In Jane Gallop’s Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, Gallop details a case in which she was accused by two graduate students of sexual harassment. Gallop, a strong believer in feminism, disputes these claims by making an argument for the necessary intertwining of pedagogy and sexuality. Drawing from anecdotes about her experience with the anti-pornography movement, Gallop expands on her lengthy career as a feminist scholar in order to analyze the discourse in the feminist community during the late 20th century. Although she makes several well constructed feminist arguments, Gallop fails to sufficiently defend her troubling sexual behavior.
Gallop begins by describing her feminist and sexual awakening that began in 1971, during her college years. She describes her experience of one of “liberation”, which will later be contrasted with arguments from other feminists (5). At the time, the issue at the forefront of the feminist ideology was the sexual liberation of women. At a women’s only dance attended by Gallop, she works together with her fellow women to prevent men from entering. She describes the celebration of their success, “taking off [their] shirts and dancing bare-breasted” (13). The scene is called “political”, with their bare breasts exposed as a statement against sexualization by men. Here, in the women’s only space, they are free to expose their chest just as men would, without fear of harassment. As Gallop puts it, they were “asserting equal rights” (13). However, Gallop begin to ties the whole dance into the women’s liberation movement. Although a political statement is being made, there is a sexual one as well. Here in this space, women are freely allowed to explore their sexuality. Thoug...
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...hout her academic career, and her behavior becomes highly inappropriate. The fact that she choses to use her student to make a spectacle of their kiss, escalating the situation beyond any of the harmless, non-sexual good byes they’ve had in the past while lacking the expressed consent to do so, shows us that Gallop it fetishizing the display. This is absolutely not acceptable behavior for a professor to be engaging with in students when there is such a clear power dynamic at play.
Gallop’s message of sex-positivity is an important one, and should not be ignored. However, the defense against her actions that she present is insufficient and only to serves to show how extreme she has gone with her philosophy. Her idea of erotic pedagogy is best left back in 1971, when the power dynamic between teachers and students in the women’s studies field was not what it is now.
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