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Damnit, David Gilmour, I didn’t want to have to blog today.

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When assholes decide to take potshots at gender, race, and equate traditional masculinity or sexuality with talent, I get mad. Really, super, volcanic mad, to the point where I have a hard time articulating intelligently what I want to say. What I want to say is that David Gilmour is an insufferable asshole who probably wants us all to marvel at the size of his huge, throbbing brain because he’s compensating for something, but I know that doesn’t accomplish anything. It’s mean and it makes me feel better, but it doesn’t express why I find remarks like “I’m not interested in teaching books by women,” so offensive.

This week, Random House Canada ran a story called “David Gilmore on Building Strong Stomachs” in their online magazine, Hazlitt. The article is part of an “as told to” column about authors and what they have on their bookshelves, and David Gilmour doesn’t have a lot of female writers on his shelves. Nor does he have any Chinese authors. Or gay authors. Or anyone who isn’t a straight white man, not because he’s a bigot or anything. It’s just that he’s only interested in straight, white males. And he bravely teaches only  the work of straight white males:

 “Usually at the beginning of the semester a hand shoots up and someone asks why there aren’t any women writers in the course. I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Chekhov, Tolstoy. Real guy-guys. Henry Miller. Philip Roth.”

Gilmour seems to think enough of himself to believe that he’s somehow unique in his approach to teaching literature. The only female writer whose work he teaches is Virginia Woolf, and then only a single short story. So he’s proud of teaching a curriculum that’s limited to his own narrow viewpoint, which is apparently going unrepresented “down the hall,” in a class that is clearly beneath him.

Let me tell you about a story called “The Yellow Wallpaper.” I hate this story. HATE IT. Not because it’s not a good story or it doesn’t make a powerful statement about the subjugation of women by male dominated society and the medical establishment in the 19th century. I hate it because every single woman I have met who has gone to college has read this story about a thousand times. And that’s because it’s one of the few pieces of literature written by a female author that gets attention in a college literature course that isn’t specifically about female or “minority” authors. I dropped out of college after three semesters, and I was assigned the story four times. I never read Alice Walker as part of the curriculum. Or Anais Nin, or Sylvia Plath. In one class, we were asked to read a Ray Bradbury short story, but Octavia Butler never came up. And in an arts and culture class, we were advised to avoid the Harry Potter series, written by a woman, and told to read Tolkien instead, because it was a “better use of your time.” But we had to read “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a story about a woman kept prisoner by her husband, an allegory for the imprisonment of all women by the male establishment. Why? Because we needed to be reminded that this is still the order of things? Trust us: we get it.

If you’ve been to college, you’ve probably read books about the experiences of both genders, of all sexualities and races. And they were probably all written by straight white men. The only non-straight author Gilmour references is Marcel Proust. And what work of Proust’s is Gilmour the most fond of? The one that explores “gay vanity.” He finds it “funny.” The rest of the authors he reads are “guy-guys,” presumably because to be anything less than utterly masculine is to be fully feminine, and not worthy of his time.

It’s obvious to me, having read the full transcript, that Gilmour is an appalling misogynist. Not only does the transcript show him interrupting the female reporter several times, he also addresses her as “love” and describes a female author’s book as “sweet.” You can read it for yourself and draw your own conclusions to his comments on “serious heterosexual men,” and the fact that he doesn’t like any Chinese authors. The transcript was released by Hazlitt when Gilmour claimed the reporter quoted him out of context. As though the full context of his remarks would make them any less reprehensible.

Men like Gilmour are dangerous. They’re dangerous because they’re not your run-of-the-mill misogynist/racist/homophobe stereotype. He’s not a frat boy. He’s not a Klan member. He’s not toothless redneck swilling Budweiser and complaining about the gays. He is a man who is appears thoughtful and intelligent. He’s a college professor and a published author. It is assumed by the reader that his opinions have been shaped by his education, that he has a better understanding of the world than your average pleb. So when he says that he’s not interested in teaching anything but white male produced literature, he’s lending credibility to the pervasive belief that if there’s something a woman/person of color/LGBT identifying person has to say, a white man can probably explain it better. Because the only thoughts and experiences that matter are the thoughts and experiences of educated white men. The world must consume the material produced by these important figures, and anything written by anyone else is optional. And he’s teaching his students and readers to believe the same.

