Women Not Girls

Spotlight effect: the tendency to observe more of a given phenomenon once you start looking for it. This is what happened once I started paying attention when women were referred to as children. It is shockingly common, so common that I had to start asking myself why – why are we, as a society, so much more comfortable saying “girls” than “women”? More importantly, what are the effects of referring to women as girls?

men women

don’t know when exactly I started paying attention to the use of the word “girls”. I do know that I noticed it acutely when I ended up working with a new principal at a school I was teaching at who referred to all of the female staff who were under 50 or so as girls. He tended to use it when he didn’t want to deal with our issues or needs, or to refer to us as a group when he hoped we’d solve something “girl-related” (i.e. anything with emotional content). Thankfully, he was receptive to feedback and worked on breaking the habit – and when he did, what followed was more equitable treatment of the staff at our school. Later, I went to work in the teacher’s association office and quickly developed a reputation for being the one who would give our president a (metaphorical) kick to the (metaphorical) shins every time he referred to the women in the office as girls. For him, it was all of the women in the office, even the one who is a grandmother. In this instance, recognizing how much of a problem it was, he sought help to break the habit. He worked on it and made progress and again, the results were great. He began to take my input more seriously, to the point where he would even seek it out, and I heard similar things from other women we worked with.

Both of those men were keen to seek to change once they had the habit brought to their attention. I admit, given that both of them are of an older generation, my tendency was to give them a pass once they committed to changing it and I dropped it. But after those experiences, I started hearing and seeing it everywhere, and not just among older men, but everywhere, including out of the mouths of Gen X-ers and my fellow Millennials, groups who’d I’d have assumed would know better. This fall, I started a full time Master’s program, one where most of the students will go on to work in government and public service. And they refer to women as girls. One or two of our profs have done it, the men in the program do it, and I’m “the bully” for calling them on it (setting aside that the only person I really actively police on this is someone who has directly asked me to). For asserting the right to not be infantilized on the basis of my gender, I’ve been told I’m intimidating. And of course, I’ve been told time and time again through all of this that it can’t really be a problem because “it’s not intended as disrespectful” and because “girls” (by which they mean women) “do it all the time.”

If we step back and take a critical look at these situations, it becomes painfully obvious. Tell me, what’s more intimidating, having someone ask you not to use a particular word to refer to them, or trying to live up to high academic and professional standards while facing constant assertions, and behaviour that reinforces those assertions, that you are a child – which is to say, not reasonable, competent, capable, trustworthy, nor knowledgeable, with no valid experience to bring to bear? Never mind that I’m one of the oldest students in the program, with considerable professional experience in my field. I object to this language and resultant treatment being wielded against all of the women in my classes, and in my society at large. Intent is not magic protection against oppressive behaviour, and unsurprisingly, the men in my classes who are most likely to call women girls are also the most likely to interrupt them, treat them dismissively, and take up way more that their share of space in class – talking forever, dominating questions/response sessions in class, and even taking up a disproportionate amount of the physical space, such as sitting two to a table while the women squeeze three or four in. Any rudimentary glance toward semiotics should be sufficient to make clear that the language we use does indeed affect our thinking and thus our world. How, in a world that systematically devalues girls (see, for instance, any Will Ferrell film ever), can we possibly expect equitable treatment for adult females when we ceaselessly call them children?

In response to the discussion about women also calling women girls, the first thing usually said is pretty obvious: really? It can be different when a word is used by you instead of against you? It can be different when people within a group use a word than when people outside that group do it? (The answer on all aspects is of course it can!) Building from there, one would of course observe that women are socialized in patriarchy as much as men are, so we too are trained to see ourselves and other women as less competent and more child-like, and that gets reflected in our use of language. Beyond that, I have also observed that women are less likely to call women girls in professional and academic contexts, and more so in social contexts. When it’s used by women in a social context, I think it can potentially even be celebratory, indicating a sloughing off of responsibility and being playful – think girls’ night out. Even in that context though, use of the term girls by men underscores the vulnerability of those women,  denies their agency, and frankly, to my ears, takes on a predatory ring.

