Angry white men unite

By By Beth Ranschau

By Beth Ranschau

Amid a plethora of privileged white male students, I hear complaints every day about how women and minorities are given unfair advantages.

Issues such as Title IX, diversity scholarships and equal employment opportunities-which as a crazy liberal, I assumed were generally accepted as positives-are now up for dispute.

It’s easy to dismiss these feelings as conservative backlash. Maybe white men just haven’t had any unifying movements and feel left out in the wake of civil rights, feminism and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. But maybe all these angry white men have a point.

In the same way that women are restricted by their gender, perhaps society’s expectations of “masculine men” also restrict what is and is not acceptable behavior.

Recent statistical data suggests that the movement toward female equality in the classroom may have adversely affected male education. In 2005, the U.S. Census Bureau released data stating that 32.5 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 34 had attained bachelor’s degrees, while only 27.2 percent of their male counterparts achieved the same educational level.

Even more startling are the numbers concerning high school dropout rates of individuals aged 18 to 24. Statistics showed that while 17 percent of young women did not attain a high school degree, 22 percent of young men failed to graduate.

In light of such revelations, there has not been a large movement to find the “happy medium” of educating children to ensure every child has an equal opportunity to achieve his or her full potential. Rather, the model of stupidity has been adopted as a sign of successful masculinity.

Indeed, entire advertising campaigns are based on the premise that men are incapable of feeding or bathing themselves (enter Carl’s Jr. and Axe Body Wash-“Be Clean, Smell Great”).

This is not to say that we have moved so far away from our “traditional roots” that we are living in a matriarchal society. In the past 20 years, we have seen large advances toward improving women’s educational levels, yet men still outnumber women when it comes to attaining master’s and doctoral degrees. However, these gaps are far less disparate and are quickly closing.

One might argue that women are beginning to see advantages in the classroom, but they are much more likely to be objectified or discriminated against based on their gender in a “real world” setting.

In a lot of ways, this is true.

When walking home in the middle of the night, I-as a woman-endure significantly more fear than does my male roommate. I never make eye contact, I always walk at a quick pace and I always have my hand on my keys or some other sharp object. He has the privilege of worrying about his wallet rather than his body. Similarly, I have never witnessed a man being gawked at or cat called.

However, since the recent move for gender equality, we have not witnessed a decrease in the amount of such objectifications. Instead, men are held to the same unrealistic body standards that women have been traditionally held to.

Yesterday’s brute yet cunning male role models have been replaced by grunting body builders and chiseled Calvin Klein underwear models.

Moreover, when men are the victims of sexual harassment or assault, their cases are not treated seriously. Male victims are instead effeminized for admitting to such abuse.

The solution does not lie in a rejection of the policies that allow women and minorities equal opportunities, but rather in understanding that men and women are similarly disadvantaged by stringent gender roles.

Rather than complaining about Title IX, we should complain about emphasis for young boys to bulk up to be strong, gain athletic scholarships and reassert their masculinity rather than pursue intellectual endeavors.

We should complain about the structures that encourage young girls to communicate their feelings and emotions and that punish boys for similar behavior. We should not punish women for having a vested interest in their families, but rather encourage men to similarly dedicate themselves to traditionally “female” duties, such as child rearing.

Rather than asking if equal opportunity policies have gone too far, we should ask if they have gone far enough in breaking down the societal restrictions of gender-male or female.