58 Comments

  1. I’ve been trying, and failing, to put into words just how awful that pathetic excuse of a person’s stance is. I just…I can’t even.

    September 26, 2013
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  2. Lani
    Lani

    I absolutely advocate being a bit older than the traditional college age. I’m struggling my way through college at age 26 (because of mental illness. wheeeee anxiety) and it’s so much easier to disregard the negative influences of your professors. All too often the kids around me have no clue about what’s going on in current events or the diversity of other cultures (northern Ohio is, in many places, very, very WHITE), they don’t know how to juggle the classes they have with their social lives. I also remember trying to get through college the first time at 18, and how easy it was to believe whatever your professors would tell you about anything (luckily for me I had decent professors that first time). By this time, I’ve managed to learn how to do boring adult things, I know myself pretty well, and I know how to sift through the information I’m given and figure out what’s true and what’s not, a luxury plenty of sheltered teens don’t. Plus the bravery to walk out of a class I know is a waste of my time and not be worried about hurting someone’s feelings (disregarding the anxiety stuff, of course. That part worries about everything all the time).

    September 26, 2013
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    • longtime reader, sometime commenter
      longtime reader, sometime commenter

      That’s so true! I’ve seen so many personality cults develop around professors with a really disturbing need for the attention of 18-year olds. These kids end up believe some seriously warped things by the time they graduate because they’ve wholeheartedly accepted information from an authority figure.

      Ugh, now I’m starting to regret my decision to go back to grad school.

      September 27, 2013
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      • Having just gotten through with grad school I think it’s a better atmosphere, but I went in London so… that may not speak to the US gradschool experience though I’m from the states myself.

        September 27, 2013
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  3. I didn’t have to take but one English class as an undergrad, but I went to grad school, in English. I’m happy to say that my professors all talked about the canon, what that meant and did not mean, and offered plenty of writers outside that canon. The writers we read and discussed included women, transgender, gay, straight, etc and all across a range of ethnicity. Specifically, we talked about the ways in which non-cannonical voices can and are being recovered and studied, and the ways in which those voices are and have been excluded.

    In reading about Mr. Gilmore, I could not help but wonder at the quality of his education and the quality of his continuing education. Because if he were to walk down the hall to “those others” and engage in some discovery about their expertise, he might actually learn something about the way his world view is fundamentally limited. But, of course, he’s not the sort of person who would care to find out what’s going on outside his white-male world.

    He’s probably also under the impression that all those people who are polite to him in conversation instead of calling him a wanker and an asshole, agree with him. From what I can tell, he’s in no way equipped to understand when he’s being tolerated for the sake of politics and when he’s actually being accepted into serious discourse. I expect the latter never happens.

    September 26, 2013
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    • Annie
      Annie

      I get the impression that the quality of his education, of the schools he’s attended, programs he’s graduated from and so on don’t really matter and don’t make much of a difference. He has such a massive ego that I think what he would glean from the most prestigious schools in the world would be the same thing he’d come away with if he’d only gone to one, tiny small town mediocre community college. What he will always come away with from nearly every conversation, seminar, panel, lecture, or book will be that his view is the only one that matters and that he is never wrong. Any one that disagrees with him are just poor little things that simply weren’t born with the smarts enough to understand society and the world in general as he does. They are incapable of understanding the true ways of the world and are, therefore, unworthy of his time and energy.

      Or the short answer: He’s too big of an ass to ever actually learn anything.

      October 2, 2013
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  4. That sort of attitude makes me so very angry. And you’re right, Gilmour’s air of credibility makes his hate-spewing dangerous as hell.

    However, I’ll focus on the positive side of things here: Jenn, you’re my hero. Or heroine. Whichever you prefer — I’m too tired to decide whether or not using the female form here only makes it worse. Man, sexism is so fucking pervasive it makes me want to cry. Oh, look, there’s “man” in that sentence again.

