Perhaps the most significant thing that can be said about women in this society is that we are relegated to the private world and not expected to enter the public sphere. We can look at careers in terms of being secretaries, maids, or whores. As a group, we are brainwashed to believe that we are physically and mentally inferior to men, and this feeling has led to our being passive women who do not feel qualified to assert ourselves as people, only as objects.
The fact that housing and dining can make an arbitrary determination to discontinue the women’s collective is offensive in terms of a seeming attempt by the administration to inhibit the development of the women’s movement at a time when affirmative action and declared institutional support require a responsive and even encouraging attitude.
Letter to the Editor from faculty member Brenda Way, Oberlin Review, January 25, 1974 (via oberlinactivisthistory)
I have no doubt that Thurston would be a suitable home for a variety of different groups of people. It is, however, my overwhelming feeling that it is already someone’s home. The Collective is not a dorm for women. It is a house which women have cared enough about to make it a home in the fullest sense of the word. Our belongings are the house’s furnishings. We ourselves are a family. I consider the discontinuation of the women’s collective to be a dangerously damaging blow to women; I see the designation of Thurston to upperclass men a puzzling slap in the face.
“Why a Women’s Collective?” Oberlin Review, January 25, 1974
Sociologically women have played a subordinate role in Western society and thus have not been considered historically relevant. Understanding and changing this secondary role is the purpose of Women’s Liberation, but such change is impossible if we cannot comprehend women as a historical entity. Relating to a small group of peers in consciousness-raising groups is a good experience, but it is insufficient—we need a broader perspective on women culturally and sociologically in order to define critical problems. We need to see ourselves not only as women of Oberlin, but as part of a historical continuum…Therefore we see a pressing need for a Women’s Studies Program at Oberlin College.