To the Editor:
We are responding to the letter regarding the April 25th march on Washington which appeared in the April 30th edition of the Mount Holyoke News. Approximately 40 MHC women were among the 150,000 protesters at the march. Labor, religious, gay/lesbian, women's, regional and student contingencies were represented. Mount Holyoke women marched together in the student contingency and among us there were women of color, white women, heterosexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, Americans and Asians - all with diverse religious and political beliefs.
We believe that the differences among us are important to recognize, and that the impact and beauty of this march was in the unity of our belief in peace and justice. Our diversity only emphasized the broad based support for the goal of peace.
We wish to clarify any misunderstanding concerning three of the numerous signs and banners carried by Mount Holyoke students. The slogans were as follows: "Mount Holyoke Women Oppose U.S. Imperialism," "MHC Dykes for Peace," and "Arrogant Bitches for Peace and Justice." Each of these signs were designed and carried by Mount Holyoke protesters who took the time to make them before the march. The author of the April 30th letter said that she "could not possibly be proud of signs that read 'MHC Dykes Against Apartheid' or 'Arrogant Bitches Against Imperialism.'" Furthermore, she said, "I ... did not want to associate myself with people who would term themselves as such."
The terms "dyke" and "arrogant bitch" were used as part of a way to reclaim language traditionally used against women. In the past, these terms were used to silence women who spoke out for their own rights and the rights of others. The women who carried the signs were empowered by taking words which have been used as degrading weapons and claim them as positive and affirming. By using these terms in reference to ourselves, we are saying that we will no longer be hurt or silenced by them. We feel that it is important to note that none of these women received any negative responses from either spectators or other marchers, but were given enthusiastic support from both men and women.
We are sorry that Ms. Weinstein felt offended by some of the signs at the march and that she did not ask anyone to explain their purpose or hear her complaints. We would have liked every Mount Holyoke woman to feel comfortable supporting any of the signs as well as those who made and carried them. In the future, we encourage dialogue as a means to reducing fear and misunderstanding. An open dialogue is the only way to find peace in all of our struggles.
Gloria Korsman '87
Jodie Infantine '87
Susan Freedman '89
Kathy Bolen '87
Mita Radhakrishnan '90
Joelle Hoverson '89
Jane S. Hutchinson '89
Becky Sechrist '87
Jennifer Dugan '87
Jen Ross '87
Alex Stavitsky '88
Beth Gerrard '89
Kathy Brandt '87
Jeannette Ford '87
To the Editor:
In reading Celeste Despres' letter to the editor, April 23, I have a problem with her statement "the more that you (the liberals and the radicals) call people 'heterosexist,' 'racist,' ... the worse things are going to get." Since you "love to hear our opinions," I will give you mine.
For the record, engaging in a petty name calling session is not what the liberals and the radicals on this campus are doing. Any woman who takes these issues seriously would realize that all of us, to some degree or another, possess heterosexist and racist biases. We are speaking up about these issues in the hope that we may raise the consciousness of more women on this campus. Things will get worse if we donot make an effort to combat these intolerancies which exist in us all.
Marianne Lockwood '89
Of late, the Editorial Page has been used as a verbal battleground. We hope more constructive ways of discussing issues of heterosexism and homophobia can be found. (Women Against Heterosexism meetings, for example.) However, we feel that there are several issues that were brought up by Deborah Weinstein's letter to the MHC News on Thursday, April 30, '87, that need to be addressed.
Deborah is lucky to have come across professors who apologize for sexist language and who apologize that their courses erase women - this is not the experience of most of us. We wish more professors would include women's (our) lives in discussions of their subject. The experience of the freshman that Ms. Weinstein mentions is unfortunate and equally as hurtful as heterosexist assumptions made by professors on many of us. We need to be understanding and sympathetic to both these experiences.
Feminism is defined differently by different women (and men) - we are sorry Deborah felt assaulted by someone else's politics, but open discussion is absolutely essential to come to an understanding of each other's definitions of feminism. People offend and are offended in any political discussion. This, however, is an essential part of the sharing and learning process.
We believe humanism includes a tolerance and support for differences amongst people and a struggle against oppression. We cannot be humanist without working to end all oppressions.
Mita Radhakrishnan '90
Heidi Jones '88