The Irrepressible Rothbard
Essays of Murray N. Rothbard
Edited by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
BRATS OF MILLS
When President Mary Metz and the administration of upper-class women-only Mills College made the mournful announcement that this venerable Oakland, California, institution would have to admit males, the reaction of the Mills undergraduates was recorded by TV for all posterity. Suffice it to say that they did not act like the responsible Women Leaders of tomorrow. On the contrary: they sobbed, cried, yelled, and set up such a geschrei that one would have thought that a third of their number had just been mowed down by assassins' bullets.
The Mills ladies then proceeded to unleash a rather genteel strike and campus takeover, which cunningly got them past final exams, and was treated with obvious sympathy by the Metz administration, which only pointed out plaintively that the unwanted admission of males was mandated by stern financial necessity. But then, with a blare of trumpets, the alumnae (cavalry) saved the day, rallying around with enough financial pledges and plans to stave off the dreaded day of male admissions for at least three years.
A few of the more astute observers thought they saw a double standard at work. In fact, there were at least two sets of double standards. The most obvious is the fact that after a decade of feminist battering at the alleged evils of all-male colleges ("sexism," segregation, discrimination, refusal to prepare females for adult careers, etc.) suddenly feminists have shifted gears to defend the glory, the importance, and the superior life-preparing education of single-sex female colleges.
When gently asked about this clear contradiction by Forrest Sawyer on Nightline, a Mills strike advocate could only answer with evasive gobbledegook. But there is another anomaly, too. For the partisans of an all-female Mills claim that women need the "nurturing, caring" environment that only an all-female atmosphere can give, free of the competition and aggressiveness of males. The problem here, clearly, is this: does feminism preach, as it has for decades, that there is no difference whatever (except the famed le petit difference) between the two sexes, that their capacities, traits, etc. are all equal, the same, or are they saying, as feminists have recently taken to arguing, that women are very different, that they are nurturing, caring, etc., and therefore superior to men? And how can they say both at the same time, or have it both ways?
These are cogent questions, but they have not penetrated to the heart of the feminist agenda. Here is how these seemingly embarrassing contradictions and double standards can be resolved: men are the evil, victimizer sex; women are the good, victimized sex. The two genders are ineluctable enemies. Therefore, all tactics and strategies are permissible and valuable if they result in the victory of women over the Male Enemy. Hence, attack one-sex colleges if they are male, proclaim their greatness if they are female. If you are talking about qualities such as career advancement, intelligence, success, proclaim women as exactly man's equal and denounce as "sexist" any intimation to the contrary; but if you are talking about such good things as nurturing, peace, etc., proclaim women's innate superiority. Don't worry about such "objective" qualities as fairness, logic, truth, or non-contradiction; remember, all's fair in hate and war.
Epilogue: When President Metz proudly announced that the alumnae had come through (to the tune of happy shrieks, sobs and cries), she proclaimed that this passionate devotion to women's education had "made history." But the Mills Leaders of Tomorrow promptly "corrected" her, shouting back, "herstory." This is expensive, elite education in today's America? Hey, President Metz, do you believe that the Greek word historia means "his story"?
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