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“New Math on Campus” Needs Recalibration

Submitted by Emily H Ho on February 26, 2010 – 12:08 pmComments

Today, let’s talk about something men are supposedly better than women than: math.

More specifically, the recently published NYT article, The New Math on Campus, about hooking up in colleges across America, where it’s become a growing trend that girls invariably outnumber boys. What does this mean for modern women in the dating scene?

As reporter Alex Williams writes, this uneven girl to guy ratio (at U of North Carolina, where Williams interviewed, the female enrollment is almost 60%) tips the playing field in favor of our more masculine counterparts, causing girls to pander to commitment phobic college guys and their ideal of relationships. Girl gets gussied up, leaves for the night and comes back with a guy who only wants a one night stand. Girl is heartbroken when she realizes this, but even more so when it’s apparent that because of the dearth of guys, she has to keep doing this if she wants any shot at a relationship. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

Seems like a sordid fate for women, especially those intelligent enough to be at UNC. But the minefield of “it’s complicated” have long existed before universities have changed to “feel eerily like women’s colleges.” (And what’s wrong with women’s colleges?) So before we bemoan our perpetually single fates, let’s take a look at the problems girls are facing on the gender-challenged campuses:

A female student on cheating: “that’s a thing that girls let slide, because you have to… If you don’t let it slide, you don’t have a boyfriend.”

“Girls feel pressured to do more than they’re comfortable with, to lock it down,” Ms. Lynch [a UNC senior] said.

Awful. In the battle of the sexes, we see yet another report of intelligent women debasing themselves and throwing themselves at their less worthy counterparts. In the same vein as “The Proposal” and “The Ugly Truth,” we are led to believe that being our best selves is never enough if we don’t have a man. Naturally, when we choose to play into that illusion, hooking up can seem a man’s game.

But I’m not so sure it’s the “lopsided” girl to guy ratio in colleges that’s contributing to the mass of drunken hookups and shameful weekend afters. Casual hooking up is a staple of our generation, right alongside vampire sex and Lil Wayne’s grills. We hook up not because of a skewed, calculating need to snag a guy, but because we have long owned our sexuality and now, more than ever, can choose what we do with it.

And anyway, if we really want to get technical, even in colleges where females are 60% of the total student population, if we paired everyone off, 4 out of 6 girls would be taken. Last time I checked, 40% out of 60% is a majority…

However you dice it, somewhere between the first beer and walk of shame the math fails to add up. Guys, it’s not a gender imbalance issue: “New Math” just a misinformed article with a masculine slant, a few misplaced quotes, and of course, arithmetic my high school calc teacher would flunk me for.

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