Dr. Mark Perry is a professor of economics and finance in the School of Management at the University of Michigan, and a regular contributor at SeekingAlpha.com, which I took to be some sort of PUA site, but it’s actually an online platform for investment research. I mention this because I suspect the bitter commentator at Jezebel who accuses Perry of being an MRA made the same assumption that I did and didn’t bother clicking through to find out what Seeking Alpha actually is.
At just this moment, someone at Wikipedia has gotten a little salty over Dr. Perry, and is now considering deleting his page.
What did Dr. Perry do to invite all this feminist wrath?
He insisted on equality under the law.
Oh, snap! He did not!
Yep, he did. In June of 2016, Perry filed a Title IX complaint over the women’s lounge at UMich ‘alleging that having a private place for women to study on campus “discriminates against men.”’ Which it clearly does, given that there is no space dedicated solely to men.
Perry won, and UMich is now making the lounge accessible to both men and women. Feminist harpies are up in arms over the decision to uphold legal equality between the genders, because feminism is about equality, or something. An online poll, however, indicates the majority of readers agree the lounge is a violation of men’s civil rights.
A petition to restore the lounge on the grounds that women need to ‘feel’ safe has been launched, although Google returned no search results indicating that women are unsafe in coed lounges at UMich. According to the petition writer, the lounge is a place where ‘sexual assault victims could go and feel safe, a space away from their attacker’. The petition fails to explain what spaces are available to men who are the victims of sexual assault, or how a woman might avoid her attacker if the attacker was another woman.
While it is rather amusing to watch feminists fling aside their dictionary definitions when confronted with actual equality under the law, I think kiboshing the women only space is ill-considered. I do think many women benefit from women only spaces, even if the benefit is to relieve them of a completely irrational fear of being attacked. Quite a few women cite the desire to be away from male students who interrupt women studying to ask them out, and fair enough. A study lounge shouldn’t double as the set of the Bachelorette, although this is likely a good time to mention that men have not been relieved of their social responsibility to initiate contact with women, and the overwhelming majority of women expect men to make the first move.
So there’s that.
Personally, I have never liked women only spaces because the presence of men tends to make the vicious little snipes behave better, and I have no problem declining male interest respectfully and decisively. There’s no secret to it, really. Be polite and firm. I have no doubt that UMich lounge has been the scene of more than one gossip induced eating disorder, and at least one woman every day gets branded a slut by her judgmental sisters. Passive aggressive is what women love to do! Not my cup of tea, but I do not begrudge women the pleasures of their own company, in their own space.
I think the correct way to resolve the Title IX non-compliance issue was to open a lounge for men only. Just as women have largely irrational fears about men, so do men have largely irrational fears about women. While it’s certainly true that women do get raped, men also get falsely accused of rape, and there is no reason why both sets of fears, however irrational, cannot be indulged. Can you imagine the PR value in saying ‘the men’s lounge offers men a safe space where they can avoid false accusations of rape and sexual harassment?’ There’s an interesting conversation. To be clear, I am not suggesting that fearing a false accusation or fearing rape is irrational – what’s irrational is the idea that this is a risk likely to happen in a study lounge. A dorm room seems the more likely candidate, and UMich offers single gender dorms for both men and women.
Why not a study lounge?
Just as there are women who don’t want to be pestered with amorous men, surely there are men (particularly high status men like athletes) who don’t really want to be pestered by women. Women only spaces allow women to let their hair down, so to speak, and talk about stuff they might not feel comfortable talking about in front of men. Why not give men the same space to let their man-buns down? Not knocking man-buns, either. I think they’re hot!
I understand the legal reasoning behind the closure of the women’s lounge, and while I am absolutely in support of equality under the law, I think the better solution to this case of discrimination would be to open a study lounge for men only. Feminists would still scream blue murder over it, but that’s par for the course with feminists. Male only study space would spark some interesting conversations about gender equality and allow the university to express its open support for their male students. Men often cite not feeling welcome on college campuses as one of the reasons they don’t go. Decisions like this exacerbate that feeling. UMich achieved gender equality by taking away women only spaces. They could have achieved it by adding men only spaces.
There is, after all, more than one way to skin an equality cat.
Lots of love,