Calling women girls means equating them to a group of people who are not people in the eyes of the law. Children are people who cannot enter into legal contracts or make binding decisions about matters of their health, financial situations, and so on. It ensconces women firmly in an object position, denying agency or autonomy. These attitudes lead to the endurance of notions of women as property, justification of violence against us, and legislative control over our bodies and health. Yet I’ve seen even men who recognize this and actively take on changing how they refer to women have struggled with what to say instead of girls. I’ve seen them try on “gals”, “ladies”, “dames”, “females”, and awkwardly try to wrap their lips around the word “women”. Even I have to muster some level of conscious deliberateness to call women “women”. I am more likely, especially when I’m in the middle of things and not wanting to have to stop for a lengthy gender and language discussion, to avoid gendered terms altogether (returning to a male default such as “guys” is, of course, not an option – and to those who argue it is comparable to girls, please note, it is not what we call males in their infancy).

Somehow, just calling women women feels like a political act in and of itself. It implies capability and agency. It is potentially revolutionary, and we are socialized to feel that it’s not normal or comfortable. That’s why I’m embracing it. I’m working on using it as much as possible because in doing so, I am not only changing the way I think, I’m changing the world around me. I hope you’ll join in.

– Sasha Wiley


On a roll… EXCEPT NOT REALLY!!! Just Kidding! Oh, and where’s my cookie?

radical access mapping project

So some of the comments over at
on this video are… interesting i suppose? But not really. Fairly predictable stuff. Nevertheless, i do agree with the writer.

This is what i wrote about it on facebook:

As someone permanently on wheels myself, i gotta respectfully say that i actually find this ad boring and pretty predictable, and yes indeed inspiration porn.

For me, dedication, loyalty, friendship, or solidarity might more accurately look like (in the context of this messaging anyways, though i have bigger plans for this kind of stuff lol) :

  • all those dudes leaving for the bar in those wheelchairs,
  • and hanging out there while in them,
  • going home in those wheelchairs (or trying to get an accessible cab in one),
  • meeting and enjoying their dates while in those wheelchairs,
  • doing their jobs while in those wheelchairs,
  • hell, going for a job interview or taking the bus to…

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“Go Down the Hall”: A Response to David Gilmour

Lucia Lorenzi

The internet has been abuzz today, following the publication of author and teacher David Gilmour’s provocative and contentious interview with Hazlitt Magazine’s Emily Keeler. In the interview, which has since gone viral, Gilmour states that he is “not interested in teaching books by women,” and that, by teaching only novels that he “truly, truly loves,” by “serious heterosexual guys” like Tolstoy and Chekhov, he is teaching “only the best.” If students want to read works by female (or, presumably, queer, or racialized writers), they can, as Gilmour says himself, “go down the hall” to his other colleagues at the University of Toronto.

Understandably, literary and academic communities (especially in Canada, since Gilmour claims that he hasn’t encountered any Canadian writers that he loves enough to teach) have responded with sharp criticisms of Gilmour’s seemingly-exclusionary attitudes towards what constitutes literary “greatness” and what is deserving of time and attention in his classroom…

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dating tips for the feminist man

reprinted with permission from nora samaran

This post is in honour of male feminists and their dating rituals.

You’re a straight monogamous cismale who identifies as a leftie. Maybe you’re a Marxist or a socialist; maybe you’re an anarchist. You respect women. You would never act like a player. You fall in love with strong, smart, feminist women. You believe that our movements are stronger if they include everyone.

This is not the 1950s; if you’re committed to social justice but you are still marching along using ‘the rules’ http://therulesbook.com/ to govern dating, it’s time to consider the connection between your politics and your personal life. Social justice is intersectional; we can’t just fix our economic relationships without fixing our personal and cultural ones.

can you not sense a new red square movement, with gosling's image on a banner and howls of freedom?

