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Topics - lkanneg

Main / Mail Order Husbands (well, sort of)
Jul 26, 2006, 12:14 PM
Hopefully nobody minds me nipping back in here, I just HAD to stop by and share my fascinating gender-reversal experience.  

hmm, I just reread that and I made it sound like I got a sex change operation.  No, that isn't what I meant.  What happened was, I went to a poor foreign country and found myself bombarded with young (early to mid 20s) attractive members of the opposite sex who wanted at the very minimum to be my Main Squeeze while I was visiting their homeland and at the slightest provocation would wax eloquent about how wonderful it would be to return with me to MY homeland and be my Main Squeeze there too.  

So I'm thinking, so this is what it's like to be an American dude in Asia or whatever...attractive, dark, young, submissive things whose only desire is to give me pleasure so I will love them and (the pinnacle of hope) take them home with me.  

I found it utterly untempting.  So I'm obviously missing some aspect of being a dude here.  Anybody wanna explore this fascinating dynamic with me?  8)

Main / Media Bias
Apr 04, 2006, 08:36 AM
I thought this was totally fascinating, and kind of relevant. (On a side note, I know nothing at all about UK newspapers or news reporting agencies.)

I Agree With You, Completely
Honest. Just read my piece.
By Jack Shafer
Posted Monday, April 3, 2006, at 7:28 PM ET

Not really. I scarcely know you! You could be anybody clicking his way through Web pages. But if my headline suckered you into reading this column, you just conformed to the expectations of news-media consumers held by University of Chicago scholars Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro.

In a new, math-heavy paper titled "Media Bias and Reputation," the two economists leapfrog over the usual analysis about the media's liberalness or conservativeness to construct a new model of media bias. They assume, logically enough, that media firms seek to establish reputations as purveyors of accurate information because such reputations increase demand for their products.

If news consumers can't easily evaluate the quality of a news story, they will tend to grade it based on their previous observations of the media outlet. No surprises so far. But the article, which will appear in the April issue of the Journal of Political Economy, goes on to present findings that are sure to appall and delight students of press bias. Gentzkow and Shapiro find that:

Continue Article



1) If a media outlet cares about its reputation for accuracy, it will be reluctant to report anything that counters the audiences' existing beliefs because such stories will tend to erode the company's standing. Newspapers and news programs have a visible incentive to "distort information to make it conform with consumers' prior beliefs."

2) The media can't satisfy their audiences by merely reporting what their audience wants to hear. If alternative sources of information prove that a news organization has distorted the news, the organization will suffer a loss of reputation, and hence of profit. The authors predict more bias in stories where the outcomes aren't realized for some time (foreign war reporting, for example) and less bias where the outcomes are immediately apparent (a weather forecast or a sports score). Indeed, almost nobody accuses the New York Times or Fox News Channel of slanting their weather reports.

3) Less bias occurs when competition produces a healthy tension between a news organization's desire to conform to audience expectations and maintaining its reputation.

The Gentzkow-Shapiro model helps explain Fox News Channel's success. Because folks tend to become more politically conservative as they age, and because older folks spend more time in front of their televisions than young folks, it stands to reason that the first network to coddle this underserved audience would profit. Citing a 2002 Pew Research Center for the People survey, the authors note that 30 percent of respondents who identified themselves as conservatives said they believed all or most of what Fox says, while only 15 percent of self-identified liberals believed the same. Meanwhile, 35 percent of liberals believe all or most of whet they hear on NPR, while less than 20 percent of conservatives do.

The authors cite other examples supporting their thesis. CNN, like the other networks, flew a flag logo on the screen after 9/11. However, it dropped the logo from its CNN International channel, which the company beams to non-U.S. audiences. Said the network's president, our audience "expects us to have a non-U.S. viewpoint." A 1992 analysis of newspaper readers found that only 2 percent of respondents categorized their political views as "very distant" from those of their primary newspaper. Local sports columnists may favor local teams, but not when making pregame predictions.

