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February 12, 2012

The White Male Shortage on Campus

                         By Robert Weissberg

animal-house.jpgSoviet ideologues were famous for adjusting Marxism to the zigs and zags of history, but they were pikers compared to today's campus affirmative-action apparatchiks. The latest installment from university diversicrats is--ready for this--affirmative action for men, not black or Hispanic men, but white men (see here and here and especially here). Allan Bakke, come back, all is forgiven!

More is involved than the usual "fairness" via biological quota. The financial stakes are huge. Compared to women, white men disproportionally gravitate to wealth-generating fields--business, engineering and the sciences. This predilection will be no small matter in a few decades, and universities are justifiably nervous as the pool of future rich donors shrinks vis-a-vis those who majored in French literature.

What explains this male flight? Let me speculate a bit and offer a reason that dare not speak its name in today's PC climate: universities are increasingly becoming feminized and many men, to use the anti-discrimination vocabulary, loathe a hostile working environment. In a word, males increasingly feel emasculated in today's universities. Yes, being outnumbered by women may fuel certain male adolescent fantasies, but believe it or not, a young male who visits a school dominated by women will suddenly have second thoughts about predatory opportunities.

Feminization is most apparent in how schools now combat "boyish behavior." The movie Animal House depicts this behavior perfectly--drunken frat parties, stupid pranks, clumsy intoxicated sexual aggression, coarse scatological language and countless other crude behaviors celebrating adolescent masculinity. It is not that these behaviors are condemned (and we can all agree that extreme versions deserve punishment). Rather, it is the form of the punishment that is anti-male. Miscreants are often social-worked, and for many young males, therapeutic punishment, complete with public confessions of dubious offenses, is a near-death experience. Imagine Bluto (the Animal House "hero" who famously said, "Grab a brew. Don't cost nothing") suffering the obligatory freshperson lectures given by a feminist counselor on non-alcoholic alternatives to beer and on the need for informed consent in all "intimate encounters, including same-sex ones." Not even the mighty Bluto could survive being told that his manliness is merely socially constructed.

Support Services for Hetero Males?

Antagonism toward fraternities is the most visible outcropping of campus feminization. Recall the disastrous faculty-led imbroglio over the Duke Lacrosse team. What happened at Duke could probably happen almost anywhere given today's faculty.

Further, add the abolition of male-dominated sports such as wrestling, while adding women's teams, regardless of demand, in sports like rowing, to satisfy Title IX requirements. And don't forget all the attention lavished on Women Studies Programs, everything from academic majors to expensive conferences and hefty speaker fees. And where are the support services for heterosexual males? Try putting Playboy in a college bookstore or decorating a dorm room with female pin-ups. These problems are almost inconceivable if the magazines in question were Out or the Advocate, two leading male homosexual magazines. Indeed, a student--let alone a Christian group--protesting gay magazines and homoerotic pin-ups would certainly risk being disciplined for impermissible hostility (and those complaining about Playboy may even benefit from this socially sanctioned outrage).

Underlying this public emasculation is a deeper, less visible faculty-led war on maleness that is currently concentrated in the humanities and social sciences but may well spread into the "hard" disciplines. (For the record, "feminine" and "masculine" here do not exactly correspond to biology. This is about psychology not anatomy. I know "male" female academics that drive their female colleagues crazy with their "male" mentality.)

Guys-Hanging-Out.jpgThis difference is about how to find truth. For males (and again keep in mind the non-overlap with biology), truth is discovered as follows. First, it is axiomatic that a single objective truth exists and this drives inquiry. Second, social niceties are subordinated to truth-seeking and uncivil, upsetting behaviors like sarcasm are therefore tolerable. Emotional feelings about what is right or wrong are irrelevant. Thomas Sowell once told me that he would never return to the classroom since he did not want to hear, "I feel...." Indeed, many males relish the verbal jousting and put-downs and these do not undermine personal friendship. Third, not all views are worth hearing and those wasting time will be forcefully and brusquely cut-off. Those able to marshal hard evidence prevail. In a nutshell, male truth-seeking is authoritarian.

By contrast, the feminine approach will stress social etiquette--woe to those who interrupts the speaker with, "there's no hard evidence for that, so let's move on." And unlike a male-dominated discussion, everyone, regardless of background and expertise, is permitted to "share" their views and then is thanked for sharing. Consensus-building is central and those rejecting harmony will be castigated as disruptive. Personal relationship often shape discussions--one never disputes friends even if one sharply disagrees and being attacked, no matter how mild, can destroy a friendship. Needless to say, everybody taking a turn to speak can make for long, rambling meetings.