    September 26, 2013
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  5. Amanda
    Amanda

    Oof, he had a follow-up interview in which he continues to just not understand the problem (http://arts.nationalpost.com/2013/09/25/david-gilmour-there-isnt-a-racist-or-a-sexist-bone-in-my-body/). If it’s a special seminar on a single author, like a class just on F. Scott Fitzgerald, okay dude, go wild on Fitzgerald. But if you’re teaching a broader genre or time period (like “modern short fiction!”) it’s your responsibility to provide a well-rounded education. He keeps saying if students want a particular author he’ll refer them to somebody else, but how are students supposed to know these other authors exist if they aren’t exposed to them in the general ed course?

    It’s definitely not just one “off the cuff” remark that he accidentally made during the interview, because there’s a similar complaint from a student on his Rate My Professor profile: “Very full of himself. Painfully obvious that he favours the guys in the class. When asked why there were no female authors on the syllabus said “I don’t believe in ‘good for you’ literature”. Some students love him, but I honestly think while he might be intelligent he hasn’t matured past adolescence.” :/

    September 26, 2013
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  6. Lindsay
    Lindsay

    This is so very true. I think the sneakiest part, which you pointed out, are those teachers/professors who include materials on topics which raise very interesting questions about gender/race, etc., but the voice is from a white male.

    I did not take any literature classes in college, but my high school offered some very interesting english courses. One course I took focused exclusively on playwrights, which allowed us to examine some literature that is left out in a lot of high school courses.

    I really loved the plays we read. We read A Doll’s House, Death and the Maiden, and Harold and the Boys. All of these have fascinating stories where the main characters are women or people of color, and yet all of them were still written by white male authors. It’s so easy to look at the course and think “wow, this is such a progressive curriculum!” without recognizing that the authors featured are as unprogressive as any other curriculum.

    September 26, 2013
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  7. Liz
    Liz

    Ugh. This is so frustrating. I actually walked out of a class (for the first time EVER, because I am a MASSIVE NERD) last semester because the teacher refused to acknowledge that any of the sci-fi written in the 50s and 60s was sexist. He said I was overreacting and that I just didn’t “get sci-fi.” How is it acceptable for a professor to say crap like this?

    September 26, 2013
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  8. Nil
    Nil

    Can I just share an experience about academia, that is, the hypothetical background of this “thoughtful and intelligent” and seemingly “educated” guy?

    I am a PhD student. Our faculty is mostly female, including the chair. The colleagues, however, are mostly male, all caucasian, mostly heterosexual, all cisgendered. These are some of the frattiest people I know. Here are a few vague examples of past behaviors/trends:

    1. Female colleague villified for years for “calling male colleague a rapist.” No examination of whether it was said or he was a rapist.

    2. Undergraduates preyed upon. Sexually harassed. Made uncomfortable by their teacher.

    3. Colleague described one of my students as “hot” to me.

    4. Colleagues discussing students’ bodies in office hours.

    5. Female colleague expected to smile, be friendly, be outgoing, be kind to people who have participated in gaslighting, psychological abuse, etc. Male colleagues not even expected to look at people.

    6. Female colleagues told that their possessions were “unprofessional” and unwelcome in a shared office. Male colleague’s shorts present on desk at this time.

    All of these behaviors were the male graduate students, NOT the faculty. However, a number of them were reported. The faculty summoned us all to a collegiality meeting. The theme was: Don’t tell on each other. Female students and male allies: Dismayed. Those who advocated for change were punished. At least two female colleagues have dropped out because of these things.

    The point: This is easily this Gilmour’s background. This is academia.

    I wanted to share this experience in a sympathetic place, but I risk getting those of us in the “change” group punished, if this is ever traced back to my institution. That said, please consider deleting it in a couple of days.

    September 26, 2013
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  9. ednaz
    ednaz

    JFC He’s an even bigger ass in the second interview where he’s supposedly “apologizing”.

    September 26, 2013
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  10. ednaz
    ednaz

    Thank You, depizan, for the link. Love It!
    Sent it to my Husband. We were discussing this story earlier today.

