Current Issue

May 13, 2009

Vol. 109, No. 13

Princeton’s feminization

Many important and long overdue changes have been made in the University since World War II. However, the admission of women was, I think, an unhappy decision.

Since the war, most major all-male Ivy colleges have embraced coeducation. Apparently, educators insisted that coeducation was the only way to go. But the feminization of Princeton seems to be pervasive, invading all activities so that Princeton now seems almost to be a women’s college with a good-sized male contingent.

Gone is the distinct masculine flavor of an all-male college. The maleness of the Nassau Inn’s Tap Room has been replaced by a female, dainty, tearoom atmosphere. A glance at the Class Notes reveals that younger class secretaries are almost entirely women.

My fear is that the Princeton University I knew has been taken over by a female majority (for better or worse). I am surprised that other male graduates are not upset by these developments.

I will bet that you will not print this letter. Your masthead shows that your editorial staff is almost entirely female.

John H. Schmid Jr. ’45
Sebring, Fla.

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19 Responses to Princeton's feminization

Christina S. Kraus ’80 Says:

2009-05-15 09:47:15

This takes me back to a December issue of Paw in the late 1970s, when another Class of ’45er wrote a letter enraged at the promotion of a "certified, wet behind the ears virgin" -- female -- over a ’45er. Seems that in the last 30 years, little has changed! A pity: Princeton "feminized" is both stronger and more vibrant than a Princeton without diversity or the challenges that diversity brings.

Jacob Denz ’10 Says:

2009-05-15 13:59:44

As a gay male feminist student here, I feel disgusted by both the sexism and the heterosexism of this statement. Unfortunately, a healthy dose of the "masculine" flavor lamented in this letter still remains a part of campus life at Princeton, and it is often deeply inhospitable not only to many women but also to many gender-variant individuals and gay men. I can only imagine how much worse it must have been when Princeton was all-male. I intend to continue to participate in the "feminization" of this campus, which has made it such a better place over even the last five, not to say the last 50 or 250 years.

Noelle Vinson ’10 Says:

2009-05-15 16:13:33

Thank you for posting this letter. For those who believe that the University community and the nation has overcome diversity appreciation and equality challenges — this goes to show we still have a long way to go!

Cailey Hall ’07 Says:

2009-05-15 16:17:22

Perhaps the fact that I am, unfortunately, saddled with ovaries has blinded me in this regard, but I have to say that I hardly find the Nassau Inn tap room to have a "female, dainty, tearoom atmosphere." Could the author of this letter perhaps offer some more proof in support of his view? I will end simply by pointing out that — as far as I can find — the current male: female ratio of the undergraduate student body is 52:48.

David Kaufmann ’80 Says:

2009-05-15 16:24:13

I, too, would bewail the loss of masculinity if I had any idea what Mr. Schmid is talking about beyond loose ties, the faint smell of sweat, and a tendency towards public drunkenness.

Gayle Rebovich ’98, MD Says:

2009-05-18 16:36:30

PAW should consider asking Mr. Schmid to write a regular column in which he offers his views on the presence of students of African or Asian descent; of Jewish, Hindu, or Muslim faith; of various sexual orientations; etc. I'm sure it would be just as illuminating as his above letter.

Anand Gnanadesikan ’88 Says:

2009-05-18 16:43:25

One would hope that a graduate of an institution of higher learning would have gotten beyond whining "don't let girls in, they spoil all the games." But then Mr. Schmid's letter seems to consider those games to be the point of life. Frankly, I'd rather have a world where Princeton can claim Wendy Kopp, Sonia Sotomayor, Michele Obama — and not least my own wife as fellow alums!

Claire Jacobson '09 Says:

2009-05-19 14:35:31

It is disheartening that someone who has benefited from a great education still holds such ignorant views.

L.D. Jadwin *89 Says:

2009-05-21 18:05:50

The PAW would never have printed a letter objecting to the admission of Jews or blacks. The fact that this alumnus gets his bigoted comments printed is an index of how far women still have to go.

Conor Sutherland '10 Says:

2009-05-21 18:08:23

I am somewhat taken aback by the lack of tolerance in some previous posts for the free opinions espoused in this letter. In provoking Princeton’s intellectuals by daring to question their utopian vision for the school, Mr. Schmid’s comments seem to have exposed a strain of the precise intolerance that these supposedly open-minded progressives claim to eschew. Mr. Denz, a few posts earlier, claims that “a healthy dose of the ‘masculine’ flavor lamented in this letter still remains a part of campus life at Princeton, and it is often deeply inhospitable not only to many women but also to many gender-variant individuals and gay men.” Perhaps Mr. Denz is right. But if he is, then his comments seem to imply that the “masculine flavor” of which Mr. Schmid speaks so longingly is incompatible with a campus at which “gender-variant individuals” feel home. However, Mr. Denz stops short of explaining why we should favor a vision of Princeton that is a home to “gender-variant individuals,” rather than (a somewhat less extreme version of) the traditional values Mr. Schmid evokes. This is because, in academia today, it is considered a dogmatic truth that institutions must bend over backwards to ingratiate diversity – even when doing so defiles the traditions of the historic majority. That some alumni would be outraged should come as no surprise. No one in academia would ever dare to imply that institutions should favor tradition over diversity. Mr. Schmid has questioned the great canons of liberal political correctness in a particularly provocative manner and, through the indignant entitlement his comments have elicited, has exposed the hypocrisy and intolerance for traditional views which have infected the intellectual left.

