on February 25, 2004


Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail's column about this issue.
posted by orange swan at 6:08 AM on February 25, 2004


From Margaret Wente's article:-

Mercifully, Ms. Wolf's version of victim feminism is out of date. Most people would agree that her 20-year-old effort to get even (and her extravagant claims for the trauma she suffered at the time) are a bit bizarre. But they are no more bizarre than campus sexual-harassment policies, where victim feminism still reigns supreme. These policies treat every case of boorish, drunk behaviour as sexual predation, and they define sex between faculty and students as essentially illicit. Consensual sex across the lines is deemed to be impossible because of built-in power imbalances.

It's ironic that not so long ago, female students were objecting that the university administration had no business being sex police. My girlfriends would have been insulted by the notion that they couldn't make such decisions for themselves. And they were well aware of the special power they possessed.


This is a classic example of how feminism can disempower women.
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:24 AM on February 25, 2004


I'm very conflicted over this. But at the end of the day it just seems stupid. Three parties, all being asshats. Looks like a wash to me.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:35 AM on February 25, 2004


There is something terribly wrong with the way the current sexual-harassment discussion is framed. Since damages for sexual misconduct are decided under tort law—tort means harm or wrong—those bringing complaints have had to prove that they have been harmed emotionally. Their lawyers must bring out any distress they may have suffered, such as nightmares, sexual dysfunction, trauma, and so on. Thus, it is the woman and her “frailties” under scrutiny, instead of the institution and its frailties. This victim construct in the law is one reason that women are often reluctant to go public.
Author? Naomi Wolf. This is a piece about institutional incompetence and poor responses to sexual harassment much more than it's a piece about Wolf's "victimhood."

Who else is deeply upset about waffly, amgibuous, ill-specified, arbitrary, behind-closed doors investigations? Those accused of sexual harassment. Wolf is pointing out something quite valuable actually -- that Yale-style dodges have costs for the victims, as well. Yale's policy isn't about protecting victims or about protecting the falsely accused; it's about protecting Yale.
posted by grimmelm at 6:47 AM on February 25, 2004


How come no one's piling onto the "moribund city magazine?" New York hasn't been about New York since the Herald Tribune shut down. It always seems to be about some other city, some vaguely suburbanish place that hovers in the clouds just above and outside New York, where people can look down at what's going in the city and see it with only a little more detail than they can from, say, Michigan. Being above and beyond New York, they don't realize that Naomi Wolfe and her thigh are matters of supreme unimportance, and Harold Bloom is not anyone who is taken seriously.
posted by Faze at 7:00 AM on February 25, 2004


"It really smacks of the Salem witch hunts and all the accompanying hysteria," Paglia said.

A-fucking-men.

To call someone a sexual harasser, or a sexist, or a racist, serves the same function these days as calling someone a communist did for McCarthy and his minions. It's a smear, than even when disproved can't be removed, and is often used to political and personal ends.

First off, big surprise that Harold Bloom is a letch, or a putter-of-hands-on-thighs.

You base this on what, exactly?
posted by jonmc at 7:01 AM on February 25, 2004


To call someone a sexual harasser, or a sexist, or a racist, serves the same function these days as calling someone a communist did for McCarthy and his minions. It's a smear, than even when disproved can't be removed, and is often used to political and personal ends.

jonmc, A-men to you. Totally agree.
posted by SpaceCadet at 7:16 AM on February 25, 2004


Since I don't respect either Bloom or Wolf, I have no dog in this fight (except—obligatory high-minded comment—that I think accusations of sexual bullying should be taken seriously, and Yale has a poor record in that respect). But I want to register my appreciation for Slagman's bonus Google link, the third hit on which is:

"Peppered Pitt Ham Boneless, hand-rubbed with crushed peppercorns, then slow smoked to gentle the pepper to a nut-like taste that even children will love..."

[Homer] ...ghghghgh... *drool*... [/Homer]
posted by languagehat at 7:17 AM on February 25, 2004


I was thinking something similar, languagehat, that "Boneless Hand," sounded like a new appetizer at the Bennigan's For Cannibals (with honey mustard for dippin') or something.
posted by jonmc at 7:22 AM on February 25, 2004


What Harold Bloom’s hand on his student’s thigh set off was not a sexual crisis. I was sexually active—and not even especially modest. An unwanted hand on a thigh from a date was nothing. Nor was it an emotional crisis. I wasn’t that vulnerable. What it set off was a moral crisis, shaking my confidence in the institution I was in.

So what Naomi wants to convey is that the "boneless hand" didn't trouble her at all, but the "lack" of defense from univ.

