Pfeiffer responds to HuffPo controversy

By Megan Petersen ‘15Copy Editor

Elisabeth Pfeiffer ’15 felt like she was stating the obvious when her column, “Don’t like the Gender Gap? Women’s Colleges Might Just Be the Answer,” was published in the Huffington post on Dec. 11, 2012.

“I thought I wasn’t saying anything radical or new,” Pfeiffer said of her column, which argues that women’s colleges can help make students “passionate leaders in their field” and empower women to make change in the world.

In early February, however, Pfeiffer found herself at the center of a controversy. A Claremont McKenna College first year wrote a response to Pfeiffer’s column, “Don’t Like the Gender Gap? Don’t Encourage It,” which was published on Feb. 5.

Pfeiffer, who heard about the response in a text from a friend who heard about the article on Facebook, said she didn’t realize how big of a deal it was until she walked into Scripps’s Motley Coffeehouse that night.

“A lot of people were enraged,” she said, adding that she overheard people talking about it and crafting their comment-section responses.

“I think people were so hurt by the article because it attacked Scripps as a school rather than just women’s colleges in general. So people wanted to defend their school.”

Pfeiffer said she felt angry and disappointed herself at the article at first. “I was shocked that people at the 5Cs don’t see the value of a women’s college. We’re neighbors,” she said.

After the initial shock wore off, though, Pfeiffer said she was glad it was all happening. “I was honestly happy people were getting angry,” she said. “It meant that they were talking and thinking critically about these issues. I’m happy she wrote her article too. Now that it’s out in the open, people can talk about it and have constructive dialogue.”

That dialogue exploded, both in comments to the Forum post and in personal blogs all over the Internet, in the ensuing days. Pfeiffer herself responded on Feb. 8 on her personal blog, “The Rosie Aufschrei.” Pfeiffer’s blog post, a love letter addressed to the CMC columnist and the greater Claremont community, called for continued dialogue. “I didn’t agree with what [the Forum columnist] wrote, but girl-on-girl hate won’t solve anything,” Pfeiffer told the Scripps Voice. “We all have the same goal of graduating as empowered women.”