Women can't rewrite history

February 05, 1998|By Elizabeth Schuett

THIS MORNING I tripped over the cat and spilled tea on my fuzzy slippers. Bad beginning. And then it got worse.

By lunchtime, I had discovered that I was the victim of a male-dominated society and that my entire education had been based upon such "masculine techniques" as abstract argument, debate, logic and grades.

No, I didn't figure this out on my own. I don't have time, what with earning a living and all. It was some university feminist types over at the University of Massachusetts who decided the current system was guilty of "overrepresentation" of males in the curriculum. Presently, they're working on getting it changed. "White male" knowledge, they say, must be dumped and replaced by "new knowledges" created by women and minorities.

"New knowledges"? "Created"? Does that sound as scary to you as it does to me?

Vision 2000 (that's the name of the plan) calls for the utilization of institutional research capacity to "produce the data necessary to raise consciousness, instigate action and monitor progress" in the quest for a more female-friendly approach to teaching.

Sounds like selective facts to me. Isn't that what all of the griping was about in the first place?

And what about the research? Who's going to be in charge? And who's to guarantee that the seesaw isn't going to tip too far in the other direction? That by the year 2150, some second-grader won't be asked on a test to identify Abby Lincoln as the president who freed the slaves? Or Gina Washington as the "mother" of our country?

Or will those masculine teaching methods (tests and grades) by which we women have for so long been so grievously oppressed, have been replaced with more gender-friendly techniques?

While the scholarly feminists are at it, I'd like them to explain why abstract argument is supposed to be a "masculine technique." Women have, since the cave men started coming home late for dinner, dealt quite successfully with the hypothetical. As in: "Honey, there was this fero- cious pterodactyl blocking the drawbridge." Sure, Barney.

Women, I suspect, in order to keep the tribes together, became the first abstractors.

And who says men have a corner on the market when it comes to debate? Regulated discussions between two matched sides are a basic female survival technique. But based on the disparity in size, women have to yell (or stand on the furniture) to make a point.

The most annoying suggestion of all is that logic (noun, a connection of facts in a way that seems reasonable) is a male-dominated science.

Fact: Amy buys a dress that costs $100.

Fact: Amy returns that dress and buys one for $50.

Reasonable conclusion: Her husband owes her 50 bucks.

Political correctness has never rated high on my list of priorities -- a generation gap thing, I guess. Granted, women are tired of being hyphens, but rewriting the history books is not the solution.

It just makes us all look stupid.

Elizabeth Schuett is a teacher and writer in Gibsonburg, Ohio.

Pub Date: 2/05/98

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