Richard Whitmire, popular journalist for USA Today, has taken it upon himself to delve into the “gender imbalance” issue on college campuses. In his 2008 article, “A Tough Time to Be a Girl: Gender Imbalances on College Campuses,” which appeared in the Chronicle for Higher Education, Whitmire chose JMU has its subject of study.
The Op-Ed article covers the gender imbalance on JMU’s campus, claiming that it is damaging for “girls” and young men. Although little of the article dealt with academic issues, Whitmire focused on the relationship complications that these gender imbalances cause. He claimed that JMU women are engaging in unhealthy levels of competition for men because they are so few to choose from. These girls are apparently suffering from this problem in three areas: their health, their standards, and their morals.
I find it interesting that while Whitmire quotes Laura Stepp in her claim that, “Not only are women gambling with their health, but they are making decisions they will regret in future years,” Whitmire has nothing to say about men’s health or regretful decisions. This theme in the article starts at the very beginning, paving the way for the rest of the article to follow the all too popular suit: the women, or in this case, the “girls,” are to blame.
The male reactions to this gender imbalance are described as such: “In the animal kingdom, it is well known that whichever sex is in short supply has the upper hand.” He explains that men take advantage of the competitiveness of the women, strategically constructing party scenarios, “in which girls strip to their underwear and get wet sliding down a plastic sheet.” First of all, I have a hard time believing that these men manipulate these women into stripping and going down a slip-and-slide. If they do, I am quite sure it is of their own prerogative. But more disturbing than Whitmire’s insistence on calling college-aged women “girls,” or asserting that only women are vulnerable to health issues as a result of irresponsible casual sex, is his assertion that men are excused of their own actions because of “biology.” I guess they are just reacting the way they would in the wild?
Finally, Whitmire also claims that men are also suffering from this gender imbalance. This is what Whitmore has to say about the men:
“At James Madison and other colleges I visited with severe gender imbalances, the men appeared to pay an eventual price by failing to develop relationship skills and losing the trust of the women. When guys abuse the women, the women eventually get mad and take it out on all the guys, not just the abusers.”
So—it appears that in the opinion of Mr. Whitmire, that men are lacking relationship skills because of the actions of college women, and on top of all that—the girls blame these poor guys for the abuse of their comrades.
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of hearing this side of the “gender gap” story. As we have been stating all semester, JMU women are talented, driven, intelligent, responsible, and fifty other descriptive words we’ve posted on our site. The focus on this issue should be (1) WHY more women are pursuing college careers than men and (2) celebrating the success of these women and the great strides that our JMU WOMEN continue to take.
See Whitmire’s article at http://chronicle.com/article/A-Tough-Time-to-Be-a-Girl-/22663.
Also see his article, “The Latest Way to Discriminate Against Women.” @ http://chronicle.com/article/The-Latest-Way-to-Discriminate/34773