    September 26, 2013
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  11. ednaz
    ednaz

    Nil, I am sorry for what you have to put up with.
    Will it be generations or centuries before this unacceptable behavior dies out?

    September 26, 2013
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  12. So here’s the thing– his misogyny doesn’t bother me half as much as his lack of professionalism. Yeah, I get it. He’s a total asshat. I mean, and that’s not even taking into consideration that he thinks of Fitzgerald when he thinks “real heterosexual male”- Hemingway would’ve had a field day with that one. No. What really pisses me off is that he has the job he has. In today’s market, full-time, tenure-track (ie, jobs that don’t leave you in poverty) positions at universities are like the holy grail. And here’s the thing, he’s teaching some 1960s version of literary studies. People who study literature for a living–like me– have been trained to understand that women are an essential part of how we understand a genre, historical period, or cultural moment since the mid-80s. There are literally–and I do mean literally–THOUSANDS of PhDs in English who either never found a job in their field or are working at poverty-level wages as adjuncts. That’s thousands of people out there who could–and would–do a better, more responsible job than this guy (who is he again??).
    And I gotta say- I teach the Yellow Wallpaper 1)because it is a radical, transformative feminist text, 2) because Frances Perkins Gilman deserves credit for the amazingly nuanced take on women’s subjugation at the turn of the century, and 3)because it helps me to talk about how those issues are STILL relevant in women’s loves (hello post-pardum judgement).
    Anyway- that’s my 2 cents :0)

    September 26, 2013
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    • Hannah
      Hannah

      So, It’s worth noting that he’s not tenure-track. He’s not actually a professor. He’s closer to what we would call an instructor. And I don’t think he has a PhD. I don’t think that changes your comment at all, and I agree with you. Also, pretty lousy journalism that the original article really makes it seem like he’s full faculty.

      My source for this is here:
      http://www.dispositio.net/archives/1688

      Which is a pretty good response to the whole thing.

      September 27, 2013
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      • longtime reader, sometime commenter
        longtime reader, sometime commenter

        While I’m certainly not accusing Gilman of being a violent addict, he reminds me a little of Hugo Schwyzer in that he has a tenure track job he’s completely unqualified for, and uses that as a platform to say racist and sexist things. Gilman does not have a PhD, and is not trained in literary analysis, but because he published his own work, he acts he’s an expert on evaluating the work of others. How many qualified PhDs would love to have his job? How many women or POC would be able to get a job like that without academic credentials? Obviously it would be wrong for a more qualified scholar to be so dismissive, but it’s especially loathsome coming from a hack.

        September 27, 2013
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  13. Lillies
    Lillies

    WHY, WHY are you such a misogynist ass David Gilmour??? You were like one of the coolest people EVER.

    The world turned a little sadder for me today…

    September 26, 2013
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    • Bubbles
      Bubbles

      This isn’t Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. This is the David Gilmour who got this teaching job becuase he had some interview show on the CBC. If it was Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour I would join you in having a major sad, but thankfully it isn’t.

      September 27, 2013
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      • Lady Oscar
        Lady Oscar

        I was so glad when I realized that! I’d never heard of this David Gilmour, and it sounds like I wasn’t missing anything.

        September 27, 2013
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      • Lillies
        Lillies

        OMG thank you for the heads up. I was really sad, I’m glad I was wrong.

        September 27, 2013
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    • I totally made that initial mistake too, and was delighted to find that I don’t have to hurl my Floyd albums out of the window, after all.

      October 8, 2013
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  14. Why am I not even a little bit surprised that in the second interview, he blamed the whole thing on the “young woman” reporter wanting to make a name for herself?

    September 26, 2013
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  15. Aarika
    Aarika

    Hat, meet ass.

    September 26, 2013
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  16. S DD
    S DD

    I decided to look into additional new articles about this out of curiosity. In one part of thestar.com it mentions that Gilmour only teaches elective seminars.

