New Feminist Group Formed

Organization Aims to Fill Gap in Campus Debate on Women

After much debate this semester over the role of women's groups on campus, a new organization has formed to stimulate discussion about feminist issues.

Rebecca M. Boggs '95, founder of Radcliffe and Harvard Students for Equality Feminism (RHSEF) said the group was formed to fill a gap in campus debate.

Equality feminism "looks at men and women as individuals first, and then as members of a gender group," according to Boggs. She said this different perspective is an alternative to the reductionist views that she feels dominates the current discussion.

"There is a self-dichotomy in debate about feminism, both in the national scene and on campus," said Bogs. "Each side makes a caricature of the other."

The formation of RESHELF follows a number of recent changes in campus women's groups.

In March, the Radcliffe Union of Students (RUS) debated whether to grant men voting privileges. In April, the proposition was voted down, 16-7.

Prompted by the changes RUS was considering, Seventh Sense, an informal discussion group, was springboard to stimulate feminist activity," said Ashwini Sukthankar '95' who helped revive the group.

But the group has hosted only a few, sparsely-attended meetings since its start in March.

Boggs said RHSEF's primary function will be to provide a forum for discussion and invite speakers to stimulate debate about feminist issues. She added that the group is not a "Partyline organization," and will not advance a specific political agenda.

Boggs hopes members of RHSEF will write in campus publications and introduce "equality feminism" into campus debate. Feminist leaders on campus said they view the new group as a positive development.

"There is definitely a space for it on campus," said Sukthankar. "Many women subscribe to that form of moderate feminism."

RHSEF's first event took place Monday evening in the Quincy House Junior Common Room and featured Visiting Professor of Government Jean Bethke Elshtain.

Elshtain is on the Board of Trustees for the Women's Freedom Network, a national group that advocates equality feminism.