Kelly Garcia writes:

What is the goal of the Women’s Center?

I went to one of their meetings to ask. I was told that our society was built around male ejaculation. They told me it was their goal to replace this paradigm with something better. Confused, I asked for clarification. They told me to take a course on women’s studies and refused to clarify further. Considering how uncomfortable I was as the only man in a room with at least a dozen feminist women, I don’t think I’m brave or stupid enough to put myself in a similar academic setting.

The Women’s Center appears to me to define dialog as a willingness on the part of their opponents to consider that their positions are wrong and that the Women’s Center is right. I commend that. But I’ve seen no signs that the Women’s Center as a whole is willing to seriously and publicly question its own fundamental tenets. They accuse others of being close-minded but give no evidence of themselves as being genuinely open-minded on the issues.

Again, the key distinction is between the Women’s Center (a Williams College administrative unit that should be maximally inclusive and not ideologically driven) and the Women’s Collective (a Williams student group with whatever ideological views its members happen to hold). I, like all good Ephs, celebrate the existence of the Women’s Collective, even though I find their views absurd. The greater the diversity of voices in the Eph conversation, the better. The problem comes when that particular view controls the Women’s Center.

One of the reasons that a Women’s Center is a bad idea is because women who disagree with the views of the Women’s Collective think that a Women’s Center is unnecessary and, therefore, don’t bother with it.

UPDATE: Andrew Goldston ’09 has further thoughts and a great quote.

Perhaps a good analogy would be if Williams had a “Poltics Center” instead of a “Women’s Center.” Now, one can imagine a case for a Politics Center, an administrative unit of the college with dedicated space and staff (perhaps just a CLC assigned to it, perhaps something more permanent). Such a Center would, to fulfill its mission, have to be non-ideological. It would need to represent all points of view, invite speakers with different perspectives and so on. If, for whatever reason, a Politics Center became indistinguishable from College Democrats, than that would indicate that Williams does not need such a center as an administrative unit of the College.

Similarly, a Women’s Center that actually did the same (non-ideological, events from all view points) might be good idea. But here, in the real world, such a Women’s Center is impossible because Williams women who do not subscribe to the viewpoint of the Women’s Collective think that the whole idea of a Women’s Center is stupid. So, they don’t participate. So, all the events are leftist (or use whatever ideological terminology you like). Certainly, there has been no attempt to, say, invite Wendy Shalit ’97 to campus.

A Women’s Center is a bad idea. With luck, it will whither away in due course. But long live the Women’s Collective! The more active student groups there are on campus, whether or not you agree with their point of view, the better.

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