I Hate Math, Especially on College Campuses

February 8, 2010

A Chapel Hill Harem

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein

Thanks to several readers who sent a link to an article in yesterday’s New York Times Styles section:

The New Math On Campus


Chapel Hill, NC is a great college town. It’s got a vibrant campus and lots of restaurants, bars, coffee houses etc. There’s a very active Greek scene. Times reporter Alex Williams went out one night recently to check out the scene and was struck by the lack of young men. Everywhere he turned attractive coeds were decked out in cute outfits, hair and makeup, but they had only each other to admire their efforts.

In some ways, it’s the usual depressing fare, but I actually felt encouraged reading this troubling account of the social scene at UNC – Chapel Hill, one of the finest universities in the country. After years in which the mainstream media has refused to even acknowledge the existence of hookup culture (for fear of angering sex-positive feminists), it appears as if enough cultural and demographic indicators are signaling trouble that the current sociosexual environment can no longer be ignored.

The Root of the Problem

Nationally, women make up 57% of college enrollments nationwide.

  • They have higher grades in high school.
  • Men are far more likely to drop out.
  • Among older, low-income, black and Hispanic students, women are more likely to attend college.

There’s a whole plethora of causal relationships that need to be teased out of this, and there are some academics studying and writing about what they call “the decline of the American male.” I feel strongly that the American education system has become hostile to boys from a very early age. Normal male behavior is routinely punished, and boys are not given enough opportunities for moving around and blowing off steam as early as kindergarten.

Richard Whitmire, blogger at Why Boys Fail, recently wrote an article for the Wall St. Journal called Pew Helps Explain Why the Right Man Is Getting Harder for Educated Women to Find.

Given that women prefer to find a well-educated, reliable earner as a husband, this creates a simple math problem. Well-educated women can’t find enough equally or better-educated men to marry.

The Times article opines, “In terms of academic advancement, this is hardly the worst news for women — hoist a mug for female achievement. And certainly, women are primarily in college not because they are looking for men, but because they want to earn a degree.”

Yeah, but come on! We want relationships in college!

Colleges are loathe to cross the 60/40 divide, because it makes it very difficult to attract top female students when the numbers get that lopsided. As a result many private colleges work hard to maintain a 50/50 split, including admitting a higher percentage of boys who apply, with lower overall grades and test scores. Recently, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights announced that it would be investigating whether colleges are discriminating illegally against qualified female applicants.

Stephen Farmer, Director of Admissions at UNC, posted a response today to the Times article on UNC’s Admissions page:

As I told the reporter, the percentages of men and women in the entering class at Carolina haven’t changed for nearly thirty years. If these percentages are “new,” then they’re new in the way that, say, cable television or microwave popcorn is new. I’m waiting for the next big headline: Orville Redenbacher Is Changing How We Snack.

Still, there’s no denying that women in college are miserable about the low operational sex ratio, which ensures that guys will be making all of the rules for the foreseeable future.

Needless to say, this puts guys in a position to play the field, and tends to mean that even the ones willing to make a commitment come with storied romantic histories. Rachel Sasser, a senior history major at the table, said that before she and her boyfriend started dating, he had “hooked up with a least five of my friends in my sorority — that I know of.”

And this doesn’t even take hookup culture into account! Stephen Farmer:

Dating culture, from what I can tell, has been skewed and on the skids for a pretty long time. My friends who have college-aged sons and daughters sometimes express amazement at the apparent dearth of dating at the schools their children attend. But the only thing amazing is their amazement, because dating on college campuses, regardless of the male-female ratio, has been dead for a long time.

Exacerbating the Problem

A significant percentage of the male student body is deemed “unacceptable” by their female peers.

“Jayne Dallas, a senior studying advertising who was seated across the table, grumbled that the population of male undergraduates was even smaller when you looked at it as a dating pool.”

“Out of that 40 percent, there are maybe 20 percent that we would consider, and out of those 20, 10 have girlfriends, so all the girls are fighting over that other 10 percent.”

Why are half of the guys eliminated right out of the box? Stephen Farmer says that UNC is at a disadvantage because it doesn’t have an engineering school. I’m not buying it — if they did have one, the number of males not worthy of consideration would probably be much higher.

