Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 2. 1963.
University and Women
University and Women
Sir,—In his editorial, G.W.R.P. indeed refrains from attacking the "independence and liberality of University life," instead he is attacking the independence of woman. It is certain that he is not the first to do this (writers through the centuries have disclosed their general ethics and special ideas of themselves in describing woman), and undoubtedly he will not be the last.
The New Woman, far from being the "hard and brash supersophisticate that he describes, finds herself in a most uncertain condition that the editor has failed to realise in all its complexity. This quotation from Simone de Beauvoir states the case of "Woman and the University" extremely well:
"Even when woman chooses independence, she none the less makes a place in her life for man, for love. She is likely to fear that if she devotes herself completely to some undertaking, she will miss her womanly destiny. In any case, the woman who works wishes to reconcile her professional success with purely feminine accomplishments; not only does this mean that she must devote considerable time to her appearance, but what is more serious, it means that her vital interests are divided. In addition to his regular programme of work, the male student amuses himself with free flights of thought, and thence come his best inspirations, but woman's reveries take a very different direction: she will think about her personal appearance, about men, about love; she will give only what is strictly necessary to her studies, her career, when in these domains nothing is so necessary as the superfluous.
It is not a matter of mental weakness, of an inability to concentrate, but rather of division between interests difficult to reconcile. A vicious circle is established and it is often astounding to see how readily a woman will give up music, study, her profession, once she has found a husband. She has clearly involved too little of herself in her plans to find much profit in accomplishing them. Everything combines to restrain her personal ambition, and enormous social pressure still urges her on to find social position and justification in marriage.
These then are the problems facing woman; the problems facing man are just as great. ... He has acceded legal equality to woman, but how is he to reconcile himself to other kinds of independence? Generations have brought man up to think in terms of male supremacy (the boy of the family must have a university education before his sister), and this idea in one way is not a myth. In your reference, Mr. Editor, to the modern woman's choice of the man with whom she will sleep, you do not appear to realise that a woman cannot force copulation on a man and that He will make the ultimate decision in this matter.
Apart from this one thing, Montaigne was right when he said: "Women are not in the wrong when they decline to accept the rules laid down for them, since men make these rules without consulting them" New Zealand will continue to suffer from 19th century morality while such editorials as yours continue to be written, Mr. Editor, and you may do well to note that nobody is more antagonistic towards the New Woman than he who is anxious about his virility.—I am, etc.,
Jacy StewartCanterbury University.