There are certain things in life you can count on — January is terrible, kittens are phenomenal, and any time Phyllis Schlafly is in the news, you’re going to want to tear your hair out. Recently, Phyllis Schlafly has declared women should stop going to college, and that somehow the fact that women want to go to college is the reason for sexual assault on campus. Are you seething yet?
In an essay for the conservative site World Net Daily, Schlafly writes about her concern at the fact that women now outnumber men on most college campuses. “This has dramatically changed social relationships and interactions among students,” Schlafly writes. “Most girls and even some boys do not like this change, but nobody knows what to do about it, and few are even willing to discuss it.”
Yes, because women now outnumbering men by a relatively small margin in a once male-dominated arena is so awful that we can’t even bring ourselves to discuss the distressing topic. It couldn’t just be that this is just a new development in college life, one that’s neither positive nor negative, just different. No, according to Phyllis Schlafly, if we’re not talking about it, that must mean we’re all too uncomfortable to deal with the issue, leaving her to bravely bring it up alone.
Schlafly goes on in her essay for quite some time about this “problem,” complaining about hookup culture, throwing in remarks about foreigners flooding the job market, demonstrating a spectacular misunderstanding of Title IX (while I guess assuming we can lure men back to school with more sports?), and at one point saying that even though young women outnumber young men in college because they tend to get better grades, that women are not necessarily better prepared for higher education. Excuse me, I need to find another eye-roll gif.
The worst moment in Schlafly’s essay, though, comes as an aside, a brief mention that “The imbalance of far more women than men at colleges has been a factor in the various sex scandals that have made news in the last couple of years.” Though she doesn’t come right out and say it, given her track record when it comes to talking about sexual assault on campus, it’s safe to infer she’s talking about college women who have come forward to say they have been raped. Which is just appalling on so many levels.
For one thing, even though some of these stories, such as recent ones out of the University of Virginia or Florida State University, have become national news, to call sexual assault a “sex scandal,” no matter how high-profile, is to trivialize it by acting as though a violent crime is really just some salacious piece of gossip. For another, saying that women on campus are raped because there are too many women around is not only an insult to common sense, but to college women everywhere, both survivors and non.
Our presence is causing women to be assaulted? Give me a break. Follow that logic and it’ll take you all the way to the idea that women should just withdraw completely from public life to protect ourselves and turn the country into Saudi Arabia — which by the way has one of the highest rates of sexual assault in the world.
As has been said before, many times: Rape happens because someone decides to rape another human being. It isn’t about short skirts or alcohol or having too many women on campus. And honestly, it always baffles me that conservatives, with their love of personal responsibility, are so happy to place blame for a rapist’s choices anywhere but with the rapist. But then again, no one ever said Phyllis Schlafly’s ideas held any internal consistency — except, I guess, for being so consistently wrong.
There are a lot of issues facing campuses, especially sexual assault, though the changing ratios of men and women will doubtlessly also be something that schools have to adapt to. But let’s all agree that while handling these issues, one opinion we really don’t need to consult is Phyllis Schlafley’s. Because generally? Life is a lot happier when you don’t have to pay attention to what she has to say.
Also, I fail to see how calling sports the “primary motivation” men have to go to college isn’t as offensive towards men as anything those feminists Schlafly hates so much have ever said ever, but maybe that’s just me.
Emma Cueto is a freelance journalist based in Boulder, Colorado, because mountains are never a bad reason to do anything. She spends her time reading, writing, cooking, and complaining about the weather. Follow her on Twitter @Emma_Cueto