WMST-L logo

Daphne Patai, Women's Studies, and the Chronicle

Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 19:51:13 -0500
From: Lisa Burke <lburke2 @ NJCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: "accuracy matters"
Well, I have resisted jumping into this discussion, but what can I say?   I
have to add a few ideas here:

The suggestion that every program has a focus or an agenda, ok, a political
agenda, is debatable.  I am not sure what fruitful results would be the
outcome of the energy spent, but I would like to throw a thought in here:
So what, if that is true?

Not having read the article/discussion at The Chronicle, I  make my remarks
carefully, not intending to put words into Prof. Patai's mouth.  However, I
read the follow-up discussion here as though Prof. Patai makes that
assertion as though having a political agenda, or an ideology about the
direction one's program, department, or (multidiscipline) discipline/field
of study should take as something bad, undesirable, to be avoided.  How
about considering that "political agenda" as part of an overall vision?

Making it sound as though Women's Studies is the only, or one of the few
places where this occurs is completely inaccurate!  And yes, accuracy does
matter, so let's look at this notion of a political agenda.  I have
experienced in my undergraduate training and teacher certification
preparation, that is for sure.  And I have experienced in at least half of a
dozen other disciplines and fields, and even outside the academy in business
and public service.  Customer service strategies are often motivated by a
certain agenda, so let's be fair here.

If Women's Studies has a political agenda as part of its function, let's be
clear there may be parts that are shared in common, but it is likely that
each program, in response to the setting where it finds itself, has its own
take and response, AS IS APPROPRIATE.

Women's and Gender Studies are valid fields of academic engagement and
scholarship, that we know.  Let's not use fancy scare talk to undermind
their rightful place both in the academy and in the community.

Isn't education about growth, development, and transformation of our
students, ourselves, our communities, our institutions, our society, too?

Lisa Burke
LBurke2  @  njcu.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 20:21:48 -0400
From: "Dra. Rosa Maria Pegueros" <rpe2836u @ POSTOFFICE.URI.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chronicle
Knowing my department chair as I do, I think the "subtext" of his visit was
to offer support when he perceived that the women's studies program was
being attacked. I am sure that that is why he schlepped over to my office
instead of just dropping me an e-mail or waiting to bump into me at the
department office.

I am troubled by the idea that all the members of an interdisciplinary
program could conspire to advance a political agenda. To borrow a phrase I
read today in the New York Times, most programs wouldn't be able to agree
on what to put on a pizza.

I believe, and I've written this to the list before, that
women's studies programs are organically political, i.e., they grew out of
women's activism. But just as there are severe divisions and antagonisms
within feminism, there are also strongly held opinions in women's studies
programs; in fact, probably moreso because of the critical- thinking skills
we develop as scholars. That the overwhelming majority of faculty in
women's studies programs are feminists, with feminist ideals and agendas,
should not surprise anyone.  Business majors don't usually end up in
philosophy departments, any more than couch potatoes get degrees in
physical ed. The problem is that there is still a silly idea that there is
some objective knowledge out there, and that women's programs fail to live
up to that ideal because its members have views that are biased.  So
somebody attacks women's studies, and then all the hyenas jump in to rip
apart the carcass. I think we should just relax and stop worrying about the
attacks on women's studies. Just brush them aside. The bleachers have
plenty of academics who will only teach the canon of Western Civilization,
but regardless of how many dinosaurs there are out there, the world is
changing and leaving them behind.  So, as we say in Rhode Island,

Rosa Maria Pegueros, J.D., Ph.D.   pegueros  @  uri.edu
Department of History           217C Washburn Hall
    & Women's Studies Program    Phone:(401) 874-4092
80 Upper College Road, Suite 3
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881        Fax  :(401) 874-2595
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 20:53:15 -0500
From: Lisa Burke <lburke2 @ NJCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chronicle
I hope I did not infer in my post, and erroneously say that I think there is
a single political agenda in Women's Studies, or that there is one at all.
I merely tossed the question back, so what if there is one, or a hundred?  I
hope my point is clear.

