written by J.A.
NOTE: This is one of many testimonies regarding institutional capture, given to me by employees, students and service users in various sectors across the UK. See this page for more examples.
These academics don’t care that what they are teaching is harmful to the minds of their young students; many of them just want you to back up their theories or reference their books.
I am nearly 50, and during my young adult life I worked for Lloyd’s of London, one of the oldest financial institutions in the world. Funnily enough, women were not allowed into Loyd’s until 1972 – the year I was born. When I started working there, in the 90s, women weren’t allowed to wear trousers and had to wear a skirt with court shoes. Needless to say, not long after I started, I began making noises about getting this rule removed and luckily succeeded. The 90s saw a real shift for women in the financial markets – pay began to equal out, companies were giving mothers paid maternity leave and more and more women were seen taking professional roles rather than the stereotypical secretarial roles often portrayed on screen by ditsy women with short skirts and big hair.
When I had my daughter in 2000, I was actually the first woman in our company to work from home. This didn’t go down very well with some, and interestingly enough, it was mainly men that gave me a hard time about it.
I didn’t realise that we actually had it quite good back then. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t perfect but I can see that things have started to regress in today’s society and, as always, it is the female sex that is suffering.
I began seeing the shift when I returned to academia in 2016. I chose the Contemporary Literature/Gender and Sexuality module in the second year of my English literature degree. We looked at the usual suspects whenever the words gender and sexuality crop up – Butler and Foucault, but I found Foucault rearing his ugly head in a lot of my other modules and with him always came with the same mantra ‘knowledge is power’. In my Theories of Reading module we talked about the signified and signifier – arguments I have since seen used by young TRAs when trying to change the meaning of the word woman. It is as though these youngster have been captured by the Post-Structuralist obsession with deconstructing language.
If I am honest, I thought some of these modules were a necessary evil to complete my degree. Studying language and meaning from a post-modernist perspective was honestly quite boring. However, on reflection I can see how these modules appealed to the younger students as it showed them how they too could deconstruct language and change meaning, and would therefore like to redefine Post-Structuralism as ‘lying to oneself and manipulating meaning to fit with a narrative trend’. I truly think that, to some extent, Butler has been misinterpreted – I think her idea of gender as performance makes a lot of sense, often, we do perform the gender roles given to us which are often influenced by the cultural society around us but how people have gone from people performing gender stereotypes to performing biological sex I do not know, I can only put it down to a lack of understanding and ignorance, but also down to laziness on the side of the academic and their failure to teach the subject properly and to correct their students when they get it wrong.
These academics don’t care that what they are teaching is harmful to the minds of their young students; many of them just want you to back up their theories or reference their books. Now, we are in a situation where the younger generation have been captured (to coin the phrase from the wonderful Karen Davies) by the gender woo woo aka gender ideology. These young people are embarrassing themselves with their lack of knowledge, but worse, they are also potentially harming themselves and influencing the next generation to do the same. I very much fear that the only way things will change is when people are actually harmed and people start to be prosecuted.