I wanted to go to the Grievance Board.[..omissis..] Some women friends, however, persuaded me not to speak to anyone official about what had happened

What happened ? An hand on your tight that didn't bother you at all as you say ? Or did it ?

My guess is that she thinks professors (males AND females)should be asexual beings and behave like asexual beings (unless of course she agrees with the advances) ; I can't help not thinking she thinks sex is dirty when she's not the one initiating it. Hello ! Reality check, people behave in ways you may not like, but he didn't -rape- you , get a sense of proportions.

Setting Naomi aside for a moment, there is a problem when somebody (and with such people, males and females) attempt to extort sex by threatening bad consequences ; apparently is one thousand years old problem and I see no solution to it other then educating people to understand sex-is-not-bad , extortion is. What should be denounced is the extortion side of any "harrassment" event.

On Preview: Midas

My wife does think that serious crimes - rape - should be dealt by castration after the first offense

Chemical, physical ? Any differentiation ? And what about this event (unlikely one ? maybe, but possible) say that a group of women attempt to abuse one man (maybe a gay one) by overpowering him (rare ? but possible) or that a man in blackmailed into having sex with a woman for fear of very serious consequences.

Given that it would still be a sexually "motivated" crime, should the she-attacker(s) be castrated as well and how ?

I guess your wife didn't consider adequately (or at all) the fact the the attacker could be innocent.
posted by elpapacito at 7:42 AM on February 25, 2004


Fold-and-mutilate, sorry if you took my thread-starting post the wrong way, but I actually have no reason to doubt Wolf's account.

Others have called it a stunt and questioned her motives, and I linked to that and referenced it, but I didn't answer my question, because I am unsure of her true motives here. I read her explanation and was a little dissatisfied by it, and was curious what others think.

I don't think anything I wrote blames the victim, assuming the allegation is true. If it's true, Bloom is a scumbag, period. Still, I do wonder why it took her so long. If he did this to her, then he's probably been laying hands on young girls at a power disadvantage for decades since -- and she's not just any person, she has built her rep on feminist issues. I know she agonizes about this in the article and so forth.

I also know that New York magazine published this because she is Naomi Wolf and he is Bloom. I doubt some unknown writer accusing a community college professor would have gotten the same attention. So there's an element here about creating buzz for commercial purposes, and that's a little disturbing,
given that a crime has been alleged and reputations are at stake. It all seems rather overly dramatic, and
therefore suspicious.

I suppose some good can come of this, if only it makes some professor somewhere consider that
this sort of thing can explode at any time, even when he is on his deathbed. Setting aside whether a professor should ever make a pass at a current student (I vote no), there are ways to make a pass without touching people inappropriately. Dudes,
stop being such pigs.
posted by Slagman at 7:58 AM on February 25, 2004


What Harold Bloom’s hand on his student’s thigh set off was not a sexual crisis. I was sexually active—and not even especially modest. An unwanted hand on a thigh from a date was nothing. Nor was it an emotional crisis. I wasn’t that vulnerable. What it set off was a moral crisis, shaking my confidence in the institution I was in.

What happened ? An hand on your tight that didn't bother you at all as you say ? Or did it ?


The first paragraph makes it clear that it did bother her, just not at a sexual or emotional level. It bothered her in relation to her relationship with her institution. The reasons it bothered her is because it highlights once again that academic institutions offer little in the way of protection to their students. Raising their grievances will result in little change and may well have negative consequences for their future careers whilst having very little consequence for the senior academic. The other side to this is that even by saying no to the senior academic the student may be damaged. Their senior will likely be able to influence control over the student, to downgrade their work, to obstruct their research, to have the student removed from the course and to continue to exert influence over the students future career through references (or their absence) and through the old boys network, article refereeing, etc. So the student has three choices, complain and most likely suffer for it, shut up and maybe still suffer for it or submit to the senior academic's attentions, and clearly with the level of influence that can be brought to bear this is not strictly consensual.

As for academics not being asexual, true, we're not, but given the power advantage inherent in a position as a senior academic, making advances of the nature suggested is an abuse of power. I think in some circumstances that there is a right to expect that individuals respect their charges such that sexual advances are inappropriate, and in most cases this applies to the teacher-student role.
posted by biffa at 8:07 AM on February 25, 2004


f&m: I'm not going to argue the semantic difference between "alleged" and "apparant

Well, that at least is smart, since you'd lose the argument, given one commmon usage of apparent:

Apparent: Appearing as such but not necessarily so; seeming: an apparent advantage.

And of course, if you had known that common usage, or taken the time to actually read my sentence, you wouldn't have made the silly comment "so much for innocent until proven guilty". I mean, we can pretty much agree that your comment has absolutely nothing to do with what I said, given that we're both communicating in what I assume is a common tongue, right? And we can therefore pretty much throw out "and would instead suspend judgement long enough to consider that, yes, making an accusation does not automatically make the accuser a victim. Not until those accusations have actually panned out" as a pretty dumb misunderstanding on your part too, right?

