Question: What would inspire a conference on feminism at Harvard to feature conservative viewpoints?
Answer: When it’s organized by Professor Harvey Mansfield’s Program on Constitutional Government. The flyer told the tale, saying: “a genuine debate with DIVERSITY of views on THE LEGACY AND FUTRE [sic] OF FEMINISM”
adding that “Ladies Receive an Additional 50% off” (at the free conference)…”
According to Anthony Paletta, some of the guests at this unusual forum were taken aback at the sights and sounds of conservative speakers like Jennifer Roback Morse, Wendy Shalit and Christina Hoff Somers included among the panelists, who presented views on feminism that probably were 180% out of phase with Harvard’s tried and true opinions.
The point of the conference was not that conservative viewpoints dominated the sessions. The point was that they were presented at all. Here you actually had left-leaning Brandeis prof Linda Hirshman who denounced “hierarchical, patriarchal and unjust family” and author of Get to Work: A Manifoesto for Women of the World paired against Jennifer Roback Morse, who defended family and home.
How did attendees react to this shocking display of debate and academic freeom on campus? Two of them walked out in disgust. Difficult and hostile questions were directed at conservative panelists—some called the right thinkers “superficial” and “Neanderthals” but. . . and here’s the best part, there was favorable reaction also. Panelist Linda Hirshman told Harvey Mansfield that she couldn’t “praise you highly enough for bringing this group of diverse thinkers together….”
An awakening for anyone? Probably not. Many of them probably hadn’t been annoyed since Phyllis Schlafly spoke at Radcliffe last year.
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Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.