LBurke2  @  njcu.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 21:35:58 -0400
From: "Dra. Rosa Maria Pegueros" <rpe2836u @ POSTOFFICE.URI.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chronicle
No, no Lisa; I did not read you that way. I no longer have your post but I
agreed with what you wrote.  I was speaking more generally, i.e., about the
popular media who give Camille Paglia so much air time because of the silly
things she says about women's studies.


Rosa Maria Pegueros, J.D., Ph.D.   pegueros  @  uri.edu
Department of History           217C Washburn Hall
    & Women's Studies Program    Phone:(401) 874-4092
80 Upper College Road, Suite 3
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881        Fax  :(401) 874-2595
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 21:55:46 -0500
From: Lisa Burke <lburke2 @ NJCU.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chronicle
Thanks! I just wanted to be sure I was clear.  I think what is most
troubling to me about the attention given to Patai, Paglia, etc. is that
their visibility, welcomed by certain power brokers, is often motivated by
the efforts of a certain sphere of the power structure to undermind, even
sometimes ignorantly/passively rather than purposely/actively, Women's
Studies, Cultural Studies, etc.

I think if channels like The Chronicle made more spaces available for a
variety of voices and perspectives within Women's Studies, for example, then
there would be less attention paid here to voices like Patai's since the
diversity of opinions and experiences would be more accessible to the
general public and academia in general.

That's it from me for tonight,
LBurke2  @  njcu.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 01:14:54 -0300
From: Cecilia Maria Bacellar Sardenberg <cecisard @ UFBA.BR>
Subject: Re: Chronicle
    Though I did not have access to the Chronicle live program, I have been
following the ongoing discussions on the list and decided to speak out,
because I believe Rosie Pegueros hit on the major issue at hand:

 "I was speaking more generally, i.e., about the
>popular media who give Camille Paglia so much air time because of the silly
>things she says about women's studies."" 

    This is also true in Brazil.  THe popular media here only gives real
attention to women like Paglia who write 'silly things' about feminism
and/or women's studies, probably precisely to catch their attention and make
a name for themselves.  
    This does not mean that the media does not come to us scholars who are
doing serious work.  TO the contrary, I am constantly receiving calls from
reporters (particularly on International Women's Day, or around Sept.28, the
day of the Latin American Women's Coallition for the Decriminalization of
Abortion, for instance), to give them all sorts of information on the widest
range of subjects, most of which are not within my specialty areas. THe real
problem is that they are primarily interested on getting the article written
in the shortest amount of time (and usually come to us on the evening of the
deadline), and want us to blurt out data during a 5 minute telephone call,
even when we say that we are not experts on that subject matter. THe worst
part is that they often distort what we say, or take phrases totally out of
context, and we end up sounding just as silly as Paglia.

    I am saying this because just today I received one such telephone call
and was told by the harrassing reporter that I wasn't very cooperative for
telling him, very nicely, that I could not give him the information he
wanted, at least not through the telephone. If he wanted to, he could e-mail
me the questions and I would e-mail the answers back, to make sure he would
get things right....

Cecilia M. B. Sardenberg, PhD
Professora do Depto. de Antropologia e Pesquisadora do
N·cleo de Estudos Interdisciplinares sobre a Mulher-NEIM
Faculdade de Filosofia e CiOncias Humanas
Universidade Federal da Bahia
Estrada de Spo Lßzaro, 197 - Federatpo
40.210-730   Salvador, Bahia    BRAZIL
Telefax: (55-71)237-8239  (work)
cecisard  @  ufba.br
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 10:46:37 -0400
From: Daphne Patai <daphne.patai @ SPANPORT.UMASS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chronicle and media bias
Did the media give Susan Faludi also "so much air time because of the silly
things she says about women's studies?" and feminism?  And Dworkin?
MacKinnon? Greer?  Steinem? Friedan? The list could go on and on.  Brazil,
too, has its comparable figures, though far fewer of them.  E.g., the
feminist writer/publisher  Rose Marie Muraro, various of whose books have
been bestsellers.