Gentzkow and Shapiro could have easily included Daniel Okrent's controversial--but correct--assessment of the New York Times as a liberal newspaper. You may recall how Okrent, the Times' first public editor, infuriated many on the paper's staff in his July 25, 2004, column when he indicted the paper on several counts of pandering to its readers' expectations with its advocacy journalism. He wrote "if you think the Times plays it straight down the middle" on the social issues--gay rights, gun control, abortion, and environmental regulation--"you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed." The Times presents "the social and cultural aspects of same-sex marriage in a tone that approaches cheerleading," he wrote, when coverage that analyzed the effects of gay marriage was in order. The paper's cheerleading, one would extrapolate from Genztkow and Shapiro, may delight the paper's 1.1 million circulation, but at what cost?

Gentzkow and Shapiro end their paper with a pair of policy recommendations based on their ideas about competition. Domestically, they say the best check on bias is a competitive media market, by which they mean limits on media ownership. Overseas, they counsel the U.S. government to combat alleged anti-Americanism in the media by stimulating competition--not with demands, for example, that Al Jazeera's sponsor, the emir of Qatar, censor his network.

The authors' great achievement is that they write intelligently about press bias without descending into a conversation-killing discussion of "objective" and "subjective" journalism. That said, I wish they'd tested their theory a bit more rigorously by applying it to the British press, which is both competitive and excessively partisan. Despite the existence of the trans-Atlantic-flavored Economist and Financial Times, the four leading papers on the British newsstand--the Times, the Independent, the Guardian, and the Telegraph--contradict the Gentzkow-Shapiro thesis. Over there, competition has spawned newspapers whose major occupation is to provide a daily reaffirmation of one's worldview.


Have I violated your trust with my trick headline? Send condemnations via e-mail to [email protected]. (E-mail may be quoted unless the writer stipulates otherwise.)
Main / Sex Ed on the East Coast, 2006
Mar 24, 2006, 08:39 PM
I should start out by saying that I never had sex ed in school.  It wasn't offered.  It wasn't all *that* long ago, but we are talking rural Kansas here.  

So my older son's sex ed experiences are where I'm getting all my info on sex ed.  Well, they had their sex ed end-of-quarter test today, and my son relayed the following exam question to me:

"If your boyfriend or girlfriend is pressuring you to have sex, what should you do?"

a.  Look him/her straight in the eye and say No in an assertive manner.
b.  Give into the pressure.
c.  Slap him/her.
d.  Say No softly without meeting his/her eyes.

Naturally my son knows the "correct" answer, which is a.  (At least he and I are both assuming that's the case; we won't know for sure til next week when he gets his graded test back.)  I passed this on to some coworkers, cause tbh the test question and responses kinda floored me a bit, and without exception all my male coworkers shouted, "b!"  My female coworkers were much more of a mixed bag.  I got two "c's," one joking and one not, a few serious "a's," and several  "we should of course have done "a" but probably did "d" and then unfortunately "d" sometimes wound up turning into "b" depending on how scared we were of losing him as a boyfriend."  

Raises some questions in my mind...
Main / Child soldiers
Mar 21, 2006, 12:23 PM
:(  My best friend is heavily involved in nonprofit organizations trying to help these kids, and asked me to post these three articles anywhere I thought they might be of interest to anybody.  This is a problem that doesn't respect gender lines.  If anybody has a thought or prayer to spare, spare it for these poor kids.
Main / Door opening and picking up the tab
Mar 15, 2006, 12:51 PM
I am back on the dating scene!  Yikes, it's just as scary as I remember it being...just kidding.  It's okay.  But I have had three (3) dates now with three different men since I became single once more, and how it worked out with the issues in the subject header, so I thought I'd share.  This is not a fascinating topic or post, but comments are welcome.   :)

First date:  I forgot about the whole door opening thing.  I practically trampled him without meaning to because I was entering a building in my usual fashion, ie, whoever gets to the door first opens it, and I was slightly in front of him, and I didn't realize he was stepping forward to get the door for me til he was basically underfoot.  Very embarrassing.  

When the waitress brought the check, he scooped it up before it hit the table with one hand and reached for his wallet with the other.  Fast mover.  I said, "Hey, you wanna split the check?"  He glared at me.  He said, "You're not a member of NOW, are you?"  "Um, no," I said.  "Well, the last woman I took out on a date was and she DEMANDED we split the check."  "Oh," I said.  "Well.  I just thought I'd ask."  "No," he said.  

Second date:  I remembered the whole door opening thing from the first date so I kind of hung back as we approached the entrance.  Date no. 2 kind of hung back too when he noticed I was doing so, and shot me a distinctly puzzled look as we slowed to a crawl just in front of the door.  Ha ha.  Obviously my timing stinks with this whole door thing.  

