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Report on Craft's lecture was biased


As an MIT secretary who attended the Nikki Craft presentation on April 24th, I was dismayed and ultimately confused by the review which appeared in The Tech ["Craft claims a need exists for civil disobedience in the women's movement," May 3].

Since Craft began her lecture with a dedication to her sister, who committed suicide at the age of twenty-two because she felt that she had "nothing to contribute to society," that she was "cute now" but once her looks faded she would have no reason to continue living, Craft's subsequent remarks must be viewed in relation to her reasons for presenting them. Any society which values women on the basis of their physical appearance is one worth changing. It is for this reason that Ms. Craft sees civil disobedience as a vital means of expressing feminist concerns.

My initial disappointment in the Tech article stemmed from reporter Harold A. Stern's failure to discuss Nikki Craft's words in the context she created for them. The disappointment turned to dismay as I continued reading and realized that he had taken most of her other points out of context as well. At first I thought that this was due simply to poor writing, bad reporting, lack of sensitivity to subject matter or inability to conceptualize what the speaker was talking about. When I began to examine the structure of Stern's article, however, I had to question his motives.

Why, for example, did he choose to head the list of activist groups formed by Ms. Craft with Women Armed for Self Protection: "A small group of women committed to becoming proficient in the use of various weapons, who called for immediate and drastic retaliation against rapists by their victims," which was a minor part of her talk, and ignore her creation of the "Myth California Pageant" and other topics which she discussed at length? The "Myth California Pageant," which features a float consisting of 120 ceramic barbie-doll figures wearing banners across their chests with their names on them ("Miss Informed," "Miss Guided," "Miss Ogynist," etc.), reveals Ms. Craft as the person she truly is, namely an activist-artist whose art form is creative, reasoned and often humorous protest. Why then did Stern decide to strike an alarmist chord at the outset of his article?

Why also did he choose to omit the fact that images of women hanging from trees and dashed against rocks in Penthouse were of Asian women? Because he didn't want to suggest that Bob Guccione is as Craft presented him -- an amoral, anti-humanistic racist who is willing to promote images of hatred in order to make a fast buck for himself?

The result was an incomplete, disjointed, poorly-written and distorted review of the Nikki Craft lecture, and this is where my dismay turned to confusion. Was Stern trying to trivialize what Craft had to say in order to present her as another rabid feminist, foaming at the mouth humorlessly about concerns which don't interest anyone, least of all Mr. Stern? That's certainly the impression I got.

Nikki Craft may not have turned me into a criminal (a remark which would have been recognized as part jest by anyone who attended the lecture), but she certainly has turned me into a more cautious reader of The Tech. The editors and reporters ought to realize the importance of credibility to any newspaper which hopes to be effective in formulating opinion and promoting an open discussion of issues in a community as intellectually smug as MIT.

Lisa Yaffee->