So identifying as a male feminist is a tricky line to walk. It’s important that men use the term. But keep in mind that you’ll get kudos just for taking on the term as your own; it may even help you gain trust extra-quickly from women you’re dating.

Want to be worthy of that trust? Practice your consent skills.

Here’s how, in a tidy list.

(ed’s note: A lot of these skills I’ve learned from more poly friends who take accountability and consent seriously. There’s a lot that my more monogamous buds can learn from the poly world and its committments to ethical dating. So thanks to many friends who give consent workshops and think about these things in their daily lives, for sharing wisdom and insights.)

you’re a straight cisgendered monogamous feminist man,and you want to hook up with or date women?


here’s the deal:

1. learn to recognize your own emotions. Consent requires honesty, and you can’t speak honestly about your intentions unless you know what they are.

2. Just as we teach high schoolers that ‘if you’re not ready for the possible outcomes of babies and diseases, you’re not ready for sex,’ the same is true of emotions. Sex brings up emotion. That is just the reality of choosing to engage in sexual relationships. If you’re not ready to work with the emotion to make sure everyone is ok afterwards, then you’re not ready for the sex.

If you’re the kind of person who avoids your own or other people’s emotions, then you’re not going to be able to have good consent conversations until you get more comfortable with your own and other people’s emotions. Sign up for a consent skills workshop, or several. Read books on consent and on radical conflict resolution skills. Recognize that you agreed to or initiated a romantic relationship, however short or long-lived, and so you are responsible to the other person in that relationship as well as to yourself. Nobody put a gun to your head and made you make out with this person, so own your choices and their effects. People need different things after a hookup; know your own needs and be responsive to the needs of the other person.

*Don’t* say or act like you are serious about someone, make out with them, and then avoid them. Can I say this clearly enough? If you make out with somebody, you are responsible for checking in to make sure they are ok, not just during, but also after. Discuss casual sex as casual sex, and ambiguous sex as ambiguous sex. If your initial connection seemed serious but things don’t work out the way you hoped, do the work to become a friend to this person. You may have to have some emotions-talk first to get to a good place and clear up any miscommunications or accidental harm you caused; if so, you’re responsible not only for grudgingly going along, but for actively initiating and holding space for that conversation. Do not make it their job to ask for a conversation to get your friendship to a good place. It is your job as much as theirs. Do not run away if things get uncomfortable or you start to feel emotions that confuse you. If you need space to calm down, pick a specific near-future time in which you will come back fully present and taking a proactive role in getting back to a good place. If you are in a conflict with this person due to tangled emotions, pick a process and, if you need it, a friend to help. Remember the goal is for you both to feel ok about things, not for one of you to win and one of you to lose. If you’re uncomfortable with process, work on that instead of making it their problem.

3. In that same vein: actively invite conversations beforehand, during, and after a hookup to check if you are on the same page and have similar ideas about what it all means. Oxytocin’s a powerful drug; when you’re hooking up and having those heady feelings of hope, you’re both vulnerable to misreading, or seeing what you want to see. It’s up to both of you to initiate reality check conversations: “what are you expecting after this? what do you think this means? are you ok with this if it’s casual? Are you ok with this if it’s serious? Do we understand each other properly?” Those conversations are not a one-time thing, just as you can’t get one-time consent to touch somebody. Consent is continuous and has to be established through ongoing checkins. If you want to be a good male ally, get comfortable with changing emotions – yours and the other person’s, and good at talking about them as they change. This comfort is necessary in order to be honest with the other person, and to create shared expectations so no one ends up feeling used or played.

4. if you don’t know how you feel, or you’re not sure, or you have conflicting or ambiguous or confused emotions, say that. Say “I’m not sure what this means. Do you want to continue even if I don’t know  where we’re going?” Do not tell the other person what you think they want to hear – you do not know what they want to hear. Do not say the thing that is easy for you to say, or oversimplify in order to keep them happy (and making out with you) in the moment. This kind of fuzzy communication can end up being dishonest communication.