No Eyeball-Rolling--Niceness Counts

To make this concrete, consider a stereotypical male (a nerdy "John") in a small liberal arts college enrolled in Economics 101 whose instructor (a knowledge facilitator, not a sage on stage) embodies the feminine approach. John wants to learn economics to become rich. The class begins with the instructor explaining that contemporary statistics-heavy economics is only one way of knowing, and this class will focus on alternatives to conventional knowledge. Moreover, there will be group projects to discover ways of making society more just by equalizing wealth and the group project will count for 50% of the final grade. The first two class periods are spent asking each student to explain what he or she hopes to learn plus their opinions on economic inequality. Nobody is criticized or told to stop talking, regardless of factual errors.

Matters go badly for John. The instructor repeatedly chides him for belittling the ideas of others by rolling his eyes and making facial expressions of disbelief. His insistence on finding a single best possible solution to an economic problem becomes repetitive to the point where the instructor suggests that he seek help at the school's counseling center to manage his anger. John's recourse to statistical data is interpreted as just showing off. By the third week is he no longer blurting out "What about trade-offs and opportunity costs?," since nobody pays attention. He discovers that the Internet offers multiple sites explaining economics, he finds a nerdy on-line discussion group, stops attending class and eventually drops out.

Thanks to his Internet contacts, John joins a small start-up and three years later patents a program to detect lying on the Web. It is widely licensed and John is an instant multi-millionaire. Though rich as Croesus he never sends a nickel to his "alma mater."

This depiction is, of course, an exaggeration but not by much. And this anti-male atmosphere will probably escalate as fewer and fewer males even apply. Meanwhile, those males who do attend and graduate will probably be ghettoized in such traditionally male fields as business, engineering and the sciences (and one wonders how long these majors will survive outside of major universities).

Reversing this pattern, assuming that gender equality is a problem requiring a solution, will be exceedingly difficult. The traditional affirmative solution of lower admission standards to achieve diversity is politically risky. What judge will rule that today's complex diverse world economy requires students to learn how to interact with white males?

It is equally hard to imagine universities attracting more white males by making the campus more white-male friendly. Will Deans subsidize a fraternity as a "while-male theme house" or sponsor beer-blast toga parties to achieve a critical mass of white males to lessen their social isolation? (But Brandeis did make a faint attempt to attract more males: it gave free baseball caps to the first 500 males who applied.).

Make no mistake--the numbers are indisputable but the source of the problem is unspeakable. No university wants to admit that sex differences are real and often intractable. Men and women are not interchangeable and as many (but not all) women feel uncomfortable in an uber-macho setting, many males (but not all) similarly reject an environment dominated by female values.

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Robert Weissberg is Professor of Political Science, Emeritus at The University of Illinois-Urbana, and occasionally teaches in the NYU Politics Department MA Program.



Comments (28)

American:

As a regular reader I want to thank you for discussing this topic that few academics dare to discuss.

Gigi:

Finally some common sense.

Fools2234:

Well if we as a country would stop focusing on every slight ill that women face and start focusing on the very many mens rights issues that the other gender faces then this might not be a problem.


As of now the govt still has not done anything about the boy crisis in education and is in fact making campus more hostile to men with its april 4th "dear collegue" letter which reduces the standard of proof required to convict a male student of rape all the way down to "perponderance of evidence" (anything above 50%) and "strongly discourages" male students given the right to question their accuser.

Men need to wake the F up and defend their rights instead of just assuming they have it soo good.

Interesting post. I've seen a few people point out that campuses are getting short on guys but this is the first time I've seen anybody try to explain why that might actually be bad for the college in the long term.

Arden:

In the early 90's I turned 18 and began attended college and my eyes were opened to the bias and bigotry of political correctness that was invading every aspect of western society. I felt that my presence on campus was unwanted and I was vilified as an evil "oppressor". I watched as white males were singled out and belittled at every opportunity. I watched as the programs that white males thrived in were cutback, defunded, and eventually shut down.

PC-Academia has done every thing it can to slam the door in the face of white male students and now there may be a "Problem". Too Bad. I would never go back into the halls of unfairness and would never want to see any boy of mine to have to endure it's fashionable hypocracy and bigotry.

anon:

Well after NOW has you fired from your job because of this article please apply to be a professor at my school!