    While I can’t speak to the experiences of all colleges and universities, the electives at the school I went to were treated as the throw-away classes, the fluff to fill out a schedule composed of the more serious mandatory courses in order to get a degree. That he isn’t really a professor to top it off just… well, I really can’t take what he says seriously, especially in any sort of academic setting.

    He just comes across as an old man that kept himself in a bubble, that one day had his pants fall down in front of others. Briefly amusing, of even including slight horror, possibly punctuated by some concern as we watch the man fumble a bit to correctly cover himself again–and fail to manage to completely do so.

    After this moment passes, and hopefully we take a glance at our own pants to make sure we don’t also make the some sort of blunder, we then leave the man to his bubble and go our merry way.

    September 27, 2013
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    • whiskers
      whiskers

      Just because students treat electives as throw away classes is no reason for a teacher of any level to do so. As an adjunct lecturer, I try to make my classes fun, but at the end of the semester my students will have learned about the material and become better writers, and so far all I’ve taught is electives.

      September 27, 2013
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  17. caromoon94
    caromoon94

    So he was joking when saying that he only teaches “serious heterosexual guys”, maybe he really didn’t mean it to be as offending as it turned out to be. But that’s exactly the problem: words mean things. He’s an author, he should know that. Not saying that writing is the same as talking, I’m practical incapable of talking in front of people but I like to think that I’m pretty good at writing. But he said he was good at both.
    Thing is, okay, even if he did say the line I quoted while smiling or laughing or whatever (impossible to tell here), the fact remains that it’s still true. He’s probably not even aware of what he implied (and what he seems to genuinely think deep down) but that doesn’t make it any better.
    O, and by the way : nice move with the “blame it on the journalist” attitude. Fair enough.

    (Sorry for grammar etc., English is not my first language.)

    September 27, 2013
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  18. freakycharlie94
    freakycharlie94

    I love your post and you are perfectly right. I wanted to say I am in university right now (in the UK) and my curriculum is very modern and culture oriented. We discuss things like the literary canon and mention (and talk about) a lot of popular culture. We also discuss feminism, and have a lot if books by female authors in the curriculum. My firs assignment in one of my modules is to compare the feminist writings of this one author (Angela Carter, the Magic Toyshop) to this canonical literary poem that is sort-of-kind-of-not-really feminist (it’s written in time there was no ‘feminism’). I really love this course! There are also quite a few guys in it and they seem interested in this sort of thing as well and you know… nice. We talk about Harry Potter, too 😀

    September 27, 2013
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  19. deidredreams
    deidredreams

    Don’t you just love how guys like this always talk/act like they’re being special, cutting edge, rebellious and defiant by saying this stuff like they teach ‘serious white guy books’. As if all the other shlob classes are overrun by study material by women, people of colour and LGBT folks?
    Ugh!
    To me, it’s just the academic version of men talking about being so oppressed by women nowadays and constantly being a victim of our world full of misandry

    September 27, 2013
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    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Yes. I love (read: hate) that too. He essentially said, ‘Well, if you want to read female/people of colour/LGBT literature then you can go literally anywhere else. Mine is a niche course.’ No it’s not, dude. As if straight white males are underrepresented in canon or university courses. And it really makes me mad how he just dismisses other literature. As if that isn’t worthy of his attention and by extension the attention of his students. It’s fine if he personally doesn’t like it, we’ve all got different tastes and so forth. However, it’s not okay to be teaching that there’s no value in literature written by minorities or women.

      What an asshat.

      September 27, 2013
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    • longtime reader, sometime commenter
      longtime reader, sometime commenter

      Yeah, thank GOD someone finally has the courage to teach Hemingway and Faulkner! Way to stand up to the establishment! Without him, those poor students may not have known who Shakespeare was!

      September 27, 2013
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  20. I love watching a cishet white man pat himself on the back for taking a brave stance against diversity. Love it.

    “These are all the translations of my books. All these things here, including the audio book. There’s everything from Brazil, to Japanese, to Greek, to um, Korean, to Bulgarian, to Vietnamese, to Dutch, to Hungarian, to Russian, to Norwegian.”

    A worldly man, that David Gilmour. His books have even been translated into Brazil.

