Harassment?

MAIL

To the Editors of The Crimson:

It is good to see so much discussion being generated over the recent events at Mather; though much of it is angry and heated, it is communication nonetheless. In reading the letters that have been written to The Crimson (March 3), however, I am surprised to find a number of young Harvard men rallying around the evils of sexual harassment (for this, they claim, is the "real" issue here).

Now this is a delightful new surprise; never before has a group of Harvard men so vehemently banded around this cause. Maybe these students would like to join Harvard women in a march sometime? I don't know if I'm making myself clear here, but let me be blunt--there's a gross double standard being used in these arguments.

Although the exact happenings of the night of February 19 are unclear to most of us, I will assume for the purposes of this letter that Mr. Buckley's account covers the extent of them. By this account, the events of that night seem to fall far short of the unofficially maintained standards of what constitutes sexual harassment at Harvard.

This is not to say that these standards are adequate, only to suggest that suddenly lowering them for a case of male-to-male harassment is highly suspect. If Buckley's friend is to receive some medal as the victim of sexual harassment in this incident, some-body had better make hundreds of them, because many women at this university have much better stories than that to tell (funny how our stories never get much sympathy).

If Buckley's friend had been a woman, it is doubtful that she would have pressed sexual harassment charges and been awarded the support that he is now getting--and if the gay student involved had been a woman rather than a man, I doubt further that anyone would have said anything at all. The reaction to the approaches of the gay student were thus contingent on both students being male. And this reaction is what Defeat Homophobia and the BGLSA are taking about. The issue with this reaction is homophobia.

Many people get very defensive when charged with being anything other than completely tolerant, but this self-conception simply is not very realistic. We have all grown up in the same world, which tries to to teach us very intolerant values. We have all swallowed homophobic attitudes: straight, bi and gay alike. It is fruitless to waste energy sidetracking the issue to defend our egos to each other; we must take what we have and make it better. There is no use for complacency here, only improvement. Elizabeth Flax '89-'90

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