–John Dryden (The Hind and the Panther, 1687)
The recent uproar at Harvard University over remarks by its president, Larry Summers, who offered explanations for the lack of parity of female faculty in mathematics and science, might at first be dismissed by normal folks as just another academic tempest in a teapot. His heinous transgression, it appears, was to challenge an assembly of brilliant intellectuals to examine all the factors that might bear on an academic problem of long standing. But Harvard’s elite faculty, the brightest of the bright, is offended at being asked to consider explanations other than sex discrimination.
Alas, victims are everywhere–even at Harvard University with its billions of endowment.
It is hard for the average person to take this fracas seriously. Only residents of the Ivory Tower could possibly be overwrought at the mere suggestion that research is needed to determine whether a lack of parity might, just might, be related to some innate differences between men and women. Who else would be outraged at the idea that the differing percentages between the sexes concentrating on various subjects might have something to do with males having particular aptitudes that cause them to tend to cluster in certain disciplines while women have aptitudes that incline them to pursue careers in other subjects? There are, admittedly, exceptions. The point is explaining the reason for disproportions.
After all, what normal person would jump to the conclusion that anything less than an exact 50-50 male-female split in any and every discipline could be anything other than prima facie evidence of sexual discrimination? It is enough to bring to mind the words of Euripides, “Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad,” a saying converted years later by John Dryden into English rhyme.
But there is more to the Harvard imbroglio than the contretemps of the faculty and the question of Larry Summers’ tenure as president of Harvard. In time, I predict, we will look back on these events and see them as the high-water mark of radical feminists’ influence in academia, the beginning of the ultimate collapse of feminism in its last bastion of power.
One of the first acts of the second Han Dynasty was the writing of a History of the Former Han Dynasty. The purpose of the Chinese chronicle was to legitimate the dynasty’s ascension to power by documenting how the first Han Dynasty, whose rule had initially been benevolent and consistent with the moral order, lost the Mandate of Heaven and thus its right to rule.
It seems that the time has come to write the history of feminism in order to document its loss of mandate and its claim to speak for all women. Radicals hijacked a movement which had originally fought for ordinary women to have equal opportunity in society (the right to vote, to own property, to be educated, and, yes, not to be discriminated against–all things consistent with the true moral order) and converted it into something abhorrent to nature. These second-wave feminists come in several stripes ranging from sexual libertines, as promiscuous as any man could be, to man-hating lesbians. In either case, their determination was to take the traditional Judeo-Christian values that had regulated the sexual affairs of women through the ages and turn them upside down.
Marriage and motherhood were viewed as primary obstacles to the careers that would provide independence from men. The traditional family had to go. No-fault divorce and abortion on demand became vital weapons with which to assault the old social order. Borrowing from the civil rights movement, feminists jumped on a bandwagon to obtain judicially imposed quotas and preferences, the weapons of choice to besiege the political and economic order. Certainly very real sex discrimination needed to be rooted out. But parity soon gave way to a bloodlust for power and the war between the sexes went from the occasional skirmish to trench warfare and poison gas. The mounting toll of this vicious combat has been staggering: 43 million abortions, 35 million children affected by divorce, 50 million women living a lifestyle for which the Census Bureau uses the bland category (tragic in its implications) “unrelated individuals.”
The right to lead is a high privilege. Harvard’s faculty shows a wanton contempt for the fundamental obligation of scholarship: to search for the truth, thereby calling into question the legitimacy of their claim to the honor of leadership.
How can they model being truth seekers when for them the only truth is their androgynous ideology? Any facts that call their ideology into question must be bludgeoned into oblivion. Their irrational rage over the idea that a lack of parity in all disciplines could be evidence of anything other than discrimination has come as a revelation to ordinary, fair-minded women who know, in their heart of hearts, that there are some things that they are better at than others.
For the radical feminists, equality of opportunity is not enough. It is no longer sufficient to have empowerment to achieve their potential. They seek control: acquiring pure power for its own sake. They realize that a guarantee of power means demanding equality of outcome. But this aim, this result, can only be justified if men and women are identical in their aptitudes in all areas. Males and females must be interchangeable in their roles, positions and behavior.
Such interchangeability is so contrary to nature that any assertion in its support calls into question a great many things. Not the least of these is the fitness of these so-called intellectual giants to teach our daughters–particularly to teach them anything that bears on understanding the true nature of life and their roles within it.
These Harvard faculty members, well-compensated, enormously privileged women, by their over-bearing actions have stripped away the veil hiding the tyrannical impulses that lie behind their pretentious rhetoric. When feminist history is complete, it will show what a Pyrrhic victory was won by the women of Harvard when they humbled its president and, in the process, demonstrated that their mandate was certainly not one from Heaven.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., former university professor and academic dean, is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.