I’ve been reporting on the latest zaniness at Smith College, the women’s college in Northampton, Mass., where radical feminism has come around full circle. Last year, the student body voted to get rid of the pronouns “she” and “her” in the school constitution, on the ground that even though Smith is a women’s college, calling its students “women” violates the rights of “transgendered” people who like to think of themselves as belonging to some other sex. Now some students want to change the constitution back (See Sanity at Smith College?, March 12).
I was scratching my head until this recent op-ed piece opposing the changeback by Smith student Schuyler Clemente in the student newspaper, The Sophian, cleared it all up for me:
“Before I came to Smith, I knew nothing about transgender politics. However, during my first few months here I kept my eyes and ears (and mind) open and began to learn a thing or two about queer and gender theory. When I attended a March 22 panel on feminism and transgender identities, I heard a comment which really embodies how I feel regarding the issue of the…constitution’s gender neutrality: Smith is a single-sex school with many genders.
“One of the arguments against gender neutrality in the constitution is that Smith is a women’s college, and this distinction should be reflected in the constitution. However, the constitution is meant to reflect the entire student body, and within this student body are individuals who do not see themselves as women and do not use female pronouns to identify themselves. By reverting the constitution back to using gender-specific pronouns, namely ‘her’ and ‘she,’ we would be sending a message that our transgender peers are not members of our community in the same way that women students are. We need to acknowledge that transgender students are not visitors at our women’s college; they are our equals at Smith College.”
Oh. “Smith is a single-sex school with many genders.” That helps.