    September 27, 2013
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  21. Alexandra
    Alexandra

    What a douchebag, I have been lucky as I have had some amazing professors, male ones, who recommended all sorts of books, many by women, and other diverse writers.

    September 27, 2013
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  22. K@sey_june
    K@sey_june

    I just wanna say that I’m so glad you’ve reported this in such an intelligent, coherent way. I’m barely articulate enough to create such a comment with enough strength to show how horrible this guy is, exactly in the very light he has created for himself, for all the readers on the ‘net.

    I didn’t major in Literature. But I did major in archaeology, and all it did was to prove to us that there’s nothing else more important for our society than written resources. Since the 60s we have been trying to stop focusing ENTIRELY on just the history and existence of royalty and treasure, and instead diverted ourselves into actually trying to decipher the societal structures of ancient and historical societies.

    By diverting our gaze away from a white, male CIS heterosexual figure, we can find out actual shit that tells us exactly why we’re now like the way we are. Not just about the 10%, but the 90% of the population. But it’s still a whole lot of guesswork, because not everybody can dig up written documents which can explain everything about their world to us.

    In England, we got the Fort Vindolanda that has preserved writing tablets. Many of those that survived were actual recordings from a commander’s wife. That’s right, a WOMAN, who may be POC and isn’t even a CIS het male, had accidentally passed us the key to understanding how a military roman fort worked.

    So…I just can’t believe this guy’s sheer arrogance on what should be brought to a reader’s self-awareness. If we did the same thing, there’d be no documentaries delving into how 19th century servants survived, or even the life stories of pirates (male and female), African-american ex-slaves, or even aboriginals and first-nationers. It would be exactly how it first began, repeating the great histories of western europe kings, and not a single peep of kick-ass documentaries like, “Dead Samurais, the CSI investigation”.

    The written word is literally a way to preserve our own existence. It even touches people decades after they were written; no matter their own race, language or culture. If we pretend that a person’s voice– if they are not CIS, heterosexual, male, or white–are not worth listening to. That means you’re making their life experiences disappear. It’s like literally pretending that no one who is exactly like this guy has never lived, thought or experienced anything.

    Seriously, when I was growing up; I would’ve loved to hear from someone who was struggling with their identity and sexuality as I had. I wished I had some guy or girl to tell me, “Hey, your mom didn’t have the right to beat you up because she was trying to ‘teach you’ not to make the same mistake when you’re ‘inevitable’ married to a sociopathic and chauvinistic man. First, not every man is raised to smash his wife’s face for not sweeping the floor properly. Second, it should never be an inevitable fact of life.”

    Seriously, just little things like this. I didn’t want Cinderella as the only media outlet to see how someone overcomes abuse and gets their own happy ending. I want to see people become strong and say, “This was what I got from my womb roulette, and I overcame THAT and more.”

    Ugh, sorry for the huge wall of text. I just want to say that this guy is an over-privileged twat, and the worst kind of an arrogant person for assuming that so many kinds of people don’t deserve to have their voices and thoughts heard, and that anyone else should never be able to find and hear them.And, again, thanks for pointing out that this douchebaggery still exists.

    September 27, 2013
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  23. LovelloftheWolves
    LovelloftheWolves

    Having recently left undergrad behind, I can say that the ordinary english classes varied from teacher to teacher (one of my friends took a lit class that covered british literature after the 1900s but with a focus on immigrant stories/ voices *by* immigrants); my creative writing class included short stories written by multiple races/ethnicities/genders… BUT if you wanted to guarantee novels/essays/short stories written by NOT-Cis-White-het-Guys you’d have to take Comparative Literature in the Languages department.

    September 27, 2013
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  24. longtime reader, sometime commenter
    longtime reader, sometime commenter

    “Men like Gilmour are dangerous. They’re dangerous because they’re not your run-of-the-mill misogynist/racist/homophobe stereotype. He’s not a frat boy. He’s not a Klan member. He’s not toothless redneck swilling Budweiser and complaining about the gays. He is a man who is appears thoughtful and intelligent.”

