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Boys and girls are different.
Now there’s a news flash, right?
Any parent who has raised both a boy and a girl from infanthood knows
they are utterly different creatures — whether it’s the way they think,
the way they emote or the way they react when handed a Barbie doll, a
rock or a squirt gun.
For years this was a simple, eons-old biological fact of everyday
human life, known by grandmothers of every race and culture. Yet, as we
know, there are factions among us today who are too ideologically
blinded to accept such common sense.
They, of course, are the feminists, progressive educators and lunatic
equality-enforcers who have made it their business to try to re-engineer
the two wonderfully distinct halves of the human species.
As Christina Hoff Sommers points out in the June cover article of
American Enterprise magazine, what really is going on is an attempt to eradicate the natural bio/psycho/physical differences between boys and girls — mainly by making boys more like girls.
Sommers’ magazine piece, “Victims of Androgyny: How Feminist Schooling Harms Boys,” is an adaptation of her forthcoming book, “The War Against Boys.” (It was recently in Atlantic Monthly too.)
She argues that boys are, thank you very much, “not deformed by society’s conditioning. They do not need to be rescued. They are not pathological. They are not seething with repressed sentiments or imprisoned in ‘straitjackets’ of masculinity. Being a boy is not a defect in need of a cure.”
According to Sommers, the war against boys is being waged mostly in schools. Boys are being urged to get in touch with their feelings, to shake off such biologically determined — and until recently, commendable — male traits as stoicism, reticence and reserve.
She argues — as does editor Karl Zinsmeister in his
essay on the same subject — that “reform-minded ‘experts’ should seriously consider the possibility that American children may in fact need more, not less, self-control and less, not more self-involvement. It may be that American boys don’t need to be more emotional and that American girls do not need to be less sentimental and self-absorbed.”
It is hard not to agree with Sommers. She and Zinsmeister unload truckloads of evidence showing that it is our boys, and not girls, who are in trouble. In school, it is boys who get the short end of the gender gap when it comes to getting good grades or attending college. Boys are more susceptible to disease, to developmental problems and to things like stuttering and color-blindness, hyperactivity, delinquency, suicide and homicide.
While full of common and intellectual sense, both Sommers and Zinsmeister are way too fond of our factory-style system of schooling. They apparently have no compunction about using our horrible Prussian-designed public education system as a tool of social engineering — as long as it is the kind of social engineering they prefer and they get to implement.
It’s true that many schools would improve, and many students would benefit, if there was a return to the old ways of teaching — namely, emphasizing such things as discipline and hard work and high standards. Obviously, schools should respect the different natures of boys and girls, not destroy them. And there should be all-boy schools with all-male faculties and all-girl schools with all-female faculties and everything in between.
But as many homeschoolers and free-market education reformers would point out, the problem of boys’ psyches being abused by the public school system would disappear if there was a greater variety of schools for parents to choose from.
There should be as many kinds of schools as the human mind can dream up. Then the feminists — and the Sommers and the black Muslims and the Christians, etc. — would each have their own schools to matriculate to. And parents who want their boys to wear dresses and their girls to learn to use chain saws can send their kids to Gloria Steinem Middle School without hurting anyone else’s kids.
As we know, feminists are so concerned with “fixing” boys because most men grow up and become dads and then make more little future men just like them. Well, dads are people too. And to prove it, they have recently gotten their very own magazine:
Dads — The Lifestyle
Magazine for Today’s Father. The debut issue of this new men’s magazine has Cal Ripken on the cover and articles like “An Insider’s Guide to Disney World” and tips on how to have sex when the kids are in the next room. But don’t get the idea that it bears any resemblance to Maxim or even GQ or Field & Stream.
It gives its point of view away in
“Breaking the (Boy)
Code.” A piece that is antithetical to everything Sommers and Zinsmeister believe, it argues that “acting silent, stoic and remote” is “the type of behavior that is a potential disaster for today’s youth.”
Dad’s article concurs with Sommers and Zinsmiester’s contention that school is “hell” for boys and that there is a “boy crisis” in the land. But then it goes skipping off 180-degrees in the other direction.
Writer David Rosenbaum talks to experts like psychologist Michael Thompson, best-selling author of “Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys,” who says boys’ problems are not a result of feminism/progressivism or sissyism.
They are a result of “the pernicious influence of the Old Boy Code,” which is the idea that boys are supposed to grow up to be psychologically and emotionally hardened warriors and providers and girls are supposed to cry a lot and make cookies and babies.
Dads tries real hard. There’s some decent writing and good photos, though Ben Stein’s guilt-tripping essay about some of the mistakes he’s made bringing up his son is weird.
Someone spent a lot of money trying to come up with “a parenting magazine that dads can call their own.” But how many men have really been craving a magazine that offers book reviews and recipes just for dads?
That is a mystery that should be solved soon, when the magazine — which is aimed exactly at the breed of dad Sommers and Zinsmeister fear are being bred by our schools today — goes bottoms-up.