David Hoppe

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:: Itís still a manís world at Wabash

An idea whose time is past

by David Hoppe

It’s been noted that women were the ones who managed to end the latest government shutdown. “Leadership, I must fully admit, was provided primarily from women in the Senate,” said Arizona’s John McCain. Sen. Mark Pryor, of Arkansas, added, “Women in the senate is a good thing. We’re all just glad they allowed us to tag along so we could see how it’s done.”

You’d think they’d get the message at Wabash College. Wabash is one of just three all-male liberal arts colleges left in the United States. Last month Gregory Hess became Wabash’s 16th president. He told the Journal & Courier that he intended “to play some offense in terms of creating new programs,” that he called “liberal arts plus.”

Liberal arts plus, alas, does not include women. “The co-education discussion is not on the radar here at Wabash,” said Hess. He described the Wabash environment as one of “responsibility for men, where hard work, educational attainment, leadership and consideration of others are valued and collectively reinforced.”

Sounds fine. But is keeping men sequestered in a bubble of their own really such a great idea?

About a week after Dr. Hess took over at Wabash, a story broke about a Martinsville father who shot and killed his 19-year-old son. The dad, who was 49, told police the shooting followed an afternoon of drinking, culminating in an argument over whether or not to stop watching football on TV. The distraught dad reportedly said his son was the person he loved most in the world.

This horrendous story is not an isolated incident.

FBI statistics from 2010 show that over the course of a decade, men accounted for 90 percent of murder offenders whose gender was known. Men were also responsible for 77 percent of aggravated assaults, 84 percent of burglaries, 82 percent of arsons, 74 percent of offenses against families and children, and 99 percent of rapes. As Jeffrey Nall, a professor at Florida Atlantic University, has written, “Considering that men make up just 49.2 percent of the US population, these statistics should be alarming.”

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Those statistics make me wonder why anyone, given the chance, wouldn’t prefer hanging out with women.

Now I’m not about to tell you that I think women are above reproach; that they can walk on water and belch perfume. Lady Macbeth was more than a figment of Shakespeare’s imagination.

But when you look at what men have made of this planet — and make no mistake, this has been our show for the most part, I mean it was1920 before women could vote in this country — the view isn’t all that encouraging. Patriarchy may have reached its sell-by date.

The college I attended initiated co-ed dorms my freshman year. Though many of us hoped otherwise, orgies did not ensue. Nor, for that matter, did a breakdown in academic discipline. I suspect that many of us guys came to realize that living in such close proximity to all kinds of women might actually teach us something we might not learn any other way.