Leaving that issue aside, my experiences with the media (not to be compared
to Paglia's - another inaccurate charge - and I gather it is intended as a
charge) are not that different from Cecilia's. Partly it's the way
journalists are used to working - on tight deadlines and great pressure and
evidently without much knowledge of what they're being asked to write about.
But even in longer projects there are serious problems with preparation and
expertise.  E.g., the co-editor of a book called Women in the Material
World, a few years ago, called me wanting to get a take on Brazil.  She
obviously knew nothing, had done no real research (this was just one of many
chapters in what turned out to be a beautiful photo-book about the dreadful
condition of women around the world).   I asked her to read me what she had
so far written for the Brazil chapter.  She began with a statement about the
Spanish colonization of Brazil and continued with other absurdities.  I
pointed out the errors and suggested some basic reading to her.  When the
book came out, I saw that the essay on Brazil began with a reference to Sao
Paulo as the capital. So it goes.

daphne.patai  @  spanport.umass.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 11:11:58 -0400
From: Rosa Maria Pegueros <rpe2836u @ POSTOFFICE.URI.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chronicle and media bias
Many of the figures Daphne mentions are VILIFIED in the mainstream press. I
have NEVER seen a positive article about Andrea Dworkin in the mainstream
press. Friedan has gotten the best press for her criticisms of feminism and
the women's movement than she ever did for "The Feminist Mystique."
Gloria Steinem later books on self-empowerment have garnered more praise
than anything she ever did before including MS. magazine. In fact, they
have been held up as My point is that these figures are usually attacked by
their extremism in the eyes of middle America.

Camile Paglia's fame rests on her showy attacks on feminism and women's
studies.  I would also venture to say that Daphne's popularity with the
mainstream press rests on her criticisms of women's studies. If she offered
mainstream feminist opinions, she wouldn't get half the press, because the
powers that be would like nothing better than an excuse to de-fund women's
and ethnic studies programs. Women's studies is criticized as is African
American studies, as is Chicano studies because they deviate from the
accepted canons of mainstream thought.  In fact, it seems that anytime a
mainstream feminist--not to mention a radical feminist--publish or do
anything to draw attention to themselves, Camile Paglia is called in to
trash them, and much of what she says is silly. Is is much difference
between that and the 70s and 80s, when they used to call in Phyllis
Schafly? Women's studies challenges the power brokers in society and
academia : they don't like it.

As for your experience with the Brazilian  book, we all know that there are
always sloppy scholars and scholars with their own agendas in all parts of
academe.  It isn't exclusively the province of feminist scholars.
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 15:20:06 -0400
From: MichaelSKimmel <MichaelSKimmel @ COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: Rothenberg on Patai
I read Paula Rothenberg's book for the press, and provided a blurb for the
book.  I thought it was a really impressive book,  one that really
theorizes the personal in an exemplary way.  But then, of course, I would
like it, being the "grovelling" non-real man that I am.
Michael Kimmel
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 16:23:34 -0400
From: Daphne Patai <daphne.patai @ SPANPORT.UMASS.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chronicle and media bias
Well, this is probably not a very useful discussion to continue, but Rosie's
comments suggest we need some definitions of "mainstream press" and some
data about number of reviews, mentions, interviews, etc., before making
charges about who's celebrated and who's ignored and how feminism is
maligned. That's the same press that helped make Faludi's book, with
precisely that argument about anti-feminist everywhere, a bestseller.
Ironic, isn't it?
      I personally think the "mainstream" press is interested in whatever
sells, from any angle.  But  my article and the subsequent colloquoy
involved the Chronicle of Higher Education, not  the New York Post.  Is the
CHE an example of the  "mainstream press?"  I think there's a lot of fantasy
going on in feminist claims of bad treatment by the press.  And Rosie's
sweet belief in my visibility in the "mainstream" press is touching but
quite wrong.  All this is easy enough to check these days, ya'know.

daphne.patai  @  spanport.umass.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 17:34:24 -0500
From: Suzanne Franks <sefranks @ KSU.EDU>
Subject: accuracy matters - response
"Accuracy counts" is the phrase Dr. Patai used at the end of
her response to my post and so in the pursuit of accuracy
I offer these clarifications.

I do agree with Dr. Patai that there are appropriate fora
for discussing issues such as "who builds bridges, men
or women"  (as well as, why is that the case?). We may
disagree in that I do think science and engineering classrooms
are indeed appropriate fora (as do many other scientists and
engineers, as I illustrated in my previous post) and that it may
be appropriate to make these issues a main, or major focus,
of at least parts of the engineering and science curricula.

