Beer, babes and boobs.
This is important stuff for men to consider when choosing a college, according to Men's Health, a national magazine for men.
This month's "special report," the "Best and Worst Campuses for Men," sounds innocent enough at first, until you read the magazine's criteria for rating what they call "antimale" schools that "demonize" men:
Schools with strong womens studies departments. Schools that comply with federal laws requiring equal funding for womens and mens sports teams. Schools with defined sexual harassment and date rape policies that require men to get verbal consent from sex partners.
But wait! There's more!
Two smiling, female models in tight jeans accompany the "male-friendly" college list.
On the "antimale" page, the same models frown and look angry. One is suddenly wearing glasses. And their hair, once flowing, is pulled back into severe ponytails. Their fitted jeans have been replaced with sweatpants.
One even holds the book, "The Stronger Sex."
The premise of the story is that "male bashing" is "part of the air up in the Ivory Tower," and that college men need to protect themselves from schools with "hostile environments."
"On our male-friendly list," Laurence Roy Stains writes, "the traditional male point of view is appreciated socially and academically."
But Stains' rationale is silly at best, and at worst is as dangerously misleading and erroneous as it is misogynistic, his critics said.
"The level of vitriol embedded in this article suggests to me that these guys have an agenda," said Jackson Katz, a speaker at colleges across the country and the creator of an award-winning video, "Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity."
"Its obvious that theyre weak men who are threatened by strong women," he continued.
Horrifying for who? Among the list of antimale horrors stated by Men's Health are Brown University's "sexual harassment policy [which] discourages unwelcome 'flirtations.'"
At Columbia University, Stains writes: "men find themselves on the defensive beginning at freshman orientation, which has included an improv session about date rape."
The University of Michigan's short list of crimes includes the fact that, "the campus womens center has a heavy schedule of outside speakers."
The "vibe" at Oberlin College in Ohio requires "mandatory mental vasectomies," presumably because the school has "an elaborate sexual-offense policy," according to Stains.
Meanwhile, the magazine's kudos-to-college list implies that the co-eds at the male-friendly schools are cuter than the ones at the schools that males should avoid.
Of California State University at Long Beach, Stains writes, "The undergraduate male/female ratio is 42-to-58, which, by our count, means almost 17,000 tanned coeds."
"We've never met an ugly girl from Texas A&M," Stains writes.
Of Washington and Lee University in Virginia, Stains quotes a junior there, who enthuses, "Theres a testosterone atmosphere here that permeates the whole environment."
Myths and Reality
Mens Health also overstates the danger of being falsely accused of rape.
The magazine ran a sidebar describing the "horror stories" experienced by three men who were suspended or had trouble getting their diplomas because of rape accusations by female students.
"For any campus where a man's reputation is unfairly tarnished [by a false accusation]," Katz said, "you can go to that same campus and find dozens of women who were raped and didn't report it."
Perhaps the worst thing about the Men's Health story is that it dismisses the statistic that says that one-in-four women have been the victims of rape or attempted rape as "feminist myth."
"It's amazingly irresponsible of Men's Health to say that the "one-in-four statistic is 'a long-discredited feminist canard,'" said Jennifer Pozner, a director at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), a New York-based media watchdog group.
Pozner said that in a 1993 report, FAIR addressed what they concluded were flawed attacks on Kent State University psychologist Mary P. Koss's 1987 study from which the one-in-four statistic Men's Health refers to came from.
Pozner also points out that in 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published very similar findings that corresponded to the "one-in-four" statistic published ten years earlier.
"The Centers for Disease Control found that one-in-five college women reported having been forced to have sex, not including attempts," she said.
"More than a decade [after Koss's study], they came up with the same finding," Pozner said. "To say that [the 1987 study] has been 'long-discredited' is crap."
When asked about the article, Men's Health features editor Ron Geraci said, "We're not doing any more interviews about that story. Were moving on to the November issue now." Geraci refused to discuss the article or the editorial direction of Men's Health, even generally. Nor would he provide contact information for either the story's writer or editor (Geraci said he did not edit the piece).
Instead, he referred me to public relations spokesperson Karen Mazzotta. When asked if the magazine had gotten a new editor-in-chief since "Best and Worst Campuses for Men" ran, Mazzotta said: "For starters, yes," but she wouldn't elaborate.
However, a receptionist for Rodale, Inc., the magazine's publisher, said that Greg Gutfeld, editor-in-chief of the September issue, has since been replaced by David Zinezenko, who presumably is trying to control the damage he inherited by Gutfeld's publication of this controversial story.
"This has been a tricky one for us," Mazzotta conceeded.