Christina Hoff Sommers on public schools and the ‘war against boys’

A conversation with the feminism critic


 

Kate Orlinsky / Getty Images

In 2000, Christina Hoff Sommers published The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men. Hoff Sommers was already known as a critic of late-20th-century feminism; her much-lauded and much-disparaged 1994 book Who Stole Feminism? had provoked charges that she was anti-women. In August, Hoff Sommers, now a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, updated and reissued her bestseller on boys with a new subtitle: How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men. Hoff Sommers makes the case that boys and girls are fundamentally different—and that ignoring the difference, in an effort to protect girls, amounts to a “war against boys.”

Q: You open the revised book in Queens, New York City, at Aviation High School. What about the school struck you?

A: I went to visit this high school in a gritty section of Queens. It looked like a factory building. Aviation High is about 86 per cent male. It’s a school that caters to young people from poor families on government subsidies. There are a lot of African-American, Hispanic and Asian kids who are at high risk of academic disengagement. When I walked in, the first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. The students were all inside their classrooms and they were enthralled. At Aviation High, students spend half their day on academic subjects and the other half taking specialized courses in aviation: like aerodynamics and aviation mechanics. The school has an aircraft in the playground and students are allowed to tinker with it. Traditionally, the big problem with male students is that they are disengaged, unfocused and do not care about academic achievement. But this school has very high graduation rates and very high college matriculation rates. And it prepares students for good jobs.

Q: And yet the school is controversial.

A: It’s controversial because it mostly educates young men. In fact, the school has tried to attract more young women, but it’s mostly boys who apply. A lot of us think of equity as equality of opportunity. So, of course we would not want to see an Aviation High that did not allow women. But somehow, with today’s women’s groups, the goal has changed: from equality of opportunity to equality of results. These groups are looking for statistical parity. If a school has only 15 per cent women, they believe that perhaps it is a hostile environment for girls. Aviation High is part of a network of career and vocational schools in N.Y.C. In Manhattan, there is a High School of Fashion Industries. It’s more than 90 per cent female. The women’s groups believe this is gender segregation.

Q: They would see this as a result of gendered socialization: of boys and girls being pushed down different paths. I assume that you see it as indicative of different preferences?

A: Yes. Of course gender identity is both biological and cultural. But we have had three generations of feminism encouraging children to enter different fields. And very little has changed. If you look at college majors, boys are still engineers and girls go into the helping professions. Many children will defy the stereotypes of their sex, but the majority seems to embody them. I think that’s a reality.

Q: Your essential thesis is that the so-called “girls crisis” is a hoax, and that it’s boys who are in danger. Is that a controversial thesis?

A: It was when I first wrote the book. At the time, women’s groups promoted the idea that girls were second-class citizens in our schools. There were a number of popular authors writing in the field, the most prominent being Mary Pipher, who wrote Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls. But if you look at the research, you see that these writers used unconventional methods. They claimed that girls no longer believe in themselves. Well, I looked at these studies. They weren’t serious in the way they were constructed. Another researcher, David Sadker, claimed that when boys call out answers in school, teachers are respectful and interested—whereas when girls do it, they are told to be quiet. Sadker said that boys call out eight times more than girls. This became a showcase factoid of the shortchanged girl movement. But it turned out that the research behind the claim was nowhere to be found. It was a baseless myth: the result of advocacy research. I have looked at U.S. Department of Education data on more conventional measures: grades, college matriculation, school engagement, test scores. Now more than ever, you find that boys are on the wrong side of the gender gap.

Q: The obvious counterpoint is that so many more men are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and top politicians. How can we explain that top-tier divide?

A: Critics of my work say: well, even if boys are failing at school, eventually they win in life. But the fact is that men tend to show up at the extremes of success and failure. And failure is far more common. There is a small coterie of men who prevail in the high echelons of industry, politics and academia. But millions of young men are poorly educated and disengaged from the workforce. In any case, I argue that ignoring the educational needs of men is not the way to help women.

Q: In your book, you seem to suggest that schools have pathologized boyishness.