I did not use the word "political" in talking about agendas or
focus in my previous email because I had assumed that political
as a modifying term was implicit.  I apologize for not communicating
more clearly.  I am, however, having a hard time imagining an
agenda that is not political. I have a hard time understanding
how any activity that human beings undertake in groups could not
be considered political in some way, or not be considered to have
political implications.  For example, the college of engineering
here has as its mission "to be the best comprehensive college
of engineering in the United States."  This is surely a political mission
in at least some sense, as the idea of "best" implies rankings, which
are both empirical and political in all cases that I've seen (just think of
the furor that results every time U.S. News & World Report issues
university rankings.)  Also political in the sense that one might actually
the best but not be recognized as such without a good marketing
campaign.  Also political in the sense that who gets to determine what
markers are important for "best" and whether others will agree to
the markers you decide upon.  And finally, in the idea of being best
as our mission.  Note we did not say "to do the very best for humankind"
or "to bring engineering's services to benefit all residents of Kansas" or
any of a number of mission statements we could have chosen.

I also apologize for not explicitly addressing bridge construction
princicples; I thought my chemistry example was illustrative,
and did not want to go on too long.  However, I shall now address bridge
construction principles, since there was a request to do so.
Dr. Patai states that the principles of bridge construction have nothing
to do with gender.  This may be so, but only in the most trivial,
technical sense.  That is, when one calculates the force of a
truss member and whether it is in tension or compression, and
how much load it can bear, the calculations carried out do not depend
on gender.  However, as some of the examples I gave in my previous
email showed, this is only one part of the principles of bridge
construction - or of industrial chemistry, or name your favorite technical

The question of whether a bridge ought to be built and if so,
where situated, and of what materials, and for what purposes,
may actually be affected by considerations (or lack of consideration)
of gender issues.  All of these questions, and the pursuit of good
answers, are properly the domain of a well-educated engineer.
The Catholic church has a concept of sins of
both commission and omission - that is, the failure to do something
may be just as noteworthy as the doing of something.  In engineering,
sins of omission may often be more deadly than sins of commission.
Failing to take into account gender, racial, ethnic issues in designing
_the best_  (not just "a") solution, may be one of those sins.  It can
certainly contribute to lack of acceptance of a solution, failure of
a product to be commercially successful, or the missed opportunity
to market a product because of a lack of awareness of an existing
need (this latter is especially what William Wulf, National Academy
of Engineers president, talks about in the need for diversity.)

Scientists and engineers are not just technicians. I often find that
those less familiar with the science and engineering professions
tend to conflate base level, technical expertise (such as solving
calculus equations or balancing reactants and products in a chemical
equation) with the entire corpus of science and engineering expertise
and professional activity.   (Just another sad example of the woefully
inadequate level of scientific literacy that prevails, even in higher

Dr. Suzanne E. Franks
Director, Women in Engineering and Science Program
Kansas State University
sefranks  @  ksu.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 20:33:05 -0400
From: MRFanning <MRFanning @ EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: Re: accuracy matters - response
Having read the review that initiated this thread, as well as a variety of
past threads that focused in one way or another on Ms. Patai's views, I was
under the impression that this was, indeed, the issue. Is there such a thing
as "neutral" or apolitical knowledge in so far as knowledge involves people.
I doubt that there is any anecdotal evidence of knowledge that doesn't
involve people, and since the standard of evidence seems to me to be based
in the rhetorical field of anecdotes I'm willing to accept that agendas,
like curricula and editorial practices, are political, whether naturalized
or not.
This is not, however, in my own experience, a widely accepted view in the
US. It is, rather, more or less strenuously resisted by most undergraduates
and more particularly first year students. If these are the views that these
students come out of high school with, is it unreasonable to venture that it
is the 'last word' that most of those who do not go on from secondary to
higher education hear or read on the subject? Perhaps this has some bearing
on the relative 'comfort' with which the mainstreams (define them as you
will) in the US accept naturalistic/scientistic assumptions? And if that's
so, does it shed some new light on the editorial choices in the whole range
of popular and mainstream media?

