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May 17 2016

‘Safe Spaces’?: Not For Guys In Our Feminized College Environments

New Boston Post
Charlotte Hays

Throughout history, there have been men.

If this thought fills you with fear and revulsion, I have just the place for you: Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts. It’s a mid-tier college, and that’s part of the good news: You no longer have to fork over hefty Ivy League tuition fees for your children to imbibe the latest in trendy gender ideas.

While Springfield has not yet been able to abolish men, it has taken an important step in the right direction by banning the “Men in Literature” course and making life a living hell for the miscreant (a man, wouldn’t you just know it?) who dared to expound on this unsavory topic.

The male offender is Dennis Gouws. Gouws, from all we can tell, never intended to become a campus radical. “[Gouws] never set out to be a gadfly against progressive dogma or a stalwart opponent of the ideological regime,” Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, writes. “He was, to the contrary, picked for the part by the regime itself. He had made his own adjustments to the contemporary preoccupation with ‘gender’ by devising an experimental course in 2005 titled ‘Men in Literature.’”

The course became part of the curriculum, and at first there appeared not to have been a problem. Wood reports: “’Men in Literature’ seemed to have settled uncontroversially into a curriculum that also includes ‘Women and Literature’ and ‘Native American Literature,’ as well as numerous other courses that do not look ‘literary’ in character, including ‘Nature and Environmental Writers’ (deals with ‘spiritual issues and environmental issues and responsibilities’); ‘Business and Professional Speaking’; and ‘Film as a Narrative Art’. As far as we know none of these courses have been similarly challenged by the department chair or other Springfield College authorities as illegitimate.”

Gouws also taught writing courses, and here the trouble that would lead to the cancellation began. With professors free to develop their own content for writing classes, Gouws did something utterly unconscionable. His final essay exam was this: “The exam will be an essay which requires students to write about how men are treated in their respective academic environments.”

Rather than praising Gouws for being willing to raise a question that by and large goes unasked on college campuses today, four out of thirty-one students who took the class found themselves offended. One said the question should “include more females.” “I would suggest changing the final topic,” wrote another. “I find it a little insulting. I do not appreciate having to write about how men are treated unequally on campus when there is no unequal treatment.” In the olden days, when I was in college, one would have realized instantaneously that one could argue the question any number of ways — including opining that men have special privileges. Posing a question is not the same as answering it — something that eludes all too many snowflakes today.

Four complaints in a class of thirty-one is ordinarily nothing to cause concern — but these complaints were sufficient for the dean to order Gouws’ to revise the content of his Man Lit class. (Include more women?) As Wood points out, however, there is a back story. Gouws already had attracted unfavorable notice from the college administration. His sin? There had been “complaints” about a men’s group called “A Voice for Men” Gouws had established. The group trafficked in such contraband literature as Christina Hoff Sommers’ The War Against Boys and KC Johnson and Stuart Taylor’s Until Proven Innocent, a dissection of the Duke lacrosse scandal.

Reprehensibly, in the eyes of the college, Gouws had the audacity to post supposedly misogynistic messages on his office door: “Men can stop rape” and “Women can stop false rape accusations.” One would think that both sentiments are eminently sane: men should not rape women, and women should not make false accusations. Seems logical, no? But Dean Anne Herzog found the messages highly offensive. She declared Gouws’ mens group a “hate group,” citing the Southern Poverty Law Center, itself no stranger to hate-mongering, as her source of the characterization.

While Gouws has not been accused of any crime other than a thought crime, he was nevertheless, Wood posits, a casualty of an atmosphere on campus at least in part created by the Obama administration’s Office for Civil Rights, which is part of the U.S. Department of Education. In 2011, the OCR sent around its “Dear Colleague” letter to university administrators. The letter changed the way rape accusations are handled on campus. Instead of referring sexual misconduct accusations to law enforcement, which is equipped to deal with crime, campus tribunals were to handle these matters, and they were to give greater credence to what the woman said. The OCR practically eliminated the civil right of due process of the accused.

Furthermore, the letter made it clear that Title IX coordinators would be vigilant to make sure that there were sufficient guilty findings. (Not surprisingly, we’ve now seen a wave of reversals in courts of law of these “convictions” recently, indicating that amateur college tribunals are not the best place to “try” charges of this nature.) The Obama administration has also peddled the highly dubious and oft-debunked “statistic” that one in five women on college campuses is the victim of rape. This has led to the widespread belief that women face a “hostile environment” on campus.

Women outnumber men on campus and, if there is gender hostility at all, it is directed towards men. Just ask Professor Gouws. But what, exactly, do campus gender feminists seek to accomplish? Do they want men to refrain from going to college or university in larger numbers? Are they training a generation of lapdog feminist men who kowtow to the reigning feminist ideology? What do women like Dean Herzog want?

The logic eludes me, though I realize logic is tainted by its ties to male Scholastics. But Springfield students probably will never have the opportunity to learn about these monsters, what with the disappearance of Men’s Lit.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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