Down through the decades from the 60s to the present while the feminist juggernaut has gathered pace and seemed to many unstoppable, there have always been a number of women who refused to go along with the tide, who challenged the thinking, the extravagant claims, and denounced the blatant injustices. Such women as Cristina Hoff Sommers, Daphne Patai, Erin Pizzey down to Cassie Jaye and Bettina Arndt at the present moment.
Janice Fiamengo is a woman with a formidable reputation. As a professor of English at the University of Ottawa, she has ploughed a lonely furrow for many years by taking a stand against the prevailing feminist orthodoxy which has engulfed huge swathes of academia. She has spoken out on a host of unpopular topics: new consent laws, demonisation of men, feminist ideology, the errors of feminism . She has now resigned from her academic post and has embarked full time on her crusade against feminism.
She has issued videos on many topics, maintained her blog The Fiamengo Files, has experience of lectures being interrupted, attempts to shut her down. But she has continued to lecture and to challenge feminist orthodoxy often alone and in hostile circumstances. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than in her comments on that most fraught topic: rape and consent.
Rape and Consent
To illustrate Fiamengo’s willingness to engage, we quote here from Ireland’s Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 Section 48:
|(4) Consent to a sexual act may be withdrawn at any time before the act begins, or in the case of a continuing act, while the act is taking place.|
|(5) Any failure or omission on the part of a person to offer resistance to an act does not of itself constitute consent to that act.|
Men will know that (4) and (5) present a problem: Suppose one party is initially willing, how is the other to be sure that this continues throughout if that person does not make any resistance, since it cannot be assumed that silence does imply consent?
Fiamengo asks: How many consents must one party get from the other to be on the safe side? Indeed, Fiamengo claims that the feminist theory of “affirmative consent”, cited many times by the judge in a case in Canada some years ago, turns almost all types of sex into rape. Affirmative consent requires a verbal yes, must be ongoing throughout a sexual encounter, and can be revoked at any time.
But silence or lack of resistance does not demonstrate consent. According to Fiamengo this means the man can never be sure that he is acting correctly. The intention is to place the consent burden on the accused; the accused will have to prove the other person consented.
Peterson’s Online Education Platform
Unfortunately YouTube has censored Fiamengo’s work and deleted most of those videos including the one from which the quotes above are drawn .
This kind of closure has hit many authors, often on the most vexatious grounds. But other platforms have stepped in to fill the space vacated. Substack is one which has emphasised its commitment to Free Speech.
Undaunted she embarked on a new series, Fiamengo File 2.0, which traces the history of feminism from its origins in the late 18th Century to the present. In contrast to the much vaunted triumphalist history presented by feminists, this is a ferocious, scathing account which points to the deep well of bitterness towards men which characterises much feminism. Feminism was never about equality she says. She takes issue with the notion that feminism rescued women from patriarchal tyranny, denied women the vote, created a world in which men were free to rape their wives, seize their property, their earnings and assert their privilege.
Fiamengo explains: “Men and women in earlier centuries lived interdependent lives in which the fragility of life and the presence of disease, the high infant mortality rate, the lack of a social safety net, and the complexities of housekeeping and childrearing meant that most women and men divided their prodigious labours into separate spheres of domestic and public. Women of the 19th century were not powerless — many worked in trades, owned their own businesses, and made a living as educators, healers, and writers. They were honoured as advisors and charity workers and usually voted in municipal and schoolboard elections. They did not see themselves as helpless and did not, on the whole, see men as their enemies.”
In a further and fortuitous turn, Jordan Peterson is about to create the kind of online university which he has often talked about in the past, and is signing up some of the best minds to give lectures there. Anyone who has been following Peterson even intermittently will know that he has in the past few years been setting a frantic pace creating videos interviewing some of the best minds across a whole range of disciplines including politics, psychology, current affairs, philosophy, spirit, religion and many others. It appears now that he has been preparing the ground for this new endeavour.
He has asked Fiamengo to teach a course on the true history of feminism in Peterson Academy, which aims to teach students how to think, not what to think. It will be fascinating to see how this works out.