THIS CHARACTERIZATION of the role of women at Harvard and of Harvard in this sexist society is not merely extrapolation from disconnected experiences. It is consciously taught to us by our "teachers," our predecessors. This year the idea of female inferiority was more clearly articulated than ever before, chiefly because of the issues of merger of Harvard and Radcliffe and equal enrollment of women and men. President Pusey said that we could not have equal enrollment because of our duty to the nation to provide leaders. Last Fall, Dean Watson told me that I was so enthusiastic about merger because I didn't realize how much it was going to decrease my benefits as a Harvard student. Chase Peterson, dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, told a Faculty meeting that continuation of co-ed housing would be dependent on renovation of Radcliffe dorms and provision of bus service from Radcliffe to the Yard. Men could not be expected to tolerate conditions women have lived under since Radcliffe's inception. Then, in February, a Faculty-alumni committee headed by Dean Peterson issued a report on the question of merger as it relates to Admissions and Financial Aids. An abridged version of the report appeared in the March 2 issue of Harvard Bulletin and was followed up by a letter to the Editor from Dean Peterson.
The report opposed merger because it would inevitably lead to a change in the male-female ratio:
One of the particular concerns we feel is that... the act of merger would stimulate the forces of change, and that, although at present there is no illegality in controlling such a ratio, it would be increasingly difficult to do so. The 4 to 1 ratio in admission of men and women has drawn little comment in the past because it represented essentially the housing capacity of the separate institutions.
The practical reasons given in the report for maintaining the present ratio were excruciatingly revealing. An increase in total enrollment to 9000 was convincingly dismissed because of the drain it would cause on money and on Cambridge housing space. But the reasons given against equalizing male and female enrollment at 3000 each had no foundation other than male supremacy. The first was based on the idea that only male companionship is important for both women and men. (Remember the construction of dorms at Harvard and Radcliffe.) A decrease in the number of men, the report argued, would mean that the remaining men, especially those in racial, geographical, and class minorities, would be so small in absolute numbers that they would have no male friends. In fact, the committee threatened, admitting more women "might force us to eliminate a number of such distinctive groups entirely." Not only were they saying that women from minorties need no female companionship so 1200 women is enough while 3000 men is too few, but they were dusting off the familiar tactic of dividing one oppressed group's fight from another's.
The second reason was that the departments now restricted by socialization to men would suffer from decreased male enrollment. Even for those who believe that a department can "suffer," the report was simply admitting that equal enrollment must be accompanied by abol? of all sex discrimination in the ?ersitp, in employment, on the ? and Administration, and in t? duate and professional schools.
The committee also said Radcliffe should be preserved? women's voice, that if it did ?ist, it would have to be created It is true that women need to talk, and act collectively, but Radcliffe, like a company union, does not serve that purpose. Radcliffe perl?rves to help a few women escap? of the worse effects of sexism. ? its size, its housing, its admini?, it is an integral part of Harvard ?sm, and certainly not a force doing or teaching equality for all.
Besides the practical reason ?st equal enrollment, Dean Pet?nd his committee alternated bet?wo theoretical or philosophical ?s, the pluralism idea that "w? ?re different" and the straigl?d declaration that women are ?
Pluralism is a common w? scuring power relations. A?n doesn't have power over his ?; they just have different role ? the prison system. The reas? that women fill different role ?-ety so they must be different ? they are different they can h? own colleges and shouldn't be varied. Women's Liberation how social roles have prescribe? men's behavior, not vice vers? Peterson does not even pret? Harvard and Radcliffe are but equal, just separate and d?. He wants to maintain the 4-t? not because they are getting a? education elsewhere but because ? can be better kept in their place where.
As euphemism, as politen? argument that women are "di? is sure to become the most ? argument for men to use ?. Women's Liberation, but Dean ? son does not stop there. He ? outright female inferiority:
'Would increased enrollment ? men be a fairer policy'... If the ?tion was taken to its logical conc? then all identifiable groups should ?ceive representation proportiona? to their numbers at large and not ability and potential of the indi? applicants within a group, race, o?
This pure sexism is the sa?. Agnew racism. In its theory it? choice between admitting me? of population groups according to numbers or according to ability though ability is naturally destroy? unevenly between men and wo? for example. And in its practice means channeling women away ? preparation for Harvard from the? they are born until the end of school, a? "discovering" that they don't me? "admissions standards," or that they can better find what they ? "want" e?where.