Thursday, October 16, 2014

Surprised by Grief

I woke up grieving about men at Wellesley, and my son listened to my lament.

First, I should explain the New York Times Magazine carried a story about women at Wellesley turning into men. The student body now includes transgendered males as well as gays and lesbians and whatever permutations and mixes there are of gender.

The lament:

"They made the Wellesley constitution and by-laws gender-neutral!

"A man won the hoop-rolling race --

"A man is a head of residence...

"They can't have Big Sister/Little Sister Sunday any more; it has to be Big Sibling/Little Sibling...

"The trans men complain about feeling out of place at Wellesley; excluded and shy about raising their deep voices in class.... The women's culture is diluted."

E.g., trans man student grew up as a girl, feeling out of place among girls, enrolled in a women's college; took testosterone and had surgery; and now feels out of place as a man at Wellesley. Then he goes forth from Wellesley with his deep voice and broad shoulders to take his place in the world of men, getting better jobs and 25% more pay than his Wellesley classmates.

A Wellesley woman was talking on TV about the benefits of a woman's college, and she forgot to mention there are some transgendered males enrolled at Wellesley. One of the trans men complained to her that he felt excluded, and she apologized to him!

The kicker, the reductio ad absurdum: An organization on campus called Brothers excludes women from membership!

Am I merely grieving over a changing world? Must true equality proceed with women giving up their places and language? Or, am I feeling betrayed by a severe abdication of Wellesley's mission?

All I feel is disappointed and outraged that the safe place for young women to develop into educated adult women has now become a place where they have to take care of the feelings of MEN. Have they also re-written the alma mater?  (Which begins/began, "To alma mater Wellesley's daughters all together join and sing...) to change Wellesley's daughters to Wellesley's offspring or God forbid, SONS and daughters? Are we going co-ed by stealth? The camel's nose so to speak is well under the tent:

2 men holding their Wellesley diplomas 2012

I feel so strongly that if you want to live as a man, don't go to a women's school!

And if it turns out I grieve over a changing world and not "just" a loss of sisterhood, then Wellesley's mission has changed into one I no longer support.

"I'm going to change my will," I told Nick. "Save the birds; leave Wellesley's share to the Audubon Society."

"Leave it to your kids!" he cried. "No, forget the Audubon Society!"

"Forget Wellesley," I answered as if I ever could.