The Sunday Edition

Feminist provocateur Laura Kipnis says campuses are governed by 'sexual paranoia'

Laura Kipnis argues that policies designed to protect female students - such as bans on student-professor relationships, and some educational approaches to sexual assault prevention - actually dis-empower women and deny their agency. Kipnis is an academic who is both loved and loathed for her writing on gender, politics and pornography. Her new book is called "Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus".
Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, is the author of Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus. (Pieter M. van Hattem/HarperCollins)

In 2015, an American academic, cultural critic and feminist provocateur named Laura Kipnis wrote an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education about what she describes as "sexual paranoia" on campus.

She argued that by focusing on female vulnerability, anti-rape activists and university administrators are actually dis-empowering women and reinforcing a passive, damsel-in-distress version of femininity.

She also took issue with her university's ban on sexual relationships between students and professors, and with the investigation process sometimes used to adjudicate campus sexual assault complaints in the United States. 

Kipnis soon found herself facing an investigation for creating a hostile work environment because of her description of a case involving a student and professor at her university. Student activists at marched against her. The investigation was ultimately resolved in her favour. 

She returns to that battlefield with fervour in her new book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to CampusThe book has already caused a huge stir, much criticism and even a lawsuit (You can find more information about that lawsuit, which was filed after this interview was recorded, here).

Click 'listen' above to hear the interview. 


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