An Oxford-educated feminist author is to have the US edition of her book pulped after she claimed that the UK executed men for being gay in the Victorian era.

Naomi Wolf based her book ‘Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalisation of Love’ on a PHD thesis she wrote in 2015, but was found to have made significant factual errors earlier this year.

Ms Wolf said that she found examples of “several dozen executions” of men accused of having sex with other men in the Victorian era, but in an interview with the BBC, it was pointed out that she had misinterpreted court records.

The thing is there really were hangings for sodomy. Just not as many as she insisted there were. But then her thesis was rather built on the mass societal repugnance as evidenced through the law, wasn’t it?

14 thoughts on “Snigger”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    The radio interview where her misunderstanding is put to her is a classic. None of this modern aggressive style of interviewing where the presenter is more concerned with demonstrating how smart they are, just a calm discussion looking at the facts. It was so disarming that she really couldn’t ignore it and had to respond.

    Because it was such a calm and measured interview it was hard for her backers to side with her and make ad hominem attacks on the interviewer to deflect the criticism.

  2. You had me at Oxford-educated (although I prefer the term ‘certified’ since a degree nowadays is not a reliable marker of education), an intellectual version of Aposematism.

  3. The classic mistake of writing a book whilst white. If Wolf were an ethnic (Jews don’t count) all criticism of the factual errors would have dismissed as racism.

  4. There’s a case for reopening her PhD examination.

    The examiners and her supervisor might also merit investigation.

    Unless, of course, this farrago played out in a Department of English, say, rather than a Department of History. Because if it were the former who would give a hoot?

  5. I suspect there is more going on here that we don’t know about.

    That the book contains factual errors is no reason not to publish it. There are millions of books out there with factual errors.

  6. dearieme said:
    “There’s a case for reopening her PhD examination. The examiners and her supervisor might also merit investigation.”

    The latter more than the former, I’d have thought. It was passed under the normal process, and the error seems to have been an error (her lack of understanding, not fraud on her part), so there’s no reason to take it off her. But her supervisors – at least one of them should have had the relevant knowledge of the subject to have questioned it.

  7. Not really, Gamecock. You can find the interview online. Matthew Sweet, who is learned, and intellectually curious, but was not an expert in the subject, picked up on an oddity in the language (‘death recorded’, from memory) and a bit of googling told him in a few minutes that the entire basis of her schtick was misconceived.

    Worse even than that, one of the poster boys for her contention that homosexual men were routinely executed turned out to be a kiddie-fiddler. And, again if memory serves, he was not executed.

    So she had this whole grand thesis around white male patriarchal suppression of minorities, and it was built on a fundamental misunderstanding. Driven, doubtless, by her own conceit and unexamined prejudices.

    To do her justice, she did not blub in the face of just about the most abject humiliation to which she might have been subjected. And Sweet, although I can understand he wanted to save his coup de grace for the audience, ambushed her. Delicately, and courteously, but he ambushed her. Had she merited any kindness, and did he not have a job to do, he’d have called her before the interview and told her of her error.

  8. The other thing that’s worth pointing out is that the ambush happens at a little over 20 minutes into the interview. He enquires after her thesis, allows her space to develop it then, WHAP!, “I don’t think you’re right about that”.

    If ever a voice sounded like that of a person smacked in the face with large haddock, it was La Klein’s in the few moments after that.

    And imagine his mounting excitement, storing up his sucker punch.

  9. Bloke in North Dorset

    Blimey, she’s bonkers …

    Ben Taub
    I’ll never forget Naomi Wolf saying that the ISIS beheading videos were staged, and the families of the victims were actors. I knew one of the dead, and called her out. She replied that I was part of a psy-op. Her supporters got my FB account shut down.

    No link but one provided in comments:

    Naomi Wolf stirred controversy over the weekend, after she posted a series of comments on Facebook, in which she questioned the authenticity of the Isis beheading videos and suggested that they “had been staged by the US government”.

    She went on to query whether Isis (also known as the Islamic State) “victims and their parents were actors”, while in a separate, deleted post, she asked a New York Times journalist to verify that the murder of Americans and two Britons had actually happened, political commentary site reported.

    Furthermore, the best-selling author, who has worked as the former advisor to Al Gore and Bill Clinton in the past, mused that sending American soldiers to west Africa to help stop the spread of Ebola was all a ruse to justify a military takeover of the region.

    So she denies executions that happened and affirms ones that didn’t. How wrong can you be?

  10. It is interesting that the journalist says that she was awarded a doctorate by Trinity College Oxford. In my day degrees were awarded by the University, not by colleges.
    Especially interesting as wikipedia says that she attended New College.
    New College used to be fairly good academically, but that was in the days when it was men-only

  11. Given the Sandy Hook deniers conspiracy theory guys have just been clobbered for the distress and upset caused to the victims families by their statements maybe someone should sue her for her beheading comments

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