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Articles by Robert Jensen

Instituting Liberty: Contested, Changing, Conflicted Definitions

Common Dreams ·

Reasonable people can disagree, and a university should be a place where those disagreements are celebrated. That would be a good starting point for a Liberty Institute.

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“A Certain Terror”: A White Male Perspective on Being an Ally

Merion West ·

A version of this essay was presented to an online Diversity & Inclusion gathering on August 12, 2021.

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Can we learn from history?

Common Dreams; Counterpunch ·

Looking back at dissenters’ reaction to 9-11.

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Restless and Relentless Minds: Thinking as a “Species out of Context”

Resilience.org ·

The stability of the Earth’s ecosystems, and hence the future of the human species, depends on people recognizing and responding to multiple, cascading social and ecological crises that can easily overwhelm our imaginations. We need to cultivate restless and relentless minds to deal with unprecedented analytical questions and moral challenges if we are to go beyond the failed approaches of our current politics. This requires a sense of history deeper than we typically see in current debates. Since the advent of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago, humans have been a “species out of context.” That awareness will help us formulate “questions that go beyond the available answers,” which are necessary if we are to fashion effective responses to the crises. In this presentation, Robert Jensen highlights a half-century of work by one of his elders, Wes Jackson of The Land Institute in Kansas (USA), to suggest approaches to analyzing the threats at this moment in history. This lecture draws on Jensen’s 2021 book, The Restless and Relentless Mind of Wes Jackson: Searching for Sustainability (University Press of Kansas) and a forthcoming book co-written with Jackson.

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Making sense of sex and gender: A review of Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism

Dissident Voice; Counterpunch ·

A review of Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism by Kathleen Stock.

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Why Porn? Why This Porn? Why So Little Concern?

MerionWest.com ·
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The Dangers of White Male Supremacy

YES! Magazine ·

This essay is an expanded version of my review of Ijeoma Oluo’s book _Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America_ that appeared in the magazine’s print edition.

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Tough Love for Mediocre White Guys: Getting White men to give up dominance is a challenge

YES! Magazine ·

A review of Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America by Ijeoma Oluo

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Male violence makes single-sex shelters a necessity

Lewiston Sun Journal ·

In a democratic society that respects individual rights, conflict is inevitable when rights collide. Such conflict is playing out in a Maine homeless shelter, where women are expected to endure abusive behavior in the name of inclusivity. Women assert their right to seek safety from men’s violence. The transgender movement asserts the right of anyone to self-identify with any gender. We side with women.

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Pornographic distortions: The struggle for intimacy in the 21st century

Feminist Current ·

“Pornographic distortions,” refers both to the ways in which pornography distorts human sexuality, and the way in which pornography’s defenders distort the views of critics.

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Getting Radical: Feminism, Patriarchy, and the Sexual-Exploitation Industries

Dignity: A Journal of Sexual Exploitation and Violence ·

The sexual-exploitation industries, including prostitution and pornography, are patriarchal institutions that are inconsistent with dignity, solidarity, and equality. Radical feminism offers a compelling analysis not only for women but also for men striving to be fully human.

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Wes Jackson: How to Respect One’s Tools

Merion West ·

An edited transcript of Episode 2 of “Podcast from the Prairie.” https://podcastfromtheprairie.com/

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‘A simple boy from the prairie’: An interview with Robert Jensen

Feminist Current ·

When a European graduate student emailed to ask if I would participate in an assignment to “do an interview with one of my favourite authors,” I said yes. My books have not exactly been best-sellers, and so I was an easy target for anyone describing me as a “favourite author.”

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From Pornography to Agriculture: Challenging Hierarchy

MerionWest.com ·

“At the core of this analysis is a claim that, at first glance, may seem to be a stretch: The erosion of human dignity in our broken world starts with the erosion of the planet’s soils.”

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Whiteness

Routledge; Left Turn ·
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Against Hierarchy

Voice Male magazine ·

It’s getting harder for people in the United States to turn away from the sexism, racism, and inequality that is woven into the fabric of society. From the women’s march of 2017, to the ongoing protests against white supremacy in policing and other institutions, to the wider attention being paid to extreme disparities in wealth—the demand for justice intensifies.

