Letter: A single set,but two sexes

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Sir: With regard to Ruth Picardie's open letter concerning my intention to share a set of rooms at Emmanuel College with Ceri Smith ('Dear Catherine Hall', 4 March), I wish to allay the doubts and fears that she expressed (albeit in a rather confused manner).

As the ex-Women's Officer of Emmanuel College and current Secretary of the Cambrige Students' Union Womens' Campaign, it is unlikely that I will be 'scooping up' Ceri's rugby socks. If Ms Picardie had bothered to check, she would know that it is I who have played rugby at Cambridge and not him.

My 'attitude to life with Ceri' was given in response to repeated questioning from the press as to whether or not he was untidy. The stereotypical attitudes of the interviewer dictated that Ceri was not asked the same question about me. The fact that I know how to 'handle him' seems to suggest that he will be playing the role of housewife just as actively as me.

If Ceri wants to live in a bedroom with underpants scattered all around, that is his decision. However, I don't have any intention of touching them, let alone picking them up. I do not expect him to leave them in our sitting room, since we, at any rate, do not consider this normal behaviour, even for undergraduates.

The only reason for my needing to train as a housewife would be the fact that the patriarchal Cambridge environment results in a disproportionately small number of women getting firsts, going on to postgraduate study and challenging the myths that surround Cambridge that many of us are trying to shatter.

Ms Picardie seems to be doing our sex a disservice by denigrating the achievements made by many women at Cambridge towards destroying the Brideshead image that has prevailed for too long.

Yours faithfully,


Emmanuel College


8 March