It is ok to not know how you feel for a time, as long as you are committed to figuring out how you feel as soon as you can, and honest about your uncertainty in the meantime, so the other can make informed consent decisions.

Do not tell someone you’re serious about them or planning to follow up with them romantically if you’re actually not sure. For example: do not promise to date them again or say you will spend romantically-oriented time together again if you’re not sure whether you will. Casual sex needs to be discussed as casual so both people involved can feel respected and cared for.

If your feelings change, simply name the change. If you were interested in a possible partnership or in an ongoing relationship, and then aren’t or are less sure, and you feel bad about that, do not avoid saying so to make your life easier. Just name the emotion and be available and present to the changes in the other. Try things like this: “I felt this way when I said and did that, but things have changed, and this is how I feel now. This is why and when they changed. I feel bad that I let you down or inadvertently misled you. Are you ok, and what do you need?”

5. Don’t mix up acting ‘nice’ with being a genuinely good person. Kindness and treating people well are valuable, but politeness can be violent if it masks normalized oppression. Naming oppression, even when done gently, is not always perceived as being ‘nice’ because it pushes back at status quo ways of relating, seeing, and thinking.

When naming oppression happens as a response to naturalized violence, the anger you’re hearing is a response to actual violence that you may have enacted while thinking you were being ‘nice.’ So before you decide that you don’t have to listen because someone is breaking politeness protocols, consider whose interests those protocols protect. Don’t mix up your internal defensiveness, which can arise at having your real privilege pointed out, with the external message you are receiving. Is there trust being offered to you behind anger or critique – trust that you’re the kind of person who is open to growth and change? Notice that trust, and earn it.

6. Lest you be thinking “but sex should be fun! All this how-are-you-feeling-talk would be suuuuch a mood-killer!”: just like conversations about condoms, consent can be sexy. It’s all about how. Cuz guess what? Trust is hot.

Knowing the person you’re hooking up with has the skills and capacity (not just the intention) to stick around afterwards to make sure your friendship will survive the hookup – or the relationship – intact after it ends makes for much, much better sex. And maintaining trust post-hookup builds stronger movements, because the physical and emotional intimacy shared creates a permanent bond, instead of a permanent rift.

7. Actively taking on the identity of a feminist man means you are equally responsible to do your own research and actively notice these things. Help your friends of all genders see them. Realize this is your responsibility. If you miss something, you don’t do the work yourself, and someone has to approach you with a way in which they feel you’ve been sexist or clueless,don’t make them convince you. Stretch yourself. They’ve done enough work in figuring it outextracting the internalized programming that tells them your sexist behaviour is totally normal and that they’re just crazy, and then offering you the gift of their honesty. That shit is not easy when you’ve just been harmed by behavior normalized through dominant scripts. If someone has bothered to share this with you after they manage to figure it out? The likelihood is that they hope you’ll hear them – even if they sound defensive, scared, sad, angry, or otherwise upset when they bring this to you. Instead of challenging them to logic battles or insisting that they provide evidence, kindly recognize just how hard it is to understand and name violence one has experienced. Assume there’s some truth to what they’re saying, and take on the role of helping them articulate it better if it’s wordless or fuzzy at first. Honour the gift by listening and asking questions, and taking it upon yourself to educate yourself.

