Diana York Blaine Feminist Professor Nude on Flickr

Human Events reports on a feminist professor at USC letting it all hang out for the World Wide Web to see.

A California professor has been exposed … well, actually, she exposed herself (and with a smile).

Dr. Diana York Blaine—a women’s studies professor at the University of Southern California—has decided to post topless photos of herself (warning: photos contain nudity) on the Internet. Based on the pictures, Blaine enjoys burning her bras and being “liberated.” Unfortunately, that “liberated” feeling is available for everyone to see on her personal website.

The USC professor’s “titillating” site is causing quite a stir, but the university, apparently, won’t be making any “busts.” A KNBC reporter said “a university spokesperson was caught off guard when asked for a reaction to Dr. Blaine’s pictorial,” according to the station’s website. The university then sent KNBC a copy of the university policy that basically said a professor can do (or in this case “show”) anything he/she wants on a personal website because it’s a matter of “free speech and academic freedom” and “that must be protected in a university environment.”

Dr. Diana York Blaine Photo Non-Nude A non-nude photo of Dr. Blaine appears at right, demonstrating what a feminist looks like with her clothes on. Click the thumbnail to enlarge.

As regular readers know, my views on academic freedom differ substantially from those of USC in matters like these. I rely again on this trusty Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom from the American Association of University Professors (gleaned from a long ago post):

1. Teachers are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results, subject to the adequate performance of their other academic duties; but research for pecuniary return should be based upon an understanding with the authorities of the institution.

2. Teachers are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter which has no relation to their subject.[2] Limitations of academic freedom because of religious or other aims of the institution should be clearly stated in writing at the time of the appointment.[3]

Given that “women’s studies” is an academic discipline with a rigor on par with astrology, it is far from clear what controversial research finding she discovered hidden inside her brassiere that she felt compelled to publish. As best I can determine, it appears merely to replicate similar studies.

Furthermore, the Statement continues,

3. College and university teachers are citizens, members of a learned profession, and officers of an educational institution. When they speak or write as citizens, they should be free from institutional censorship or discipline, but their special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances. Hence they should at all times be accurate, should exercise appropriate restraint, should show respect for the opinions of others, and should make every effort to indicate that they are not speaking for the institution.

I suppose showing one’s udders in public amounts to a public utterance, insomuch as it is intended as speech. Regardless, however, the public may judge Blaine’s profession and institution based on this conduct.

Update: Blaine explains her “statement” to LA’s NBC4:

“I realize that they are provocative, in so far as sex sells, and we have eroticized the female body in this culture,” she said. “We have a kind of an adolescent, ‘Look: naked breast’ attitude. At the same time, I’m trying to naturalize the female body so that we don’t have that reaction.”

Ironically, most women’s studies professors would indeed get a non-erotic reaction to the display of their naked bodies. But the idea that nude erogenous zones should not be viewed as erotic is at the heart of the absurdity that is women’s studies. It’s one thing to argue that women should be viewed in their totality and not merely as sexual objects. It is quite another to hold forth the notion that women (and for that matter, men) are not sexual creatures–let alone build an “academic” discipline around it. Sexuality is not a social construct; it is a basic fact of human existence.

“Of course I knew they’d draw attention,” Blaine said. “I didn’t know they’d draw this much attention, but I’m comfortable with it because today I know who I am and why I do what I do.”

Blaine said she hopes that the pictures will prompt more women to be accepting of their bodies. “The feminist theory has enabled me to realize, ‘Oh, there’s nothing wrong with me,'” Blaine said. “It’s the cultural expectations of this kind of artificial woman that no one is and we don’t need to be.”

Blaine said the images led to inquiries from the adult entertainment industry.

Does that qualify Anna Nicole Smith as a women’s studies scholar? Goodness, Pamela Anderson should get tenure.

Update: It occurs to me that it would be interesting to see what direction her student evals take after this.

