DURING MY second week at Harvard, a well-respected student politico and House social chairman came to sell me and my roommates HSA Harvard rings. He advised, "Better buy one before the mixers. All the girls in Boston are dying to go to bed with a Harvard man." His sales pitch neatly merged our past experience with what we were to find at Harvard.
In public high school even the girls who had been Achieving academically began to be trained that dating us and preparation for marriage was the only proper area for their self-fulfillment. Segregated prep schools would not exist if it weren't considered important to instill different roles in boys and girls.
At Harvard, women do not speak much in class. In a large lecture hall, everyone faces forward during a question-and-answer period unless a girl begins talking. Hundreds of surprised faces turn to look because it has been made a part of us that it is more important what women look like than what they say or feel. Rooms at Radcliffe are small, only bedrooms, often two girls to only one room. Rooms at Harvard are suites with living rooms. The idea is that women do not need to have female friends. If people want to live together, the girl must move in with the boy, adopting his friends and his life. On weekends, women can eat at Harvard but men cannot eat at Radcliffe.
Women are here to listen to us talk and to sleep with us. Other women get paid a few dollars an hour to serve us more potatoes, sir, or to do the paper work necessary to record our decisions and make our success easier. It is not necessary to wonder how demeaning their roles are, for they are meant to stand behind our success.