Reflections on a the Postmodern University and my Healing Journey

(Durwin Foster) #1

My journey of counselling at a postmodern Canadian university seems to be coming to an end, both with the upcoming end of my contract, and a turn towards illness in my own case with an eye infection. Halloween Day of this year was indeed a challenging day for me: I found participating in the staff meeting as a contract employee difficult, but nevertheless wanted to bring forward a new perspective on learning, that of complexity. My turn came, and I spoke for about five minutes or so on my work with Lectical Complexity Assessment for learning with one client. I felt some fairly pronounced self-consciousness at one point during that presentation. Following that I worked with a female client, going considerably above and beyond the confines of the 30 minutes or so “intake session” which I had informed her about at the beginning. Once she was into her story, it seemed impolite to stay within that timeframe. Therefore, I ended up working with her not only beyond the normal intake session, but beyond the hour in part because she touched into an emotional depth that made it, again, impolite to complete sooner. I booked her three follow up sessions with me, which I hadn’t really done with anyone before, as a way to address her concerns about the fact that my contract was ending the end of November. I felt it had been a challenging but rewarding day, and yet I noticed as the day progressed that my right eye began to feel very stressed. By the time I went to bed, I was feeling concerned, and sure enough I awoke with a full on infection in my right eye. As I am a contract employee, I have limited sick day benefits, so don’t believe I will be entitled to compensation while missing work, and am into my second day of work missed at the time of this writing. I am taking two topical antiobiotics, while being curious if this isn’t a viral illness. I am following up with the eye specialist, but was just informed he isn’t back in the office until Nov. 20th.
While going onto the email system to find the phone number for the administrative assistant, in order to call in sick, I discovered that this female client with whom I had worked overtime, and made a special arrangement for three follow up sessions, decided to cancel our follow up sessions. I felt crestfallen by this outcome, and it confirmed my suspicion that indeed the postmodern university has been ruined by a gender essentialism masquerading as gender progressivism, such that young self-identified women (our system tracks all pronoun preferences) are simply unable to recognize trustworthy male support when it is provided. And the hiring system, with its equity policies driven by quotas, is unable to give self-identified males like me the opportunity to even be there on a longer term basis in order to provide this support. Should I disengenously self-identify as a female – one awaiting sex reassignment surgery – in order to become eligible for employment according to the quota driven equity policy? It has emerged in my mind as a possible strategy, albeit fleetingly, since it doesn’t really SEEM like an honest path for me. Perhaps I need to be more fearless and embrace this path? In my case, I would need to be of self-identifed female gender, awaiting sexual reassignment surgery, while being of the homosexual, i.e. lesbian sexual orientation, since I am attracted to females. Just like one of the lead characters on Sense 8 by the Wachowskis, come to think of it. Hmmmmmm. Seems like a pretty intrusive way, biologically, to manipulate myself in order to be eligible for a job though.
I think I have taken this story as far as I can right now. I am “stumped”.

Cosmos Café: Plenum Meeting [3/27]
(john davis) #2

Back in the 80’s, when I was working for a Gay organization in New York, a lesbian group announced that no man made pussy was allowed in their meeting. I had to tell the leaders of the lesbian group that the organization did not discriminate. As they themselves had experience of being discriminated against, this was a policy that they should respect.

My feeling is Durwin that you have a bit of ‘queer envy’. Being outside of a group we may imagine they have unfair advantages. As a gay person I have known legal discrimination directly and in many ways my life was destroyed by it. I am not a victim however and in many ways we have overcome a great deal. I would not recommend that to anyone. And I sense that your reluctance to adopt a masquerade strategy is probably wise.

It would have been easy to pass as a straight person but I did not. It was better to be honest even if punished than lie to get by.

Take care of your eye. I hope your troubles are few and that you find a balance even though you feel ‘stumped’. You obviously have a generous nature and I’m sure that the postmodern excesses we are experiencing are not nearly as intensely painful as the medicalization of gays due to AIDS or the destruction brought upon by sodomy laws.

If post modern wave is a problem we must recall what those who were suffering in the 80’s and 90’s were up against.

(Durwin Foster) #3

Three children to house, feed and educate, as well.

(john davis) #4

God bless you, Durwin, you are a good man.

(Durwin Foster) #5

Those are very kind words…bless you too, Johnny :slight_smile:

(Marco V Morelli) #6

Durwin, thank you for vulnerably sharing your story, recounting a sense that perhaps you are not being given a fair shot professionally or maybe even as a human being. I believe the situation you describe represents a koan for you. While I don’t find your proposed gender transition to be non-disingenuous (though I’m open to being surprised) I do think you may be onto something with the idea of re-imagining your self or identity.

How might you recreate yourself, and how far would you go with it, to realize who you truly feel you are? Who would you have to become to give what you feel you have to give?

