Sexism and the Draft

THE MAIL

To the Editors of The Crimson:

I was quoted in your March 17th article on the survey on the possibility of reinstating the draft and I would like to raise several objections to the article as a whole and to the use of my quote specifically.

Without stating this as its intention, the article analyzed the data collected according to the gender of the people surveyed. The individual who interviewed me never suggested that the survey was in any way concerned with women's opinions or women's issues, nor did he mention the fact that he was recording men's and women's answers seperately. Yet in the article the responses are grouped statistically according to sex and discussed along the same lines.

The distortion which this creates is partially clear where my statement is concerned. I said that "Most wars are fought for idiotic reasons and destroy more than they create." I made this statement as an individual speaking about an issue which concerns me deeply because of its effects on all living things. In the article this quote is sandwitched between two statements about what "many women" said. War is a subject on which I have very strong feelings. I would be very hesitant to make any statement about other women's views on the subject or about the extent to which my feelings have to do with the fact that I am a woman. The article does not state any opinion on these matters either. It does something more deceptive. It suggests through the context in which I am quoted that I speak as a woman rather than as a human being, and that my opinions result from the fact that I am a woman, not from the fact that I am a human being. In doing this, the Crimson insidiously perpetuates stereotypical ideas about the differences between men and women, with all the sexist implications about the subjectivity and emotionality of women's thinking which goes with these stereotypes. This is particularly ludicrous to me because this is a topic on which the members of my family of both sexes, including my father, who was in combat in World War II, agree wholeheartedly.

The inadequacy of this reporting job does not end here, however. The questions are presented in the article in slightly different forms than they were presented to me. Further, the interviewer gave me the impression that I would only be represented statistically, as opposed to being quoted verbatim. While I stand firmly behind the substance of my statement I would have presented my views in more considered and thorough terms had I been aware of this possibility. This is because, as any journalist knows, a printed statement creates a very different impression than a spoken one. The former is clearly extremely liable to misrepresentation and misunderstanding.

It is clear to me that both the research and the reporting involved in this article written by "The Crimson Staff" was extremely careless and irresponsible. Through such carelessness The Crimson avoids shedding new light on complex and important issues such as the views men and women have on war and draft. Instead it merely serves to support the common stereotypes and misconceptions which plague discussion of everything concerning human beings. Erica Cohen, '79