Emily Reimer-Barry, over at Catholic Moral Theology, has posted an admirable response to “a Catholic father’s explanation of 6 (+2) Reasons NOT to Send Your Daughter to College.” It is admirable both for its stance of charitable dialogue, and for its explanations of Catholic teaching with regard to gender essentialism, sex roles, and marriage. It’s well worth reading.
I noticed something more trivial, though: at least five, and maybe six, of the eight reasons she engages would seem to apply just as well to sons as to daughters, even within the very traditional, man-as-provider, woman-as-homemaker approach to marriage.
So, paraphrased and genderflipped from Riemer-Barry’s response, here are six (or maybe five) reasons not to send your son to college:
- He will be in a near occasion of sin, due to the hook-up culture at college. (#2)
- He will not learn to be a husband and father, subjects which are not taught at college. (#3)
- The cost of a degree is becoming more difficult to recoup. (#4)
- You don’t have to prove anything to the world: just because society expects you to send your son to college, doesn’t mean you should. (#5)
- It could be a near occasion of sin for you as parents, tempted to use birth control because you fear being unable to pay for each child to go to college. (#6)
- It could interfere with a religious vocation, because substantial student loan debt could make him unable to join a religious order. (#8)
Even within the gender-essentialist, traditionalist view of marriage, only reasons #1 (she will attract lazy men who want their wives to support them) and #7 (she will regret buying into the lie of the dual-career family) are actually reasons not to send your daughter to college.
[Updated to add: And looking at the two of these, it strikes me that they combine to suggest an additional reason not to send your son to college: He will attract career women who have bought into the lie of the dual-career family.]
Five of the six reasons I’ve listed above have to do with occasions of sin and the cost of college, neither of which are gender-specific.
There’s room for debate over whether learning to be a husband and father, but not a wife and mother, can be accomplished at college. If these roles are conceived simply in terms of the skills of breadwinning for men and homemaking for women, then this is arguably true; but even the most traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching does not reduce the roles of husband and wife to breadwinning and homemaking skills. So, call this half a reason, since it could be argued either way.
This is a trivial analysis — Reimer-Barry’s is much better. But sometimes even a trivial analysis is illuminating.