political correctness

An article at Inside Higher Ed highlights (no, not in hot pink) a … “controversy” at the University of Iowa: the opposing team’s (football) locker room is painted pink.

Controversy? Why?

Well, this is the Age of Political Correctness, especially on college campuses:

While it remains a beloved bit of visual smack-talk for many Hawkeye fans — and was even featured in a recent ESPN ad about college traditions — some students and faculty have decried the color scheme as sexist and discriminatory.

“There is no denying that [former Iowa football coach Hayden] Fry’s tactic is rooted in an antiquated age when homophobic and sexist epithets were the norm in sports,” [protester Kembrew] McLeod said.

Since 2005 Jill Gaulding, a former University of Iowa law professor, has threatened to sue or file a federal complaint against the university under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that forbids gender discrimination at colleges. On Thursday, Gaulding, who is now a lawyer with the nonprofit law firm Gender Justice, said the “discussions are still ongoing,” and that the locker room’s color is a type of gender slur.

“It sends the message that anything associated with female is lesser-than,” Gaulding said. “The minute I read about the pink locker room and how the university had built it even pinker, it felt like somebody had just reached out and slapped me across the face. It was that insulting. People know what it means.”

Erin Buzuvis, director of the Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies at Western New England University (uh oh), agrees with Gaulding that the locker room is a Title IX violation, but says a lawsuit victory would be tough. Still, she notes (my emphasis)

“Title IX’s application to athletics is aimed at equalizing the treatment of female athletes as well as their opportunities to play,” Buzuvis said. “If you accept that using pink in the visitors’ locker room operates a symbolic gesture of emasculation towards the team’s opponents, the pink locker room certainly represents a form of unequal treatment, since the symbolism trades on pink’s association with women and stereotypes about women’s inferior athleticism.”

But … is that a stereotype? In general and taken as a whole, are not men … superior athletes?

Before you go off with steam coming out of your ears, consider:

The mean difference has been about 10 percent between men and women for all (Olympic) events. The mean gap is 10.7 percent for running, 8.9 percent for swimming and 17.5 percent for jumping. (Source)

Men golfers hit the ball farther, in some cases a lot farther. Men tennis players hit the ball harder and faster. Baseball players throw faster and hit the ball farther than (women) softball players. Etcetera, etcetera. Why do we have separate sports leagues for the sexes, after all?

Men’s sports are far more popular with spectators because the competition level is greater. The athletes are faster, stronger, and more durable. This is just a biological fact, despite U. of Iowa’s student newspaper’s complaint that the “sexist norm of male superiority” still exists, and despite those who believe gender is merely a “social construction.”

By the way, there’s actually some psychological research to back up what the Iowa football squad (and others) have done to opponents’ locker rooms. One researcher says the color pink acts like “a tranquilizer that ‘saps your energy.’” Pink is also used frequently in “drunk tanks” and jail cells. In addition, the notion that pink is a “girl’s color” is actually relatively new; it didn’t really begin to take hold until the 1940s.

In closing, I get that efforts to encourage male athletes (and coaches) to cease using terms like “sissy” and anti-gay expressions need to be established and enforced. But over-zealous complaints about things like using pink in locker rooms — because it facetiously calls into question opposing players’ toughness, and even their masculinity — are just another example of institutions like a “Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies” finding “reasons” to justify their existence.

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Alex Stone, a sixteen year-old at Summerville High School in the South Carolina town of the same name, was charged by police with disorderly conduct following what he had written for a creative writing assignment.

What, exactly, did Alex write? “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business,” he said.

WWBT-TV12 in Richmond, Virginia reports:

Attorney David Aylor, who is representing 16-year-old Alex Stone, said his client’s arrest over a creative writing assignment on Tuesday was “completely absurd,” and is seeking to appeal the suspension and “proceed with the legal issues of [Stone's] arrest.”

