The MCI-Norfolk “Gender, Identity, and Violence” piece was the most entertaining item I’ve read in a very long time. “Dead silence,” she recalls. “Twenty faces stare at me hesitantly, a few looking confused, most understanding quite well but appearing deeply disturbed.” They were likely deeply disturbed by the thought that they couldn’t leave the room. Perhaps the state finally found the means to make prison seem onerous; confinement is one thing, but confinement with an academic feminist is infinitely worse.
I was reminded of a story from a professor. He was teaching at Cornell in the late ’60s, and in response to a projected rise in student imprisonment rates (over anti-war activity) at a nearby facility, arranged, along with others, to teach seminars there. Their sense of the jailability of the Cornell population was somewhat exaggerated, and he arrived to find a class of regular long-term inmates, without a collegian in sight. I’m unsure what the inmates learned, but he recounted gaining one nugget of wisdom. One student in his literature class suggested that he didn’t know the meaning of the ability to “talk to a woman.” The student explained that the ability to talk to a woman is demonstrated thusly:
“You meet her on Friday, and don’t stop talking. You keep talking and keep talking, until she’ll give you her savings and the keys to her car on Sunday. Now that’s when you know you can talk to a woman.”
Perhaps our jaunty “Gender, Identity, and Violence” instructor will undergo such an experience.