Identity Politics Versus Basic Logic: Should Colleges Offer Affirmative Action for the Female Majority?

Academic postmodernism is no stranger to the idea that classical Enlightenment values such as reason, equal treatment, and individual agency should be cast aside for the sake of racial and sexual grievances. We should denounce reason and science as the legacy of “dead white men”—or so we are told.

Western academia has become both ideologized and infantilized, perhaps not unlike a giant kindergarten ruled over by a class of partisan bureaucrats who employ increasingly Orwellian tactics: censorship, data falsification, morality policing, doublethink, doublespeak.

There is one paradox central to American identity politics that not only runs afoul of Supreme Court doctrine but also basic Aristotelian logic. What, exactly, is the purpose of having affirmative action for women in today’s academia?

I understand that the popular meaning of the phrase may create some confusion. Most people ordinarily associate “affirmative action” with racial preferences in college admissions. But affirmative action is by no means limited to the use of racial preferences, nor does it only cover college admissions. Affirmative action for women, who now constitute an ever-increasing majority on college campuses, is rampant in today’s academia.

The bias against men in the American education system is as pervasive as it is well-documented.

Consider that 77 percent of all teachers in the public education system are women, that girls have higher grades than boys in all categories, and that numerous studies “have shown that stereotyping [by female teachers] can bias teachers’ assessment and grades” against boys.

Women are the majority of law students and medical students. Women earn the majority of doctorate degrees in the health and medical (80 percent), biological (56 percent), and social/behavioral (63 percent) sciences. Concerns over the underrepresentation of women in STEM education are outdated. Indeed, women are at a two-to-one advantage over men in STEM faculty hiring.

According to institutions that release such data, such as Stanford and Yale, the overwhelming majority of all persons sanctioned under Title IX rules are male. However, men and women experience some forms of sexual victimization at equivalent rates and the majority of male victims report female perpetrators.

The majority of Title IX administrators nationwide are women. The unfairness of Title IX tribunals has received widespread and bipartisan criticism.

Almost every college offers a Women’s Studies Department, but no equivalent programs exist for men despite unmet demand. Male students/professors who deviate from the orthodoxy of campus gender politics often face mobbing or termination. There are many such examples, including cases covered by the press.

Cornell University, in particular, has been called out repeatedly due to its bias against men in sexual harassment adjudication. Cornell is a shocking example of affirmative action gone wrong, which is why I singled out Cornell for a recent coalition complaint.

The complaint is addressed to the Department of Education, which has the obligation to investigate Title IX complaints. Radical feminist plaintiffs often harass institutions with lawsuits that demand enormous sums, but our complaint is pro bono and does not request money. The complaint simply requests the conversion of female-only programs into gender-neutral programs, so that the male minority can compete against the female majority on equal footing.

Unconstitutional preferences permeate every level of college life at Cornell, even though women are the majority of students and academic employees at the institution.

  1. Cornell violates Title IX by offering special preferences to women in college admissions. Cornell offers admission to 11 percent of male applicants, while the admission rate rises to 15 percent for female applicants.
  2. Cornell violates Title IX by offering special preferences to women in employment/hiring, as per their Affirmative Action Statement.
  3. Cornell has a “Feminist, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies” department, with no equivalent department for men.
  4. Cornell has a Women’s Resource Center—with nothing similar for men.
  5. Cornell has medical facilities devoted to women only, with nothing equivalent for men: Women’s Heart Program, Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center, Weil Cornell Psychiatry Center (which specifically excludes adult, single men from treatment). There are medical facilities that serve both men and women, but it is not entirely clear why Cornell would offer a discriminatory “Women’s Heart Program” when men are more likely to suffer from heart attacks than women.
  6. Cornell funds and endorses a wide variety of special programs for women, including in the disciplines where they are the majority: President’s Council of Cornell Women, The Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship, Cornell Johnson School Women in Business, Women in Computing at Cornell, Cornell Women’s Management Council, Schwartz Research Fund for Women in the Life Sciences—and this isn’t even an exhaustive list! Cornell does not endorse any male-only professional organizations, even in the disciplines where they are the minority.
  7. Cornell’s all-female Law Review board discriminates against male applicants, as per their own admission.
  8. Cornell endorses 390 scholarships for women only, with nothing equivalent for men.
  9. Cornell endorses various internal and external associations, all of which discriminate against men: Black Women’s Support Network, Las Femmes de Substance, Women of Color Coalition, Building Ourselves through Sisterhood and Service, Scientista, Smart Women Securities, Society for Women in Business, Women in Healthcare Leadership, American Association for University Women, Association for Women in Science. Again, Cornell does not associate with any male-only organizations. (Many such organizations have been dismantled by radical ideologues in the past, based on allegations of sexism.)

This is how many colleges are using taxpayer dollars nowadays—to ensure that an ever-shrinking male minority receives less and less opportunity. But that violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits institutions that receive federal funds from discriminating against any group of people.

The proponents of affirmative action for women have come up with no satisfactory defense for programs that exclude men.

One response is that since women face “general discrimination,” it should be permissible to confer special privileges to remedy the alleged harms women suffer outside the walls of academia. But this response falls apart under close scrutiny.

Discrimination against men has become increasingly normalized and visible in today’s America. Men are, on average, more disadvantaged than women throughout the world—including the United States. The American criminal justice system is biased against male defendants. Likewise, there are concerns about discrimination against men in the American family court system.

Not only does the wage gap narrative fail to take into consideration a variety of factors, but a company like Google (no stranger to identity politics) has recently acknowledged that it pays men less. Women control 60 percent of personal wealth and buy 85 percent of all customer purchases in the United States.

Indeed, women are at a two-to-one advantage over men in STEM faculty hiring.

This is hardly a picture of widespread discrimination against women, much less “patriarchy.”

Another counter-argument is that since women have faced “historical discrimination,” these policies are remedying past grievances. The past, however, belongs to the past. Regressive notions of collective vengeance do not belong to liberal, democratic discourse.

Moreover, this counter-argument ignores the obvious reality that men have also experienced historical gender discrimination in the past: For example, it was men (not women) who have died in warfare throughout history. The “historical discrimination” argument has thus been duly rejected by the Eighth Circuit of Appeals in recent precedent.

The complaint has been signed by a total of 192 individuals. Our eclectic coalition includes authors, political scholars, think tank presidents, professors, students, artists, and attorneys. Among the signatories, Marc Angelucci is an attorney who has prevailed before the Ninth Circuit in a lawsuit that challenged the male-only draft. Another, Andrew Miltenberg, has prevailed before the Second Circuit while representing a falsely accused male student. And Alfred Rava has prevailed before the Supreme Court of California in a lawsuit which challenged higher fees for men in a social club.

The complaint does not request affirmative action for men. When the injunctive relief is granted, the female majority will still be able to compete with the male minority on equal footing. The Constitution promises equal rights to all, and equal rights we shall have.

Kursat Christoff Pekgoz is a PhD student at the University of Southern California.