“This is a perfect example of ‘political correctness’ that has exceeded the boundaries of common sense,” Aylor said in a statement released on Thursday. “Students were asked to write about themselves and a creative Facebook status update – just days into the new school year – and my client was arrested and suspended after a school assignment.”

The police dispute Stone’s/Aylor’s version of events … sort of:

“The information that is being reported is grossly incorrect in reference to what led to the juvenile being charged,” said Capt. Jon Rogers in a Summerville police statement released on Thursday.”The charges do not stem from anything involving a dinosaur or writing assignment, but the student’s conduct.”

Authorities add that the “disorderly” part of Stone’s conduct came when he was questioned, and his locker and bookbag searched: he became “very irate,” “said it (his writing) was a joke,” and “continued to be disruptive.” He was eventually cuffed.

As Instapundit (to whom the hat tip goes for this story) notes, “To be thorough, they should have searched the neighbor’s yard for a dead Triceratops, too.

Read the full story here.

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Doni Wilson has penned a satirical piece for The Federalist, suggesting 9 “trigger warnings” for very sensitive students who are about to read Shakespeare’s Hamlet:

This week the British publication The Guardian reported that “Students in America have been asking for “trigger warnings” to be included on works of literature which deal with topics such as rape or war.”  Works that were of concern to students at the University of California at Santa Barbara included Things Fall ApartMrs. Dalloway, and The Great Gatsby, all of which I have taught.  This demand for fair warning so that those who have been traumatized can adequately prepare for the shock of what they read assumes that having something in a syllabus (which may or may not be read by students anyway) will insulate students from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that may come up in any given text…

So I was thinking, since I am teaching Hamlet to students in an intense two-week course called Fast Term, if I had known about this new demand for “trigger warnings,” how exactly would I accommodate this need for this particular play?

Read the full article here.

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It was political correctness in the ’80s, speech codes in the ’90s, and “empathetic correctness” among today’s college students demanding “trigger warnings.” So says an English professor who actually helped a student rape victim get counseling after she expressed feeling “traumatized” by a class discussion of a book’s rape plot.

Writing in The Atlantic, Liberty University professor Karen Swallow Prior says:

While political correctness seeks to cultivate sensitivity outwardly on behalf of those historically marginalized and oppressed groups, empathetic correctness focuses inwardly toward the protection of individual sensitivities. Now, instead of challenging the status quo by demanding texts that question the comfort of the Western canon, students are demanding the status quo by refusing to read texts that challenge their own personal comfort.

It’s the difference between George Orwell, who feared “an external form of control that becomes internalized,” and Aldous Huxley, who foresaw “an internal form of control that becomes externalized,” she says. This is how bad it’s become:

Astonishingly, some of the literary works advocates claim need warning labels for adult college students are often read by high school students, such as The Great Gatsby and The Merchant of Venice.

She sees a new danger in the squeamishness of “Millennials with hovering parents” expanding to the rest of the population. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne’s description of religious liberty as a “gift,” in response to the recent Supreme Court decision upholding sectarian prayers in town meetings, could mean that “challenging reading material in college” is optional too:

How can empathy even be cultivated apart from a willingness to have our preconceptions and our very comfort challenged? The sort of citizenry that demands warning labels on the best gifts of civilization is a citizenry ill-equipped to maintain such rights.

Read the full article here.

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A new word-discouragement campaign at Duke University has labeled phrases such as “Man Up,” “That’s So Gay,” and “Don’t Be a Pussy” offensive language that “delegitimizes” homosexuality and oppresses and insults people.

But as the campaign has gained national popularity, its detractors have bristled at the effort, calling it a politically correct war on words that will stifle free speech and suggesting its true aim is to redefine terms to control public opinion and – ultimately – public policy.

In fact, the “You Don’t Say” campaign creators have admitted as much.

“Language is a reflection of how we think about others and view the world,” Jay Sullivan, a student leader of the campaign, tells Duke Today. “My goal is to…. help facilitate discussion about how language affects many social issues, from race to gender and sexuality.”

