A Boise State professor's comments calling independent women "medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome" have spurred backlash in the Treasure Valley.
Scott Yenor, a political science professor at Boise State University, made the comments on Oct. 31 during the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando, Florida. But the comments went viral when a Boise nurse posted a Nov. 25 video with excerpts of his speech on TikTok.
"Our culture is steeped with feminism," Yenor said during the conference. "It teaches young boys and girls that they are motivated by much the same things and want much the same things."
"Thus girls are told to become as independent as boys are said to be. … They are more medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome than women need to be."
He went on to condemn feminism and said its teaching of individualism is a fundamental threat to strong families.
He also said the country needs to "de-emphasize" its colleges and universities, and called universities "indoctrination camps" and "the citadels of our gynecocracy."
"Young men must be respectable and responsible to inspire young women to be secure with feminine goals of homemaking and having children," he said, adding that male achievement in the country is not "celebrated." "Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering, but rather to recruit and demand more of men who become engineers. Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade."
Boise State says school supports free speech
Mike Sharp, a Boise State spokesperson, said that Yenor has a right to free speech and that the university supports academic freedom and the expression of ideas. People who want to file a complaint over an alleged violation of law or policy can contact the university's Office of Institutional Compliance and Ethics, he said.
"Boise State University understands that the open exchange of ideas, which is fundamental to education, can introduce uncomfortable and even offensive ideas," Sharp said in an email to the Idaho Statesman. "However, the university cannot infringe upon the First Amendment rights of any members of our community, regardless of whether we, as individual leaders, agree or disagree with the message. No single faculty member defines what Boise State - or any public university - endorses or stands for."
Yenor's comments have been shared widely on social media over the past few days after a TikTok was posted analyzing parts of the speech from the account socialistlyawkward. The video had more than 42,000 "likes" as of Monday afternoon. Former students, public officials and community activists have since spoken out on social media about their experiences with Yenor as a professor.
Yenor did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Yenor earlier this year served on Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin's task force that investigated so-called indoctrination in Idaho schools. The task force held four meetings over the summer, where the members heard primarily from people who supported their views and presented a set of vague recommendations at their final meeting.
He's also spurred controversy for his comments before. Yenor was known for a controversial article he wrote in 2017 that claimed transgender activists were "seeking to undermine parental rights."
Emily Walton, a current Boise State MBA student and former trustee at the College of Western Idaho, said the most offensive and salient part of his comments were when he said women shouldn't be recruited into law, engineering and medicine. That admission, she said, leaves him and the university open to a potential Title IX complaint.
"He has power. He has power to issue a grade," Walton, co-founder of the Idaho 97 Project, told the Statesman. "It's disgusting. He needs to come into the current century, but it doesn't sound like he will."
Walton is looking to hear from students who have been in Yenor's classes or had negative experiences with him, to potentially connect women with lawyers and ensure accountability, she said. Yenor should also expect to face protests over this, Walton added.
"(Women) fought for a place in society and we're not giving that up," she said. "It doesn't matter what Scott Yenor says. We're not going anywhere. We're not going away. … Let that be a warning to him. We're not going to put up with this. It's not OK."
'We're not going back to the 1950s'
State Sen. Melissa Wintrow, a Boise Democrat and former director of the Boise State Women's Center, said the comments Yenor made were dehumanizing.
She also brought up his connections with the Idaho Freedom Foundation and said he's become a spokesperson for a group that doesn't support public education.
"You start to wonder, what is the goal here?" Wintrow said in a phone interview with the Statesman. "If it's to set us back in time and disenfranchise women from as far as we've come, that's a problem."
Wintrow said Yenor's comments are based largely in fear that a way of life is being threatened. She also questioned whether his comments have translated into actions or prejudice against women in his classes.
"We're not going back to the 1950s," Wintrow said. "I don't know what everybody is so afraid of. Let's drop our weapons. Let people be who they want to be."
Becca Savransky covers education for the Idaho Statesman in partnership with Report for America. The position is partly funded through community support. Click here to donate.