A: Yes, very much so. For example: the typical play of young boys is rough-and-tumble. There’s mock fighting, sound effects, chasing, fleeing. Girls do that too, but not nearly as much. The classical play of young girls is turn-taking and theatrical games. Girls also exchange confidences with best friends—something that boys hardly ever do. But if you look at the trends in school, many teachers and parents don’t understand rough-and-tumble play. They confuse it with aggression and violence. In the U.S., it seems that hardly a week goes by without a little boy being suspended for playing cops and robbers. Recently, one boy in Maryland got in serious trouble for playing a game. He was suspended, I believe, for throwing an imaginary grenade at some imaginary bad guys so that he could save the world. His father was shocked; he said: it’s almost as if they are criminalizing my son’s imagination. When I heard that, I thought: that is exactly what’s happening! In my book, I cite experts in playground dynamics who believe this is very harmful. Rough-and-tumble play helps boys forge critical social skills and friendships. Play is the basis of learning.

Q: You argue that single-sex education could be a helpful development?

A: Definitely. In a single-sex classroom, or program, teachers have the opportunity to use boy-friendly reading lists and activities.

Q: How could co-ed schools be more boy-friendly?

A: The British and Australians have already changed their curriculum to create a more structured learning environment for boys. They allow more competition and more frequent testing. And they devote massive attention to organizational skills. These things help to engage boys. Secondly, I think we need a national campaign to encourage male literacy. And lastly, we need more technical and vocational schools. Boys do well in them. They do all the normal subjects, but also become proficient in computer repair or engineering or welding or refrigeration. Girls tend to study early childhood education and medical fields and cosmetology.

Q: You argue that it is still unpopular to discuss biological differences between boys and girls. Is that really the case as much as it was 13 years ago?

A: It’s changing. But still, in the U.S., there are women’s studies departments that state very starkly: gender is a social construction.

Q: You speak of a “women’s lobby.” Who specifically are you talking about?

A: I’m talking about particularly powerful groups in Washington: The American Association of University Women, the National Women’s Law Center, the Wellesley Centers for Women, and others. They have not taken well to the idea that boys are in trouble. I don’t think these groups are consciously warring against boys. But I do think they see the world as a zero-sum game: a competition between Venus and Mars. Their job is to defend Venus. I just wish they would see that times have changed. They’re knocking down doors that are already open.

Q: We do see men’s studies courses popping up. And men’s rights groups. Is that something that will grow?

A: I think so. Because the situation is so rigged against young men. In the U.S., almost all gender-based programs are for girls. Actually, I like these programs! But I simply ask: where are the programs to strengthen boys in all the areas where they are falling behind?

Q: In a recent article in The Atlantic, you call yourself a “freedom feminist.” What does that mean?

A: I think there is too much social engineering around trying to change people’s preferences. Freedom feminism is about respect for choices that men and women make.

Q: You end your book with the phrase “Boys will be boys.” Those are loaded words.

A: I hope that by the time readers get there, they will know what I mean.


 

Christina Hoff Sommers on public schools and the ‘war against boys’

  1. Christina says that “there is too much social engineering around trying to change people’s preferences” but fails to mention that a lot of girls may actually not be interested in nursing or teaching or cosmetics. We’re still a product of our surroundings. I think Christina is getting stuck in the notion that “all girls like dolls” and “all boys like trucks”. Segregating boys and girls in different schools would only encourage girls and boys to behave exactly how we expect them to, instead of giving them the opportunity to chose their own preferences. It may be a slow process to encourage girls to enter into “male dominated” fields, but there are reasons beyond personal preference that this is taking so long, and this assumption that we all fit perfectly into our gender niche is one of them.

    • I don’t disagree at all with what you’re saying. But be careful to check your biases at the door. We should equally be trying to encourage boys to enter “female dominated” fields if they have the inclination. The barriers to entry of a male student trying to get into a childcare job are probably similar to those for a woman trying to get into an engineering one.

      • Engineers first have to like mathematics enough to take a lot of it.

        The primary barrier women face in becoming engineers is that most of them don’t choose to take much mathematics.

        But you think they should get to be engineers anyway.

        • I don’t see what that has to do with my point at all. I was merely pointing out the implicit bias in the above comment where she was concerned about getting women into male-dominated fields, but not men into female-dominated fields.

          Mathematics education in most schools is quite terrible. I’m surprised that you can find any children who like it at all by the time they graduate.