Robert Fanning
GTA/MA Candidate, English Department
West Virginia University
rfanning  @  wvu.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 20:54:47 -0400
From: Daphne Patai <daphne.patai @ SPANPORT.UMASS.EDU>
Subject: all knowledge is personal???
"There always comes a time in hihstory when a person who dares to say that
two plus two equals four is punished with death.  And the issue is not what
punishment or what reward will come out of that reasoning.  The issue is
simply whether or not two plus two equals four."

Camus, The Plague, 1947 {cited by someone on this list, i believe, not long
and replicated by orwell in slightly different form in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

daphne.patai  @  spanport.umass.edu
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 18:07:11 -0700
From: "Susan D. Kane" <suekane @ U.WASHINGTON.EDU>
Subject: The Chronicle
I too tried to be quiet but was unsuccessful.  However, I have mercifully
spared the list my verbosity and posted my comments on the Chronicle and
on (some aspects of) Patai's argument to a web page.  If you care to see
my thoughts, they can be found at:

Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2000 01:09:19 -0400
From: MRFanning <MRFanning @ EMAIL.MSN.COM>
Subject: knowing without knowers???
"Light must be shed on a certain problem: the relation to a multiplicity of
people who have dealings with one another--how does that enter into the
apprehension of a thing and come to be constitutive for the apprehension of
a thing as "Objective and actual"? This "how" is at first very puzzling,
because when we carry out an apprehension of a thing we do not, it *seems*,
always co-posit a number of fellow men and, specifically, co-posit them as
ones who are to be, as it were, invoked...."
from Edmund Husserl, _Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a
Phenomenological Philosophy, Book 2: Studies in the Phenomenology of
Constitution_ (trans. Rojcewicz and Schuwer)

to assert that knowledge, as such, *is* and yet is logically independent is
to indulge a relatively naive Cartesianism, in much the same way that (and I
believe this was the point of several earlier posts if I'm not
misrepresenting them) to assert that teaching to build bridges is a purely
neutral and abstract undertaking, independent of bridges that are built or
not built. Such a logic would also allow that teaching an ideology,
indoctrination if you will, is independent of the consequences of that
ideology when put into practice. Bridges are not built or left unbuilt
solely on the basis of the understanding of the engineering principles of
those who build bridges, otherwise the bridge would be a rather recent
development. Nor do we act or refrain from acting solely on the basis of our
understanding of the workings of ideologies.

That 'political', that is, interpersonal, can be transformed into 'personal'
by the addition of a few hyperbolically charged '?'s is a
rhetorical/polemical move not unlike offering a select few anecdotes to
invalidate contradictory anecdotal evidence. In other words, you oppose the
political by political means in the name of an apolitical stance; you
blithely propose that yours is the only political/polemical position that is
not *merely* political; you upbraid Theory without acknowledging the
inherent theoretical grounding of your own presuppositions; you accuse those
you have chosen to see as your opponents of what comes to mere opportunism
in order to justify your own opportunistic shifting of grounds and terms of
debate (if the validity of anecdotal evidence is called into question you
claim that the veracity of your anecdotes and/or their sources have been
questioned, or confer a negative privilege on Women's Studies to the effect
that there, and only there, in all of the academy do specific institutions
allow one methodological or pedagogical position to dominate others).

In short, it is not merely your views of feminism or of Women's Studies that
I do not agree with, it is the a whole set of theoretical/ideological
assumptions upon which your views are grounded that I (and I believe other
list members) do not find necessary or sufficient. It is not the specter of
a monolithic, doctrinaire and intolerant feminism or institutionalized
Women's Studies that you posit that is 'unmasked' so much as the necessity
of such a specter to the defense of the self-evidence of your position. It
is not, finally, a matter of whether or not two plus two equals four, but
rather that whether or not two plus two equaling four *matters*, and in what
ways it matters, and to whom it matters.

Having said all of that (while not only being aware of the possibility of
being alluded to anonymously in some other forum, but rather cherishing that
possibility) it seems to me that the interesting and significant question is
not whether or not such basic differences of perspective can be merely
tolerated, but whether or not Ms. Patai's example of how the existence of
such differences may be appropriated and put to use can serve everyone
engaged with the questions raised by feminism and Women's Studies? Can they,
and if they can how can they, serve the undertaking itself?