After coming back to our table from the ladies' room, I said, "Check, please?" to our waitress.  She said, "Oh, he already took care of it."  Fast mover--I couldn't have been gone more than a few minutes.  "Next time, er, assuming there is one, it's my turn," I said.  He smiled at me and shook his head.

Third date:  I deliberately showed up ten minutes early so I would already be in the restaurant before he arrived, thereby avoiding the entire door situation.  However, I feel this is just putting off the inevitable since I probably won't be able to pull that off every single time in the future.  I need a better plan.

When the check came I scooped it up in one hand this time and started to dig my wallet out of my purse with the other hand.  He in turn plucked the check from my grasp and said, "Put that thing away," meaning my wallet.    "Really," I said, "we should split the check."  "No," he said.  "I'd really like to," I persisted.  "Stop it,"  he said.  I'm going to keep asking, but I'm thinking it's not getting me anywhere--am I asking in the wrong way?  I thought men were dying to have women offer to pick up at least half the tab...
Main / Hi Everyone!
Mar 14, 2006, 04:19 PM
I am starting a thread b/c Dr. E. says (I think, correct me if I got this wrong, Dr. E)  that in order to be allowed to stay on the board I must do the following:

A) start a thread and
B) apologize to the board for not following through and for leaving threads hanging and
C)commit myself to not committing the same mistake from this point forward

If anybody was or is bugged that I didn't finish every thread I entered into in the past, I totally apologize!  However, I can't promise I'll never ever do it again.  I may miss a post, lose interest in the topic, fear that things are getting too combative or too pointless, have life issues that pull me away from posting altogether for a period of time...the same reasons that everybody else doesn't always continue in every single thread he or she enters til the bitter end.  

How's that?

Just in case anyone is wondering, I am anti infant or child circumcision.  What adult men choose to do with their own penis is, of course, their own business.

Or Not To Snip?
Slate's findings on circumcision and sex.
By Emily Bazelon
Posted Monday, Feb. 13, 2006, at 5:33 PM ET

Last August, I launched an unscientific research project about circumcision. Wondering whether circumcision deprives men of the "capacity for optimal pleasure," as cultural anthropologist Leonard Glick claims in his book Marked in Your Flesh, I asked to hear from men who'd undergone the procedure as adults and experienced sex both ways. Women and men with secondhand comparative knowledge were also invited to weigh in. Soon there were hundreds of e-mails in my in-box, a surprising majority of them earnest and frank.

The volume and intimacy of the responses, I confess, overwhelmed me. I loutishly hid from my in-box for months, to the exasperation of some of my male co-workers. But with the help of superintern Sonia Smith, I've now read and categorized all the responses. And I've come to this reassuring conclusion: Sex isn't better, per se, one way or the other. The benefits and drawbacks of either state are between a man and his penis.

First, the numbers. Of the 79 men who'd experienced sex snipped and unsnipped, 43 said sex improved (55 percent) after their circumcisions, 23 said it went downhill (29 percent), and 13 said there was no change or a mix of pros and cons (16 percent).  

My numbers don't differ much from the latest research: Based on a sample of 84 men who'd been circumcised as adults for medical reasons, a 2005 article in Urologia Internationalis found a 61 percent satisfaction rate, with 38 percent saying that penile sensation improved after the procedure, 18 percent saying it got worse, and the rest reporting no change. "No consensus exists regarding the role of the foreskin in sexual performance and satisfaction," the article's urologist authors wrote.

Nor, I think, is a consensus likely to emerge. A couple of readers wrote in to argue that my survey and others like it inevitably tilt positive, because anyone snipped as an adult would want to think the ordeal had a purpose. Maybe so. On the other hand, as Australian doctor and circumcision researcher Robin Willcourt pointed out to me, men who decide they've suffered a loss may be all the more vocal.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about bias. My own sense is that as much as nerve endings, friction, or any other physical factor, what matters for feelings about sex are the reasons a man decides to undergo circumcision, his attitude toward his penis before the procedure, and the reaction of his partners afterward. I'm not sure how much light data can shed on this personal realm.

