All posts by Laurie Essig


‘Yes Means Yes’ Is a Bad Coupling of Feminism and the State

California’s enacting on Sunday of the “yes means yes” law is a victory for some campus feminist activists but an ill-conceived detour for feminism.

The new law guiding how colleges must handle accusations of sexual assault will require “an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” In other words, if a person is not actively agreeing to a sexual exchange and doing so throughout the exchange, it is not consensual. More important, the onus is no longer on the v…


Trigger Warnings Trigger Me

Trigger warnings. I first encountered them about five years ago. We were reading a book about disordered eating. I showed images of high-fashion models next to pro-anorexic images to illustrate the idea that our culture’s ideal beauty is not really that different from an anorexic body. Two young women in the class told me I should have given a trigger warning since women with eating disorders could have experienced psychological duress from the images. It was my duty, apparently, to make sure …


It’s MOOAs, Not MOOCs, That Will Transform Higher Education

The future is upon us. It is time to hyper-monetize professors’ teaching labor—oh wait, I mean open up education to all, for free—and create Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). As my colleague Jason Mittell wrote here at The Chronicle,

MOOC mania has gained momentum … because it entails opening up the previously noncommercial realm of teaching, at both public and nonprofit private institutions, to venture capitalists and start-ups looking to build company value.

According to one of many pro-MOO…


Profs Fail iEtiquette 101

It all began at a conference. A keynote speaker had just finished her address. Microphones awaited comments and questions. A woman walked up to a microphone, iPhone in hand, and stated that during the talk she had been checking her e-mail and wanted to share with the audience some information she had just received related, tangentially, to the theme of the keynote address, to which she had not paid much attention.

I waited for gasps or at least tut-tuts to emanate from the crowd, but no one batt…


Chewing on Harvard’s ‘Munch’

Last week the blogosphere exploded with news that Harvard’s crimson was turning 50 shades of gray when it officially recognized a new student group, the Munch. The Munch is for students interested in “alternative sexual practices,” that is, BDSM and other forms of kink.

According to the staff at The Harvard Crimson,

Munch … marks the first time in recent memory that a Harvard student group has been founded to provide a safe and accepting environment for students with sexual interests outside o…


Assault Weapons, Marriage, and Cultural Logic

At the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama were asked about gun violence. President Obama suggested a ban on assault weapons and efforts to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals. Not a brilliant answer, but a predictable one. Mr. Romney, however, took a different tack. According to Romney, the solution to gun violence is traditional marriage.

We need moms and dads, helping to raise kids. … Because if there’s a two parent family, the prospect of livi…