"Truth is undoubtedly the sort of error that cannot be refuted because it
was hardened into an unalterable form in the long baking process of
history." M.Foucault, from "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History"

Robert Fanning
GTA, MA Candidate
English Department
West Virginia University
rfanning  @  wvu.edu

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Women's Studies List [mailto:WMST-L  @  UMDD.UMD.EDU]On Behalf Of
> Daphne Patai

> Subject: all knowledge is personal???
> "There always comes a time in hihstory when a person who dares to say that
> two plus two equals four is punished with death.  And the issue
> is not what
> punishment or what reward will come out of that reasoning.  The issue is
> simply whether or not two plus two equals four."
Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2000 21:13:48 -0700
From: Adriene Sere <saidit @ scn.org>
Subject: Re: The Chronicle
Now my question is, when is The Chronicle going to sponsor a discussion
with Susan Kane, feature her essay on the front cover, allow her to review
the books of Daphne Patai? And the other, popular, large-circulation
magazines that frequently publish Patai, Paglia, etc, when will they print
such essays? No, I don't mean as an "edited" letter to the editor. I mean
first class, even front cover treatment.

That was one of the best essays I've read in a long time.

By the way, I don't believe we ever got an explanation from Scott Jaschik
as to why the six top editors of the Chronicle are men. Are we to believe
this has nothing to do with sexism? Are we to believe this gender
imbalance at the top, and the sexism behind it, have nothing to do with
the Chronicle's decisions on who to publish, how to publish, and what kind
of depictions of women appear on the front cover?

Adriene Sere
saidit  @  scn.org

Said It: feminist news, culture, politics
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000 11:41:53 -0400
From: "Dr. Janice Mclane" <JMclane @ MORGAN.EDU>
Subject: Patai discussion
Perhaps someone has made this point already, but what strikes me most about
all of this is the fact that Patai's claims, manner of writing, etc.,
provoke precisely what she criticizes most about women's studies: attack,
name-calling, calls for different points of view than hers to be expressed,
which calls can be interpreted as (NB, *can be interpreted as*) censorship,

Not that some of that negative behavior doesn't exist.  I've been around
feminism too long to be dewy-eyed, and all human activities display human
failings.  But as far as I can perceive, Patai hugely exaggerates the
existing negativity, which exaggeration triggers attacks against her, which
exacerbated aggression she then uses as "proof" that feminism is all about a
hardline, enforced political correctness.

Well.  We don't need to take the bait, do we?

I don't mean that feminists who disagree with Patai should never respond to
her, but anyone who does so in a way other than sharply-reasoned civility is
just handing her fuel for the fire.  The repetitiveness of her arguments
indicate that it is the *process* of the interchanges which matter to her,
much more than the substance.  Let's just recognize this and deal with it in
an intelligent manner.

Janice McLane

Dept. of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Morgan State University
Cold Spring Lane and Hillen Road
Baltimore, MD 21251

jmclane  @  morgan.edu
Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000 12:24:21 -0400
From: "Dra. Rosa Maria Pegueros" <rpe2836u @ POSTOFFICE.URI.EDU>
Subject: Re: Patai discussion
Dr. McLane brings up a good point:

At 11:41 09/10/00 -0400, you wrote:
>feminism too long to be dewy-eyed, and all human activities display human

Having been involved in many organizing efforts both in and out of the
women's movement, and having worked in law offices and in business as well
as in academic departments, I have seen much worse antagonisms than I've
ever seen in any women's studies program. I can think of at least a couple
of English departments where every department meeting is a battlefield.
Allowing for the fact that in some instances there have been terrible
battles in women's studies, does that mean that they characterize women's
studies programs, or just that they too are vulnerable to human failings?

Women's studies programs grew out of activist movements and there was never
any lack of vitriol in the movement as I remember it: Struggles over
ideology and priorities, struggles sparked by cantankerous or power hungry
individuals, were just part of the package.  (I went head to head with
Patricia Ireland regularly when I was with NOW.)
All things considered, especially with the ideological differences to be
found in an interdisciplinary program (eg., try talking about postmodernism
to the majority of historians) it is astonishing that we function as well
as we do, particularly since women's studies programs are relatively new.