Men tended to enthuse about their post-snip sex lives if they didn't like the aesthetics of their uncircumcised penises or had past sexual problems. Evan (I've used first names when given permission to do so) said that he started having sex using a condom over his foreskin and "felt very little." When he left condoms behind, he found sex painful. Three weeks after being circumcised, he had sex again. "It was like a revelation," he wrote. Similarly, Neville called his elective snip at 40 "the best thing that ever happened to me." He'd fulfilled a lifetime wish: "I always wanted to be circumcised and envied many of my friends at birth." Another man gave himself a circumcision for his 52nd birthday. "Even though I had a fairly normal foreskin, it was just a nuisance," he wrote. "With a circumcised penis I get more feeling/sensation." Daniel got snipped as a college sophomore to combat recurrent genital warts and premature ejaculation. "You can imagine my relief when I found that sex could last much longer," he wrote.

In the disappointed camp are men who parted with their dearly remembered foreskins at the urging of doctors. Stewart, now 40, was circumcised after a rugby accident at 19. The snip was botched, the skin on his penis hardened, and "less sensation in sex resulted," he said. "I really, really wish I hadn't consented to the procedure." Many men were circumcised because of phimosis, a condition in which the foreskin becomes tight and doesn't fully retract. While some found relief, others were dismayed when they later learned they could have tried another, less invasive treatment. One man remembered discovering masturbation accidentally as a child thanks to his "extremely sensitive" foreskin. A doctor convinced him to get circumcised in his 30s after treatment of a minor skin problem left his foreskin relatively inelastic. "I was afraid I'd miss that feeling," he wrote. He did. Charlie blamed his high-school sex-ed teacher for "making me feel even more of an outsider" by saying that uncircumcised penises were less clean and failing to address how uncircumcised men should put on a condom. Of his circumcision at age 20, he said, "The loss of sensitivity is my biggest loss to date." It doesn't help that when women he is dating learn he was snipped electively as an adult, "every single one of them sighs."

Only four men who wrote in said they got circumcised for religious reasons. Two were pleased with the results, and two were ambivalent. One of them, Eric, said that when he lost his inner foreskin, he lost some sensation. (According to the article in Urologia, "many studies have shown the presence of thousands of erogenous nerve endings on the inner layer of the foreskin.") The upside was that sex lasted longer. "Sex became less exciting but more satisfying," he wrote. Other men reported a similar trade-off. ("Is it better to have a glass of excellent wine, or a bottle of very good wine?" mused one.)

It's worth noting that the Urologia study found no evidence that circumcision prolongs sex or prevents premature ejaculation. But the trade-off theory had some articulate propontents. Boris moved to the United States as a child and "soon discovered that I looked different from almost every other boy." As he grew up, he became more comfortable and started teasing his circumcised friends about their relative lack of sensitivity. Then at 27, he developed phimosis and decided to get circumcised at a doctor's recommendation. Eight months later, he wrote:

If you were to visualize sex as arousal plotted against time, the simplest kind of x/y graph, you would expect to see a line that is rising towards orgasm, where it drops off. I think an accurate way to picture that rise is as a series of spikes--particular moments that are punctuated with especially pleasurable sensation, taking you higher and higher, until the ultimate spike that brings you over the top. The best way I can describe sex without a foreskin is that the very tips of these spikes are shaved off, but the line steadily progresses upwards nonetheless, with the orgasm completely unaffected. Maybe this sounds substantial but somehow it isn't. ... Sex is about so much more than raw sensation from one little strip of skin, no matter how sensitive, that pleasure doesn't feel diminished. Who you're with, their excitement, your chemistry together, the sensation of your entire body against another--there are so many things that play into the equation. The marketing slogan would be something like "Hey, it's sex. It still feels really, really good."

There's no way I can top that. Thanks to all of you wrote to me in the spirit of unscientific but sincere inquiry. And to all penises, everywhere, Happy Valentine's Day.
Main / Friends with Privileges
Feb 12, 2006, 06:44 PM
Another not deeply important gender issue, but one I've always been curious about.  Is there really any such thing as genuine friends with privileges between a man and a woman?  This is what I had always imagined friends with privileges was supposed to mean:  two people who really liked each other, hung out and talked and did activities together like friends do, who also sometimes (frequency variable) had sex.  If one or the other happened to form a romantic relationship with someone else, the sex stopped but the friendship remained intact.  However, the following are the only scenarios I've actually witnessed with two people calling themselves "friends with benefits:"

1.  Woman can't get a boyfriend, usually because she's not very attractive.  She sleeps with guys who call her a friend with privileges but who only behave like a friend when they want sex.  She usually falls in love with one or more of them and they never reciprocate.  We can call her "the Used."

