Friday, May 15, 2009

An alum asks: is Princeton overrun by ladies?

by Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux

Approximately 8 people (men and women) have sent me this letter from the May 13 Princeton Alumni Weekly, so I'm writing a brief post about it, even though I would really, really just prefer to ignore it. John H. Schmid, Jr., a member of the class of '45 (which makes him older than my grandfather AND John McCain), has expressed his discontent with the "feminization" of his alma mater, lamenting the loss of the "distinctly masculine flavor" of days gone by. The only example that he cites deals with changes to the taproom of the Nassau Inn - apparently the staff decided that they needed to cater to the new wave of womenfolk, and turned it all frilly (I think there's a plan to make the decorations tampon-themed, just to make the men really uncomfortable).

It's hard to take the letter seriously, because it's clearly just grumbling - Schmid complains that he's surprised that "other male graduates are not upset by these developments," and rounds off his letter by sniping at the women of the PAW editorial board. More than anything, it reminds me of last year, when I was working at Reunions (an experience which no amount of money could entice me to relive). One elderly gentleman decided that it would be appropriate to grab my ass as I walked by, holding two large coffee carafes (which were empty, luckily for him). Another, after missing his chair and crashing to the ground next to me, showering me in beer, accused me of stealing his chair and called me a "dumb broad." These little reminders of Princeton's history - only 20 years ago, there were still all-male eating clubs - don't surprise me, but they are saddening, especially because dialogue about feminism is still hard to find today.

But really, I think it's good to be reminded that there are living alumni who don't want women or minorities at Princeton (one of them is even on the Supreme Court), and that this history is very real. There's a tendency to assume that because we don't confront sexism on a daily basis, we've eradicated it. But John H. Schmid, Jr., has very kindly pointed out that conversations about feminism are still extremely relevant - while his half-reasoned rantings are still getting published in Princeton magazines, the fight's not over yet. This year, all of the eating club presidents are still male, and as well as a large percentage of the USG. I don't think that we ladies have created our feminazi man-eating paradise at Old Nassau quite yet - just give us another ten years or so.


At May 16, 2009 at 10:16 AM , Anonymous Apaf-1 said...

I have heard women involved in male politics say about our political system almost the same words I have heard battered women use about their abusers: ‘Of course our government isn’t perfect, but where is there a better one? With all its faults, it is still the best system (husband) in the world.’ Like a battered wife, they never think to ask the really relevant questions: who said we needed a husband, or a husband-state, at all?

For more on the ominous parallels between patriarchy and statism, see Roderick Long and Charles Johnson's essay on libertarian feminism. They make a similar analogy:

Just as, under patriarchy, forced sex is not recognized as real or fully serious rape unless the perpetrator is a stranger rather than one’s husband or boyfriend, so, under statism, governmental coercion is not recognized as real or fully serious tyranny unless it happens under a non-democratic government, a “dictatorship.” The marriage vow, as a rape license, has its parallel in the electoral ballot, as a tyranny license. Those who seek to withhold consent from their country’s governmental apparatus altogether get asked the same question that battered women get asked: “If you don’t like it, why don’t you leave?” — the man’s rightful jurisdiction over the home, and the state’s over the country, being taken for granted. It’s always the woman, not the abusive man, who needs to vacate the home (to go where?); it’s likewise the citizen, not the abusive state, that needs to vacate the territory (to go where?).

At May 17, 2009 at 9:13 PM , Anonymous Emily Sullivan said...


I don't understand how your comment is relevant to this post. Care to explain?


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