Zabrina:

What about we girls who think like "nerdy John" and also want a rigorous college experience? It drives us nuts too, as does the stereotyping that all women must be, act, and think like these feminazis.

Jim:

"Zabrina: What about we girls who think like "nerdy John" and also want a rigorous college experience?"

Glad you asked, Zabrina. You have asked the central question.

This is what about you - you need to speak up and denounce all this. You are being cheated like everyone else, but your denunciations will come across a lot louder because you are the supposed beneficiaries of all this BS. You are the supposed beneficiaries, but you have the brains to see through it. Sound off!

Marcus:

As a black male I can testify that this is indeed what is happening on college campuses. White males are at the forefront of the academic sexism but they are definitely coming after all males. Believe it.

Jim:

When the school telephones, begging for money, tell them why you'll give them none.

Locomotive Breath:

"Recall the disastrous faculty-led imbroglio over the Duke Lacrosse team."

Disastrous for whom, exactly? Not one single administrator or faculty member suffered any punishment or career impairment. Many have been promoted.

Howard:

I wish all men would see how they are being treated by the dept. of education and the college policies. Then the ideal situation would be a boycott. How great would it be if no men applied. The universities would be up against layoffs and bankruptcy. Then men could dictate the end of the Dear Colleague Letter, the end of affirmative action and special privileges given to women (even though they make up 2/3 of graduates) and say no more male bashing, no more take back the night marches, no more 1 in 4 lies, no feminist campuses, sports programs based on interest level, not gender balance too. Tell the colleges, if they get their way, only then would they return.

formor college grad:

I pretty much stopped doing ALL work for my "business school." -- Simply put, Why put in the effort when your thoughts do not matter one bit. I received a C for A work and a C for D work. I am the white male.

Sure I have 2 college degree's but honestly, I stopped learning after my second year out of 6...

I got these neat little piece of paper though.... I actually liked debating at college...except the part where it really is not allowed..

Janice:

It starts much earlier than college. Have you seen the garbage that happens in elementary and high school? As a fairly "male" female, I would never have made it thru the group projects and arts and crafts that pass for class work nowadays, and it managed to turn my boys off from reading and learning. The education establishment has a lot to answer for.

Clayton Bigsby:

Thank you for taking this stand.

I have been telling my alma mater for years that I will not give a dime until men have equal say and equal influence on the campus. As long as they have the bigots of "women's studies" demanding their brand of misandry be the default then men and boys are at peril.

It is an outrage that no one sees this mess and those who do don't seem to take any action. Farrell was correct. Men are simply disposable and no no one gives a crap. This makes your article all the more important and a breath of fresh air!

John.in.Georgia:

I first became aware of this current problem with low male attendance in our universities during the Duke lacrosse fiasco when it was noted that the 2007 graduating class at Duke consisted of 59% female and 41% male. My gut told me then that this was not a good trend for society and I am glad to see that there are others who agree.

Bill Johnson:

A professor of political science? how is political science not an oxymoron - are experiments repeatable? Is there one truth?

Sir, you need a different department. Your thoughts are too radical for your position. And I agree with you.

Roger:

In reply to: Posted by Marcus | February 14, 2012 9:23 PM

I have had fun talking to the people ewho call for money. I went to two of the most radical schools in the country UC Berkeley and UMasss/Amherst (as well as New Mexico State--to whom I will give $). I had a good conversation with the Berkeley caller. I mentioned to him that they would have plenty of money if they did not have as many administrators as faculty. He agreed. I still asked to be put on their do not call list. The UMass call was not so interesting.

TFR:

The author is spot-on. Even he, though, is trapped in the language of academia. Men are referred to repeatedly as males as if we cataloging the population of a newly discovered species. Women are always referred to as women not as "females". I know he is immersed in that environment and has picked up the discriminatory lingua franca without noticing. That's why I point it out. Thank you for the article.

K:

@ American: Affirmative action is never common sense. It promotes people who can't compete into an environment in which they are destined to fail. Most importantly, it keeps the actual problem from being solved.

The pertinent question is WHY can't males compete for college spots? Because K-12 education is dominated by leftist feminist teachers and educrats. See Sommer's book "The War Against Boys". Introducing affirmative action just institutionalizes male inferiority.

When college women find the sexual odds to be highly against them there will be changes - not stop gaps and the creation of a permanent male underclass.

