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Standard Ops

The Trenches

True tales of students caught in the academic crossfire

by Alicia Torres, theology major at Chicago's Loyola University

Systematics, Von Balthasar, and the historical-critical method spin around abstractly in my mind. In contention are Marxist feminism, the pro-choice movement, and sexual liberalism. Such is the life of a divinity student at a Jesuit university—seeking Truth amidst the scholarly rubble. Most assume that Catholic universities such as mine are not only delivering superb educations but also training students to be sound moral agents. But I'm here to tell you that there is a crisis in higher learning, propelled for almost a half-century by the negative impact of feminism.

Walk into a Women's Studies department (or any academic department, for that matter), and you will find all manner of competing feminist theories. These are radical weeds that have choked out the original goal of feminism—namely, true equality between women and men. The new feminisms (socialist feminism, lesbian feminism, ecofeminism, etc.) seek to de-gender society, or—more militantly—to re-center society so that it is gyno- rather than phallo-centric. Such tendencies have infiltrated classrooms across the nation in the form of so-called "feminist pedagogies”—egalitarian teaching methods that supposedly undercut the traditional classroom hierarchy in which the teacher is the sole imparter of knowledge. When you walk into a classroom these days, chances are that the professor is on the same plane as her students, more of a moderator than a scholar.

It is within this same feminist pedagogy that one of my current professors encourages the class to share "feelings” about course content, to filter all of our readings through the lens of personal experience. Thus, feminists like Heidi Hartman and Catherine MacKinnon are used merely to inform this or that student's menstrual cycle, relationship problems, and/or family history.

Recently, Dr. Judith Arcana spoke to my Bioethics 395 class. Arcana, a 1989 doctoral graduate of Loyola, was a founding member of the abortion provider Jane, Inc., which "served” women seeking abortions during the decade prior to 1973. This situation was rather perplexing to me; just how could a Catholic institution allow this woman— not only an abortion rights activist but one who has performed abortions with her very own hands—to come into the classroom and lecture on the ethics of human reproduction? The university would never invite a speaker who supported the Holocaust or slavery. But due to the bullying influence of feminist theory—the 500-pound gorilla in just about every contemporary classroom—3,000 abortions a day somehow qualifies as an ethic, even at a Jesuit university and under the watchful eyes of those hired to protect its mission and Catholic identity.

Feminism is out of control. Its programs, while paying lip service to the notions of free expression and diversity, simply will not tolerate a discourse grounded in absolute truth. If universities across the nation ever expect to maintain their credibility as centers of culture and knowledge, then they must do away with this feminist pedagogy and the way it has traded certainty for subjective ambiguity—for emotional relativism.

I despise this destruction of American higher education, and—to be honest—I feel cheated. Ethics ought to be taught by those who are truly ethical, and I want my teachers to actually teach instead of just facilitating discussion; that is why I pay $30,000 a year to attend a private university! I am seeking knowledge, not high-end group therapy. But as long as Catholic universities refuse to take seriously the principles on which they were founded, they will continue to be pawns of the radical feminist agenda. Consequently, I will have to continue trying to teach myself theology—not in compliance with any feminist instructional method, mind you, but in service to the truth and morality that such methods shamefully discount. 

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