Ensuring a flood of male applications to the University of North Carolina, Alex Williams of the New York Times recently took a look at the social price women tend to pay when they outnumber their male classmates on campus.
Though Williams is quick to point out that the women outnumbering men on several campuses is "hardly the worst news for women," as "certainly, women are primarily in college not because they are looking for men, but because they want to earn a degree," he also makes some interesting observations on how the skewed ratios are affecting hookup culture on campus, as women tend to lower their standards and, in some cases, their inhibitions in order to, as one undergrad tells Williams, "lock it down" with an available dude.
However, there are some icky stereotypes that pop-up in Williams' piece, which seems to center solely on sad women who just want to find a boyfriend, lest they end up, in Williams' words, "left alone on Valentine's Day, staring down a George Clooney movie over a half-empty pizza box." The men Williams interviews seem to be aware of the benefits the imbalance gives them, and some even admit to wanting to shift away from hookup culture themselves, though the darker side of all of this, the notion that women are essentially being pushed to lower their social or sexual standards because they insisted upon keeping their academic standards so high, is glossed over a bit too quickly, as tales of loneliness and desperation seem to sweep back in and take the lead. There is also no mention of LGBT students in the article, and while there is discussion about off-campus dating, it revolves mostly around women dating "older professionals" as opposed to students from neighboring schools, back home, online, etc.
I admittedly have a bit of a skewed view on all of this, as I went to school in a city, where there were tons of college kids, or college-aged kids, walking around. But it strikes me as peculiar that the dating world in the piece has been relegated to on-campus only, even as the world of social networking expands and makes it easier to connect with people who may not live two doors down. It also is a bit off-putting that the article seems to suggest that women should be looking for a boyfriend in college, as if that's the ultimate end goal, and that the price they pay for wanting any sort of relationship is to be treated like garbage by some bro who knows that the odds are in their favor. Perhaps instead of worrying about the ratios, we should focus more on the way people treat each other: numbers in one gender's favor shouldn't give men the right to be total douchebags, and it shouldn't mean that women have to sell themselves short to find someone worth their time. Maybe it's not a matter of numbers as much as a matter of figuring out what's really worth the time and energy in the end.
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So what say you, commenters? Did you or are you now facing this kind of thing on campus? And how are you dealing with it?
The New Math On Campus [NYTimes]
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