James R. Harrigan and Gianna Englert
James R. Harrigan is an Assistant Professor in the McKenna School at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Gianna Englert is a writer based in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in 1876, Susan B. Anthony made an impassioned plea for gender equity. "We ask justice," she said, "we ask equality, we ask that all civil and political rights that belong to the citizens of the United States be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever." This reasonable vision of equality in the 1870s, though, gave way to a radicalized feminism in the 1970s. The quest for equal rights became, from that point forward, the quest for special rights.
Of course, no feminist would ever admit as much. There is no point in letting the truth get in the way of a good argument, after all. Nowhere is this more apparent than in American higher education, where the feminists still claim that opportunities are closed to women as a matter of course, even as those same feminists remade the American university in their own, supposedly softer, image. "Women's Studies" was necessary as a discipline, they said, to combat "the phallo-centric worldview" of the "male dominated university." What was really at stake, though, was not gender equity. Women's Studies was then and is now, nothing more than an unvarnished power grab.
Contrary to what the feminists would have you believe, women are not a downtrodden minority on American campuses. And there is evidence aplenty to support this claim. Equality was never the goal of the feminists; dominance was.
There are, to be sure, significant gender disparities in college admissions, but they are not the kind that do a feminist a whole lot of good. They are, however, so striking that no feminist could have missed the obvious truth. Policy analyst Thomas Mortensen of the Postsecondary Education Newsletter reports that currently 57 percent of all college students are women. This is hardly a result of natural divisions in society. There are 15 million college-aged men in the United States, but only 14.2 million of women of similar age. Further, men outperform women on the SAT, long an indicator of potential first-year college success. Men score, on average, 35 points better than women on the Math section of the test and 3 points better on the Verbal section. This is hardly the gender equity that the feminists once espoused; this is distaff dominance.
And the dominance does not end with the admissions process. The entire university system in America is, as Mortensen asserts, "well on its way to being feminized." Not only has the undergraduate admissions process been hopelessly skewed in favor of women, graduate programs, too, have gone irretrievably pink. According to a recent New York Times article "women earned about 60 percent of the master's degrees conferred in 2003-4."
Only a willful disregard of the obvious facts could lead anyone at this point in time to conclude that there is a male bias in higher education. It has been a good number of years since women have been at a competitive disadvantage to their male counterparts in American colleges and universities, and it is high time the feminists admitted as much. If feminists were really concerned with justice and equality as Susan B. Anthony said 130 years ago, they would now be campaigning for increased male participation in higher education, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Feminist cries for gender equity, however, are now nowhere to be heard.
This silence of the part of the feminists speaks volumes. Having surpassed the goal of gender equity, and having achieved the further goal of gender dominance, one wonders what is next. The answer should be clear to even the most casual of political observers. Radical feminists, the great granddaughters of Susan B. Anthony, have long hoped for nothing other than a working feminist majority, one that could (and would) share in the spoils of political victory the way that all majorities do. Gender equity was just a tool in a larger fight, a fight which they hoped would remake American society from the universities outward.
The time is at hand to revisit the idea of gender equity on our campuses, and if the feminists want to be taken seriously, they should have something to say about it regardless of whom it benefits. *
Endquoute: "It gives me great pleasure indeed to see the stubbornness of an incorrigible nonconformist warmly acclaimed." --Albert Einstein