Saturday, 15 July 2017

The Feminist's Lament

[Media prompt] Why I abandoned the left-left: The hardliners can be so exhausting. They have purges. They murder their darlings, they shun their own.
The Feminist's Lament

After she came in, the girl turned her back on him, reading the book titles on his shelves.

“You’re actually quite conservative, aren’t you?”

Professor Alvin Jones looked up from the yellow legal pad he made notes in. Outside in the corridor it was quiet. Though the open window, the sound of a machine, a chainsaw or something similar, drifted in quietly enough that he had to concentrate to hear it.

“Not a single work on intersectionality. Nothing on LGBTQ plus.”

The girl took a step back to read the spines on the top shelves. She heaved her shoulders, pulling the straps of her backpack taut. She crossed her legs at her ankles, uncrossing them when she moved.

Under her short pink hair, Professor Jones could see a string of Chinese characters tattooed on the back of the girl’s neck. One half of her head was shaved. She looked like she was in her early twenties, perhaps twenty-three. Pretty, but old enough, you’d have thought, to work out how ridiculous she looked.

“You're one of those professors who secretly think there are only two genders, aren't you?”

Professor Jones put his pen down and smiled. The girl knew his views on gender. He had seen her outside the library last week calling for his resignation. Only she hadn’t referred to him as professor then; she had told the small crowd he was a Nazi, a fascist, a toxic masculinist.

Whoever this girl was, she hadn’t come in to inventory his book collection.

“That’s what you think, isn’t it?” she said, turning around, loosening her backpack and slinging it heavily onto one of his chairs. She kicked the leg of another chair then dropped into it. If he let this go on much longer, she’d be squatting on the desk to urinate.

“You’re a reactionary,” the girl continued. “I can see it in your face. The way you dress. The pathetic books you read. You haven’t understood that we’ve won. And that you’ve lost.”

Professor Jones swivelled in his chair, looking out at the window at a familiar scene. In the foreground was the sandstone wall on which were engraved the words of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Nietzsche. Words the girl had hardly read, let alone comprehended. Beyond the red tiled roof, he could see the upper floors of the main library building and the tops of the tallest trees swaying gently in the breeze.

Professor Jones stood, stretching his arms before walking to the door, which he closed and locked. He reached out and pushed in a book that jutted out from the others.

Now the girl was confused. She looked at Professor Jones then at the door.

“What do you think you’re doing?” she said, starting to stand.

Surrounded by his books, Professor Jones listened for the inner voice telling him to stop. But he felt no doubt, no desire to pause and take stock of what he was about to do. Something inside him had snapped. Ever since eighteen-year-olds started lecturing professors about life, truth and justice, he had gone about his duties with dignity and quietude. As he always had, absorbed in research, writing books, teaching and grading papers. Creating minds for an uncertain future. But all that vanished as soon as the girl walked into his office, looking for trouble.

“Have you got any idea who I am?” the girl said.

Their eyes met for only a second before Professor Jones pulled her to him and kissed her. The girl struggled, but it was performance theatre. Within seconds she was begging him to take her.

“You’re the only man left on this whole damned campus,” she said, lifting her arms as he slid off her top.

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