    • In fact, she does state “Many children will defy the stereotypes of their sex, but the majority seems to embody them. “. In the prior paragraph, she notes “So, of course we would not want to see an Aviation High that did not allow women.”
      She is not advocating closing doors, reducing equality of opportunity – only stating that equality of opportunity should not necessarily mean equality of results, as she feels there are gender biases in preferences.
      She is being quite clear that “all girls like dolls” is not correct, nor is she saying that “all girls should like dolls”. There’s a huge difference between “most” and “all”… all the difference in the world. I find this misrepresentation of her position surprising, and unfair.

    • In Thailand they have a very traditional culture (despite never being colonised by the evil white European patriarchy) where the gender roles are just as conformist as anywhere in the West. Yet they cater for and understand some girls are more like boys and some boys are more like girls.

      You can accept the differences between the sexes without being totalitarian about it.

      I accept the science which shows humans are a sexually diamorphic species yet I spent much of my formative years cross dressing and am now engaged to a wonderful trans woman.

      There is nothing about accepting the reality that gender roles are not socially constructed which means we have to reject individuality or deny the existence of the minority who do not conform to gender norms.

    • The issue she is facing isn’t that boys and girls are forced into choices. What she is talking about is that young men aren’t going anywhere at all. If you look at the population groups that she is describing, the numbers are staggering. Incarceration rates, high school graduation rates, single parent families (mostly women with children, the men aren’t around), the workforce participation rates, etc. Right now another group of children are starting school, and a good number will not be exposed to competent teaching that helps them learn basic skills such as reading. Especially the young boys. Dooming them to the social ills described above.

      I was reading a while ago an article about the young women in these situations. It seems many of them are responding by being responsible, finding ways to get training so as to be better providers for their children. That used to describe what young men did, and still to, but to a lesser extent.

      The zero sum game here is that a society where half of one sex is essentially checked out. No one benefits, especially the women.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Speak for yourself when you say no one knows.

          • Notice how the narrative goes. When women are failing it’s men’s fault, when men fail it’s men’s fault.

            Illuminating stuff!!

  2. I agree with this article. I think many schools are tailored to girls general strengths, and that more boys are falling behind acedemically. I think that although total segregation of genders in schools is unlikely, some segregation within the classroom would be beneficial. I also agree that there is much more promotion of girls rights and freedoms than there is for boys… Our boys need to be encouraged and supported as well.

  3. The point is not that ALL girls like dolls & ALL boys like trucks but that the majority tend towards gender norms. Practically all of the scientific research on newborn babies shows the majority of girls gravitate towards toys with faces and boys gravitate towards mechanical toys long before society can coerce them into these roles. Feminists deny this scientific fact and seek to socially engineer gender differences out of existence. A foolhardy, dangerous and unscientific project.

    What we need to do as a society is acknowledge the mental and developmental differences between the sexes whilst accepting they do not apply to everyone.

    Its about respecting the choices of those who conform and those who do not. Currently feminism holds sway in academia and feminists only want to respect and support the minority of non conformists.

    • PS: Feminism seems to be both a rage against nature and an inability to realise emancipation has already been won.

      Raging against gender differences, heterosexual male sexuality or women’s maternal instinct overpowering their career ambition.

      I see feminists mostly concerned with banning porn, fighting the tyranny of the wolf whistle or seeking to redefine rape to encompass drunk sex. I have even seen feminists say “yes doesn’t always mean yes”

      I see feminists use ideas about “intersectionality” to paint white men as uniquely the problem and silence any man who dares disagree as blinded by privilege.

      It seems to me that feminism as it is being expressed today is dogmatic, unscientific, illiberal, censorious, sexist and racist.

      • ‘Gender norms’ are artificial. Cultural constructs. There is no ‘gender norm’….there are individuals.

        But there IS good money in contrariness, so Sommers is just pulling the old Phyllis Schlafly trick.

        • There is also good money in perpetuating the idea of the eternal female victim.

          • After thousands of years of oppression for the majority of women, I hardly think 40 years of feminism is ‘eternal’.

          • You have a point; nonetheless, there are those who see discrimination and victimization even where none exists (this applies to more than just feminism). Not sure if it is paranioa or the desire to turn the tables.

        • Spoken like a robot.

          • I’m sure a man calling himself a flower would have spoken to robots.

