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Her Viewpoint -- A Forum for Women's Opinions

Column by Joanna Stone

Arts Editor

The Feminist: Tough, radical, outspoken dyke who hates all men, doesn't shave her legs or pits, and smells.

It's a blatant stereotype, yet one many women are willing to accept at face value. I am particularly appalled to find a large number of the female population at MIT determined to disassociate themselves from the term "feminist" and its commonly perceived connotations. I am also surprised to find these women so readily willing to subscribe to stereotyping -- those who themselves have been subjected to similar broad pigeonholing.

The MIT Woman: Unattractive, wears thick glasses, doesn't bathe often, spends all her time studying, lacks all social skills, only got into MIT because it needed more women.

We all know there is no single type of MIT woman that can be defined by a list of attributes that all MIT women have. Likewise there is not one type of feminist. MIT women run the spectrum of race, religion, and geographical origin, as well as study, social, and bathing habits. Feminists cover the same spectra, including those of shaving and bathing habits. What all MIT women do have in common is that we are a minority and are vastly misconceived by others. What all feminists have in common is a concern for women's issues and an awareness that women are often treated differently than men

It would seem that at a school such as MIT, where women are a definite minority, such concern and awareness would be more a part of the reigning order. This column, the first in a series, is designed to serve this purpose by creating a forum for all feminist viewpoints -- from the most radical to the most conservative. If you believe all men should be killed and the human race propagated by the use of sperm reserves, you should write a column expressing your opinion. If you think women should stay home and raise the kids and always obey their husbands who are inherently superior because they are men, you too should write a column expressing your opinion.

The issues that face us as women in college are going to continue to be concerns long after we graduate. I think that as the up-and-coming generation of women, it is important that we be aware of all the previous generation worked to achieve and all that we can achieve for the next generation of bright, educated women.

I began this column because I believe it is important that women, especially women at MIT, be able to learn about and discuss the issues that personally affect them now and in their future careers. (The idea is not an entirely original one; last year, a couple of friends and I founded a "Woman's Awareness Newsletter" for our sorority with similar goals, from which I learned a great deal about women's views of feminism, their misconceptions of "radical feminism" and their reactions to a variety of current issues.)

When I decided on the title "Her Viewpoint," one woman told me that it might be misconstrued, as if to say that all other viewpoints are male. The more one examines this statement, the more it seems to ring true. Much of today's ideals for women are internalizations of the male viewpoint. Whether and how often women bathe is not really relevant to discussions of feminism, yet somehow comments such as these emerge frequently. My father told me such ideas date at least as far back as his days in a male college, when they'd label all bright and successful women "smelly" and talk about how they clearly don't bathe. So although one's bathing habits are not relevant, one's concerns about how far we've all come from those male college days couldn't be more relevant. I am pleased to announce the initiation of "Her Viewpoint" with the following first column submission, written with not-so-subtle sarcasm.

Stephanie Byrne

As a tribute to the Bisexual, Gay, and Lesbian Appreciation Days recently celebrated, I would like to praise an MIT fraternity for showing its open-mindedness by using the acronym AOWD on several party posters. The acronym, which stands for "Any Orifice Will Do," is clearly an indication of the fraternity's openness to the gay community. It is an invitation to all people, regardless of their sexual preference, to enjoy the fraternity's parties. The fraternity should be commended for its support of gay rights.

Many people have greatly misjudged the fraternity for its slogan. These people have ignorantly mistaken the slogan as a symbol of the fraternity's desire to mistreat women who attend their parties. I, too, once made this terrible mistake. As a prefrosh during women's weekend, I was warned about acronyms like AOWD. Naturally I was shocked at hearing that a fraternity would even think, never mind publicly advertise, something so offensive to women. I was quite relieved when I managed to avoid seeing any of the dreaded slogans that weekend.

It wasn't until last term, my third semester here, that I happened to catch sight of AOWD on a party poster. I was stunned, of course, because I had begun to believe that the acronym didn't really exist. I was even more startled, as you can probably imagine, when a member of the fraternity finally confirmed that the acronym really does stand for "Any Orifice Will Do".

Several days after this traumatic incident, a very wise friend finally enlightened me as to the true implications of the slogan. The fraternity certainly doesn't mean that its members would like to use women in any sexually bizarre or twisted way they imagine. Rather, by allowing any orifice, the fraternity is simply suggesting that a male lover would be just as acceptable to them as a female one. Needless to say, I was severely disappointed at my own ignorance and my failure to realize the fraternity's honorable intention sooner.

I hope this column clears up any misconceptions Tech readers may have about the acronym and fraternity in question. It would be a shame to misconstrue such a noble endeavor. This fraternity would never support the mistreatment of women. On the contrary! This fraternity is a brave coalition determined to battle homophobia and support gay rights! Every fraternity should aspire to follow its example.