In 1997, 55% of U.S. college enrollees were women and 45% men. At the time, Brookings Institution scholar and former assistant secretary of education Diane Ravitch trenchantly asked “When will it be equal? When women are 60% or 75% of college enrollments? Perhaps it will be fair when there are no men at all.” Ravitch of course was skewering the gender feminist position that the slightest inequality against women must be addressed with much money and great dispatch, while major male inequalities should be ignored.
For now at least, we can answer her question. The female-to-male ratio of college enrollees has rocketed to 59.5%:40.5%, a new record. And the answer is, “It’s still not equal.” Almost 60% female enrollment isn’t high enough because, for mysterious reasons, men are considered the “privileged” sex. We know that because colleges (and others) say so.
In 2008, [University of Vermont mental health counselor Keith] Smith proposed a men’s center to help male students succeed. The proposal drew criticism from women who asked, “Why would you give more resources to the most privileged group on campus,” he said.
Funding wasn’t appropriated, he said, and the center was never built.
See? According to the University of Vermont, men are so privileged that they don’t need the help women receive in spades.
Female students in the U.S. benefit from a support system established decades ago, spanning a period when women struggled to gain a foothold on college campuses. There are more than 500 women’s centers at schools nationwide. Most centers host clubs and organizations that work to help female students succeed.
Yes, there are “more than 500 women’s centers” on campuses. How many men’s centers? According to the article, “a few.” This, as women’s advocates and the institutions that agree with them understand the matter, constitutes male privilege. So Ravitch’s question still stands, “When will it be equal?” Not yet. Probably not ever.
But the question “Why is men’s enrollment declining?” is thornier. The linked-to WSJ piece takes a half-hearted stab at answering, but comes up well short. It fails, coincidentally, for the same reason that so few men attend college – it’s still verboten even to raise the issues that are so damaging to men, much less do anything about them. Since 1982, women have outnumbered men in colleges and universities and the gap has steadily widened. Few commentators have even tried to draw attention to the problem and those who have have been assailed by zealots crying “Misogyny!”
I can’t give a complete answer why millions of young men are opting out of higher education.
But what few seem willing to say is that, for over five decades now, we’ve seen a sustained attack on men and masculinity that is as virulently hateful and degrading as it is untrue. Over two decades ago, Christina Hoff Sommer’s extensively-researched book entitled “The War Against Boys” cited information on anti-male discrimination in education going back two more decades and longer. In short, this has been going on a long time and we are now reaping what we’ve sown. For 50 years we’ve told men and boys that what they do best and what they value most, i.e., resource provision for women and children, is (a) not very important and (b) can be done as well or better by women.
Into the bargain, we tell men and boys, in a wide variety of ways, that they’re stupid, brutal and buffoonish, that whatever they accomplish is solely because of their societal privilege, and that masculinity itself is “toxic” and must be altered to become more feminine. Despite a welter of complaints, depictions of men in pop culture seem to be worse now than they were 20 years ago. Much of that message is conveyed to them in school from their earliest days there.
Don’t believe me? Check out this contribution by Ethan Moscot, a student at Lehigh University cogently entitled “Men Were Listening:”
The insistence that “the future is female” and constant denunciation of “mansplaining” and all the rest have combined to encourage female participation and denigrate male participation, if not masculinity itself, throughout academia. Calls for greater diversity have bled into a demonization of male leadership. So why should men willingly enter an environment where—while accruing massive debt—they’ll be discouraged at every turn?
Back in 1990, the American Association of University Women sponsored a survey of boys and girls in secondary education. It found that both viewed girls as the privileged sex in school. By overwhelming margins, boys and girls said that teachers think girls are smarter than boys, compliment girls more often, prefer the company of girls, pay more attention to girls, call on girls more often and punish boys more often. In the UK, boys’ grades improve when the grader doesn’t know the sex of the student being graded. Recall Doris Lessing’s remark after observing a primary school class.
"I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men.
"You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives."
That was in 2001 and those little boys were right.
In the 1990s, the U.S. Department of Education lavishly funded the Women’s Educational Equity Act Publishing Center that widely disseminated such lies as “every year four million women are beaten to death” in the U.S. That nowhere near four million people of both sexes die in a year of all causes combined was of no more importance to the WEEA and the DOE than the fact that death by homicide was nowhere near the top ten among killers of women. Truth was not the point. The point was the demonization of men. This was paid for by the U.S. government.
Speaking of the government, under the Obama Administration’s “guidance” regarding allegations of sexual misconduct on college campuses, young men were (and are) especially targeted by kangaroo courts for suspension and expulsion due to often unproven claims by women. Yes, the Trump Administration issued much-needed corrective rules, but it’s still an open question whether colleges will abide by them. When they were first promulgated, some colleges openly said they would not.
If you’re a man, why enter an institution that’s so hostile to you and that can not only deny you an education, but tar your reputation forever based on little or no evidence? Why take the risk? After all, by the time you’re old enough to apply, 12 years in school has taught you at least one lesson - that school isn’t the place for you.