        • I hate to break it to you but the leading scientific research shows not only are the vast majority of girls and boys different anatomically they are different mentally and emotionally. Millions of years of evolution has created humans as a sexually diomorphic species and the feminists denying that is a prime example of the triumph of dogma over reality.

          No one is saying all girls are destined to be yummy mummies and all men destined to be presidents and C.E.Os. but our gender differences honed over millions of years means our natural instinct is for the majority to gravitate towards traditional roles. Denying this makes feminism looks like creationism.

          Good luck fighting biology and evolution.

          • I think women make better CEOs,leaders, etc, due to their social nature. Men make better technicians. Women should take the lead in society, make all the rules, and men can keep it operational.

        • Way to disregard her arguments. Ironically, that is just the approach many men have used against intellectual women over the ages…

          • She isn’t making one. She is quibbling over someone elses.

            Sort of like people who disagree with relativity.

          • What is wrong with disagreeing with a physics theory? That is how you achieve progress in theoretical sciences. Many strong minds are discovering theoretical inconsistencies when we assume that there is no universal reference frame to reality.

          • Draw a line under it, and move on.

  4. Strawmen arguments as far as the eye can see, funding from a right wing “think” tank and dogged defence of the privileged status quo – yup, she’s hit the trifecta here!

    • Typical. Whenever anyone disagrees with feminists, the anti war (more precisely anti Western) left or Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton people like you just brand them as right wing Fox News types. smh

      • Ironically, that is what men have been doing to women for ages – disregarding their arguments by criticizing the source. It is interesting how some feminists aspire to be like the men the so despise.

        • See that is why you are wrong and always will be wrong because you see this as about oppressed and oppressor.

          Feminism is a simplistic derivative of Marxist theory which divides humanity into oppressive (mostly white) men and oppressed righteous women.

          I see humanity as a complex tapestry far too complex to narrow into oppressed/oppressor dichotomy, intersectional hierarchy or identity politics.

          Feminists should practice what they preach. You preach we are all individuals and there is no difference between the biological sexes then like a bunch of kids lost in a world of goodies & baddies you divide society between oppressed and oppressor based on biological sex and race.

          Feminism is bad ideology.

          It’s a dogmatic, unscientific, illiberal, bigoted ideology.

  5. Men are in trouble and we can’t count on the feminists to solve our problems. We need a men’s movement. We’re either too manly to admit we’re in trouble or we’ve been buffaloed into passivity and silence for fear of being labeled misogynists.

    This is a critical economic issue for our nation. Our men are awol or on skateboards or living with their parents and playing videos while most women are still pursuing traditional careers in caregiving, teaching, religious studies and psychology. The women are doing fine. This is a recipe for disaster. Its why our universities are turning to educating foreign nationals in engineering and science. Face it, women won’t fill the men’s shoes and vice versa. It’s not because they can’t, but because they won’t. If more women want to be engineers and physicists then women-up and quit whining. And men need to get off their butts and demand more resources go into educating our boys. We dropped shop in the 80s because it didn’t meet gender quotas for women. Enough of this insanity.

    • We need education for individuals…..not arbitrary cultural divisions in society.

      We got rid of this silly gender division once, and she’s trying to bring it back

      • In the article, she doesn’t advocate gender division just for the sake of it; she recognizes the truth that males and females (to a large degree) have different interests and learning styles. Some of it may be cultural, but a good bit of it is innate.
        That’s not to say either should be valued above the other.
        What it DOES mean is that there has to be a recognition of this and to adapt teaching methods to ensure the needs of both sexes are being met. That males seem to be underperforming academically in increasing numbers compared to females (see e.g. male / female ratio in universities) indicates that something is amiss and our school systems are geared more to females than males.
        We need to figure out how to get males to succeed at the same level as females.
        As to exactly where the problems lie – I’m not going to pretend to know the answers (as surely there are multiple underlying reasons). One part of the problem may be that we need to have more males involved as educators, esp. in primary and elementary.

        • Males and females are human beings artificially divided by religion and our social culture.

          This rubbish is not innate.

          • Denying any role of biology, given that we know that there are structural differences in the brains between the two sexes, could also be construed as rubbish.

          • We don’t know. They’ve been back and forth on that for years. Same thing on how coffee will kill you one month, and be healthy the next. It all sells books.

            And in any case it doesn’t translate into liking dolls or trucks.

