Commentary Magazine

Harvard v. Reality

Wikipedia Commons.

The advance of liberal fascism continues apace.

The latest assault against individual liberty is, not surprisingly, at Harvard. The university wants to force the so-called final clubs, analogous to fraternities and sororities, to become co-ed. At the moment, of the thirteen clubs, six are all male, five all female, and two co-ed.

The final clubs date back to 1791, when Porcellian was founded. In 1984, they were forced to admit women or break ties with the university. They broke ties. They are not located on university property nor do they receive any funding from Harvard. Now, apparently, that is not good enough. As a Wall Street Journal editorial reported:

…the task force wants to mandate that the all-male clubs admit women, and vice versa—or else. It threatens to ban “simultaneous membership in final clubs and college enrollment,” meaning the university could start expelling kids who join clubs that don’t integrate the sexes.

In other words, join an organization that Harvard does not approve of, but which is perfectly legal, presents no threat to society whatsoever, and wishes merely to be left alone, and you can’t go to Harvard. But if that threat becomes actual, what is to stop Harvard from deciding what churches its students can attend, what political parties they can support, what ideas they can endorse?

The ostensible — and risible — motivation behind this is to limit sexual assault among Harvard students. But as the graduate board president of Porcellian noted in a letter to the Harvard Crimson, since Porcellian does not permit guests, male or female, sexual assault against females can’t happen there. The real motivation, of course, is to enforce feminist doctrine; the fundamental right of free association be damned.

The idea that social clubs must not “discriminate” on the basis of gender comes out of modern-day feminism. Modern-day feminism, in turn, comes out of the civil rights movement of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. At the very heart of the civil rights struggle was the idea that there are no differences among the races other than the purely physical ones and that, therefore, discrimination on the basis of race is morally wrong. Not many people — and none that I’d care to know — disagrees with that idea today.

Feminists argue, similarly, that there are no differences between men and women other than the physical ones and that all other apparent differences are, in reality, mere “social constructs.” But that is ludicrous. We are a sexually dimorphic species and not just physically. The two sexes swim in different hormonal seas from long before birth, and that has profound mental consequences. Ask anyone who has raised children of both sexes and they will tell you that boys and girls are different from the get-go. I’m told, for instance, that changing a boy baby is much more of a wrestling match than changing a girl. Boys and girls typically prefer different toys to play with. While feminists argue that this is socially constructed, it isn’t. Offer a variety of toys to very young chimpanzees and the males will typically play with the trucks, females with the dolls. Who socially constructed that?

How much of the world’s literature turns on the struggle of each sex to understand the other? The answer is a lot. There’s a reason Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus has sold 50 million copies since it was first published in 1992.

That is why every society of which we have knowledge has had single-sex organizations. And while discrimination on the basis of gender has long — and rightfully — been banned from the marketplace, they nonetheless abound in modern America. They range from girls’ night out and boys’ weekly poker games to social clubs to sports teams to the Catholic priesthood. One reason for these myriad single-sex organizations, of course, is so each sex can talk freely about the other. But it’s hardly the only one.

Harvard, mindlessly pursuing feminist doctrine at the expense of reality, will soon discover that reality will win. It always does.

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