2.  Woman who is hanging out for the man she REALLY wants.  She still wants to go out and have fun and have sex but doesn't want to be encumbered with the label "boyfriend" so that when she meets Mr. Perfect, she can say she's unattached.  Most of the guys she's sleeping with are nuts about her and would claim her in a heartbeat if she'd let them.  We can call her "the User."

3. Woman is in love with specific man, who really likes her, even loves her, but usually because she's not very attractive, can't quite bring himself to totally commit to her.  They may be boyfriend/girlfriend off and  on, but usually they are FWP.  This can go on for YEARS.  (The specific case I'm thinking of has been going on for a decade now.)  I don't know what to call this one.

4.  Same as 3, just with genders reversed (man is in love with specific woman, who really cares for him, but because he is not Prince Charming, can't quite bring herself to totally commit to him).  The specific case here I'm thinking about, she did eventually marry him, after FIVE years of shopping around.  

Anyway...does my original definition of FWP actually exist?  Or is FWP only a euphemism for 1-4?
Main / The Moustache
Feb 10, 2006, 06:43 AM
Hi all,

So nice to see everybody again.   :)

This will probably seem trivial to most everyone, but I'd like your takes on it, if you are interested in sharing.  It is sort of gender-related.

My older son has a moustache.  Okay, it isn't an amazing moustache--he's only 13 years old.  But it's legitimately a moustache (as opposed to, like, 10 whiskers scattered over his upper lip).  Now, for some reason known only to himself that he either can't or won't articulate, he loves his moustache.  I think it looks kinda ragged and a little peculiar on his still-rounded face (though I haven't said so to him).  His father totally hates it (though he hasn't articulated his reasons for that either).  His father really, really wants him to shave it off--I believe he is teetering on the brink of ordering him to do so.  Aesthetically I'd prefer it gone as well,'s HIS moustache...he likes I said in an earlier thread, he is having some self-esteem issues re his looks...if it makes him feel better about himself, does it really matter if I like it?  Or his father?  So since I suspect that his father will soon demand the removal of said moustache...what route would you all take with this situation, if this was your boy?
Main / Researching!
Nov 28, 2005, 05:35 AM
Okay, this is going to be a loooooooooooong post...I am gathering up any and all items I said I would research that I can find via the search function and listing them all here.  I'd better number them as I go or nobody is going to be able to keep track, especially me.  Here we go:

No. 1:
lkanneg wrote:
Actually, I think I read somewhere that sperm carry the only genetic instructions for placenta formation.

PowerMan72 wrote:
Link please?

lkanneg wrote:
Argh, I can't remember where I read that...I think it was in the context of parthenogenesis, you know, where an ovum is stimulated to begin division without fertilization (considered an alternative to true embryo harvest for stem cell research). I think I remember reading that one reason put forward for not considering the results of human parthenogenesis to be "embryos" is that, since they began cell division without sperm, they could never develop a placenta because the genetic instructions for placenta formation are contained within sperm. Without the ability to form a placenta, a parthenogenic ovum is not capable of ever becoming a baby.

I will keep an eye out for that article or any similar article on the subject and post a link here if I find it again.
Main / My Dad
Oct 20, 2005, 06:33 AM
Hi everyone,

I just wanted to put in a few good words for my dad, who I found out last week has a terminal illness.  

My dad is not my biological father.  My dad is my stepdad.  He isn't an educated man, like my biological father is--he barely graduated high school.  He isn't a well-off professional, like my biological father is--he's a prison guard, and we were sometimes desperately poor growing up.  Honestly, my dad is just a regular guy, an ordinary guy, representative of millions of other blue-collar men like him.

However.  My dad took me, a kid not his own, unhesitatingly into his heart.  He raised me like his own and treated me like his own and was better to me than my own mother was sometimes, and certainly far better to me than my biological father was.  He is responsible for a great deal of my emotional and mental health as an adult.  Not because he did anything spectacular--all he ever did was just be himself, and teach me unconsciously that men are good, men are kind, men are unselfish and men truly can love and cherish their daughters as daughters, even when their daughter is another man's biological progeny.  

