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The Genius of Men

April 14, 2010

Jesse Blumenthal
The Genius of Men

With great humility, Scripps College inaugurated Lori Bettison-Varga its new president last month. She is the second female president, of eight total presidents, in the College's 84-year history. The title for the event was The Genius of Women— rather bold. I do not claim to be an expert on our sister to the north, so I will refrain from passing judgment on whether on not the substance of their argument lives up to such a billing. Rather, I present you with this idea: if there is something distinctly female about Scripps, there is another something quite male about Claremont McKenna— and that something should be celebrated. How to define this masculine character? I would point you to three areas: personality, education, and culture.

I will stipulate, before I am assaulted by every reflexive liberal within keystroke’s reach, that not all CMCers are the same. There are exceptions to every rule…you know how the rest of this reasoning goes. That being said, there is certainly a CMC-type. Assertive, competitive, type-A personality: CMCers get stuff done. There is a drive that exists in your average CMCer that one does not commonly encounter. It cannot be random chance that so many people who share these traits just so happen to have been admitted to a small liberal arts college such as our own. Rather, I suggest to you that CMC attracts a particular type of student, and that type is masculine.

Now, I would like to argue a few preemptive responses. It would be trite for me to try to say something about leadership, so I won’t. Furthermore I will inevitably be told that I have ignored the 45% or so of my fellow Stags and Stagthenas who are of the fairer sex. I disagree. The personality type I describe exists amongst men and women alike—but that personality is certainly masculine, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

To wit, the first CMC class to include women received their degrees from Claremont Men’s College, as the school was then called. After the name change, these newly minted female alumnae were offered the chance to have their diplomas reissued by Claremont McKenna College, and they almost uniformly said no. These women were proud to have toughed it out with ‘the boys,’ an attitude that embodies the combination of bravado and sense of honor that exemplifies the best of the CMC masculine tradition.

We are a school based overwhelmingly on government and economics. Notwithstanding fantastic professors in many other departments--from whom I have had the great fortune to learn what little I can—the school’s history lives on in its current culture. When CMC began it offered only one major: political economy. I would suggest that the legacy of that mindset lives today, and that such a mindset is clearly masculine. A focus on business and the employment of power, on finance and the law; these are the historic dominions of male domination—an undeniably manly tradition which we follow through this day.

"Work hard, play hard" - an unofficial slogan of CMC. CMC’s culture more often than not resembles a scene from Mad Men (to be enlightened) or Animal House (to be unkind). Again there are exceptions to this rule too, but those who have experienced the spirit of most student functions would have to agree that no matter the forum, there’s an element of rowdy boyhood whenever CMCers gather to blow off a little steam. I neither endorse such a practice nor do I abhor it, but I believe it to exist.

Through its personality, education, and culture CMC embodies a male ethic, just as Scripps so clearly embodies a female form. It is a truly wonderful happenstance that such divergent and yet complimentary schools can coexist in such proximity. So raise a glass to CMC, and get in touch with your inner man.

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