The women are responding to conditions in the sociosexual marketplace. More college women than ever before are having at least some sex – estimates are around 70%. Fewer college men than ever before are having some sex – estimates are around 20%. I’ve spoken about this problem before here. This means we’ve got a small number of guys getting laid on a fairly regular basis. They are most likely to be found in frats and on sports teams. The sexual favors of nearly all the women having sex are directed toward this elite group of Alpha males. The rest of the guys are “locked out” of the hookup scene – Jayne doesn’t even know they’re alive.

Whose fault is this? That is a very difficult question. This circumstance has been ushered in by numerous factors, including the Sexual Revolution, the Pill and Roe v. Wade. With fear of pregnancy theoretically eliminated for most women, sexual freedom means a girl can take her shot at Alpha. There is intense intrasexual competition among girls for these lucky few.

“Thanks to simple laws of supply and demand, it is often the women who must assert themselves romantically or be left alone on Valentine’s Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box.”

“I was talking to a friend at a bar, and this girl just came up out of nowhere, grabbed him by the wrist, spun him around and took him out to the dance floor and started grinding,” said Kelly Lynch, a junior at North Carolina, recalling a recent experience.

Here’s how the girls are enjoying themselves with these paragons of genetic fitness and strength:

  • “A lot of my friends will meet someone and go home for the night and just hope for the best the next morning. They’ll text them and say: ‘I had a great time. Want to hang out next week?’ And they don’t respond.”
  • “Girls feel pressured to do more than they’re comfortable with, to lock it down.”
  • “[Cheating] is a thing that girls let slide, because you have to. If you don’t let it slide, you don’t have a boyfriend.”
  • “If a guy is not getting what he wants, he can quickly and abruptly go to the next one, because there are so many of us.”

Kathleen A. Bogle, a sociologist at La Salle University in Philadelphia, wrote the book, “Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus,” which has been a primary source for this site. She commented for the Times piece:

On college campuses where there are far more women than men, men have all the power to control the intensity of sexual and romantic relationships. Women do not want to get left out in the cold, so they are competing for men on men’s terms. This results in more casual hook-up encounters that do not end up leading to more serious romantic relationships. Since college women say they generally want ‘something more’ than just a casual hook-up, women end up losing out.

W. Keith Campbell, a psych professor at the University of Georgia, says that women on gender-imbalanced campuses are paying a social price for success and, to a degree, are being victimized by men precisely because they have outperformed them. In this way, some colleges mirror retirement communities, where women often find that the reward for outliving their husbands is competing with other widows for the attentions of the few surviving bachelors.

OMG!!! Retirement communities! Kill me now!

All is not lost

You are not powerless to make a difference.

1. Some men actually prefer relationships.

Several male students from female-heavy schools took pains to note that they were not thrilled with the status quo.

“It’s awesome being a guy,” admitted Garret Jones, another North Carolina senior, but he also lamented a culture that fostered hook-ups over relationships. This year, he said, he finally found a serious girlfriend.

2. There are some really cute, smart and nice guys in that underappreciated 50%.

You are not going to find them in frats, and you may not even be able to find them in bars. You’re going to have to go looking for them, and you’re going to have to assert interest, just like you do now with the Players.

But listen up, this is many years of experience talking:

You want to marry a man in that 50% that Jayne won’t consider.

  • He is not spending his college years as an alcoholic man whore.
  • He is not skipping class and barely getting by.
  • He is not becoming cynical and jaded while using women as cum dumpsters.

Most of the men who are smart, and kind, and worthy of you are not to be found passed out in a puddle of beer. They are not covered with Sharpie graffiti from head to toe. Some of those guys may turn out OK in the end. Like, ten years from now. You don’t have that kind of time to waste.

The pool of educated, marriageable men is shrinking, and there is no solution in sight. If marriage and motherhood are your goal anytime in the next ten years, then now is not too soon to consider and pursue a strategy for experiencing healthy relationships.

I know it kinda sucks to be a young woman in college right now. Some women are going to get what they want, and some aren’t. You’ve got your back against the wall. Stop doing what doesn’t work over and over again.

Step away from that wall and put up a fight.