Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment

Overview

Sexual harassment is an issue in which feminists are usually thought to be on the plaintiff's side. But in 1993-amid considerable attention from the national academic community-Jane Gallop, a prominent feminist professor of literature, was accused of sexual harassment by two of her women graduate students. In Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, Gallop tells the story of how and why she was charged with sexual harassment and what resulted from the accusations. Weaving together memoir and theoretical ...
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Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment

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Overview

Sexual harassment is an issue in which feminists are usually thought to be on the plaintiff's side. But in 1993-amid considerable attention from the national academic community-Jane Gallop, a prominent feminist professor of literature, was accused of sexual harassment by two of her women graduate students. In Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, Gallop tells the story of how and why she was charged with sexual harassment and what resulted from the accusations. Weaving together memoir and theoretical reflections, Gallop uses her dramatic personal experience to offer a vivid analysis of current trends in sexual harassment policy and to pose difficult questions regarding teaching and sex, feminism and knowledge.

Comparing "still new" feminism-as she first encountered it in the early 1970s-with the more established academic discipline that women's studies has become, Gallop makes a case for the intertwining of learning and pleasure. Refusing to acquiesce to an imperative of silence that surrounds such issues, Gallop acknowledges-and describes-her experiences with the eroticism of learning and teaching. She argues that antiharassment activism has turned away from the feminism that created it and suggests that accusations of harassment are taking aim at the inherent sexuality of professional and pedagogic activity rather than indicting discrimination based on gender-that antiharassment has been transformed into a sensationalist campaign against sexuality itself.

Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment offers a direct and challenging perspective on the complex and charged issues surrounding the intersection of politics, sexuality, feminism, and power. Gallop's story and her characteristically bold way of telling it will be compelling reading for anyone interested in these issues and particularly to anyone interested in the ways they pertain to the university.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1991, an English professor at a state university kissed one of her female graduate students. In 1993, she was accused of sexual harassment by that student and one other. The charges, painstakingly described in detail and nuance, were violations of college policy concerning sexual interaction between professors and students. What the author thinks makes these all-too-common events unusual is that she, the accused, is a feminist who has authored other books on feminist history and practice. She uses the particulars of her "case" to generalize about the place of sexuality in teaching and learning and the meanings of sexuality in feminism. Reading this long essay may leave readers with questions the author doesn't address: Where is the line between scholarship and autobiography, or simply self-indulgence? A "local, left leaning, countercultural weekly ran a wrap-up of the university investigation." This isn't exactly a media blitz, but three pages in this very short book are devoted to an analysis of the sidebar accompanying that article. Why not just reprint the thing and let readers decide for themselves what it says? The author seems to be arguing that teaching and feminism depend upon personal and sexual relations between teachers and students, power differential or not. But it's hard to say how much of this position is vindication and how much is scholarly and analytical. On the positive side, Gallop writes well, and here she is obviously writing about her favorite subject. May FYI: Helen Garner's The First Stone: Some Questions About Sex and Power Forecasts, March 10 also looks at sexual harassment on campus.
Library Journal
Gallop English and comparative literature, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee here attempts to address the harassment case brought against her in 1993 by two female students. She begins by tracing her own development as a feminist, an academic, and a woman but fails to sustain her argument that learning and erotics are intertwined on any of these bases. Her feminist thesis is perhaps the strongest but is seriously undermined by such facile and irresponsible statements as "[academic] conferences are also inevitably sexual...a good conference is likely to be an eroticized workplace." Only a few pages are devoted to the facts of the case; the reader is left puzzled as to its outcome. What could have been an original and enlightening discussion of a serious issue becomes a portrait of unprofessional behavior glibly sketched. Not recommended.Barbara Ann Hutcheson, Greater Victoria P.L., B.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822319184
  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Series: Public Planet Books Series
  • Pages: 101
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.36 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Gallop is Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She is the author of numerous books, including Thinking Through the Body, The Daughter’s Seduction, and Around 1981: Academic Feminist Literary Theory.

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