Rosa Maria Pegueros, J.D., Ph.D.   pegueros  @  uri.edu
Department of History           217C Washburn Hall
    & Women's Studies Program    Phone:(401) 874-4092
80 Upper College Road, Suite 3
University of Rhode Island
Kingston, RI 02881        Fax  :(401) 874-2595
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000 11:05:43 -0700
From: Betty Glass <glass @ UNR.EDU>
Subject: effective feedback Re: The Chronicle
It would be useful if respondants would email or snailmail their responses
to "The Chronicle of Higher Education."  Simply sending them to this list
will not change how the Chronicle selects its material.


Betty Glass, Humanities Bibliographer
Getchell Library/322
1664 N. Virginia St.
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV  89557-0044

 email: glass  @  unr.edu

office: (775) 784-6500  ext. 303
   FAX: (775) 784-1751
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 2000 18:10:53 -0700
From: Adriene Sere <saidit @ scn.org>
Subject: Re: effective feedback Re:
On Mon, 9 Oct 2000, Betty Glass wrote:

> It would be useful if respondants would email or snailmail their responses
> to "The Chronicle of Higher Education."  Simply sending them to this list
> will not change how the Chronicle selects its material.

Actually, I think it would have been much more useful if the Chronicle
privately mailed me their opinions and attacks on women studies, rather
than feature them on their front cover.

As for me changing the gender composition of their top editorial staff or
influencing their editoral decisions by emailing or snail mailing them
privately, well, I am not too hopeful, though certainly such letters do
not hurt. Since Scott Jaschik directly posted to this listserve in defense
of the Chronicle but avoided the point made earlier about the top 6
editors all being male, I think it was quite appropriate to pursue the
issue on list. Furthermore, I invariably find public accountability more
effective than private pleas. I'm not sure why you find this

Adriene Sere

Said It: feminist news, culture, politics
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2000 14:27:56 -0500
From: Suzanne Franks <sefranks @ KSU.EDU>
Subject: bridges, creativity, focus...good article
Dear List Members,
in an interesting serendipitous moment, I came across
the following article in the lunch room today:

"The Revolutionary Bridges of Robert Maillart"
by David P. Billington
pp. 84-91, Scientific American, July 2000

Billington, a professor of engineering at Princeton, has published
two books on Maillart and his bridges.  This neat little
article with great photos and illustrations speaks to several
topics that have popped up on WMST-L recently and over
the last few months.  We have had some discussions on this list
about the role of creativity in science/engineering, and about the
importance of other than purely technical considerations
to bridge construction, among other subjects.
Billington's article speaks to all of these.

Briefly, Maillart developed a "unique method for designing
bridges...reject[ing] the complex mathematical analysis
of loads and stresses that was being enthusiastically
adopted by most of his contemporaries."
Billington makes the point that many of Maillart's most
beautiful and functional bridges, some now considered
international civil engineering historical landmarks,
would have been impossible to design or even to conceive,
had he not relied on "creative intuition" and "graphical analysis."
Billington notes that modern engineers, who lean towards the
mathematical analysis approach, may assume that structures
cannot be built if they cannot be analyzed mathematically
(not true) and may completely overlook possible designs because
the mathematical-only approach precludes them.

Billington also notes that an early stunning bridge design of
Maillart's was not well received by the public or other engineers;
it was objected to on aesthetic grounds, because it did not
resemble older, stone-faced bridges. Maillart consequently was
"unable to win many more bridge projects".   This is a very real
world illustration of an earlier point of mine, that failing to take
into account other than purely technical issues (such as gender
or ethnic issues, all of which contribute to a community's
perspective and group opinion) may lead to lack of acceptance
of what is otherwise a great solution.

Dr. Suzanne E. Franks
Director, Women in Engineering and Science Program
Kansas State University
Manhattan, KS  66506
email sefranks  @  ksu.edu
phone 785-532-3395
fax 785-532-6952

For information about WMST-L

WMST-L File Collection

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page