Evidence it building that the general population does not embrace intelligence as a valuable asset. “Twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. Twenty-three percent would rather lose their ability to read than their figures.”1 For decades, feminists have fought like hell to secure access to equal education.
While most people believe that Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 pertains only to athletic equality, it actually addresses equal rights in all aspects of education. This began to open the door to professions that were, at one time, male bastions. After years of improvement where women and girls increased their share of participation in math, science, medicine, and technology, we may be on the verge of backsliding. Just as girls started to “kick butt” in all aspects of education, outperforming boys in elementary, middle and high school and graduating from college, professional and grad school in greater numbers than males; our brains became devalued. In what I would call the “Jersey Shore Effect,” popular culture idolizes the vacuous and vapid actions of the female lead. Not only do the media denigrate the intellectual prowess of women, it reinforces the shallow virtues of beauty. The sinister effects of this trend empower Conservatives to attack many of the underpinnings of educational advancement. Teachers are vilified, public schools are disenfranchised in favor of charter schools, and there are attempts to kill Title IX. As bad as this is, the Conservative agenda is not the cause of the problem only an effect. As Shakespeare noted “The fault, … is not in our stars, But in ourselves…”; we are all part of the problem. When we patronize degrading television offerings, when we do not raise our voices against exploitative beauty pageants, when we fail to actively monitor our daughters’ and sons’ educational progress and excellence, we are the problem. We must affirm our dedication to protect and expand the educational opportunities for all of our children; the solution is in our hands.
1 “Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World” by Lisa Bloom.; Vanguard Press; 2011