Women's studies welcoming

Though I concur with Karin Agnes that not all women feel represented by NOW ["NeW not NOW: Lady Hoo takes on the Left," News, September 22], and that some do feel unfairly scorned when they decide to become wives or mothers, I would challenge both her characterization of UVA as having a "campus culture of feminism" and that the "orthodoxy" of women's studies "unfairly paints men as evil."

Having been a man in a women's studies class at UVA, I experienced a greater sense of community there than I have in many other places. Of course, I was simultaneously challenged to scrutinize my perceptions and my privileges more than ever before.

Patriarchy is far more complicated than evil men running things. The myth of simplicity helps patriarchy persist. If I'm not personally being evil as a guy, then the world must be okay. But that's not it. Patriarchy operates at many levels, from fashion to scientific inquiry, systems which are collectively created and reproduced without much thought.

Second, UVA is by far the least feminist campus I've been on. For instance, female faculty in some departments still earn less than men in equivalent positions, rape seems tragically more common than at other schools I've been, and more students shun the label feminist than proclaim it.

Feminism does have a liberal bent. The point, however, is not to force all women to work and to abandon having children. It is, rather, to bring society to a point of true equality, where women as well as men are free to decide to raise children and (not or) have careers, where one's sex or gender does not pre-define one's role in life. The dream of feminism is, actually, the reality of that women's studies class: being accepted, being equal, being connected, and still being unique.

Mark Meier