I just wanted to post about my dad.  The world is going to be a much, much poorer place when he is no longer in it.  To anyone else who has ever lost a dad, my heart goes out to you.  To those of you who still have a dad, whether he's in good health or bad, who was a good dad to you, call him up today and let him know how much you love and appreciate him and how much he's done for your life.  Because you never know if he'll still be there tomorrow to get that phone call.

Main / Thought this might be of interest
Oct 17, 2005, 11:51 AM
Scientist Wins Male Contraceptive Grant
Fri Oct 14, 8:20 PM ET

NORFOLK, Va. - A Norfolk State University researcher who has worked nearly 20 years to create a male contraceptive will share in a $3.6 million grant to help him further his work.

The funding for Joseph C. Hall's research is from the National Institutes of Health.

The grant, Hall said, will bring to his research the world of "computer-assisted drug design" to speed the time he can produce compounds for testing.

The grant, distributed over five years, will support Norfolk State's Center for Biotechnology and Biomedical Sciences, which Hall directs.

Hall's research, which has received money from the National Science Foundation, seeks to blunt sperm's ability to fertilize eggs. His focus is the enzyme that penetrates the sugar coating that surrounds the egg. He is seeking a compound that can bind to the enzyme, deactivating the sperm.

While Hall has reached a solid success rate of 92 percent, he wants his contraceptive to be 100 percent foolproof. He expects the final product to be in the form of a patch.

The university's first NIH grant in 13 years will also will be used on protein research, which could improve cancer treatments; add at least a handful of faculty positions; and provide opportunities for students and faculty members to collaborate with their counterparts at Eastern Virginia +Medical+ School and the University of Virginia.

"So often, Norfolk State has had to be the school that follows new leads that come up in generally established programs," said Hall, an associate professor of chemistry. "We decided to take an initiative role and be a leader for a change."

By supporting the emerging field of computer-assisted drug design, the NIH grant will help Hall make and test compounds more quickly.

"Right now, at the rate I'm going, synthesizing one compound at a time, it would take me five to six years to test to get the right one," Hall told The Virginian-Pilot. "This will shorten the time to six months or a year."

The grant also will pay for new supplies and equipment, lab renovations and training and travel for researchers, said Sandra J. DeLoatch, the dean of the School of Science and Technology.

"For undergraduates, it's tremendous," she said. "It allows us to provide very valuable research experience to students to hopefully motivate them to go to graduate school to continue their studies."
Main / Goodbye for now, mostly...
Oct 04, 2005, 05:10 AM
Hi everyone,

My job is going to suck up pretty much all my spare time from now on--it's already started!--so chances are I will not get much of a chance to post in future.

I got a lot out of my time here--learned a lot, both good and bad.  Thanks to everyone who spent their valuable time posting to me.  Hopefully I will be around again in the future.

Anybody on here ever seen this article before?  Know anything about the author?
Main / Female privilege?
Sep 20, 2005, 03:07 AM
Hi everyone,

I do hear a lot about female privilege on this board, and periodically also how it's not even realized by some women because they can't see the forest for the trees or words to that effect.

I'm not sure which problem I'm having, but I am having an extremely hard time coming up with instances in my life where I was privileged to be a woman.  Is it because I simply can't see it?  Mind, I am talking about *my* life in particular.  So far, all I have managed to come up with is two, and neither of them were things I would have minded giving up.  They are:

1.  The men I have dated have always offered to pay for our dates.
2.  When I was in the Army I didn't have to meet the same physical standards on the biannual PT test as male soldiers on two of the three events.

Everything else that I can think of has either been a gender-neutral event in my life or the fact that I was female had a negative influence.  However, I'm genuinely curious if this is simply because I didn't notice at the time how being female smoothed my path.  The majority of the "female privileges" people have listed elsewhere on this forum haven't ever benefitted me, so I was wondering if there were more that hadn't really been discussed?
Main / A question for everybody
Sep 13, 2005, 04:26 PM
It only seems fair, as there are already two boards devoted to questions for me...

What do you think of affirmative action for males, either de jure, or de facto as in this article below?

Threats to college-diversity programs pose risks for boys

As the college counselor at Cincinnati Country Day School, a private co-ed high school, Joe Runge has noticed that more boys than girls are accepted to their first-choice colleges.

