Breaking news! International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, who was to deliver the Commencement address at Smith College, has withdrawn from the May 18 ceremony. According to the AP story, Ms. Lagarde
said it was clear that many did not want her on campus and that she did not want to distract from a joyous occasion.
An online petition with hundreds of signatures said Lagarde represents a corrupt system that fuels the oppression and abuse of women worldwide.
So another accomplished woman will not be on the podium when the processional ushers in the graduates.
I wonder if human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have commiserated with Ms. Lagarde? In this graduation season, Ms. Ali has found herself dis-invited from Brandeis University. Secretary Rice withdrew from the Rutgers ceremony when it became clear that a group of faculty and students didn’t want to hear what she had to say.
While it is old news that dissent is frowned upon on the majority of US college and university campuses, the targeted silencing of powerful women is a new and disturbing trend. The take-down of these distinguished national and international leaders truly frightens me. How many young women graduating this year will wonder why there is no one who looks like them speaking at Commencement? How many young women who may be questioning their most deeply held beliefs will be driven underground in the face of such powerful condemnation? The message could not be clearer: You’re just a girl, sweetie. Don’t think for yourself–that’s not what the female brain is for. Don’t aspire to change the world. You’re just a girl.
Maybe “bucking” isn’t the most felicitous choice of words.