Dankprofessor’s Weblog

A weblog examining sexual politics in higher education and beyond.

Oxford as a “sexist little dump”

Ruth Padel was elected to the position of Oxford Professor Of Poetry after Derek Walcott withdrew as a candidate once allegations surfaced that Walcott had been involved in sexually harassing students.  But now Padel has resigned from the professorship after serving for only 9 days.  Such was the case after Padel admitted that she played a role in having the press cover Walcott’s sexual harassment history.

A number of the British literati were disturbed by the resignation.

Novelist Jeanette Winterson said: “It’s a pity she has been backed into a corner. What she has done is so much more ­trivial than her contribution to poetry. This feels malicious and nasty. We ought to be able to look beyond the woman to the poetry. This is a way of reducing women; it wouldn’t have happened to a man. But then Oxford is a sexist little dump.”

Now wasn’t this in essence what the defenders of Walcott had said- that we ought to look beyond the man to his poetry; that what he had done is so much more trivial than his contribution to poetry; that this would not have happened to a woman. 

But when Winterson characterizes Oxford as “a sexist little dump” such goes beyond the poetic fringe.  In the dankprofessor’s opinion,  the Oxford debacle represents a form of poetic license, of poets running amok.

May 25, 2009 Posted by | ethics, feminism, higher education, Oxford College, poets, sex, sexual harassment, sexual politics, United Kingdom | 1 Comment

   

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