Joanne V. Creighton, president of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts, penned an opinion piece for the Boston Globe expressing support for female-only colleges:
THE NAMING of a woman president of Harvard is a giant step for womankind and for Harvard itself, long a bastion of white-male privilege. That the new president will cross the street from Radcliffe Yard to Harvard Yard seems especially freighted with symbolic import. Because women are no longer excluded from the academy, and because, like Drew Gilpin Faust, they are in greater numbers assuming positions of leadership within it, some might think that women’s colleges are now redundant or outmoded and that they should, therefore, follow Radcliffe’s example by either assimilating into a formerly all-male institution or going coed themselves. While many have done so, about 60 women’s colleges remain in this country, and only one of the “Seven Sisters,” Vassar, went coed and did that in 1969, nearly 40 years ago. Why do Mount Holyoke, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Smith, and Wellesley — and dozens of other women’s colleges — stubbornly carry on as single-sex institutions?
Because feminists like you have declared that as far as men and women are concerned, there is such a thing as separate as equal – as long as we’re talking about female-only colleges, of course. Now if we’re talking male-only colleges, well we just know they are bastions of white-male privilege and all.
Key to understanding this is remembering how recently, and sometimes how begrudgingly, women have been invited into male institutions. It has been only for a generation or two, not long enough to wipe out vestiges of sexism. Charles Eliot, a longtime president of Harvard, said in his 1869 inaugural address that he had doubts about the “natural mental capacities” of the female sex, a remark eerily echoed by a recent Harvard president.
That last remarks is flat out lie, as this Slate piece written by William Saletan makes crystal clear. As Greg Lukianoff at FIRE notes, Larry Summers (the Harvard president in question who was forced to step down) suggested at the speech that offended so many of the perpetually offended “that there might be different levels of aptitude for science between men and women at the highest cognitive levels.” There was such a decidedly negative reaction to his speech – mostly by self-important feminists (one MIT professor reportedly nearly fainted after she heard the remarks) – that it makes one wonder at the maturity of a group of supposedly enlightened women who bristle at the slightest criticism without taking the time to analyze it, yet aren’t afraid to throw out tons of unsubstantiated claims about men – which men are supposed to sit back and take without comment.
Back to Creighton:
A woman’s college, in contrast, is the equivalent of Virginia Woolf’s “room of one’s own,” a college of women’s own, free of many of the inhibiting presumptions of the male-dominated world. With its own powerful traditions, norms, and values, and a sense of wholeness sui generis, a women’s college helps to develop in students a sense of confidence, competence, and agency. Graduates are more able to see gender-repression when they encounter it and to distinguish between personal and systemic barriers to success.
But – couldn’t most of those arguments apply to a male-only institution, too? Not in Creighton’s world of separate but equal.
The level of hypocrisy as demonstrated in this piece by Creighton as well as others in the feminist movement on a variety of other ‘women’s issues’ is no less than staggering. These are the very same types of people who demand ‘equal rights’ for women, yet in actuality would be perfectly content being the dominant sex, rather than having the two sexes be equal partners in life. They’re pro-the successful woman, unless that woman is using her body to, in part, help her make money (actresses, singers, models, etc) in spite of the fact that their feminist sisters before them paved the way to make that sort of thing socially acceptable and ‘the norm.’
I’m actually cool with having all-female colleges. But I’m also cool with something rad-feminists are not: all-male colleges. For the sake of consistency if nothing else, you can’t be ok with having one but not the other. But then again, consistency isn’t exactly a hallmark of the fem-elite.