8. Notice if your tendency when called out is to bolt. Notice if your tendency when you bolt is to turn to a reaffirming other female friend and ask them to reassure you that you’re really not sexist. If your friend feels loyal to you, they’ll want to support you and they may see things your way, but they aren’t the one who experienced the problematic behaviour, so they’re not the one you should be listening to. A female friend who is not the person you dated may not know how you behaved in that dating context, and so may not be the best one to tell you whether you’ve actually acted like an unconscious douche. The nature of structural forms of violence like sexism is also such that we all internalize the normalcy of oppressive behavior; discomfort with conflict or a desire to be the ‘good’ member of that group, or simply to be on your side because they are your friend, can also come into play. Be wary of your desire to just seek proof of your goodness, rather than actually being a good person by being open to learning about ways you can be a better ally. If you notice you want to retreat to women who praise you, take time to check that response to find out what you can learn from the women who trust you enough to tell you where you have blind spots.

9. Give up on trying to be perfect. It just gets in the way. Get used to process. You fuck up, you learn, you grow. If you want right relationships with other human beings in our shared spaces and communities, show that you walk the walk by being big about admitting mistakes quickly and rolling with them. Make amends, make it better in your actions as well as your words. That honours the trust people have given you.

10. Share the load. Consider it your responsibility to be continually self-reflexive about your actions and their effects. Don’t wait to be taught, because that puts multiple burdens on the other: to understand and name the harm that’s affecting them, and to take the risk to talk to you about it, and to find language to articulate it in a way you’ll hear. Those things all take a lot of energy and are not easy. So if someone you’re dating gets angry at you and has a hard time articulating why, check your defensiveness and listen. If you want to be a feminist, you are going to have to challenge yourself to invite having things you do, that you don’t notice, pointed out, without withdrawing or attacking or putting the burden of proof on women. Don’t try to defend yourself and say you’re ‘not sexist.’ One of the features of violence is that it creates silence. Articulating what has happened to you is particularly difficult when you’ve born the brunt of violence, particularly if you were raised to believe that violence is normal. So it is hard enough for someone experiencing the impact of your actions to figure out how to name them; if you want to be a feminist that is your job, not just hers.

11. Do you believe in solidarity and mutual aid? Do you also believe we are all individuals who should manage our own problems on our own or with those who choose to freely associate with us? Notice the contradiction in those beliefs. Question the assumed individualist values you may have inherited from capitalist forebears, and put them to the test of your belief in mutuality. If you are a socialist who still believes that we are all individuals who enter voluntarily into relations and can exit them without accountability, notice the contradiction. Human beings are not interchangeable, fungible entities who freely enter into contractual relations; we are interdependent and need each other to live. It is a very privileged position to be able to retreat to your individualism when you have harmed someone, rather than being in relation with them, and staying present for the change as that relation shifts out of a romantic one to something new and long-term you both are comfortable with. Your theory and your lived daily practice will line up if you notice this contradiction.

12. Which leads to the next point: if you cause harm, even by accident, and someone calls you on it, and you believe we are all mutually interdependent, ‘i need space’ is not an acceptable response. You can take space to get your head clear so you can listen better – but that kind of space is measured in hours, or at most days. If you want ‘space’ measured in weeks or months, you’re not taking space, you’re avoiding responsibility.

Get used to being uncomfortable and learning to have loving, clear, and interconnected boundaries that honour your internal voices as well as the needs of the other humans you share this planet and this community with – that is where learning happens. So when the zombies or the bankers come for us, we won’t have to waste energy fighting each other.


Bankers are more likely though

13. Saying ‘sorry’ only means something if your behaviour changes. On its own it does not remedy the situation. ‘sorry’ has to come with responsiveness.

14. Similarly, don’t threaten to leave if emotions are running high. Those kinds of threats just exacerbate the situation. If you can calm your own knee-jerk tendency to avoid, and offer a grounded listening presence instead that honours your own emotions and those of the other person, you’ll find that foundation reduces the intensity of the emotions coming at you quite a lot. remember that you care about each other, and/or that you’re both humans sharing this planet, and that we need each other to survive. connect your daily life and daily relationship practices with your beliefs in social justice, mutual aid, anticapitalism, marxism, etc. When the zombie apocalypse comes (or we bring it about?) we will need skills for getting along with each other and being able to work together even after we hook up. Start practicing now.

