So as the only She-blogger still at Amherst for the summer it is my duty-nay, my privilege-to discuss the hottest piece of goss in the Pioneer Valley. Amherst College has elected its first ever female and openly gay president, Carolyn A. “Biddy” Martin. If this headline doesn’t scream female empowerment I don’t know what does.
I had the pleasure of shaking this woman’s hand at her welcome picnic yesterday afternoon. She is, I can promise all of you, going to make an extraordinarily bomb addition to the Amherst campus. I’m not even going to attempt to sell you on how awesome she is, mainly because you all deserve the opportunity to see for yourselves, but also because I’d like to have more than one encounter with her before I definitively decide that she is as remarkable in general as she was today. I’m not so naive to think that politicians and leaders are who they appear to be in public, but all I can say for certain right now is that Biddy shows an extraordinary amount of potential. Her soliloquy on the educational process being one about acquisition of knowledge as well as loss or “letting go” of other perspectives or opinions literally blew my mind.
This is a woman who can make a difference, but more importantly she is aware of her role in making said difference. We continue, after all, to live in a predominantly male world. Biddy’s appointment means more than the end of one presidential reign. It paves multiple paths for social revolution. And this should be taken seriously. There are some out there who have implied that Biddy was hired purely for politically correct intentions. I.e, that she was hired for the sake of hiring a gay woman. These same people would like to think (or perhaps hope) that nothing significant will really come from this election. Through facebook a recent Amherst grad also disparaged Biddy for her fondness of Freudian psychoanalysis.
Apart from the obvious stupidity intertwined with fatuous criticisms such as these (on a sidenote it is getting harder and harder to deny the benefits of psychoanalysis as relevant to a population of infinitely depressed individuals) they are also completely unfair and ultimately exist for the sake of argument. This is the kind of judgmentalism that we as a modern, constantly advancing society should try to shy away from, not fall back to time and time again. Approaches such as these to Biddy’s presidency (which hasn’t even begun yet) essentially expect, even hope for, her failure. On a broader scale they question the legitimacy of female leaders everywhere. One would not, on a similar note, argue that Tony Marx has been hired for the sake of hiring a man with a particularly booming voice.
Moreover, what is inherently wrong with hiring a woman for the sake of hiring a woman? Even if that was the motivation- which, as the countless number of testimonies on behalf of Biddy’s renowned pedagogy have already proved not to be the case-wouldn’t that be a better option in promoting female empowerment, opportunity and authentic diversity rather than recycling the same presidential candidates in a spineless attempt at skirting confrontation?
What are we doing here if we’re not making any attempt at change? Even if you sidle up to those philosophers who believe that human life has absolutely no purpose or significance (and at times I do agree) there is still no excuse. If we are nothing then we have nothing to lose; so we might as well make our existence as fertile as possible.
For our generation change is (or should be) the magic word. We’ve got a lot of messes to clean up for the next few decades and I for one don’t really care if people agree or disagree with Biddy’s appointment. Just give the woman a chance. And if you absolutely must give her a hard time at least come up with an articulate, well researched argument.