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Jewish World Review Aug. 20, 1999 /8 Elul, 5759

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez
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The locked-out lesbian -- AS STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS head back to campuses around the country in the next few weeks, one person who won't be returning to classes is Professor Mary Daly, who taught at Boston College for 33 years.

For most of her tenure, the self-described "radical, lesbian feminist" refused to allow male students into her classes in feminist ethics at the now co-ed Jesuit school (it once was an all-male college). The college put up with Daly's exclusionary policies for 25 years --- until last fall, when threatened with a suit by the Center for Individual Rights on behalf of BC senior Duane Naquin.

Informed that she would have to admit men to her courses, Daly said she'd rather resign than do so. The school took her at her word, and last week, college administrators packed up Daly's belongings and changed the locks on her doors. Now, it's Daly who's suing the college --- but her chances are slim, thanks, in part, to decades of feminist attacks on single-sex education.

Daly's refusal to admit men into her classroom flies squarely in the face of federal civil rights law, specifically Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education programs, although the law originally exempted traditional single-sex institutions. In recent years, however, the courts have required public institutions to provide equal access to all students, most notably in the 1996 ruling against the Virginia Military Institute, a previously all-male, publicly funded college. In the VMI case, feminists argued that women couldn't be denied entry simply because of their sex, even though Virginia offered a comparable program for females at another state institution.

Some of these same feminists are singing a different tune now that it's men who are being excluded. Feminist veterans Gloria Steinem and Eleanor Smeal, among others, have leaped to Daly's defense. Daly herself offers the quaint excuse that she's not discriminating against men -- indeed, she offers to tutor them privately rather than enroll them in her classes -- but is simply trying to protect her female students.

"I saw that women were repressed," Daly told National Public Radio in an interview last week. "I used to say, 'One quiet little fellow with a beard, that would do it.' It would stop the discussion, they'd be feeling sorry for him. Some of them would be trying to take care of him. Women in classes with young men would shut up all the time. They're laughed at; they have to be sexy. And they can't really think."

Gee, are these timorous females the same species feminists have insisted should be sent into combat, put in charge of Fortune 500 companies, and elected to the highest offices in the land? When it suits them, feminists argue that men and women are identical and there can be no rationale basis for treating them differently -- that is, until the shoe is on the feminists' foot. Then, suddenly, we've got to change the rules to accommodate women's very different needs and sensibilities.

The irony is that radical feminists like Mary Daly have helped destroy the very institutions where they might have felt most at home. Once upon a time, Professor Daly could have taught young women at colleges like Smith or Barnard, where females could study unintimidated by the likes of Duane Naquin. Meanwhile, young men who sought the masculine rigors of boot camp-style education without the distraction of female cadets could choose schools like the all-male VMI. And the rest of us could attend the myriad of co-ed institutions that made up the bulk of U.S. colleges and universities. But that era is long gone, ushered out by feminists, Title IX, and the courts. There is only one choice in American higher education today, and it's co-educational. The feminists have been hoist with their own petard.

And feminist academics like Mary Daly will either have to put up with the occasional pesky male in their courses or quit teaching.

Linda Chavez Archives


©1999, Creators Syndicate