15. If you find you are paralyzed with feelings of guilt and  resentment (sample script: “I feel guilty, but I shouldn’t feel this guilty because i didn’t do anything, well maybe i did something small, but it’s not worth feeling this guilty, and I feel guilty becuase she’s upset even though I didn’t do anything, so it’s her fault I feel guilty, so since she made me feel guilty unfairly, I don’t have to deal with this!), notice the internal script, and check it. Your feelings of guilt may be completely useless and completely out of proportion to the situation.

If they prevent you from being responsive and accountable, they cause more harm than good. Learn to recognize the difference between internal feelings of guilt or shame, and the external messages you are receiving or reality you are observing. Practice this skill in general in your life to be a more responsive radical; the same skill at working through inherited guilt scripts to become responsive, that makes you a better lover and friend to your exes, also makes you more responsive to the violence of colonization, and other structural violence in which most of us are complicit.

16. If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice that this is sexism. You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others. Emotion and intuition are legitimate sources of information. Don’t retreat into logic when you find emotions coming your way. Build up your capacity to feel and to respond to feelings. You’ll be more human for it, and a better feminist, too.

17. Sometimes being wrong is a gift. be grateful for your mistakes and for the interdependence that lets you maintain relationships through them. Feel proud of your strength to be able to say “I messed that up. I’m very sorry. I’d like to not make that mistake again. How do I make things better?” and then to be able to follow through in your actions.

18. The benefits? other than ‘integrity’ and creating a better world and movement, the personal benefits of walking the walk include deeper friendships with those strong feminist women you find yourself attracted to, after the hooking up ends.

Benefits may also include creating more spaces where kind, gentle, intuitive people – who may be the same people as those strong feminist women you like so much – can be themselves and open up to you.

Practicing consent, which includes the ability to work with emotions during and after a hookup or a relationship ends, creates more shelters, more places from which our movements can heal, ground, and resist from a place of strength. It calls into question received forms of masculinity that shut down parts of men from the time they are young. It is good solidarity. And it just may open your heart.

nora samaran is a Montreal writer who is obviously awesome.

Do you identify as a feminist or feminist ally and have questions around consent culture and navigating sticky situations? Or excellent manarchist anecdotes you’re dying to share? Email dating.tips.for.feminists @ gmail.com. Letters of interest will be published with advice and/or snark.

An Open Letter to David Gilmour

This boring middle-aged quasi-literary “talent” has lost his career (hopefully) and helped make a step towards shining some light under the fetid rocks of the academy. This article is wonderful.

The Belle Jar

Dear David Gilmour,

As a woman writer I’d like to say thank you.

No, honestly, thank you.

Thank you for being privileged enough, culturally tone-deaf enough, and even just plain stupid enough to say that you don’t love women writers enough to teach their works in your class. Thank you for saying what so many other male professors think but are afraid to admit. Thank you for opening up this huge fucking can of worms that most people are happy enough to pretend doesn’t even exist.

Seriously, thank you for reminding me that, as a writer who happens to be female, I will always be a woman first and a writer second.

Oh and thank you especially for throwing in that little racial comment about how you also don’t love Chinese writers, because you might as well shit all the beds while you’re at it, right?


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Open Letter to the University of Toronto Regarding David Gilmour

You have already heard from many people and been provided with a long list of reasons that you need to immediately start whatever legal or other proceedings are needed to fire (that asshole) David Gilmour. I write to add to this list: above all, the reason David needs to be turfed, and stat, is because he’s evidently a lazy, inattentive and thus incompetent reader, a characteristic that, in a professor of literature, is frankly embarrassing.

