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Women's Studies



To the Editors of The Crimson:

I was appalled by the ignorance, snideness, and downright rudeness (not to mention lack of wisdom) in the editorial "Women's Studies or Politics" by Jeffery Wise. Women's studies is an academic discipline. Scholars in this field may have originally had their degrees in sociology, psychology, history, political science, anthropology, literature and other fields. They have focused on one part of their discipline, such as "women in literature" just as a biologist may specialize in genetics. They gain further insight through interdisciplinary approaches. Unless Mr. Wise wishes to assert that the above mentioned academic fields are invalid or that interdisciplinary approaches, such as the Social Studies concentration here at Harvard, are academically invalid he has no basis to assert that women's studies are academically invalid.

This is not an issue of "sensitivity," it is an issue of recognizing a valid academic discipline. Since Wise not only does not, but I believe can not show that women's studies is not academically valid, his argument that this is just a political move is unwarranted. If the discipline were invalid there is no reason to be ashamed of the support it has received from political trends. That would be like calling the admission of women into institutions of higher education merely a political move that was academically invalid, just because the admissions were achieved with the help of "socio-political fortune."

The number of men who would major in women's studies is not a measure of its academic worth. Just as women are still discouraged somewhat from majoring in engineering (does the paucity of women majoring in engineering lessen its academic validity, Jeff), men may certainly be discouraged from majoring in women's studies because of the negative attitudes of those such as Jeff Wise who will question their academic worth if not their masculinity. However, for the record, I am a student in Gen Ed 100, Intorduction to Women's Studies, and there are at least five or six male students out of a class that numbers less than 15.

Finally, I would like to inform Mr. Wise that the only annoyance caused by your writing was caused by the ignorance you displayed. The use of he or she when the sex of the person whom one is talking about is unknown doesn't bother me in the least. As a matter of fact I have used this form since early in elementary school, long before I knew that sexism existed and that the exclusive use of the "he" pronoun was a part of that. The non-sexist use of language came naturally to me. I have to think (and it annoys me) if I wish not to use this form. To Mr. Wise such usage is a headache. I feel as much pity for him as I do for an ex-Klansman who finds it hard to stop using the word "coon." Christine Webber '88

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