Sexism

From Our Readers

To the Editors of The Crimson:

Last week, several men hosted a social event open to all house members. The walls of their common room sported numerous Response posters which they had torn down from their rightful locations and upon which they had written comments. Appended to one rape victim's expression of anguish was the comment which says it all: "She asked for it." You don't have to be a Response rape counselor or a "radical communist lesbian" to be shocked by the realization that Harvard students think these issues are funny. Yet, these gentlemen were taken aback when house members complained. It had not occured to them that their behavior was offensive.

That same week, I came upon several classmates discussing the "Take Back the Night" march and rally. When I asked one if he had participated, he laughed, apparently finding it amusing to think of a man attending such an event. Rather than thinking about and sympathizing with the fear which motivated the rally, he complained about the noise which disturbed his studying. Another was even more annoyed: "They don't have to be so militant. Why don't they just ask for more police protection?" My friend seems to think violence against women need not concern him. Women alone are respoonsible for protecting themselves, and men do not need to change their behavior.

These are merely two examples of a widespread lack of sensitivity toward problems faced by women. A surprisingly and disturbingly large number of people think that issues like rape and sexual harassment are not applicable to Harvard life, and that threats to women exist only in the minds of a hysterical and paranoid "they."

The fact that people still take lightly the issues of sexual harassment and rape proves that concern and protest is fully justified and necessary. And the fact that my housemates did not event think twice about displaying their sexism proves that even Harvard society is a long way from recognizing the relevancy and urgency of feminist concerns. Not long ago the popular "Amos & Andy" radio and TV shows provided millions of Americans with "humor" derived from the humiliationm of Blacks. Such "humor" was considered perfectly acceptable in mainstream American society until very recently, and it would still be acceptable today, if it were not for the "militant paranoia" of civil rights activists. Why isn't the battle against sexism, in its many forms and varying degrees of violence, given the same respect and support as the battle against racism? Katrina Schwartz '87   Ruthie Gelfarb '87