Your feeling ‘stumped’ may actually be your path. I wonder, if you really grappled with that feeling openly, where it would lead you.

(Mark Davenport) #7

Durwin, Jordan Peterson would be the go-to guy for advice in your situation, if advice is what you want.

i can relate on an “earlier generation” version of your situation when I applied for a civil service exam in Wisconsin in the 90’s. This was after not being selected, despite multiple excellent exam results. I applied as a black candidate and was soon selected. Despite being obviously white, it took the state a full year to notice, whereupon I was immediately terminated.

But, thanks to your “advice” above, I now see that I should have explained that I was indeed not misrepresenting myself. Rather I was simply awaiting my melanin augmentation surgery.

Apropos, Durwin, if you’d like to go public (or perhaps even incognito) with your story, Heidi and I would like you to consider joining us in a Google Hangout as part of our “Conversations that Matter” series on our website at

And hope that eye thing resolves itself!
-Mark Davenport

(Durwin Foster) #8

I think there is a gender element in all recreations of identity. It might not be the dominant aspect, but to me, since we are integrated beings, there will be some element of permutations and combinations of yin/yang in that process. And you, definitely seem to have some “therapist” in you ;). I have really been enjoying the counselling work with the students at SFU – until that last incident where I guess I realized that the postmodern university really IS limited in much the way that many integralists have critiqued it to be. That said, I only believe Jordan Peterson is half right…he’s just too angry to be 100 percent correct, and also, I know personally the professor who was his counterparty in the gender pronouns fight up here. She was a professor of mine, and very supportive of my academic path back along the way. If she was reacting to Peterson, then probably she is picking up on something amiss with his approach, as not being integrative. I think my path is to develop the assessment of sex/gender with Lectica. So that is what I am going to do, while continuing to be a support to all my friends’ projects. I very much enjoy being in that support role, as well!

(Durwin Foster) #9

Hi Mark, I don’t want to go in an overtly political direction with this. I think Marco is partly right that this is about my identity, not only a political fight. That said, what I would love to speak with you about on that series would be my sex/gender assessment project. This is a missing piece in the integral zone, imo.

(john davis) #10

I support that plan, whole heartedly, Durwin. I’m sure you will make a valuable contribution. You have chosen a path with a heart.

I really appreciate this insight, Durwin. I get a gut feeling when listening to Peterson that he is really off center . He seems to have a dangerous lack of paradox and is supporting the bullies on the playground. There is a strong tendency towards either/or kind of thinking and a severe lack of both/and. He is a polarizing figure and I would say from observing his video performances not an Integral thinker at all.

Since our political discourse has disintegrated to lower levels I appreciate your desire to stay focused on your admirable plan to bring forward your work. Lectica deserves a wide audience.

And I do hope your eye is recovering!

(Mark Davenport) #11

Hi again, Durwin, We can certainly respect your desire not to overplay the politics in this situation, and are very pleased that you are considering our megaphone to speak about your sex/gender assessment project.
Could we Skype about this at some time/day convenient for you?


(Durwin Foster) #12

Thanks for much for you support, Johnny!! The eye is recovering, although I am feeling woozy from the antibiotics, so will keep this brief for now.

(Durwin Foster) #13

Hello Mark, I’d love to connect about at it just as soon as my “stint” at the university counselling center is over, which is Nov. 24th. Do you want to set up a skype time for the week following that? We can take that off of Infinite Conversations – set it up via email :).

(Mark Davenport) #14

Sure, Durwin, Let’s connect toward the end of the month via email. We already have those addresses, i’m sure. At this point, for broadcast dates, we have Dec. 21 still open or all of January, except the 18th.
All the best,

(Durwin Foster) #15

I want to add a little “coda” to this post. It was very helpful to me to write this post, express myself. AND, the story didn’t end there. One evening shortly after writing this post, I did some gazing at the photo of the transgendered coordinator of sexual violence services at Simon Fraser U. I did my best to “feel into” their experience. And then when I slept, I took a dream journey into their world. Suffice to say when I awoke the next morning I was aware of how very challenging, indeed, this individual’s life path must be, as the dream felt like a nightmare to me. We know statistically that 45% of transgendered individuals attempt suicide, as well. So while most of us will never be “transgender” in a concrete way, we will all be better off when we grow up in our gender line of development to the point of being “trans/gender”.

(Geoffrey Edwards) #16

As someone who once investigated the process of gender reassignment seriously, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me, I agree wholeheartedly, Durwin @DurwinFoster. I sense that the reason the trans issue has gained momentum so quickly in the last few years (after a long, slow burn) is that it taps into deep identity issues in the general population that are not only not addressed in our current social fabrics, but which have been actively suppressed to everyone’s detriment.