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Who is we?

The Ecological Citizen ·

Glaring inequality, both between and within societies, makes it difficult to talk about ‘we’ – a collective human project of understanding and responding to multiple, cascading ecological crises. Assigning responsibility for today’s social injustice and ecological unsustainability, and levels of obligations to repair the damage, is required, but that is only a first step. A decent human future also requires us to understand human–carbon nature and face the reasons it will be difficult to move from 8 billion people in a high-energy global society to a smaller population in a low-energy world. No existing ideology or culture is going to provide us with a template for dealing with what lies ahead, and the sooner we confront the magnitude of the challenge, the better for everyone.

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Seize a wrench and the day

Land Report, and Resilience.org ·

Living resourcefully, in good humor, and not worried about badges

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What is really radical in sex/gender politics?

Culturico ·

The political left, and much of mainstream feminism, is characterized by an analysis of how systems and institutions shape our choices, a critique of capitalist media, and a commitment to a scientific/materialist worldview. But when faced with radical feminism’s compelling critiques of patriarchy, leftists and many feminists routinely abandon those principles. Radical feminist critiques of prostitution, pornography, and transgender ideology should be part of a consistent, coherent left analysis.

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‘Cancel culture’ cannot erase a strong argument

Feminist Current ·

In the current squabble on the liberal/progressive/left side of the fence over so-called “cancel culture,” in which one open letter in favor of freedom of expression led to a rebuttal open letter in favor of a different approach to freedom of expression, I can offer a report on the experience of being canceled.

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How to Get Off Fossil Fuels Quickly—and Fairly

YES! Magazine ·

When it comes to a just transition, it’s going to take a radical reimagining not only of our economy but also of our culture and the shape of our social structures. YES! co-hosted a conversation with experts from the nonprofit The Land Institute to discuss policy proposals and new ways to rebuild our sense of self and community from the bottom up.

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Why Do Men Like Pornography?

Public Seminar ·

And why radical feminism helps us find a path to real intimacy.

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What can people think of doing when they have little money?

Agriculture and Human Values ·

COVID-19 already has sparked thoughts of long-term economic hardship, with a recession unavoidable and a depression possible. Only a few weeks into the pandemic, countless citizens are struggling to make ends meet. And this acute crisis doesn’t change the need to reduce our use of fossil fuels if we are to head-off the more serious ecological and health consequences of greenhouse gas accumulations. If we are to meet a zero-fossil carbon target by 2050, economic hardship will be part of the equation.

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Apocalypse, Now and Forever: Review of “Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back”

Resilience.org ·

Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back is a thoughtful, engaging book that ends in failure. But Mark O’Connell shouldn’t take that assessment too personally. His book fails in the way that his culture—the modern, cosmopolitan, left/liberal, individualist culture—routinely fails in the face of multiple, cascading ecological crises.

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Review: ‘Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity’

Feminist Current ·

Peggy Orenstein insists that we not flinch in uncomfortable conversations with boys and men about the dark side of sexuality. In her new book, Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity, she reports on her refreshingly honest interviews with guys about how they understand what it means to “be a man” in the sexual arena.

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Pornography undermines the #MeToo movement

Medium.com ·

[An edited version of this essay appeared in the Houston Chronicle.]

The #MeToo movement fights back against sexual harassment and assault, rejecting the idea that women exist for men’s sexual pleasure.

But alongside the growing success of that movement, the pornography industry continues to thrive by presenting explicit images that sexualize exactly this idea — that women exist to serve men’s desires, whatever those desires might be, no matter how much humiliation and suffering they impose on women.

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Masculinity: Toxic, Healthy, or Human?

Good Men Project ·

Increased attention on men’s violence against women has focused attention on not only rape and sexual harassment but also on the cultural support system for such behavior. While only a small fraction of men violate the law, lots of men engage in less blatant forms of aggressive and coercive behavior that injure and undermine women, and even more men are bystanders who fail to challenge other men’s abuse.