Adding the numbers over two years, Runge found that 70% of the school's boys were admitted early to favored schools, compared with 55% of girls. The differences aren't explained by boys' grades, activities or performance on admissions tests. Rather, what Runge came across is a new form of affirmative action quietly used by many colleges: admissions preferences awarded to boys to maintain balance at a time when more girls than boys attend college -- and have stronger academic qualifications.

The admissions preferences allow schools to maintain the diversity that enriches campuses where 56% of all students at four-year colleges are female. By using less-rigorous academic standards for male applicants, colleges keep freshman classes from swinging too far out of balance. They also provide needed recognition that grades and test scores provide an incomplete picture of what boys can contribute to a school.

In fact, colleges routinely manipulate their admissions criteria to attract the students they believe will create the best mix. That's why talented athletes often have lower average grades and test scores than their classmates, and why children of alumni and generous donors get favored treatment.

But affirmative action programs for boys raise legal questions. The preference programs that some colleges use to expand the number of minority students they admit are under review by the U.S. Supreme Court. Some lawyers say that if the high court bans the practices that colleges use to foster racial diversity, they will use the decision to challenge the legality of admissions preferences for gender balance. That would have important implications for colleges quietly committed to ensuring that males don't become increasingly scarce on college campuses.

Better odds for boys

According to USA TODAY research and interviews with both admissions directors and college consultants, private, four-year colleges routinely accept boys over girls who have better applications. The data colleges provide for surveys and guidebooks show male applicants' chances of being accepted are often three to 10 percentage points higher than girls'. At Pomona College in California, for example, 35% of male applicants are accepted, compared with 24% of female applicants, according to U.S. News & World Report data for the class of 2005. At Brown University in Rhode Island, 18% of male applicants get in vs. 15% of females.

Even some public colleges treat boys' applications differently. At Virginia's prestigious College of William & Mary, 42% of male applicants were accepted last year, compared with 32% of female applicants. Karen Cottrell, associate provost for enrollment, says boys' applications don't receive preferential treatment. Girls typically have better high school transcripts, which count most heavily in admissions decisions. But she says male applicants' average SAT scores are higher: 1,347, compared with 1,323 for women.

Most college admissions officers refuse to discuss the special preferences boys' applications receive. An exception is Robert Massa, director of admissions at Pennsylvania's Dickinson College. Massa readily admits tilting the admissions scale toward boys. At Dickinson, the male-female ratio is 45-55. Without preferences for male applicants, the percentage of men would drop as low as 38%, he says.

Another institution that concedes it isn't gender-blind is Hobart and William Smith in Geneva, N.Y. Though it looks like a traditional co-ed college, Hobart-Smith is two colleges: Hobart, which accepts men, and William Smith, which accepts women. Combined, their male-female ratio is nearly 50-50. On average, though, men at Hobart ranked in the top quarter of their high school classes; women at William Smith ranked in the top fifth.

Admissions officers cite good reasons for stretching their standards to find more boys. At many colleges, gender-blind admissions would result in such a heavy concentration of female students that the character of the campuses would be fundamentally altered. "Diversity in any form -- racial, geographic, economic and, yes, gender -- contributes to the learning environment because it encourages different perspectives and forces confrontation, which enhances learning," Dickinson's Massa said.

Useful tool faces challenges

If that argument sounds familiar, it should. Several universities use it to defend the practice of awarding minority students admissions priority. This summer, the Supreme Court is expected to decide the constitutionality of racial preferences used at the University of Michigan. The university contends its affirmative action programs are both legal and valuable tools for fostering campus diversity. But opponents, including the Bush administration, argue that the plans amount to a quota system that illegally discriminates against whites.

Both sides expect the high court's decision will clarify the role that diversity can play in decisions made by colleges and broader society. But it could complicate colleges' efforts to attract more boys.

When courts strike down minority-preference programs, they deny colleges an effective way to ensure that their students reflect the diversity of the taxpayers who fund the schools. They also send the troubling message that only objective measures, such as grades and standardized test scores, are legally acceptable admissions criteria.

Strict admissions formulas present problems for many minority applicants -- and boys. African-Americans typically score lower on standardized college admissions tests than their white counterparts, regardless of income. Increasingly, even the most academically talented boys never catch up to girls in high school grade point averages. College admissions officers say the problem begins when they enter high school, a time when many boys struggle.