How can I make such a claim? Because when you look past his misogynist emotive bullshit about only teaching what he “truly loves,” the actual core of his (unjustifiable, intellectually lazy) stance is this: “I teach only the best.” That is, he flat out asserts that he teaches the best writers of fiction in English, after establishing that he teaches only “guys. Serious heterosexual guys.” We note in his list that all of the authors are also white, despite the fact that he only actually mentions hating Chinese writers as much as he hates women. So, according to David, 100% of the best writing in the English language is done by straight white dudes, hence that’s what he teaches. And I call bullshit.

zero fucks


Like David, like every reader and every lover of literature in our culture, I too have mostly read the writing of white men. That’s because we publish a whole lot more of their writing, in every conceivable medium, and we always have. Heck, it’s even a pretty recent innovation to acknowledge the rest of us as people, let alone including us in basic literacy training during childhood. And I have loved a lot of their writing. I’ve read great stories written by white men. However, I’m a writer and an English teacher, which is to say, I pay attention to language, and I’ve also read a lot writing by people who aren’t white guys – yes, even written by women and Chinese people.

I get that David was socialized to be able to approach white men’s writing and perspectives more easily, relate to it more readily. That’s just called socialization, and it only happens to literally everyone in our society. We ALL have that predisposition. We have a lot of unhealthy and problematic predispositions, but generally, we don’t just accept them as inevitable and go onto be horrible and infantile for our entire lives – unless we happen to be David Gilmour, evidently. I’m curious to know what other great human predispositions we should keep -the toddler tendency to relate to most of the world in strict terms of whether or not it fits in their mouths? The five year old’s obsession with the phrase pee pee? – but at the moment, what’s at stake is his capacity as a professional, and it’s sadly lacking.

In order to make sure I have a literature selection that is appropriate for the diversity of my classroom, as well as to expand my own awareness and capacity as a writer, I have read a lot of writing by authors of very diverse backgrounds. It has gotten to the point where one of my favourite hobbies is going into a bookstore and finding the most obscure poetry collections possible by authors who are not white males. And I have a great poetry collection. I also have a pretty good sense of what “the best” writing is. I’m awed by it when I encounter it, and I definitely know it when I see it.

Because I am a professional – again, evidently unlike David – I also have ways of articulating what it is and what it consists of. For instance, I developed detailed rubrics that I then break down based on different levels and use for assessment with my students. There are criteria for what makes good writing. Much as the popular impression may be that assessment of writing is entirely subjective, any educator worth anything is familiar with a wide range of performance standards and develops an array of assessment tools that are used not just for student assessment, but also as analytical tools to apply to the writing we work with. A huge part of teaching literature is teaching analysis, and that process hinges on technical and contextual assessment of the written work. It requires assessing writing.

Thankfully, this clarity allows us to evaluate David’s claim that he teaches “the best:” it is utter nonsense. If he wishes to substantiate it, however, then I challenge him to do so. If he is anywhere near competent enough to hold the post he does, he should easily be able to suggest clearly defined criteria, a rubric, some set of analytical tools through which he has established that, despite all odds, white men get visited by some special little writing angel and no one else does.


In the absence or a response on this matter, I suggest that the university, whatever their contractual arrangement with him, has both grounds and no other option than firing him immediately. He is clearly incompetent, and his incompetence is not the harmless second-year-Scottish-lit-prof-who-only-teaches-out-print-books-he-published-35-years-ago kind of incompetence. It’s misogynist white supremacy, nothing less, so it’s ultimately lethal.

I suspect you have many talented educators and academics in the department who could engage in some basic evaluation of David and his work if having legal grounds for dismissal are currently overruling little things like human decency and not protecting a bigot. Either way, the University of Toronto is denigrated every minute he remains in its employ. Fire him now to staunch the bleeding, so you can examine the wound that lead to this pathetic, unqualified hack taking up valuable space in your institution.


Sarah Wiley

Texts from The Lorax

via The Toast & the perfectly cromulent Mallory Ortberg

diva cup


I’m in class right now
I can’t talk about tampons

That’s really personal, Lorax
and tampons?


finish reading or live a life of noisy regret