I would say Fred Reed’s recent Lew Rockwell column is bad, but that would be a lie. I thought the column was stupid. Reed’s piece has already been heavily criticized (see this article; some people say the authors didn’t interpret Reed correctly, and at first I accepted this point, but re-reading both pieces I think the critique is fair), but this is one of those things where I don’t think there’s such thing as too much criticism.These kind of articles should be ridiculed.
I agree that there should be freedom of association, meaning if Reed wants to start his own boys’ club it’s all’s good. (And, there are plenty of situations where men may not want to mix with women, and vice versa — there are all women gyms, mostly to avoid the kind of creeps that Reed thinks typify most men.) But, some of the stuff he wrote is plain ignorant; and, I don’t mean just on women, but on just about everything else Reed writes about.
On education, writes Reed,
There is much wringing of teeth and gnashing of hands nowadays because boys are “struggling” in school. The problem could be solved in about ten minutes by having separate schools for boys, grade school through high school, with male teachers only and a death penalty for even uttering the word “Ritalin.”
Why is gender-based integration at fault? He never really explains it. He offers some reasons, but most of them fail to speak directly to the issue,
- Boys should be graded on skills and knowledge, not on “homework done on time;”
- Boys shouldn’t be taught on diversity and the benefits of a cosmopolitan worldview;
- Women teachers want discipline and “decorum,” and they’re anti-competitive.
Some of these points are similar to the ones he brings up when he talks about university life, such as the second point (he writes, “[o]n reaching campus a male student finds himself in a world of hostile feminism”). If school weren’t compulsory in this country, I’d guess that Reed never went to school. Or, he was extremely unlucky to go to a very bad school, or I’ve (and other people I know, who go to other schools) been extremely lucky.
Do women design school curricula that increase the probability of failure by part of boys/men? No. Actually, I wonder what the ratio of men to women in K–12 administration is. And, any curriculum that’s made is designed around certain standards that don’t involve gender; the curriculum isn’t made for just girls, and it doesn’t favor girls. Our compulsory education may be bad, but women are not at fault. (One reason, not much talked about, that so many people perform poorly in high school is that there are people who attend who never should have — we need to allow people to choose alternative educations at an earlier stage in life.)
A brief humorous aside. My dad is a high school teacher, in Spanish, in Chula Vista, a suburb south of San Diego. He always tells me stories about his run-ins with students’ parents. One time a mother told my dad, “My student isn’t doing well because you don’t speak Castillian Spanish.” My mother is from Spain — from Castilla-La Mancha, which is Don Quixote territory — and my dad learned his Spanish in Spain; the mother is Mexican. Sometimes parents outright accuse teachers of unfairly penalizing their children. Some people just have a hard time accepting their child is a poor student. If we can mitigate this problem it has to be, in my opinion, during a child’s first ten years. For example, my guess is that a household that encourages reading throughout a child’s life will produce a better student.
By the way, as far as college goes, I took one womens’ studies course, and I did so voluntarily. I needed three upper division electives, and I thought it was an easy A (I was pretty close to a B+, but I managed to persuade the professor to bump up my grade on one of the papers). Based on my experience, none of the following are remotely true (the numbering is mine),
- On reaching campus a male student finds himself in a world of hostile feminism;
- He is told that he is a rapist, subjected to tedious indoctrination about sexual assault, and exposed to silly Take Back the Night nonsense by hysterical adolescent females;
- Outside of the hard sciences, virtually all courses will be heavy on victimization propaganda;
- Not being stupid, and not being intellectual ungulates, young men quickly see that they are not going to learn anything since this is no longer the purpose of a university. They drop out.
Those are all uneducated, unsubstantiated statements.
Of those who drop out (including women), most do so because they’re not prepared for college. They either don’t have the intellectual capability, or they’re lazy, or they have something more important going on in life (e.g. a job). I’ve never been a good student. I was put on academic probation one semester at San Diego State University. It wasn’t because I was too busy checking out the ladies, it was because I was an idiot and I made bad decisions (next semester I took 9 classes, or 27 units, and got the highest semester GPA I’ve ever gotten). Also, I’ve never seen hostile criticism, or been called a racist or a rapist, or taken a course that was “heavy on victimization propaganda” (whatever that means). It seems to me that Fred Reed has seen PCU too many times.
Let me give you an idea of what a college career looks like in terms of the classes taken. The first two years of my higher education were general education and some lower division classes for my majors. I didn’t take a single lower division womens’ studies or cultural (e.g. Africana Studies) classes. Let’s say that a lower div. education comes out to 60 units: 21 were for my major (political science and economics), 15 were math (which is an extremely light load), 9 were English courses, 12 belong to one history, one accounting, one biology, and one computer science class. All my upper division courses were in my major, except three general ed. classes: womens’ studies, computer science, and art history (I learned in all three classes).
I’ve always learned something in all my classes. Students who don’t learn something only have themselves to blame. This doesn’t mean that students aren’t also the victim of important problems in the higher education system. Some professors are poor (e.g. those who focus more on research and are bad teachers) and it’s still relatively rare to see teachers really experiment with alternative means of education (only three of the classes I took were truly non-traditional in the way the material was taught). There are many other problems. But, a unisex education is not a part of the problem. Besides, if you want your son to go to an all boys school then go for it: you’re still free to do that in this country. But, “this subject is boring” or “this subject doesn’t fit my narrow worldview” is not an excuse for not taking the opportunity to learn; if the subject is boring don’t sign up for the class, choose a different major, or choose a different educational path.
Reed may have gone to college in the 70s or 80s. Those times may have been different. My dad once told me he took a womens’ studies course and was unfairly marked down by the teacher. There was, and is, such a thing as radical feminism, and there are feminists who are particularly hostile. But, these are exceptions to the rule, especially today.
Moving on, I think this sentence is amongst the worst,
Further, when a woman enters a smoothly functioning squad of thirteen men, they become twelve guys competing for her sexual favors.
That’s an insult to me and to most men. I am a human being, and I don’t automatically turn into an animal when a girl comes near me. Maybe Reed likes to ask girls he comes across for sexual favors. That’s his own business. There are many cases of rape and sexual harassment in the military. But, these are tragic exceptions to the rule: most men are not natural rapists and creeps (and let me emphasize men; I have a hard time seeing a male rapist as a man). The best way of preventing these issues is not to segregate the military, but to slowly improve that institutions’ culture. It’s no secret the military is a chauvinistic organization — gender segregation and, until recently, it’s anti-gay policies are testament to that —; this culture has to be changed, not rewarded.
There are plenty of countries where combat jobs are desegregated. One example is Spain. I don’t know enough to say with absolute accuracy whether this has led to any benefits, costs, or whether things have really just remained the same. But, from what I do know, desegregation of combat jobs has not been obviously harmful. I should mention, though, that the Spanish military hardly sees combat; the worst deployments are usually reserved for the legion. If women are unfit for combat they should be subject to the same tests as their male peers; if women pass these tests then women are fit for combat. If you argue otherwise (and I’m assuming that the tests aren’t made easier just to increase female enrollment) you’re not just wrong, but you’re unreasonable.
Resegregation by sex, which would be both cheap and easy, is probably vital to the future of the United States.
Holy hyperbole Batman! Only in your world, Fred! But, lucky for you, you can move to middle-of-nowhere Idaho and start your own all male city. Just in case you don’t already know this, believe it or not, you have enough freedom of association to send your son to: (a) an all male private school; (b) an all male university (many of which reduce their standards to pass a larger number of students); and (c) an all male militia.