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Pornography normalizes rape: An interview with Robert Jensen (in Spanish and English)

daleunavuelta.org ·

We face what I call “the paradox of pornography.” In the past three decades, the period in which I’ve been studying the issue, two trends are undoubtedly clear. First, the content of commercial heterosexual pornography has become more overtly cruel and degrading to women, and more overtly racist. Second, pornography has become more mainstream and acceptable in the culture. In a civilized society, how can a media genre move closer to the center of popular culture, and be more sexist and racist at the same time? The painful answer is that we may not be as civilized as we like to think.

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Disagreeing Reasonably in a Complex World: A review of ‘The Case Against Free Speech’

Dissident Voice ·

In my last couple years of university teaching before retiring, I repeated two catch phrases as often as possible—“reasonable people can disagree” and “if two things are both true, then both are relevant.”

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Radical Feminism: A Gift to Men

Voice Male magazine ·

I spent the first half of my life trying to be a “normal” guy. That project didn’t go so well. The good news is that in the second half of my life I gave up trying, and things got better.

What led me to change course? An unexpected interaction with radical feminist writings that offered a critique of patriarchy, followed by the opportunity to meet radical feminists living in a patriarchal society who were working to advance the radical feminist critique of pornography and of men’s sexual exploitation of women in patriarchy.

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The Danger of Inspiration: A Review of ‘On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal’

CommonDreams.org ·

Naomi Klein’s new book is essential reading, but does it go far enough in confronting the grim realities we truly face?

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From the Royal to the Prophetic to the Apocalyptic: The Case for a Saving Remnant

Resilience.org ·

The royal, prophetic, and apocalyptic traditions in the Hebrew and Christian bibles provide a compelling framework for understanding progressive intellectual and political work today, as we face the task not only of struggling to create a just and sustainable world but also imagining a saving remnant that will negotiate a radically different future in which both new and old skills, stories, and spaces will be necessary.

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Let’s get ‘creaturely’: A new worldview can help us face ecological crises

Resilience.org ·

No farmer has ever gone out to the barn to start the day and discovered that a baby tractor had been born overnight. For farmers who work with horses, the birth of a foal would not be surprising.

That observation may seem silly, but it highlights an important contrast: Machines cannot reproduce or maintain themselves. Creatures can.

The tractor comes out of the industrial mind, while the horse is creaturely. The tractor is the product of an energy-intensive human-designed system, while the horse is the product of an information-intensive biological process that emerges from earth and sun.

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Growing a Green New Deal: Agriculture’s Role in Economic Justice and Ecological Sustainability

Resilience.org ·

Propelled by the energy of progressive legislators elected in the 2018 midterms elections, a “Green New Deal” has become part of the political conversation in the United States, culminating in a resolution in the U.S. House with 67 cosponsors and a number of prominent senators lining up to join them. Decades of activism by groups working on climate change and other ecological crises, along with a surge of support in recent years for democratic socialism, has opened up new political opportunities for serious discussion of the intersection of social justice and sustainability.

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Clarifying terminology crucial in transgender debate

Texas Tribune ·

As sex and gender issues simmer — and routinely boil over — at every level of government, now more than ever we need clear definitions of terms used in the transgender debate.

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Compassion as cover: How transgender allies dodge debate

Feminist Current ·

Since publishing my first essay challenging the ideology of the transgender movement four years ago, I have often found myself in settings where liberal allies of that movement try to divert a difficult discussion by claiming the moral high ground of compassion. With each of these encounters, I become increasingly frustrated at this “compassion-as-cover” dodge that seems designed to give liberals a way to avoid accountability.

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Nuclear Power Will Not Save Us from Climate Change

YES! Magazine ·

How the IPCC’s solutions for reversing the Earth’s warming encourage business as usual.

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American Journalism’s Ideology: Why the “Liberal” Media is Fundamentalist

Brill ·
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Feminist Principles and Michael Kimmel

Counterpunch ·

A week after anonymous charges of sexual harassment against sociologist Michael Kimmel surfaced, I suggested that his half-hearted “apology” was unacceptable and that the pro-feminist men’s movement’s response was inadequate. With two more weeks now past, a follow-up challenge to Kimmel—a leading figure in the feminist-influenced study of men and masculinities—is appropriate.

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Interview: There Clearly Is No Decent Human Future Possible in Capitalism

American Herald Tribune ·

Mohsen Abdelmoumen interviews Robert Jensen

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