Walsh and Sommers are misinformed

by Susan Zieger | 1/9/95 6:00am

To the Editor:

Since I completely agree with Kevin Walsh's suggestion that "sound policy is based on truth," and that this is a dangerous message when "much of what one has been taught and believes is based on misinformation, false numbers and half-truths," I am compelled to correct some misinformation in his own commentary about gender feminism.

I was among the students handing out information sheets at Christina Hoff Sommers's speech and they were not "drawn from FAIR" (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) as Sommers contended and Walsh restated, but rather were composed by students who also found her book "Who Stole Feminism?" riddled with the same sort of inaccuracies for which its author condemns all of gender feminism.

As one can clearly see, anyone can misreport facts and statistics, but what is more reprehensible than such errors is a methodology based on anecdotes, which Sommers and Walsh pick up and recite as evidence of gender feminism's excesses. The real danger of Sommers's critique is that it engages feminist issues only on the level of faulty statistics, creating the false impression that gender feminism is unduly preoccupied with nonexistent threats. In the process, Sommers never answers the question she poses so frequently, "Why are feminists angry?"

How ironic that Walsh's commentary should run in the same issue of The Dartmouth that reported the alleged sexual assault of a first-year student in her room by a Kiewit computer consultant, and exactly one week after two women were shot to death at their jobs at women's health clinics in Boston. Why are we angry? Maybe it's because violence against women is robbing us of our safety, our health and our lives while conservative rhetoric, unequipped to discuss these realities, attacks our statistics. How many women need be assaulted before Sommers and Walsh will admit that our anger and our activism is justified? One should be enough.