Old Grad:

Thirty-five years ago I graduated from our state university (school name withheld) with math and computer science degrees (I am male). After retiring last year, I visited the campus to see about registering as a special student (perhaps to take a modern liberal arts course to see if they're as bad as I have heard). All over the campus there were notices posted advising women to use the Women's Center. They were prominently posted in the Registrar's office as well. All well and good, but when I inquired about the location of the "Men's Center," I was told that there was none.
Question: Isn't this a Title IX issue? Sounds like an unequal accommodation to me!

Alan:

Gee, it must be bad now.

I walked out of my college in 1974. They decided, halfway through my senior year, to require a women's history course for everyone before graduation. I decided that a diploma from them would be a detriment.

FR-S:

"Gee, it must be bad now."
You have no idea, my my friend.

If you were born with the Y-chromosome, you have got to do some schmoozing to get good grades in those required liberal arts courses. English lit paper due? Make sure the prof knows how you unconditionally support a woman's right to choose. Humanities paper due? Let that prof know you want marriage to be available to citizens of every orientation. Listen to NPR for a half hour before class and make sure to agree with absolutely everything they do. Let the prof know this. Humanities classes are a place where the competition is a loosely defined popularity contest, sort of like Project Runway, but with ugly people.

In engineering, math and science courses, however, you can be yourself. That's because the answers in those classes are either right or wrong and not subject to how the prof is feeling about you that day.
Why do men go into the STEM fields?
1. STEM topics are fun stuff for us heteronormative, cisgendered, patriarchal SOB's.
2. We know that if we work hard and learn the material, we won't be denied the fruits of our labor.

richard40:

Maybe as the colloge bubble bursts, and colleges start losing students, some of them will try and gain a compeditive advantage by differenciating themselves as men friendly colleges. Of course if any do, they will probably have the feds hit them with title 9 suits, so we will need to repeal that little bit of garbage too.

Tim:

What you're really describing is not 'female' or 'male', it's submissiveness or refusing to submit. Why would you associate female with submissiveness, and male with believing in right and wrong, and taking a stand?

But yes, you DO need to be 'female' in order to succeed on campus - because the profs all know that they're right and so disagreeing = wrong.

A good example. One of my history profs said "There are only two ways to look at human history: theism and Marxism. Obviously, God does not exist, therefor all analysis in this class will be according to Marxism". Now, I'm an atheist, and even I can't claim that God doesn't exist *anywhere* in the universe. it's just not scientifically provable.

It was made clear that all other approaches would result in an 'F' because clearly you were not smart enough to understand that Marxism was the scientifically-proven method. It would be like using a Ouiji board in a Physics test.

In that environment, students who take the 'female' approach (it's almost like "Stockholm Syndrome") will succeed, because they'll agree with whatever the dominant leader says.

I'd lived under Communism, so I was able to parrot pseudo-Marxism back at the prof and the TAs, and got an "A". They weren't even smart or well educated enough in Marxism to realize that they were being mocked.

The Universities, which are founded on top-down "we know better, so sit down and listen" are never going to be a place other than hostile to people who actually want to think, learn, and discuss. Because the universities already have the answers, and they don't want the questions.

Jim:

I think we could save a lot of time, money and effort if the government would simply award instant degrees to the people who are from the categories in favor. Presto, you get a doctorate in Mathematics. No calculus, number theory and linear algebra needed, just apply and get the degree. The only people who would disagree with this new and improved system are obviously racist, sexist homophobes anyway. And, we could vastly expand the faculty and staff if we didn't have to waste time and dollars actually teaching anything.

Annie B:

Consider also the number of 'male' females that are being chased off.

Such as myself.

I'd love to get my doctorate (in Literature) ... but... don't think I can stomach the feminized campus.

And given that I was once one of the 'flaming dyke' feminists... that let's you know how very far too far things have gone.

CyclotronMajesty:

So if I were to make some good goals for Universities to adopt to promote male attendance:

1. Hire male teachers
2. Allow male mentoring programs
3. Teach the 7 classical liberal arts
4. Prohibit Misandry
5. Close Women's Studies departments
6. Open Gender Studies Departments
7. Open Male studies departments or classes.
8. Stop painting everything pink.
9. Reduce busy work.
10. Stop taking attendance, like we are a bunch of kids at day care.
11. Teach something other than regurgitation of facts.

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