All I can add is that nobody is ever above criticism, ever, especially when their "victimhood" is in doubt.

Oh, ok. As we've already established by actually carefully going over for you the words that were actually there before your eyes, I never said anything about the veracity of the lady's claims. However, others certainly had something to ask about right up front about the victim, with definite implications for her motivation and veracity. And I repeat: none of your indignation about fairness was apparent for the possible victim here, despite those implications and judgments, right?

Why again was that?

There's a difference between questioning the accuser's motives and "blaming and judging". Nobody said it's her fault (blaming), and nobody has said her allegations were groundless (judging). Sorry, no soup for you.

Soup? Sorry, but I think we're going to have to go back to pablum for you.
Let's spell it out for you: in which corner of the the English language is the phrase "I figure at least half of it is, as Slagman references, a 'stunt' to get her name & cause in print." not a judgment? No, it's not someone coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment. Instead, it's a stunt. Hell, then there's the inimitable MidasMulligan, who can always be counted on to say something really offensive "She likes some of the stuff Naomi has written, but thinks she's being a twit here, and is just trying to re-enter the public eye".

Nah. No judgment there.

Ok, now we've learned about what "apparent" and "judgment" mean. What's next?

As for your accusation that I'm judging facts based on comments here, I challenge you to find where I've passed any judgements upon the factual accuracy of her allegations. What a stupid cheap shot.

Really, the only stupidity I'm seeing here is yours, along with the idiotic comments and historically horrible chauvinistic bullshit that you and a few others here don't mind revisiting one-sidedly on a potential abuse victim. And as I'll point out once again for you, you didn't have any difficulty withholding your indignation about aspersions being cast upon a potential victim's motivation, despite an expectation I hope most reasonable, compassionate people would have about the what might have happened to any victim of crime. You sure ate those comments about her right up. Now, how were those few comments in this thread different from a one sided magazine article? You said "The motives of both sides are open to discussion." Where was the even handed questioning of Bloom's side early in the thread again? Where again exactly was your indignation that a victim was perhaps being unfairly labeled as a publicity seeker, or just pulling a stunt?

My question remains: perhaps you believe in judging facts based on the comments in a Metafilter thread?

Damn, I can't believe I've actually stooped to calling f&m out for his usual inane rhetorical baiting. A new Mefi low for me.

It must be particularly tough when the rhetorical "baiting" is actually my calling out, as I said before, the shameful behavior of focusing blame or demeaning the victims of apparent sexual abuse. Kinda looks to me like you're on that bandwagon. You can count on being called out again for that.

Fold-and-mutilate, sorry if you took my thread-starting post the wrong way, but I actually have no reason to doubt Wolf's account.

I do believe ya, buddy. Historically in this country, victims of sexual abuse haven't been treated very fairly, and anybody with an ounce of decency knows what's happened in many cases to rape victims. Historically, we've treated the victims of this particular crime (most often the least powerful in our society) in a way quite different than we treat victims of other crimes, with much questioning of "motives" and "her history" and so forth.

Sounds like you're aware of that, and I appreciate your comments.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:12 AM on February 25, 2004


I'm not going to jump in and venture an opinion on this one, but I commend all the people who have participated in this discussion which - were I in the position - I would offer as at least supplemental reading in a college or grad seminar, course, colloquium (or whatever) on sexual ethics and sexual power relations in higher education.

It's been a truly fine discussion - balanced, thoughtful, varied, and notable for it's absence of personal invective.

(Claps)

A college professor of mine once attempted to seduce me, and it was done with impeccable taste - through conversation, Billie Holliday, and superb cooking. But the individual in question was far more attractive than Bloom seems (though to strip 20 years from the corpulent hulk he is today.....) and was anything but crude. I was not scarred in the least, but the stakes were low.

In legal terms, for me, Wolf's hot flabby BloomPau is all about an implied quid pro quo :

To lapse into the lingo - The hot, heavy, boneless hand - as a thing-in -itself is far less significant as a physical entity than as an extension of male prerogative which is a tantalizing, demanding, beckoning and menacing signpost and entry point to the corridors of power. The mere extension of the hand - so turgidly freighted with implications and veiled threat - "rite of passage", "qui pro quo", academic "sine qua no", blah blah blah and so on - can be construed asa kind of violence but not on the physical level as much as from the distorted power relation between an eminent professor and his student - over whom he can wield enormous power and influence to propel or retard an incipient career.