    You hit on something I like to call the “To Kill a Mockingbird” problem: in fictional depictions of bigotry, often authors/directors try to demonize racism/sexism/homophobia by demonizing the characters that hold such views. Hence, the abusive, incestuous, uneducated racist hillbilly in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And it’s no coincidence that usually these ideas are blamed on poor people! That way rich people can feel like they’re all Atticus Finch, the wise, anti-racist voice of reason. But in real life, polite, pleasant people can also be bigots. If people believe that an educated, intellectuals person’s views are always inherently correct, then when that person says something bigoted, people believe them. They’re smart, so they must speak the truth! This is incredibly dangerous, just like all the so-called scientific rationalizations of sexism and racism.

    September 27, 2013
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  25. 特别多中国作家的书比那个浑蛋的书好。我觉得他不能看书。*

    “A great many Chinese authors’ books are better than this prick’s books. I think he can’t read books.”

    *My grammar may be incorrect, I am out of practice. I apologize for any errors.

    September 27, 2013
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  26. Erin
    Erin

    Hm. Apparently this is how his course was describd in the official calendar:

    “This course will examine how a variety of international authors and filmmakers handle the themes of morality, sexual passion and love in their work. … The object of the course is to allow students to see that their impressions of the world, their way of ‘seeing’ it, even in their most private thoughts, is often identical to that of other people from other languages and other centuries.”

    There are soooo many things in that description that don’t mesh with his statements, but the one I really noticed was “themes of sexual passion and love.” So let me get this straight. Gilmour is teaching literature focused on sexual passion and love, and all of it is by men? That’s very ancient Greek of him, I suppose. All pure love is between men, no womenz allowed–wait. He said heterosexual men. Now I’m REALLY confused. If you want sex to happen, dude, you’re going to have to throw a woman or a gay man in there somewhere. That, or you’re up to things I don’t really want to know about.

    September 27, 2013
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  27. samanthastier
    samanthastier

    This is a fabulous post that does a really good job of articulating why it is so upsetting for people like David Gilmour to be in teaching positions. Dangerous, even. I recently wrote a post about the lack of diversity in literature and talk about how David Gilmour is part of the problem, along with the entire publishing industry and even Hollywood (you can read it here: http://samanthastier.com/default-white/).

    I love what you say about the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” So true.

    September 27, 2013
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  28. CJ
    CJ

    My teachers seem to have a slightly different, if not still annoying, problem. They’ve included books by men of color, but rarely any books by women. This past summer, I had reading that included such subjects as: racism, ableism, assimilation, and even sexual assault…of men. There has been nothing from the perspective of women, or even with women as important characters who weren’t love interests or mothers. I’m not sure of all the books for the rest of the term, but I know at least one also sort of deals with bisexuality, but again only of men. I’m glad that we’re getting somewhere, but it seems to be making the lack of women even more obvious.

    September 27, 2013
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  29. Allee E
    Allee E

    I was an English major at what is considered to be the ultimate WASPy university in Texas, and I am so very, very, very glad to say that despite that fact, I don’t think I had to face any assholes like Gilmour. About half my professors were women, and about half the men were either POC or gay or both. Although the vast majority of the books I read were written by white men, that was more because I focused a lot of older literature, and the fact is that all of classical literature is dominated by Chaucer and Shakespeare and Dunne and Milton and other white men… but even then, we would do feminist readings of the works. When we read modern literature, we got to read literature by everyone, and that wasn’t even in specialized “minority literature” classes. The curriculum just had it written in. I had no idea that Gilmour’s sort of idiocy flourished elsewhere. It makes me so sad. 🙁

    By the way, if any of you ever want to have your mind completely blown, I highly recommend that you read Silence, a book about a girl raised as a boy who becomes a highly successful noble. Oh, and it was written in France in the thirteenth century. You would never believe that such incredible gender-bending and such feminist themes could ever appear in a medieval text. http://www.amazon.com/Silence-Thirteenth-Century-Romance-Medieval-Studies/dp/0870135430

    September 27, 2013
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    • I went to a private liberal arts university, very WASP-y, and the only literature class I took was Contemporary Literature, and it was about 50/50 male/female writers. I know at least some of them were POC, though I have no idea what percentage. The prof was awesome and there definitely was a cult around her. 🙂

      September 28, 2013
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  30. supersheep
    supersheep

    I don’t think there’s a whole lot I can say about this asshattery that hasn’t been said already, plus it makes me too angry for actual coherent words, so I’m just gonna comment that I spent about the first third of this post thinking guitarist David Gilmour and wondering where this came from because he’s always seemed like pretty much the opposite of that.