Update: Much more on Blaine’s blog, including this:

I would like to thank those who have declared war on me for bringing me so much attention because I am writing a book on breast implants–why I won’t get them in spite of cultural pressure to conform– and I am looking for an agent, someone who wants to make a LOT of money backing a beautiful, articulate, brilliant, highly educated compassionate woman who has tons to say and has the power to change women’s lives for the better. If you’re that person, drop me a line. Today, Channel 4. Tomorrow, Total World Domination!

Only in L.A. would anyone be suggesting she needs implants. . . .

It turns out, by the way, that Blaine’s PhD is in English (UCLA, 1995) and that she did her dissertation on “corpses of dead women in twentieth century American fiction.” Fortunately, she discovered feminism, which saved her:

Turns out there wasn’t anything wrong with Diana York, there was something wrong with how we define women. She was physically powerful, intellectually powerful, ultimately it turned out even spiritually powerful, and all of this scared the people in her world badly enough that they tried to strip her of her powers.

Feminism powers . . . Activate!

Oh, yes, she worships the moon.



Crosspost to Gone Hollywood

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bithead says:

    Ironically, most womenâ??s studies professors would indeed get a non-erotic reaction to the display of their naked bodies

    Limbaugh has a point on this one:

    Feminism was established so as to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream of society.

    What we have here in the professor, is a reaction to never being able to gather any attention to herself by simply walking into a room, as nicer looking subjects do. So, in the case, feminism allowed her to attract attention to herself by getting naked… all the while claiming that’s not what she had in mind.

    Clearly, there is some neurosis at work here… one fairly common in feminist circles.

  2. Stew says:

    I just verped.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    Given that �women�s studies� is an academic discipline with a rigor on par with astrology…

    Don’t hold back, James. Tell us how you really feel about it. 😉

  4. McGehee says:

    Put ’em back on! Put ’em back on!!!

  5. Mark says:

    Oh come on! I am at work, so I cannot view the, um, NSFW photos yet. But from the normal picture James posted she doesn’t seem to be that bad looking. I guess I’ll find out tonight…

  6. James, you’re missing the best part. Here’s what she writes:

    Yesterday my father’s doctor and I were discussing dad’s imminent death from kidney failure. We spoke of the need for acceptance and letting go; we spoke of the need to span from bodies and pus to grace and light. We held one another and shared our experiences and cried. Then she got out a pad and prescribed me John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

    Needless to say it wasn’t your usual doctor visit. Then again in case you can’t tell I don’t exactly live a usual life.

    She told me she was impressed with my depth and my humanity and my intellect. She also told me repeatedly that I was physically beautiful. I told her that I had learned through hard spiritual work to own these gifts of mine, that humility includes both acknowledging strengths as well as weaknesses. Anything less would be to spit in the face of the magical powers that made us.

    You can’t make this stuff up. I surfed her comments, and no, it’s really how she thinks of herself all the time.


  7. Boyd says:

    Mark, I had a similar reaction to the SFW photo. Not being constrained as you are right now, I went over and had a peak at her “assets.”

    Let’s just say that there are two kinds of women: those who don’t need to wear bras, and those who do. I’ll let you guess which category she’s in.


  8. Christopher says:

    Augghh! My eyes! My eyes!

  9. anjin-san says:

    For once I am with McGhee & Christopher. Cover it up babe!

  10. Mark says:

    OK, finally being unconstrained at work I was able to head on over to check out the NSFW pics.

    My impression? Eh, not the best in the world, but certainly not the worst I have ever seen.

  11. wavemaker says:

    well she certainly is doing her part to fight the eroticization of the female body.

  12. Devon says:

    Amen to Boyd. I wouldn’t hit it. Yowza.

    Next time I’d advise her to enlist the aid of one of her better-looking female students to better get the point across about how women are… ostracized… for being mere sexual objects and… oh forget it. I came for the bewbs.

  13. Andy says:

    Not too bad, if you ask me. . .she could lose a few pounds, but I’d rather be looking at her breasts than Rush Limbaugh’s!