Hillary Reser '02 Says:

2009-05-21 18:11:27

I agree with Mr. Schmid's concern about Princeton's feminization. Indeed, the overabundance of women at our great University is a lamentable and -- dare I say -- terrifying development. Next thing you know, Princeton will be overrun by blacks, Jews, and homosexuals. The white man doesn't stand a chance.

Diana Strassmann '77 Says:

2009-05-21 18:13:35

Sadly, the only argument the author makes to claim that Princeton has been harmed by the admission of women is that there are now more women! If this is all he can come up with, it's a good thing that admission standards have increased and become less narrow.

Stephen Rich '82 Says:

2009-05-21 18:17:52

I think this is merely indicative of the general feminization of society at large. Indeed, our very concept of maleness has morphed into something quite different, call it 'the rise of the Coldplay Male'. I think there is a widely held belief that traditional maleness combined with education, cultural exposure and refinement, is an impossible goal. This is simply not so. The the classical sense, the Uomo Universale ... proficient in many areas, including the arts and athletics ... was both attainable and highly regarded. Observe also what happens to boys in elementary school. They are forced to endure a soul-crushing dilution of their basic enthusiasm, deferring to the girls in a misguided attempt to 'level the playing field'... all forwarded by an increasingly powerful and biased feminine educational bureaucracy. But I must say I no longer think of Princeton, or most of the other Ivies as strongholds of intellectual vigor anyway. Those days, such as they were, are long gone. The very fact that alums think this is conversation worthy speaks volumes. The subtext is quite clear however: Universities are scrambling to re-define themselves as tuition prices rise and the 'slam-dunk' plum job offers at graduation are on thinning ice, calling into question these antiquated bastions of wealth and privilege. Now THAT is conversation worthy.

F. Javier San Miguel '93 Says:

2009-05-22 16:26:39

I, for one, found my Princeton experience infinitely more pleasant with the presence of smart young ladies all around me. And judging from the number of classmates who married each other, I suspect many others would agree. Now, if Mr. Schmid prefers the company of men, that's OK too. Princeton still has a club for that sort of thing. It's all good.

PT Scott *12 Says:

2009-05-27 09:21:53

Mr. Schmid complains about the admission of women, but it sounds like his pains would be eased if we just sprayed a bit of Old Spice around to restore the campus's masculine aura.

Daniel Belmont Says:

2009-05-27 09:24:25

Visiting this weekend, I noticed a marked lack of drinking or merriment. Nary a stereo being played on Saturday night. The dominant social activity was waiting in a 100+ long line for a frozen yogurt study break. "What's your favorite add-in?" Seriously. I was shocked by this gonad-less form of socializing, while admittedly impressed with students' work ethic and priorities. Ultimately, though I am appalled at the total lack of virile social activity there, including the YDTP, which, on this this night, was dominated by women interested in talking to women. With all respect to the academically impressive students there now, Mr. Schmid's comments deserve serious consideration and an honest self-evaluation of the student body and what it considers respectable masculine fun.

Jason Goldman Says:

2009-05-29 18:56:28

The best part of the PAW is the unconscious self-parody of letters like this. The phrase "Gone is the distinct masculine flavor of an all-male college" is particularly amazing. Just to cover the appropriate level of academic navelgazing: I wonder if Mr. Schmid be the inspiration for Lane Coutell, Franny Glass' Princeton boyfriend from the eponymous Salinger short story? Lane's best line in "Franny" was that Flaubert lacked a certain "testicularity." Like the author of this letter, Lane was also tragi-comic parody of Princeton.

Rafe Steinhauer '07 Says:

2009-06-04 09:21:54

Mr. Schmid is correct: Princeton is missing the masculine musk it once had. But Mr. Schmid has the wrong culprit. The error the university made in the 1970s was not going coeducational, rather it was beginning to accept men born in the 1950s -- men who displayed their strength by painting flowers on their European-built cars. Future admissions officers only compounded the problem by accepting men born in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and -- only recently -- the 90s! But there is hope for those who yearn to reinject a manly aroma into ol' Nassau. For the class of 2013, Princeton should once again only admit men born in the 1940s or earlier. Install a few more elevators, bring back Mr. Schmid and his colleagues and turn Whitman into the largest (and only) assisted-living dormitory in the country. At the very least the campus should gain a few more male odors.

Nicholas Donovan Says:

2009-06-19 13:12:09

Oddly enough it's interesting to note that many men don't have the approach of, 'It's either our way or you are a msogynist.' as many women have expressed here on this website. That's simply reductionist and a product of logical fallacy. It's healthy and right for men to have their own space and just because they do, doesn't mean they are anti-female. In fact to hold that view is itself misandrist. Ironically the dictionary on this website does not know the word misandry but does recognize misogyny.
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