This essay is an email response to an unsatisfactory Instant Messenger chat session about our “War on Terrorism” with a liberal minded colleague. It parallels the epistolary construction of Three Guineas, a book written as Virginia Woolf’s response to a pre-World War II Europe. Published in 1938, her arguments for pacifism hold true sixty-four years later as World War III seems to loom in our future. Her main defense is that war is patriarchal; since men have historically excluded women from so many aspects of society, women feel no desire to defend the patriarchal society men are fighting to maintain, much less aggrandize over other nations. Woolf’s solution includes constructing a non-patriarchal educational system and addressing oppressive elements within our society before attempting to correct external ones. Following Woolf’s line of reasoning, it is hypocritical for America to fight a “War Against Terrorism” while within our boarders, patriarchal systems maintain the daily oppression and terror of women: a woman manager currently earns 73 cents for every dollar a man makes, professional women face double standards of “proper” behavior, single mothers are encouraged to marry their children’s father even if he is abusive, and one out of every three women will be raped in her lifetime. We need to embody true equality in the U.S. before we criticize other nations.
Robyn Krause, ’02 Naperville, IL
Major: Women’s Studies
Sponsor: Leslie Hankins