'Women must veil their form': Associate dean resigns from law school after 'sexist' and 'homophobic' book excerpts spark controversy

Kerry Justich
Law professor and assistant dean at University of Oklahoma resigns after “sexist” words. (Photo: The University of Oklahoma)
Law professor and assistant dean at University of Oklahoma resigns after “sexist” words. (Photo: The University of Oklahoma)

A professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law has resigned after excerpts from his 2014 book sparked controversy for being “homophobic” and “sexist.”

Brian McCall, a law professor and associate dean for academic affairs, first faced criticism from the university’s student newspaper the Oklahoma Daily when it was discovered that he had been named the editor in chief of Catholic Family News. The publication is run by Catholic Family Ministries, which was classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

However, aside from McCall’s ties to anti-Semitism through his involvement with the paper, students at the newspaper discovered some of his personal views on women and marriage when looking at excerpts from his book titled To Build the City of God: Living as Catholics in a Secular Age.

From referencing the “insanity” of gay marriage, to insisting that women must wear skirts instead of pants, McCall’s book includes a host of controversial views — many of which appeared in a chapter called “Modest Contact With the World: Women In Pants and Similar Frauds.”

“Women must veil their form to obscure its contours out of charity towards men,” the chapter reads, according to the Oklahoma Daily. “To know that women in pants have this effect on men and to wear them is thus a sin against charity as well as modesty.”

Furthermore, the professor pointed out that no woman or girl in his family is allowed to wear pants. Instead, he notes that skirts illustrate the “modest restraint” that women should have.

“If there is something really impossible to do in a skirt, does this not indicate this is an activity inappropriate for a woman to perform?” McCall wrote. “A simple test of modest and feminine behavior can be summarized: if you can’t do it modestly and gracefully in a skirt, you shouldn’t do it at all.”

The Oklahoma Daily reported that another chapter includes McCall’s opinions on women in the household, for instance that they shouldn’t leave the house to work and that only men should take on the duty of voting. In the chapter on marriage, he wrote, “A society that cannot distinguish between a marriage and a perversion of nature has lost all grip on reality.”

According to the University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents’ academic freedom policy, faculty members have “full freedom in research and publication,” so long as it doesn’t interfere with their academic duties. The trouble for McCall, however, stems from his position as an associate dean.

Cary Nelson, a University of Illinois professor emeritus and former president of the American Association of University Professors who frequently writes about academic freedom, spoke to the Oklahoma Daily about the difference in the protections provided to faculty and those in administrative positions. Namely, a faculty member is speaking for himself, while an administrator is a representative of the university, which would allow the university to revoke his administrative title. McCall resigned from his administrative position as a result of outside pressures but retains his professorship.

In a statement to Yahoo Lifestyle, McCall says, “Public pressure put me in a position where I had no other choice but to relinquish my administrative responsibility. I am saddened that I have had to give up the opportunity to work for our students simply because of my sincerely held Catholic beliefs. I have written extensively over my career about the virtue of justice. I believe it an injustice and a sin to treat someone not on the merits of what they do simply because they do not agree with me.”

The OU law school’s dean, Joseph Harroz Jr., released a statement on Facebook denouncing McCall’s views. He added that an investigation into McCall came up with no evidence of “workplace harassment or discrimination.”

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