On September 29th, I got a tweet from USA Today Collegiate Correspondent Monica Vendituoli. Monica wanted to interview me as a male college student. I opted for the email interview to keep a record of the conversation.
Monica asked two questions:
- “Do you feel more males studies or men’s studies programs are needed?”
- “Have you ever felt discriminated against as a male college student and if so how and if not why not?” (sic)
I say yes to both. My full answers are on MarZ for easy reading, but the source of the email conversation is also available. Monica’s email address is public, so I have not removed it from the source. I did remove my email address because it is not public.
Monica responded about a day later saying that she did not have time to include my answers in the now published USA Today article.
I received [your answers] around 10:30pm and my article was due at 8am the next morning, so by the time I had received them I was already halfway through writing. I am very sorry!
Apology accepted. Journalism is a demanding, time-critical industry and not everyone can make the cut. I am disappointed about being one less voice for male students in the mainstream media, but deadlines are deadlines.
We’re not quite done, though.
The USA Today article has a clear bias. The article presents solid evidence of male suicide and dwindling numbers of male students, but evidence of discrimination against male students is framed as anecdotal. Monica was given evidence of male discrimination that was not anecdotal at all.
The one male student quote is framed to support the article’s suggestion that men only feel oppressed, as if there is no evidence they actually are. While I admit some of my own evidence was anecdotal, not all of it was. I offered my report on Kennesaw State University to show that some campuses play favorites, and Jonathan Taylor gave Monica links to plenty of data. Before Jonathan started throwing his bricks of logic, Monica emailed him the following introduction:
I am writing an article about whether there is a need for men’s centers at colleges in the United States after recent discussion on the subject in Canada surfaced. I am trying to get opinions from men’s rights activists, as well as feminists, women’s studies, and gender studies activists/academics and women’s centers.
The bolded sentence assumes men’s centers should only exist if they are needed. In my KSU report, I show FBI reports from 1995 to 2002 proving only one rape was reported on KSU. We don’t know the sex of the victim, nor do we know if a conviction came of it. Apparently one rape report is enough demonstrable need for a gynocentric self-defense course to get funding, but when there is talk of a men’s program, all of a sudden we put our due diligence caps on. What did men do other than distract women from the massive rapist horde that doesn’t exist?
Sorry, I’m victim blaming again. We should obviously spend more time listening to the interviewee holding men responsible for all rape, without being “anti-male” about it.
Jackson Katz, a pro-feminist male filmmaker and author, agrees men can be held accountable for sexual assault in a way that is not anti-male.
“It’s just like racism. It’s like, are white people guilty of being white? No, but they … have a responsibility to work to end those unfair advantages,” Katz says.
How does this relate to the thesis? How did we even get here? Weren’t we just talking about men’s studies programs? By this reasoning, feminism’s control over gender narratives in academia gives feminists a responsibility to help men organize their own social science programs. But that’s patriarchy, right? Obviously holding women responsible for child abuse would be considered anti-woman, so why is Katz saying that holding men responsible for rape is not anti-male? What planet is this? With all the hot gas, I’m guessing Venus.
Quotes like Katz’s were used to suggest that men’s groups are bothering women, as if that is enough to show that men’s groups aren’t needed. Monica had access to information showing male students were discriminated against. She opted to suggest men only felt that way, right before moving on to give the teach-men-not-to-rape brigade some time in the spotlight.
While Monica may not have had the time to fully digest her interview answers, glossing over clear evidence of discrimination is not just a question of time, it is a question of ethics. Monica has also been tweeting people for interviews way back on September 22.
Granted, not all of these offers may have resulted in interviews, and not all of the interviews might be for the same article. But one thing Monica did make sure to do was talk to MHRAs. MHRAs, including myself, giving her a mix of anecdotal evidence and hard facts with which to work. Assuming she was researching back on September 22, she had more than enough time to say, point blank, that men are discriminated against. Monica still chose to make men’s issues look isolated and circumstantial by selecting male quotes that looked anecdotal. This way, the grim statistics cited are not tied to any identifiable cause like misandry or gynocentrism. Monica uses the word “roles” to describe the problems affecting men, which lightens the blow of the article further.
This weak representation for male students in the mainstream media demonstrates the necessity of men’s programs on college campuses, if not the necessity of better representation for men in general.
The fact that bigotry is a two-way street needs to be acknowledged. There is nothing admirable about choosing to present evidence in a way that marginalizes college men. We need the mainstream media to acknowledge that men don’t just feel discriminated against, they are discriminated against.
USA Today, what are you afraid of? Does your logo with the one blue ball symbolize anything about your stance on the sexes?
Say that male students are discriminated against. It’s the truth, and it’s newsworthy. Imagine the ad revenue from the traffic spike, if that helps.
Go on. Say it.