    September 27, 2013
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  31. Asha B
    Asha B

    As a note, I do agree that his comments are dangerous because of his status, but did anyone notice the qualifications he listed in the article? He talks about the fact that he’s a professor that doesn’t have a PhD and that the university made an exception for him. Interesting. I think the University of Toronto needs to take a harder line on who they choose as profs. Maybe the PhD rule is there to keep out most of the crazy bigots.

    September 28, 2013
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  32. Late to this post, but this makes me really glad I got my M.A. in Hawaii. My university offered a wide variety of English literature courses in which the bulk of the reading material did not consist of white guys. In fact, I don’t think I took a single course about old white guys the whole time I was there.

    UofT has got to work on their quality control up in here.

    September 28, 2013
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    • Lynn M
      Lynn M

      Exactly. Explain to me how this man still has a job? Why didn’t UofT fire his ass immediately? Explain to me why anyone would want to go to such a school if this is the kind of teachers they put in their classrooms? Explain to my why any parent would allow their child to go to such a university? He’s an asshat who will never change, but shame on the UofT. Shame!

      October 10, 2013
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  33. Promise
    Promise

    He can suck it. Most of the stuff I read is by women authors, because they kick ass! My top favorite authors are all women (there are men further down the list). It’s not because they’re women, but because they are phenomenal authors. I’ve always said that if I were to do an English/Lit PhD it’d be on AS Byatt.

    When I did the work for my BA in English, I did take one course devoted solely to female writers (it was on modern women poets), but aside from the two single-author courses (Shakespeare and Chaucer), every single other English course included female authors and not just as an aside, even the ones that were based on certain time periods included female voices. And thank the Goddess, the only time I had to read “The Yellow Wallpaper” was in high school. Maybe I just got lucky?

    To only teach straight white males is to leave out a huge swath of the human experience. I guess anyone who wants to limit themselves to such a narrow viewpoint can go participate in Gilmour’s circle jerk. What a douche.

    September 28, 2013
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  34. I really hope he makes his positions known early enough in the semester that students can have the satisfaction of walking out without having to fail the course.

    October 2, 2013
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  35. I feel so very lucky to have had my college education where I did. I had two excellent English Lit teachers – one a man and one a woman – who despised The Canon and everything it represented. I knew I would love Doc Zane (my lady prof) when she brought in Moby Dick and said, “We will not be reading this. This sucks. We will also not be reading any Hemingway as he is a pathological, misogynistic, alpha male and I just can’t bring myself to even discuss him.” What did I get to read in her class? Amy Tan, Maya Angelou, Plath, Alice Walker, etc. We even read some dudes – Steinbeck, Vonnegut, and some of the more modern male authors. My male prof just detested The Canon as a whole and thought that the academic world at large was too hung up on the classics. He wanted to encourage thoughtful reading practices, so he gave us contemporary works to dissect old school. We read King, Rice, Desai, and more Amy Tan. It was so nice to read books that were actually fun to read and then discuss them. I felt like they were revolutionary at the time (15 or so years ago) and am sad to realize that they are, in fact, still revolutionary apparently. What a douche.

    October 2, 2013
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  36. mlm
    mlm

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    February 5, 2014
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  37. drmaggiemoreau
    drmaggiemoreau

    “That class down the hall”- WTF? I am so glad I got to read Octavia Butler , Samuel Delaney, and Mary Shelley rather than Fitzgerald again and again on loop. If a professor ever said he only thought men’s work was worth anything, I’d drop that class. I bet he’s the kind of professor who calls his female students “little lady” or something stupid like that.

    October 24, 2015
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