My name is Jonathan Taylor. I am the founder of the website A Voice for Male Students and a former instructor of freshman composition and argumentation at Texas A&M University-Commerce. I’d like to thank Mr. Jacobson for inviting me to submit a guest post about my website, why I launched it, and what it aims to address.
AVFMS is part of an emerging presence of voices advocating fair treatment for men and boys. Some call us Men’s Rights Activists, or Men’s Human Rights Activists. I don’t claim to speak for all or most of them, however. Only myself. The motto of AVFMS is educational equity for men and boys. I started up the website and its adjoining Facebookpage and YouTube channel because men and boys are suffering in a wide variety of areas in our educational institutions, and because those issues are plagued not only with a lack of awareness, but also deliberate and systemic neglect.
I divide the issues into three main areas: educational attainment and well-being, the culture of our academic institutions and society at large, and rights and protections. If you would like a thorough list of those issues, I invite you to peruse the Summary of Issues page on the AVFMS website as well as the blog entries. I will also address the issues in brief below.
Educational Attainment and Well-being
Academic achievement among men and boys has nosedived over the past forty years. They now earn nearly half as many associate’s and master’s degrees as women and 40% of all bachelor’s degrees, as you can see here:
In lower education, boys are 75% of students labeled with learning disorders, are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, and 2.8 times more likely to be medicated for it. While we have been hearing nonstop about women in STEM for decades, what the diversity experts never tell us about is the literacy gap. The Educational Testing Service, for example, has documented that the gender gap in writing concepts that favors girls is now six times the gap favoring boys in math concepts .
Male students are also much more socially isolated and marginalized, being much less likely to participate in student or academic groups. And while men and boys commit 80% of suicides, this rate spikes between the ages of 15-24 – among young high school and college men.
While education reform groups have addressed the school-to-prison pipeline – the phenomenon of schools increasingly funneling students to prison rather than success – they have virtually always framed it as a race issue, neglecting the fact that men and boys are twice as likely as girls to be suspended, three times as likely to be expelled, are 66% of dropouts, and make up 93% of the prison population.
Culture (Sexism, Misandry, and so Forth)
Those who study the data on boys in education know that male educational underachievement is not a new phenomenon. The only thing that is new is the willingness of a principled few to talk about it. This then begs the question: why have these issues been ignored for so long, especially when we are decades deep into an academic culture that prides itself on closing the gaps?
The reality, as many of you likely know, is that much of the culture of academia has been perverted far from values like equity, diversity, and so forth – values it claims to promote, but no longer believes in. Instead, many of them now live in a world where equality means discrimination, gender sensitivity means vindictiveness and class hatred, and tolerance of diversity means celebrating and protecting only the speech of those who hold similar perspectives.
In the context of sex, this most often manifests itself in the form of misandry, prejudice and hatred toward men and boys as a group (see here for a thorough introduction to this phenomenon). Men’s advocates like myself find that this phenomenon is both permissive and pervasive in the culture of our educational institutions, especially in certain humanities and administrative departments, and most often manifests itself in the idea that men and boys as a group deserve some kind of “payback” for how one-sided the world supposedly once was and still is.
Examples of these are virtually endless. TIME magazine gives us an example: assistant dean of students Catherine Comins once claimed that male students deserve to be falsely accused of rape because it helps them empathize with rape victims. As the Toledo Blade reported, at Oberlin College a Feminist student group pulled a male freshman student’s name at random from the campus registry and put his name on a flyer reading “Rapist of the Month,” which they distributed throughout campus. The University of New Hampshire’s student newspaper features an article by a Feminist who goes through an elaborate process to “prove” to the campus community how, in her words, “there is no such thing as a good guy in the patriarchy.”
Oftentimes, this phenomenon is referred to as political “correctness,” or Feminism. But I think calling it “correct” – even jokingly – gives it too much credit. Therefore, I prefer to call it what it is: sexism. Misandry. Hatred. Bigotry. In my experience, people will naturally make the connections for themselves.
Rights and Protections
Along with the institutionalization of misandry has come the erosion of the rights and protections that would otherwise be afforded to the group it targets. This is seen most commonly in the systemic removal of due process for those accused of sexual harassment and rape. While many schools already used low standards of proof to adjudicate sexual misconduct, the infamous April 4, 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education drove the nail in the coffin, requiring all public schools to use a low “preponderance of evidence” standard.
In addition to low standards of proof, many schools use definitions of sexual assault that are either dangerously vague or brazenly discriminatory. For years Occidental College’s policy, for example, stated that in matters of sexual consent “no always means no” but “yes does not always mean yes.” Mississippi State University declares that rape accusers should never be held accountable for their actions while drunk, but the drunk men accuse should always be held accountable. And numerous universities, such as Gettysburg College, adopt the “affirmative consent” model, requiring a verbal “yes” to be expressed at every incremental level of a sexual encounter.
Freedom of speech is another issue that has become incredibly important to men’s advocates in the last year, given events at the University of Toronto. When several men’s advocates were scheduled to speak at U of T, Feminists formed human barricades in front of all the entrances and exits so that no one could get in, pulled fire alarms to prevent advocates for men and boys in academia being heard, and while wearing masks shouted obscenities and engaged in extremely disruptive behavior. Despite engaging in criminal acts, U of T failed to discipline them and instead charged men’s advocates a ~$1000 “security fee,” requiring them to pay the price for the bad behavior of Feminists.
There is no way I can fully describe the issues here, and I have left a good part out. But I believe this is a somewhat decent crash course on the nature of the problem. Just like organizations like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and A Voice for Men (both of which were inspirational to my work), AVFMS advocates non-partisan and non-violent solutions, and encourages and supports activism to promote awareness of the issues, as well as expose corruption and misandry in academia. Feel free to read the AVFMS Mission and Values page for more on the nature of how the site will promote resolving the issues.
Again, I’d like to thank Mr. Jacobson for inviting me to make a guest post and for helping me spread awareness of the issues. I hope I have been informative.
 Educational Testing Services (ETS) Gender Study, “Trends by Subject, Fourth through Twelfth Grades,” Figure 2-1.Cited in Misreading Masculinityby Thomas Newkirk, p. 35.