If colleges lose the flexibility to consider those factors, they would face an awkward dilemma. They would be free to continue adjusting their admissions standards to accept star athletes, gifted musicians and children of alumni or generous donors. But they would lose the latitude to make admissions decisions that guarantee a rich mixture of students that improves the education process, enhances campus life and better prepares students for today's diverse society.
Main / Do we want lkanneg to leave SYG? ;)
Sep 06, 2005, 04:39 AM
Let me know!
I am looking for some advice, and I'm thinking you all can provide me with perspectives I'm not going to get anywhere else...if anyone wants to, of course!

My husband and I were hanging out at our favorite wine bar after work and talking Monday night (my ex has the kids every other Monday night) and my husband, my kids' stepfather, mentioned that he'd like to talk to the kids Wednesday night after dinner about a few things (my husband has Boys' Night Out every Tuesday and Thursday nights, so Wed. was the next night he'd be with us all for dinner).  I said sure, like what?  He said he'd like to talk about taking more responsibility for household chores...such as, if they see the kitchen trash can is full, they take the trash out to the garage and put in a new trash bag instead of just piling the trash on top...and about trying harder to conserve electricity in the house...such as making sure all the lights are off when leaving a room...etc. etc.  Sounded fine to me, and I said so.  Then he said, he also wanted to discuss something else with them:

Me:  What's that?
Him:  How to treat women.
Me:  (pause) What do you mean..?
Him:  They're obviously not learning this from their father...they need to learn to open doors for women, to carry their bags, and so forth.
Me:  (silence)
Him:  They need to learn to behave chivalrously.
Me:  Uh...I haven't taught them that.
Him:  Well, you shouldn't have to.  Your ex should.  
Me:  I don't think my ex has ever been into chivalry.
Him:  Well, I think the boys need to learn that.
Me:  Um.  You know, first, before I say anything else, I want to say how much I appreciate you taking the time to think about my boys, and wanting to provide them with things you consider to be positive male attributes...I really, really appreciate that, boys can't have too many positive male role models and I think it's really great that they not only have my ex but also you, and it really means a lot to me that you've obviously been putting a lot of thought into this--
Him:  Okay...
Me:  ...but I can't advocate teaching them to treat women any differently than they treat men.
Him:  It's chivalry.  
Me:  I understand that, but...I've really, really made it a point to *NOT* teach them to treat girls any better, OR worse, than they treat other boys...naturally I advocate treating others with courtesy and consideration at all times, and for instance if they see somebody struggling with a huge heavy box trying to get through a door they should run up and open the door for that person--
Him:  It'll be really important to them when they're older to get girls, and teaching them to behave chivalrously now will really help them out with that.
Me:  But I can't advocate treating girls better than boys just because their girls.
Him:  You don't have to.  I'll do it.
Me:  But I can't advocate YOU doing it either.
Him: (starts to look a little mad)
Me:  I'll tell you about you tell them your opinion and then I'll tell them mine..?
Him:  That will completely undermine my opinion then.
Me:  Look, I definitely don't want to try to tell you what to do...DEFINITELY not telling you what you can and can't must do what you feel is right...I just am so very, very uncomfortable with telling them to treat girls differently from boys.  I've been in nontraditional gender areas my whole life and I've done this in part by never, never expecting nor even allowing if possible, different treatment of me because I'm female.  Do you understand..?
Him:  Not really.  This is *chivalry,* not whether or not girls can be soldiers or engineers.

I gave up, and he had the talk with them Wednesday night.  He's going to be out with his buddies tonight, so it'll just be me and my boys at home tonight...what should I do?  Should I just let it go?  Should I say anything to them about what he said Wednesday night?  Other options (are there any)?  If anyone wants to throw out his or her two cents, it'd be very appreciated.
Introductions / I was invited!
Aug 18, 2005, 10:15 AM
I hang out at the Feminism Today board on iVillage a lot and a guy there, after I posted in passing that I was curious what men's rights types said amongst themselves, replied with a link to your board (not a clue what his username would be here, I'm assuming he probably does post here?--there he's "southernguy73").  I've been idly thumbing my way through some threads and they were very interesting, but I was a little shy about just jumping right in--not sure of this board's etiquette, so I thought I would try here first.  Hi!  :)