If you’re headed to college for the first time this fall, you need to be aware of some strange new developments. Don’t be alarmed, most of you are going to be very happy at college, and will thrive there. But you need to know what to expect. Christina Hoff Sommers explains how to negotiate your way through the wacky sexual politics on campus.
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© American Enterprise Institute
Colleges throughout the United States are carried away with eccentric gender politics. In general, the higher the tuition, the greater the eccentricity. At schools with a more working class population, the students often have more pressing concerns than finding new ways to be offended. As an incoming freshman, many of you will be subject to special training sessions and introduced to a new vocabulary with odd terms like “trigger warnings,” “othering,” “microaggression,” “male privilege,” and “safe spaces.” Outside Speakers—especially comedians— will be called out and boycotted for breaches of sensitivity. Colleges are changing their mission: Truth seeking is being replaced by the more sensitive goal of making everyone—especially female students– feel safe and validated. Ideas that get in the way of this mission may not tolerated. Here are three survival tips—custom-tailored to your political views—plus a fourth, bonus tip for everybody. Number one: If you are libertarian or conservative, no one is that concerned with your feelings. That’s actually a good thing. You’re going to face a challenging intellectual environment. According to a recent UCLA study, there are nearly 5 times more liberal professors than conservative professors on college campuses. Your views will be tested every day, but most of your teachers will treat you respectfully. Your ideas will face critical scrutiny and you may end up revising or abandoning some of them. Again, that’s a good thing. That’s what education is supposed to be about—and it’s something many liberal students are missing. What is not good is that a noisy minority of students—and a few professors—will see you as the embodiment of evil. If you express your opinions vigorously, some classmates may complain to school authorities that your presence makes them feel “unsafe.” But here is the bright side. Even at schools overrun by the new orthodoxy, you will find great friends and allies, male and female, and professors too, whether they agree with you or not. Now, if you are liberal and idealistic, and also a woman, you face a different sort of risk. When you get to campus you will find a large and excited group of gender activists—students and some professors—eager to recruit you to their cause. They will present you with shocking statistics of sexual violence on campus, and theories about an oppressive patriarchy. They will tell you how mistreated and traumatized you are. It will seem new and exciting—a way to make friends and fight injustice at the same time—and you may be tempted to sign up. Just be aware that most of the victim statistics you will hear are wildly exaggerated and the theories about women’s oppression are twisted and surreal. As for trigger warnings and safe spaces—these are infantile. They are the opposite of empowerment. It’s the fashion on many campuses to treat women as delicate flowers—fragile little birds. But most of you are tough and resilient. The gender activists I am describing will probably say, “Don’t listen to her.” “Don’t take her word for anything.” Well, that’s true you shouldn’t take my word on these matters. You shouldn’t take anybody’s word. Think for yourself. Your feminist foremothers fought and won a battle for your right to be educated on a par with men. They knew you were tough, and wanted you to have the opportunity to put that strength to use. Don’t waste it by falling captive to a pointless ideology or indulging in victimhood. Take serious classes in philosophy, science, and history. Avoid courses that luxuriate in female oppression.
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