I was recently interviewed by USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Monica Vendituoli. My full answers are below for easy reading, but the original source of the email conversation is also available. Monica publicly tweets her email address everywhere, so I have not removed her email address from the source files.
In the interest of transparency and preserving the integrity of the source, I left my student email visible as well. EDIT: Scratch that. I have been told that I actually have no obligation to publish my own email. My email address was removed from the source, but Monica’s email address remains because it is public.
I will be answering the questions in reverse order, since my answer to the second question depends on my answer to the first.
Have you ever felt discriminated against as a male college student and if so how and if not why not?
Yes. I will start with a specific example. As a student of Georgia State University during the fall of 2012, I was subjected to ridicule and insults for suggesting that sexism was a two-way street in a Global Politics course. During one lecture, we were presented claims such as “Women do two-thirds of the world’s work for 1% of the income.” The quoted claim was previously debunked by The Atlantic, so it should not be taught to our students to begin with. When a student started voicing her moral outrage in response to the injustices she felt she was personally facing, I reminded her that men suffered their own hardships.
I intended to do two things with my input. First, I was trying to console my classmate by saying she was not alone. Second, I was asserting the seriousness of issues affecting both sexes.
I did not read my classmate a laundry list of male problems because that would mean taking the lecture off on a tangent. That, and I was already nervous about the class’ reaction. Since men are often assumed to be unequivocally privileged, my experience has been that any suggestion men suffer is met with anger, disbelief, or even laughter. Not many people know of the high suicide rates, high dropout rates, military conscriptions, paternity frauds and false rape allegations affecting men, and this is only to name a few issues. I understand Jonathan Taylor from A Voice For Male Students has connected you with sources related to some of the aforementioned issues affecting male students (if not men in general), so I trust you have pertinent data available for your research.
On hearing my suggestion that sexism and gender based suffering is bidirectional, our instructor added that women “had it worse,” and I immediately disagreed. The class reacted by shouting and banging on desks. After class, some classmates followed me out to trivialize my beliefs and make direct personal insults. My professor concurred with these students, so I faced ostracization from a classroom simply because I said both men and women suffer.
We live in a world where bigotry runs rampant, and trying to suggest that one demographic has it worse makes a competition out of suffering. There are far too many cases of hatred in our world to perfectly understand its scope, so there is nothing healthy about assuming one demographic is somehow more deserving of empathy based on cherry-picked, inflated statistics designed to alarm the public.
I endorse women rights activists who try to educate the public on issues affecting women in the spirit of humanism, but compassion for all means not putting men or women on a pedestal. We should acknowledge the importance of the issues affecting both women and men, without competing to see who has the bigger scars. To summarize my position a few words directed at any person on this planet: “You are not special, but you matter.” My completely reasonable position has, on some occasions, caused me to fear what others would do to me.
Because men’s issues are grossly underrepresented, more and more humanists like myself are deciding to specialize in men’s issues until this is no longer the case. I have also experienced discrimination as an MHRA, but that leaves the scope of your question.
For more on how men are discriminated against as students, please see the profile of Kennesaw State University I have written under the pen name Victor Zen. In the article, I demonstrate gynocentrism that affects my experience as a student of KSU. In short, my tuition dollars pay for an environment that is better tailored to women than men. I cannot possibly get the same value from my time at KSU as a woman can, even though we are all given the same tuition bill to pay. If you seek additional elaboration, please let me know.
If you cannot see links in this email, you can read the KSU profile at http://www.avoiceformen.com/mens-rights/ksu-profile/
You can also see the Atlantic article at:
Do you feel more males studies or men’s studies programs are needed?
This question needs more context. We need to address how gender studies can contribute to a more civilized and educated society. We also need to discuss who gets to be in charge of men’s studies, and why.
There are already masculinity studies courses on some campuses. One such course is even on KSU in the Social Sciences building with course ID GWST 3080. You can use this ID to find information about the course. Sadly, I have reason to believe GWST 3080 is also gynocentric. One look at the course proposal (attached) shows a reading list with books like Guyland by Micheal Kimmel. Kimmel has been criticized by men’s human rights organizations for contributing to a narrative that is harmful to young men. I will leave criticisms of Kimmel and the other required texts of GWST 3080 to your own research for the sake of brevity, although you may find some direction with this excellent review of Guyland by Peter Allemano Jr.
I do not offer you the review as a substitute of peer-reviewed research. Instead, I offer you the review to illustrate a perspective that more and more men are identifying with. I, and others like me, are witnessing misandry in academia. The people we trust to be objective are allowing their views to be colored by the bigotry inherent in gender centrism. We never suspected that men might one day be the target of hatred in the same way that we expect women to be the target of hatred. So, representation for men that would counteract such hatred is not in our colleges. This also helps explain the disturbing lack of research on violence or sexual assault against men. Gynocentrism breeds ignorance of men, and that ignorance of men is in turn used to perpetuate mindless assumptions that men are doing just fine and are in no need of help.
Simply having a study on men or masculinity is not enough. We need an environment that fosters positive social development for men, by communicating with men in ways that men understand. Given my experiences with college culture, I do not feel women’s studies follow a similar philosophy for women. My belief is that gender studies as they are now vilify men and infantilize women.
I wish we had no gender studies courses to begin with, but the existence of gynocentric gender studies courses creates a need for a balanced narrative that does not breed misogyny or misandry. We get a balanced narrative by allowing more assertive, critical thinking humanists free from the vice of gender centrism into our faculties. I think I speak for self-respecting young men everywhere when I say that I want representation from men who are sensitive to the challenges I face, and who will question his own peers in academia on questionable claims made about men. So far, I can count the number of men and women who I know would stand up for me in an academic context on one hand: Dr. Warren Farrell, Dr. Miles Groth, Paul Nathanson, Katherine Young and Jonathan Taylor. There are others who would stand up for men, but either they do not operate in an academic context, or I have yet to hear their names.
As a man, I have never acted out of hatred, but am discriminated against because people assume I am either a bigot or associated with bigotry. If I, as a male student, can get representation from men’s studies programs without hearing yet another tirade about how men are the cause of all the wrongs in the world, then I want men’s studies programs on every campus on Earth.