The Mail

To the Editors of The Crimson:

The tragic murder of Ethel Higgonet is a cause for reflection on the source of such violence. The fact that the violence took place right here, in our midst, rather than in Roxbury or in another part of Cambridge increases not the tragedy, but rather our a awareness of it. Violence is not meant to be a part of our life here at Harvard; violence is not meant to be part of life on Brattle Street.

As a result of this murder, particularly women are reminded that they should not be out alone at night. Their need for men to protect them is even greater now than before. This will probably even serve as an actual ego-booster to many men, and yet the tacit acceptance of a situation where women cannot move freely about, but are in constant need of a male escort is a participation in that violence.

On other levels of society, we are aware that violence can find vicarious expression. The maker of military strategy in his air-conditioned office is spared the reek of war, but nonetheless participates. One who is financially benefited from the production of arms need not necessarily wield them to be responsible for the resultant violence. With sex-related crimes this is also the case. The root of sexual violence is the linking of sex with a dominance-submission schema. Wherever there is sexual intercourse in the context of dominance/submission, it should rightfully be called rape. For in order to enforce dominance, agression must be employed, be it physical or psychological. I shudder to think of the number of rapes that probably occur on this very campus every day, to think of the numberless forced into submission, thereby making "actual," "overt," "illegal" rape by their partners unnecessary. Harvard males are not usually driven to the streets to find outlet for their agressive desires; they have outlets for dominance, whether in sexual intercourse itself or in a future as a successful professional person, with the option of a busing the power attached to that status.

Sometimes violence extendes beyond the territory we allot to it. A bombing of a munitions factory in an American city or a murder on Brattle street are considered abnormal. The privileged male, the educated male should be able to oppress subtly--to financially benefit from cheap labor without ever having to smell the sweat, to be certain that the women are under control and safely at home without ever having to say a word about it. Only it is not part of the plan that the women of one's own neighborhood are killed. That is dominance going beyond its boundaries.


Until it is recognized that such violence is simply the unplanned-for spilling-over of the dominance-submission schema, no amount of police security will control rape and sex-related crimes. Bernadette Brooten