Raylan Alleman, co-founder of the Catholic website Fix the Family, doesn’t think women should go to college. This isn’t just a passing thought for him; he has written an extensive article outlining 8 reasons why. Naturally, this has gotten Feminists in quite a huff (see here and here). Given that this website supports educational equity for both sexes, in this case I am in agreement with them.
There is more to this case than bias against women, however. Whenever people with more traditional notions of gender set out to “protect women,” they sometimes do this by demeaning men as uncivilized brutes while portraying women as emblems of moral and sexual purity who would only be corrupted by intermingling with them. That is exactly what Alleman does. We will go through several of his rationalizations as to why women shouldn’t go to college. Here’s one:
1. She will attract the wrong types of men…what normally happens with this setup is that those lazy men who are looking for a mother-figure in a wife are very attracted to this responsible, organized, smart woman who has it all together along with a steady paying job with benefits. So if he wants to go to work he can, but if not he can always fall back on her income…the bottom line, HE is only supplementing HER income, but he’s supposed to be the provider.
Strange…when I was an undergraduate in college I wanted (and had) a girlfriend who would play video games with me. And yet, somehow I managed to do this and be the president of Sigma Tau Delta (the English honor’s society), sit on the editorial board for the campus creative arts journal, and graduate with honors. Not to mention go on to become a teacher myself.
And what’s this about him “falling back on her income”? What if she is lazy and wants to fall back on his income? I always find it interesting when people try to shame men for living with a partner who makes more than he does, or even – horror of horrors – staying at home and taking care of children while women go out and earn the money. If it’s so shameful, why is it just shameful for men?
In addition, constricting men solely to the role of a provider is incredibly limiting and unhealthy for them. As Forbes magazine noted, male suicide rates have risen dramatically with the economic recession. Why? Because when men’s self-worth is bound up with how well they can provide for others, they inevitably feel a decline in their self-worth when factors beyond their control limit their economic prospects. That’s why, even though I advocate educational equity (which is closely linked with economic prospects) for men and boys, I always stop short of telling men that they have to do this or that.
But Raylan Alleman is just getting warmed up. His next reason:
2. She will be in a near occasion of sin. Just think of the environment that college-age students live in. You have a heavy concentration of young people all living together without the supervision of parents at the most sexually charged state of life they will experience. How can one expect that anyone would be able to avoid these temptations, even on a Catholic college campus much less a secular one? So if it is unnecessary for one to be in a near occasion of sin, is it prudent to willingly put oneself there? This is no small matter we’re dealing with here. Is a degree worth the loss of your daughter’s purity, dignity, and soul?
Catholic OB-GYN Dr. Kim Hardey notes that a woman is naturally very observant of a man’s faults as long as she is in a platonic relationship with him. Once she becomes sexually active with him, she releases hormones that mask his faults, and she remains in a dreamy state about him. We can see why God would arrange things in such a way so that when in a proper state of holy matrimony, she would be less sensitive to his faults and thereby less tempted to be critical of him.
Yes, women in marriage are not critical of men’s faults. Just walk around and ask married men, and especially divorced men over the age of 40. The idea that only women put on blinders to their partner’s faults once they become sexually active with a partner is ridiculous. There are many men who will do whatever women want so long as they have sex with them.
And what’s the deal with female “purity”? If women are “pure” by default, are men then “impure” by default? And if not, why do we never hear people like Raylan Alleman talk about male “purity”?
The other reasons Alleman gives aren’t demeaning to college men, but nonetheless warrant scrutiny:
3. Women won’t learn how to be wives and mothers.
Crazy idea here – what if they don’t want to get married? What if they just want to live out their lives being productive in other ways? And the same goes for men as well. I would never be able to do as much as I am doing now – including taking some of the risks I have taken – if I were married. Not only would I not have the time, I would be constantly worried about how what I am doing might affect my wife and kids.
4. The cost of a college degree is becoming more difficult to recoup.
Men are affected by this as well, especially given that most of those laid off during the recession were men to the point that it was labeled a “mancession.”
5. Women don’t have anything to prove to the world.
Except proving to Mr. Alleman that they have become wives and mothers, of course. And men have a lot to prove as well.
6. It would be a “near-occasion of sin” for the parents [to allow their daughters to be in a situation where they might become “impure”].
See my response to #2.
7. She will regret it.
And men never regret going to college? Some men post videos on YouTube of themselves burning their degrees, or write books on how a college degree is worthless. Don’t get me wrong: I learned a lot in college. A hell of a lot. But I make sure to keep it in perspective. There’s a difference between education and intelligence.
8. It could interfere with a religious vocation.
And so does working as a CPA, which happens to be Raylan Alleman’s profession.
I wouldn’t be as concerned with Alleman’s website if it weren’t for the fact that it has a rather impressive Alexa ranking. Better than this website’s global (though not US) Alexa ranking, even – for now. Allow me to make a suggestion to religious groups and individuals who are focused on fixing the family: if you really want to fix the family, contact the National Parents’ Organization and get involved in advocating for shared parenting.
Here’s why. Analyzing 21 variables, a Brinig & Allen study concluded that the anticipation of gaining sole custody was the most decisive factor in whether or not a parent files for divorce . And given that family courts are set up in a divisive game of “winner take all,” divorce is often rather enticing. By instituting shared parenting, not only will children have access to the love and support of both parents post-divorce, it will also remove much of the incentive to divorce in the first place.
Feminists are right to point out that traditionalists sometimes advocate worldviews that limit the opportunities and well-being of women. What they have often been blind to, however, is that many of them have done so in a manner that is also demeaning to men and boys.
Here at AVFMS, part my job is to point out anti-male worldviews, particularly those directed toward men and boys in education. I will continue to do that, regardless as to who advocates them.
Notes: American Economics and Law Review, Vol. 2, Issue 1 (Spring 200), p. 126-27, 129, 158.
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