Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Article: Girls Against Boys?

This little nugget is from The Nation, a pseudo progressive magazine, which includes a bizarre quote from John Tierney at the New York Times...

What a difference a few decades and a gender revolution make. Now, although both sexes are much more likely to go to college than forty years ago--the proportion of the population enrolled in college is 20 percentage points higher today than in 1960--girls have edged ahead of boys. Today, women make up 57 percent of undergraduates, and the gap is projected to reach 60/40 in the next few years. This year, even manly Harvard admitted more girls than boys to its freshman class. So of course the big question is, Who will all those educated women marry? "Advocates for women have been so effective politically that high schools and colleges are still focusing on supposed discrimination against women," writes John Tierney in a recent New York Times column. "You could think of this as a victory for women's rights, but many of the victors will end up celebrating alone." If the ladies end up cuddling with their diplomas, they have only themselves--and those misguided "advocates for women"--to blame. Take that, you hyper-educated spinster, you.

Wow, this is insulting on so many levels, I don't even know where to start to get angry.

The conservative mindset is not just misogynistic, its just plain factually wrong. As I've written before, while pursuing higher education delays the age of first marriage, it makes the likelihood of divorce much lower.

Over 95% of Americans marry at some point in their lives, a number that has been relatively constant since the U.S. Census began. Furthering your education doesn't prevent marriage, it simply delays it, and the false impression that education is somehow creating "hyper educated spinsters" is based on the media driven, Sex in the City/Friends/soap opera angst over that delay. In reality, going to college is one of the best things anyone could do to improve their future marriage. Just look....

Divorce Education Age Race
Furthermore, the way the arguments are posed by the article's author Katha Pollitt are a horrible way to frame the discussion that plays directly into the conservative mindset. It starts out talking about historical discrimination, proceeds to an idiotic quote by a conservative which states that choosing marriage is more important then choosing education, and then goes on to talk about how gender discrimination is still very real in education and in the workplace.

It sets up marriage and family as opposed to education and feminism. Given that false choice, many women will choose marriage and family. But it is a false choice - life is not a zero sum game. Women do not have to choose between being educated and having a career or getting married and having a family, and implying that they do is does a disservice to everyone.

Now, in Katha's defense the article tries to make a progressive argument (though it does so poorly), and she writes about feminism on a regular basis, which most writers ignore. Still, why raise the subject if you're not going to do a thorough job exposing even the most basic facts and statistics on marriage?

Hat tip to Feministing for catching this. I'd also link to the NY Times directly for the Tierney article, but they require paid membership now for much of their content.
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