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.”
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. 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.
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.
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Crosspost to Gone Hollywood