That said, it is fair to note (as MidasMulligan did early on here in the discussion) that students in Wolf's position will likely encounter worse later on in their careers and lives. This does not justify Bloom's behavior in the slightest though, and the "inoculation" argument - realistic, certainly - can be countered by the observation that the only way to effect cultural change is to confront such behavior wherever and whenever it occurs....

BUT - there's always a but - does this mean that we must submit all sexual relations to a rigorous legal litmus test of "appropriateness" ? And to what extent to we want to codify this determination ?

Further - career damaging or destroying baseless accusations (jonmc's recent point) are not unheard of either and, in any case, we must consider the possibility that this realm - of sexual conduct and advances which are 'inappropriate' due to distorted power relations - is an inherently intractable one and that, in many cases, the cure might be worse than the disease. Power imbalances drive a good deal of male-female sexual behavior - and the empowered in the equation are not always male, though that is more usually the case even now. But power, in the sexual realm, has many forms of currency - youth, beauty, intelligence, wealth, political power, charisma - and the weighting of these factors in the calculus which determines rough equivalence is a highly personal affair.

I imagine that Wolf would agree with most of the above points and simple note that all she asks is that repeated allegations of inappropriate sexual advances on the part of university professors should be addressed - and certainly at least looked in to in the case of possible repeat offenders - by university ethics committees as potential breaches of professional ethics.

[ damn - I couldn't help but jump in anyway ]


I doubt Wolf was scarred - by her own admission. What is significant here though is not the hot, heavy and boneless hand (Wolf makes makes it sound like a nasty slab of flabby meat fresh out of the oven - this could be apt in the case of Bloom although I did laugh at jfuller's observation) but rather what the hand signifies : among other things, a possible (and inappropriate) quid-pro-quo.

____________________________________________

The Secret Life of Harold Bloom

"Bloom edged closer, waving his hands in the air to illustrate a finer point. He liked to "close the gap", the female grad students gossiped. I would toe the line up to a point, but I sure as hell was NOT going to suck his dick or worse, not the least for the fact that I suspected him at the time of being an active STD vector. "I can envision, for you, an excellent career", Bloom pronounced with an almost exaggerated flourish as he gazed into my eyes with bloodshot intensity and then....the hand....

Harold's flabby, sweaty paw of turgid male authority oozed or perhaps I should I say fwwoppped with fleshy force - like a plump manatee dropped from a low height - down onto my sensitive inner thigh and menaced my tender labia. Bloom stank of doritos, alcohol, sweat, cheap after-shave lotion, and the acrid musk of bug eyed lust. I could imagine him as a rutting ruminant.

I was speechless...there was a long pause pregnant with possibility - in Bloom's mind certainly, if not in my own.

Then he let out a small anchovy belch - and this dispelled any residual vapors, in me, of that trance which can descend over the mind of a young woman flattered by attention from a prominent male...I opened my mouth for air and for words but something else emerged, a strident postmodernist rejoinder, and I heaved the contents of my beery, pizza filled stomach across the table at Bloom.

A look of absolute horror - with not a little despair too - flashed across his greasy face and he emitted an uncharacteristic (for him - he typically affected a basso-profundo rumble) high pitched shriek - as if one of the Castrati and then, cursing and mumbling something about the restroom, lumbered away, my vomit sloughing off his cheap polyester stretch-fit slacks and leaving a trail of doughy, acidic chunks in his wake like disgusting bread crumbs in the forest, his thread back from the labyrinth of ruin to his soggy romantic fantasies. But I was not his minotaur - that, he carried with him as a shadow to his rutting urges. I could see it all laid out. If not me, then someone else would do, and with every year's replenishment of the ranks, Bloom would have at his morsels. More pretty female grad students, more pizza, more pawing, more vomit. Occasional ass. It was pitifully tawdry......

At that moment, the waitress appeared with the check. She was hardboiled, toughened by life's petty injustices - as with an overcooked brisket. "Honey, does this happen to you often ?", she asked. I calibrated my response - "As often as necessary." "Cash or charge? ", she asked. I gave her a long searching stare and then an exaggerated wink. It was a woman thing.

"The bill's on the guy with the puke on his clothes", I said - and walked out.

I didn't even bother trying - at the time - to squeeze his balls in a vise over the incident, and he only seemed much more predatory in retrospect and with the hindsight of maturity. Besides, half the male professors (and some of the female ones too) were doing the same. It was open hunting season on student tail, and I wasn't going to take any fire over challenging prevailing norms. I wasn't a hero. Things are a little different now..... But I did leave him a note in his office once. It was unsigned, and typed. All it said was : "Beer 'n Pizza. Hand - Vomit."

Bloom wrote me a nice recommendation.

