Tuesday, June 25, 2002


In today's InstaPundit.com, Glenn Reynolds draws a pretty outlandish conclusion from this article in the Washington Post reporting that women now account for 57% of all bachelor's degrees being awarded by colleges and universities:


Reynolds' astute observation: "[O]ver the past 20 years there has been a concerted effort to make colleges male-unfriendly environments, with attacks on fraternities, with anti-male attitudes in many classes, with intrusive sexual-harassment rules that start with the assumption that men are evil predators, and so forth. Now men don't find college as congenial a place. It's a hostile environment, quite literally."

What out and out bullshit! The thing that gets me about reactionary pandits ("pundits" who pander to the right-wing, probably hoping for some type of financial score akin to Matt Drudge) is how they try to portray their ideological-driven bile as "common sense." There is no common sense at all in this conclusion by Reynolds. Does anyone honestly think that males turn up the opportunity to go to college because of some ball-bustin', castratin' bunch of feminazis dominating campus?

Where would the average male find these soul-destroying dominatrixes? Less than 20% of degrees awarded by American colleges/universities are in the liberal arts. While the campus culture wars may take up a lot of newsprint inches and generate a lot of hot air in the right-wing/reactionary press, the fact is the vast majority of students are attending university to matriculate in programs other than the liberal arts.

The gender disparity could be explained by many factors -- the channeling of welfare mothers into higher education as part of workfare programs, the increase in the number of minorities attending university (with a proportionately higher number of women thus attending, due to the economic/social pressures faced by minority males), etc., but of course, this doesn't have the ideological snap of "Men are being discriminated against and the poor dears are so intimidated they won't go to college. 'Sniff Sniff." WHAT UNADULTERATED HORSESHIT!

Let's look at some facts. According to the U.S. Department of Education's Digest of Education Statistics (2000),


"The proportion of American college students who are minorities has been increasing. In 1976, 16 percent were minorities, compared with 27 percent in 1997." The DoE reports that much of the up tick in minority enrollment is due to increased numbers of Asians and Hispanics going to college. Hispanics increased their proportion of the college population from 4 percent to 9 percent while African American students accounted for 11 percent of the college population in 1997, a slight increase.

Reynolds uses this article to mount his common sense soap box while ignoring evidence pointing towards a crisis in many communities that have not shared equally in the economic expansion of the 1990s. Reynolds manages to ignore the obvious: the great number of young African American and Latino men that have run afoul of the criminal justice system:


Of course, drawing a link between the lack of economic opportunity for many in the U.S., the high incarceration rate of people of color, and gender disparities at university is unthinkable as it contradicts the "Panglossian best-of-all-possible-countries due-to-free-markets" mindset of the reactionary warbloggers.

Even without a recourse to racial demographics, just on the face of the it, Reynolds argument that there are less men than woman in bachelor's programs because of reverse sexual discrimination is absurd and an Orwellian inversion of reality, the fact that woman are sexually harassed and have been subjected to second-class citizenship within this generation. In 1976, 5,810,828 men were in college versus 5,201,309. Top rank ivy league universities were segregated by sex until the mid-1970s, the military academies until the Carter Administration.

As the DoE points out, much of the spike in enrollment in degree-granting institutions came from the growth in attendance by woman. "Between 1988 and 1998, the number of men enrolled rose 6 percent, while the number of women increased by 16 percent." It escapes Mr. Reynolds that perhaps women might find the university a more friendly place than they did a generation ago.

In the decade of 1988 to 1998, male enrollment in colleges increased by 6%. That hardly seems to give credence to "Pefessor" Reynolds' contention that men are shying away from getting their sheep-skins because of Oedipal fears. Perhaps, woman are now finding higher-education a more collegial atmosphere than they did back in the days when the top institutions were segregated by sex and all institutions were dominated by men. This, coupled with the increasing numbers of women channeled into higher education as part of the diminution of the welfare state, is a more likely explanation for the disparity than BALL-BUSTERS RUNNING WILD on campus.