What Exactly Do You Mean By 'Pansy'?


To the Editors of The Crimson:

Would Nur Yalman, professor of social anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies, please explain his use of the word "pansy" in the April 24 Crimson news article, "Arab Scholar Ajami Negotiating Tenure"? The professor was quoted as saying, "He is a man of strong opinions. He is not a pansy on criticizing the Arabs."

The only non-horticultural dictionary definitions of "pansy" are a) an effeminate youth and b) a male homosexual.

Yalman's use of the word "pansy" is tantamount to saying that an African-American is not an "Uncle Tom", or that a woman is not a "bitch." Maybe these crass analogies will convey to the professor, to his readers and to the editors who allowed his comments to be printed without note, the offensiveness of "pansy" to the gay community.

If Harvard professors set this kind of example, what are we to expect of their students? Charles R. Flatt '92   Co-Chair, Bi-sexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association