I hear he still chases ass but I doubt he has the pick of the little anymore. His students these days are more apt to just laugh at him - and that is the cruelest punishment.

______________________________________________

In any event, I find The Closing of The American Mind to be an immensely annoying book - but that's tangential.

A fine discussion.
posted by troutfishing at 8:20 AM on February 25, 2004


In any event, I find The Closing of The American Mind to be an immensely annoying book - but that's tangential.

Er, that's the late Allan Bloom. Who would not, as it happens, have made a pass at anyone of Naomi Wolf's sex.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:35 AM on February 25, 2004


f_&_m, do you suddenly become an apparent rapist if I accuse you of such? No, you are innocent until proven guilty. It is unequivocal. You do not "appear as such, a rapist, but not necessarily so". You are totally innocent. I have simply made an allegation (Dictionary: Represented as existing or as being as described but not so proved; supposed). Notice the "but not so proved" in alleged. There is no burden of proof in "apparent": it just hangs in the air like slander.

Dictionary definitions:-

Apparent

Alleged
posted by SpaceCadet at 8:54 AM on February 25, 2004


The reception Naomi Wolf is receiving here is a lot like the one she has gotten for 20 years from Yale.

I think part of the reason for that is because of the unfair way it was presented. Funny how Slagman could come up with several cynical motives for Wolf while leaving off any possibility that the event happened, Yale covered it up, and she's belatedly doing the right thing by coming forward about it.

As Wolf herself says, for anyone who bothered to read the piece, the major offense isn't an unwanted sexual advance from someone in a position of power over her. It's the fact that women in academia who report such treatment cannot complain without being ignored, dismissed, or even drummed out of their academic careers. This emboldens abuse far worse than what Wolf has alleged here.

As for tarnishing Harold Bloom's reputation, Wolf gave Yale many years in which to address her concerns in private. Unless you believe that she's making this up, I think she was exceedingly fair with the parties involved, and the responsibility for this becoming public rests with the school.

We now return you to SpaceCadet's ongoing seminar, "Women: Threat or Menace?"
posted by rcade at 9:18 AM on February 25, 2004


We now return you to SpaceCadet's ongoing seminar, "Women: Threat or Menace?"

?
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:23 AM on February 25, 2004


My vote is for "annoyance."
posted by jonmc at 9:27 AM on February 25, 2004


thomas j wise - Eep. Thanks for letting me know - that's like walking around with food on one's face or a fly unzipped.
posted by troutfishing at 9:30 AM on February 25, 2004


This discussion needs the word *turgid* thrown in somewhere...
Maybe if we substitute *boneless hand* with *turgid member*
The accusation will either be more valid or more ludicrous...
posted by Trik at 10:12 AM on February 25, 2004


> Apparent: Appearing as such but not necessarily so; seeming: an apparent advantage

In any English, common or formal, a thing has to appear before it can be apparent. The Bloom/Wolf incident did not appear as anything to any of us because none of us witnessed it. We have only Wolf's allegation. "Alleged" fits the situation, "apparent" does not.

You can assume an appearance of something you have not seen but you must call it out, e.g. "Assuming the incident took place just as Ms. Wolf described it, then it would have appeared to us to be sexual harassment." Barring such a callout you are not entitled to say "X appears to be..." unless X has indeed put in an appearance in front of you.
posted by jfuller at 10:23 AM on February 25, 2004


I'm glad she brought it up. I see enough predatory professor types in my own disciplinary backwater, and frankly it just pisses me off. If her accusation gets others to publicly discuss predatory professors (and there are many) then good for her.
posted by mecran01 at 10:26 AM on February 25, 2004


> Yale has policies in place is, theoretically, so this sort of thing gets dealt with equally
> and appropriately, not passed on in secret whispers or written on bathroom walls.

Clearly they aren't working. Hand the place over to me; as a Harvard dude I feel entirely competent to do for New Haven roughly what marshall Earp did for Dodge City.

The University will return to acting in loco parentis. Students and faculty will be expected to conduct themselves like ladies and gentlemen, whether they are or not. It will be assumed that students are too immature and powerless to manage ambiguity and draw their own lines, particularly in sexual encounters, most particularly with their elders; consequently no one-on-one socializing (let alone sexual liasons) between students and faculty will be tolerated on pain of expulsion for the student and dismissal for the faculty member involved.