The campaign consists of a series of black-and-white memes with students posing behind large pledges to avoid so-called offensive language.

“I don’t say ‘No Homo’ because it delegitimizes love and sexual identities,” says one.YouDontSayInside

“I don’t say ‘Man Up’ because the strongest people I know have cried in front of me, regardless of their age, gender or sex,” says another.

“I don’t say ‘Tranny’ because it’s insulting to transgender and genderqueer communities,” adds a third meme.

Other banned words include “bitch,” because it “insists feminism is inherently negative,” “‘fag,’ because it only serves to hurt and oppress homosexual men,” and “pussy,” as it “implies that having a certain feature is indicative of being a coward.”

The recently launched campaign has spread far and wide on social media and gained national attention in a variety of news reports. The effort is similar to the recent “Ban Bossy” campaign, and akin to other university student efforts that have banned the term “illegal immigrant” on campuses.

The campaign is a collaborative effort between a newly formed group at Duke University called Think Before You Talk and Blue Devils United, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer student advocacy group.

The campaign has gained plenty of supporters, as well as detractors, whose reactions range from sarcastic to disgusted.

“I can’t say anything about an individual person, because it might be construed as offensive to a larger group… even if I had no intention of offending a larger group,” asks one Facebook post.

Others balk at the idea of being told how to choose their daily language.

“As a thinking individual, I don’t and didn’t need some children from Duke University admonishing me for ‘thinking any gender is inferior,’” says another. “Do you see what they did there? ‘Any gender.’ Not ‘either gender.’ It’s all about redefining terms, redefining life.”

Some commenters on Facebook hardly took the campaign seriously at all: “There is nothing wrong with being a HOMO. We’re all homos… homosapiens.”

In an interview with The College Fix, Dr. Mark Hendrickson, economics professor at Grove City College, expressed concern for the direction and potential implications of the campaign, such as the idea of a possible enforcement mechanism.

He also questioned the discouragement of statements such as “man up.”

“I’m a little concerned about censoring a phrase like ‘man up’… a world without manliness, like a world without femininity… would be a pretty dismal place,” Hendrickson said.

Hendrickson acknowledged the need for consideration of others when choosing one’s language, but he observed that proponents of the campaign appear to have a narrow agenda.

He noted, especially with the impending graduation season, that similar tolerance is often not afforded to conservative campus speakers.

“With anybody advocating the banning of a certain word or phrase… would they be willing to publicly say, ‘I promise in return to never hinder a speech by a political figure with whose political philosophy I disagree?” Hendrickson said.

College Fix contributor Claire E. Healey is a student at Grove City College.

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Yes, intelligence tests like the SAT and the IQ test really do measure something substantial and consequential, argue David Z. Hambrick and Christopher Chabris in a new article for Slate.

The SAT does predict success in college—not perfectly, but relatively well, especially given that it takes just a few hours to administer. And, unlike a “complex portrait” of a student’s life, it can be scored in an objective way. (In a recent New York Times op-ed, the University of New Hampshire psychologist John D. Mayer aptly described the SAT’s validity as an “astonishing achievement.”) In a study published in Psychological Science, University of Minnesota researchers Paul Sackett, Nathan Kuncel, and their colleagues investigated the relationship between SAT scores and college grades in a very large sample: nearly 150,000 students from 110 colleges and universities. SAT scores predicted first-year college GPA about as well as high school grades did, and the best prediction was achieved by considering both factors. Botstein, Boylan, and Kolbert are either unaware of this directly relevant, easily accessible, and widely disseminated empirical evidence, or they have decided to ignore it and base their claims on intuition and anecdote—or perhaps on their beliefs about the way the world should be rather than the way it is…

Read the full story.

What do you think? Are intelligence tests unfairly criticized for reasons of political correctness? Or are some of the common criticisms justified?

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