Those precautions should make clear to the dimmest where the lines that are not to be crossed lie. Oh, and I'll be changing the name of the place to B*b J*n*s.
posted by jfuller at 12:07 PM on February 25, 2004


jfuller: I think an overall ban on fraternisation would be silly and is overkill, but blocks on people you have teaching responsibilities for or other roles where you might expect 'duty of care' should be included. Overall bans can't properly take into account things like mature students, post grads and the fact that often they're staff at the same time and lots of other examples where banning interaction would make universities like a police state.
posted by biffa at 12:18 PM on February 25, 2004


> The four of us ate a meal. He had, as promised, brought a bottle of Amontillado,
> which he drank continually. I also drank. We had set out candles—a grown-up
> occasion. The others eventually left and—finally!—I thought we could discuss
> my poetry manuscript. I set it between us. He did not open it. He did not look at it.
> He leaned toward me and put his face inches from mine. “You have the aura
> of election upon you,” he breathed.

Candles...amontillado...the roommates quietly fade...and she thinks they're going to discuss poetry, forsooth. I don't care what color hair she has, we have a blonde here. A bona-fide blonde. It's so entirely clear that the university, acting in loco parentis, must step in and say "Darling, you may not invite older gentlemen faculty members up to your apartment without a chaperone. You are clearly too immature to grasp what that means, and we're to embarassed for you to explain. Just obey the rules, they're for your (and his) own good."


She was young, she was pure, she was new, she was nice
She was fair, she was sweet seventeen.
He was old, he was vile, and no stranger to vice
He was base, he was bad, he was mean.
He had slyly inveigled her up to his flat
To view his collection of stamps,
And he said as he hastened to put out the cat,
The wine, his cigar and the lamps:

Have some madeira, m'dear. You really have nothing to fear.
I'm not trying to tempt you, that wouldn't be right,
You shouldn't drink spirits at this time of night.
Have some madeira, m'dear. It's really much nicer than beer.
I don't care for sherry, one cannot drink stout,
And port is a wine I can well do without...
It's simply a case of chacun a son gout
Have some madeira, m'dear.

posted by jfuller at 12:30 PM on February 25, 2004


Hey, what's the fact Bloom is ugly as muck got to do with anything? That ugliness is socially constructed, doncha know. It's a myth. Surely Woolf is clever enough to see through that so-called physical repulsiveness, those blubbering lips, that clammy boneless hand, and embrace the brilliant man within?
posted by dydecker at 1:37 PM on February 25, 2004


> embrace the brilliant man within?

I was never previously much impressed with Bloom's brains but, my Ghod! If the incident took place just as Ms. Wolf described it, then it would appear he didn't even have sense enough to ooo and aah over her manuscript.

Make that two blonds.
posted by jfuller at 1:49 PM on February 25, 2004


> The Secret Life of Harold Bloom

fuller offers troutfishing the low bow usually reserved for four-engine pilots.
posted by jfuller at 2:15 PM on February 25, 2004


You should have ditch the quotes, Harold, and applied earlier, subtler kineaestetics!

"You have the aura of election upon you"

Can someone tell me what this means?
posted by dydecker at 2:18 PM on February 25, 2004


Er, that's the late Allan Bloom. Who would not, as it happens, have made a pass at anyone of Naomi Wolf's sex.

Lol, ahem, I thought this was about Allan Bloom too. Wow was I confused. This thread makes a lot more sense to me now.
posted by bobo123 at 2:39 PM on February 25, 2004


As an alum of the institution in question, I've got to say the institutional reaction of just closing ranks is no surprise. As a former teacher, I've also strongly feel that any allegation of sexual impropriety between teacher and student needs to be taken seriously, and needs to be much better handled than Yale apparently did.

That being said, having had a fair amount of exposure to Bloom--at just about exactly the same time as the incident in question--I think most people just don't understand what an absolutely outrageous fop the man is. His standard outfit includes a sweater with sleeves that have stretched far too long, so the cuffs hang over his hands, and he spends an entire seminar flopping the sleeve ends back and forth extravagantly, rolling his eyes and making louche, salacious comments about the derivation of words like "cunt." (Excuse my Saxon.)

As bright as he can be on the written page (and he is smart), he's an almost laughable caricature of pan-sexuality in real life. It doesn't excuse his alleged behavior, but he's one of those middle-aged men trapped in their post-adolescent libertine period. He's pretty infamous for basically coming on to everyone. Again, no excuse at all, but still important context, I think.
posted by LairBob at 3:16 PM on February 25, 2004


rolling his eyes and making louche, salacious comments about the derivation of words like "cunt."

In Richard Price's novel The Breaks, a nerdy professor character does exactly the same thing. Since I can't imagine Bloom reading Price's work, maybe they crossed paths academically. Freaky, at any rate.
posted by jonmc at 3:25 PM on February 25, 2004


I'm glad that others have already pointed out the difference between "apparant" and "alleged". If Bloom had made a statement rejecting that claim and I had posted about "Wolf's apparantly unfound claims", you'd cry foul. It's a two-way street.

Really, the only stupidity I'm seeing here is yours, along with the idiotic comments and historically horrible chauvinistic bullshit that you and a few others here don't mind revisiting one-sidedly on a potential abuse victim.

A 20-year delayed allegation certain raises questions about why the charge was made so late into the game. I don't see anyone saying that she had no right to bring forth these charges if she were indeed victimized (in which case I'd agree with you); I see lots of people questioning the timing of this development, as they should. I don't see why you refuse to make this distinction, and instead waste time harping about the "chauvinistic bullshit" and "potential abuse" largely absent in this thread.

...although you'll find some of it in the articles linked. Don't let me get in the way of your writing letters to the editors, since obviously you're interested in rectifying this mistake instead of taking rhetorical cheap shots on a message board.

Where again exactly was your indignation that a victim was perhaps being unfairly labeled as a publicity seeker, or just pulling a stunt?

That many people have classified her as a publicity seeker has nothing to do with whether the allegations are true or not, and everything to do with the timing of her charges. As for what someone's motives are, there's no objective evaluation available for that, short of being God. However, there is some sort of evaluation mechanism (criminal, civil, school disciplinary, etc) to test the veracity of her claims. You're perfectly welcome to cast doubt upon Bloom's defense by suggesting that he's stonewalling, or he's taking advantage of his high regard in literary circles, or what have you. It's silly to cry foul when people do this to Wolf just because she happens to be on the other side, and for whatever reason people thus far have found her motives less credible than that for Bloom's silence. No need to blame me for that--the reasons why this is has been amply linked elsewhere in this thread.

My question remains: perhaps you believe in judging facts based on the comments in a Metafilter thread?

You've dodged my challenge to show me where exactly I've made any claims about the events behind the allegation. On the other hand, you have demonstrated a rather blatant bias in deciding that one side's account is sufficient to declare it to "appear" to be factually true, regardless of whether said account is fictious or not. Who's jumping to conclusions about the facts here? I've always maintained factual agnosticism in the face of a "news story" on MeFi.

It must be particularly tough when the rhetorical "baiting" is actually my calling out, as I said before, the shameful behavior of focusing blame or demeaning the victims of apparent sexual abuse.

I don't see how you can reach this conclusion when I said that nobody is above criticism and scrutiny, neither the accuser or the accused: "The motives of both sides are open to discussion." I see no reason why the accuser should have a carte blanche on characterizing the accused without reciprocity in any crime, sexual or not. Discussing motives is wholly different from discussing facts.
posted by DaShiv at 4:11 PM on February 25, 2004


At the end of the day, it's a he said/she said scenario. If she were to pursue this legally, the law would either be an ass and apply "lingering doubt" and find Bloom guilty, or more sensibly, decide that the case has a complete lack of evidence to substantiate the allegation. If she doesn't pursue her allegation legally (which is far as I know, she isn't), I consider it slander, as it's easy to cast allegations that are very hard to disprove or prove. The victim in these situations is the person having the allegations made against him or her. I keep saying it: innocent until proven guilty. Those proven guilty will be punished and publicly acknowledged as guilty. Those throwing accusations around without pursuing them in a legal setting are just throwing mud, as the accused cannot clear his or her name in court.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:42 PM on February 25, 2004


WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 -- The United States military is facing the gravest accusations of sexual misconduct in a decade, with dozens of servicewomen in the Persian Gulf area saying they were sexually assaulted or raped by fellow troops and then denied adequate medical care and counseling, lawmakers and victims advocates said today.

In addition, about two dozen women at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas have reported to a local rape-crisis center that they were assaulted in the past year. The Air Force Academy in Colorado is still reeling from the disclosure last year of more than 50 reported assaults or rapes over the past decade.


/me anxiously awaits MidasMulligan's apparently educated wife decrying these soldiers as twits and publicity hounds.

/me anxiously awaits DaShiv wailing first and foremost over possible harm to the reputations of those accused of these crimes.

Really. What's with these women? Why didnt' they get in touch with the proper authorities right away? I mean, there's no problem in male dominated culture with reporting unpleasant things like sexual abuse by, um, males, right?

~wink~
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 6:45 PM on February 25, 2004


I continue to be amused at the imagined nature of the power dynamic in such situatuiations when it's just as valid to see Wolf as the customer and Bloom the paid help. Don't like what your money's buying you? Take it somewhere else.

And fold_and_mutilate, your first comment is full of shit because it's foundation is the assumption that she is confirmed as the victim of something, but the exact nature of her victimhood has not quite been nailed down yet. Bullshit. All we have is her allegation, which makes her an accuser, not a victim.
posted by NortonDC at 6:48 PM on February 25, 2004


Do we find the timing of the allegations from these servicewomen to be possibly self-serving? No? Then this is a non sequitur.

And despite the fact that I've mentioned merely making the allegations against Bloom damages his reputation, I've also maintained all along that questioning the motives behind lack of response from Bloom is fair game. You're welcome to insinuate guilt from it if you'd like. It doesn't change my opinion that doing the reverse, questioning the motives behind the timing of Wolf's accusations, is fair game as well.
posted by DaShiv at 12:17 AM on February 26, 2004


foldy, why are you so fond of conflating the dreadful with the trivial? Why conflate a case of unwanted (and immediately terminated) sexual advances in a setting of candlelight and wine with other cases of plain old forcible rape? Are you really an agent provocateur out to trivialize rape? Are you still in the pay of the armed forces? You know, there are philosophical opponents out there that I really enjoy having around because of their great gift for tainting their own positions with hysterical silliness. You go, guy!
posted by jfuller at 4:11 AM on February 26, 2004


You gotta be kidding, NortonDC. As a college student, Wolf was not in a position of power over Bloom by virtue of the fact that she could throw a wrench into her academic career and transfer to another college. Even if a student at one of the most prestigious Ivy League schools could move to another of comparable standing, a far-fetched proposition, she'd lose credits and a lot of ancillary benefits. Whether you believe her accusation, the claim that she had the power in that setting is absurd.
posted by rcade at 5:45 AM on February 26, 2004


You know, there are philosophical opponents out there that I really enjoy having around because of their great gift for tainting their own positions with hysterical silliness. You go, guy!

Modern McCarthyism at play. In the way McCarthy and his crew could perceive a communistic threat from the most unlikely places, so there are those who will perceive sexism or racism at play from the most innocent of actions/words. (not a comment that Bloom is innocent, just a comment about those who view the world through a victimhood lens).
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:58 AM on February 26, 2004


From the Observer article:

In Promiscuities, Ms. Wolf writes that when she gave Mr. Bloom her manuscript of poems, it was "the most important gift I had ever given any man." Between the lines of Ms. Wolf’s New York article, another picture begins to emerge of an aspiring young poet who now believes that an unfortunate encounter with a professor she revered blocked her path toward a bright future as a writer.

"It’s interesting that you mention that," Ms. Wolf said. "I know I never wrote a poem again after that."

Before she could explain why, Ms. Wolf burst into tears and wept for several minutes. "I’m sorry I’m having difficulty with that question," she said, adding that she had to hang up and compose herself. When she called back a few minutes later, she was still weeping.
posted by goethean at 7:54 AM on February 26, 2004


Also:

In Promiscuities, she writes that after her professor put his hand on her leg, she went to the sink and vomited out of "disgust and drunkenness." In the New York magazine article, she simply "found myself vomiting."

"I am sure that drunkenness and shock were both equally part of it," Ms. Wolf said. "One thing I tried to do was to be completely honest about my own responsibility for the situation"—a somewhat puzzling statement, since she left the drunkenness out of the more factually accurate New York piece.

posted by goethean at 7:56 AM on February 26, 2004


Setting aside whether a professor should ever make a pass at a current student (I vote no), there are ways to make a pass without touching people inappropriately. Dudes, stop being such pigs.

Thank you for saying this, Slagman.
posted by beth at 11:08 AM on February 26, 2004


Well rcade, I transferred colleges, and suffered the horror of lost credits. And you know what? I've done pretty damn well for myself. I suspect Wolf could have handled the trauma of a transfer at least as well as I did.
posted by NortonDC at 6:01 PM on February 26, 2004


"....The four of us ate a meal. He had, as promised, brought a bottle of Amontillado, which he drank continually. I also drank. We had set out candles—a grown-up occasion. The others eventually left and—finally!—I thought we could discuss my poetry manuscript. I set it between us. He did not open it. He did not look at it. He leaned toward me and put his face inches from mine. “You have the aura of election upon you,” he breathed." - jfuller, thanks....four engine pilots?....I imagined a slightly different scene, but what I envisioned was oddly close to the mark anyway - probably for the predictability of most human behavior. I think the real story was very funny too " "We had set out candles—a grown-up occasion. The others eventually left and—finally!—I thought we could discuss my poetry manuscript. I set it between us. He did not open it. He did not look at it. He leaned toward me and put his face inches from mine. “You have the aura of election upon you,”" - you know, few of the 20 year women I knew (when I was 20 too) would have confused the reality of this situation. Wolf must have been quite out to lunch.

"A grown up occasion"....I guess grown ups don't have sex?


"The aura of election"....... well, she actually did. The 2000 election. Hmmm - That's it. It was Wolf who sunk Al Gore!
posted by troutfishing at 10:36 PM on February 28, 2004


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