          • Hardly, it’s not like they’ve been waffling on whether or not, say, the limbic system is larger in females or something. And it’s also been well accepted that these changes are initiated by sex hormones during fetal developement (wow, culture and religion sure are powerful!). If we’re to go by your reasoning, then anthropologic global warming theory should be rejected as well because, hey, they’ve been going back and forth on that as well; that sells books as well!

            And of course it can translate into influencing behavioural tendencies and choice, just as Keith Bram outlined above; otherwise, do you accept that homosexuality is a purely environmentally influenced lifestyle?

          • And if you had gone one post down before answering, you’d know what was being discussed.

            I put an url there. Check it out.

          • I did; I’d like my five minutes of my life back, please.

            It basically argues against a strawman (no one is saying that it’s ALL biological), then is contradicted by their own facts that they conveniently present in a particular way to hide the contradiction (if 78% of gender differences are small or close to zero, then what about the other 22% where the differences are not small? That’s actually a statistically significant amount).

            So, no, I’m not that impressed by it. And you’ve also still conveniently avoided answering KeithBram’s question.

          • Okay….you’re not serious either. I should have guessed that from your name.

            Ciao.

          • No, I’ve answered your posts very seriously; you just haven’t been able to defend your hard-line stance very effectively, which is now evident in your refusal to address the presented points and resort to ad hominem.

            When just about every argument that’s been put forward has been shown to be flawed, the reasonable thing to do is to step back and re-evaluate the validity of that particular view point that is reliant on the soundness of said arguments.

          • As a female engineer, I find the studies ascribing biologically-based traits to women and men insulting to both genders. Women are not more monogamous than men, according to recent studies on affairs, and not all women have maternal instincts, which probably explains our low birth rate in the west. I am really sick and tired of these pseudo-scientists existing on grant money to study issues that are divisive rather than productive.

          • Hear hear!

          • No, you’re still generalizing. Is it plausible that monogamous behaviour was enforced for women, such as in muslim countries, thereby skewing what is and isn’t normal? I am a humanist, meaning I ascribe to the view that we are individuals and most people fit around the middle of identified “male” and “female” traits.

          • LOL I agree with you and I’m generalizing??

            Monogamous behavior was enforced for women because men wanted their own children to inherit. Property was the cause of skewing ‘normal’

            Humanist has no such meaning.

          • I was speaking to tselleck. I should have clarified.

          • Ahh okay….then it makes sense

          • I haven’t even made a comment on monogamy at all. How can I generalize about that? Second of all, so what? Your last statement, “most people fit around the middle of identified ‘male’ and ‘female’ traits” is, in itself, a generalization. The presence of observed tendencies in human behaviour is not in dispute (do I really need to spell out that “tendencies” does not mean “all”?). The dispute is people claiming that there is absolutely no biological influence to account for the observed tendencies.

          • Whenever I read comments like this I realise how feminists really see women. Basically according to feminism women were helpless pawns all throughout history. Objects to be acted on.

            So much so that basic needs such as the predominantly feminine desire for monogamy (a deep core emotional desire if ever there was one) was merely programmed and instilled in women by the evil patriarchal oppressor.

            Even today when women are emancipated from traditional roles feminists paint a picture of women as being vulnerable, helpless victims.

            So frail and defenseless the language around them needs to be policed and male sexuality regulated.

            Without puritanical and illiberal feminists fighting for censorship and “safe spaces” women would be victimised by the tyranny of people choosing traditional gender roles or the slings and arrows of un-politically correct language.

            I believe feminists are wrong about the frailty of women and the idea that women were oppressed.

            History is one in which men and women had different roles. Whilst it’s true women had less power they also had less obligation and more rights and privilege and were far less likely to die in a coal mine or on the end of a bayonet.

            To view the historical relationship between men and women as one between oppressor and oppressed is erroneous.

          • And who’s claiming that women that more monogamous than men? Or that all women have maternal instincts? I’m arguing against the claim that there is absolutely no biological influence whatsoever on observed behavioural differences between genders. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule; but you’ve grossly misinterpreted my posts if you think that I’ve claimed the first two points.

          • sure, I agree, but isn’t this slightly off topic? It seems the article is about meeting the learning requirements of society, not about sexual behavior and maternal instincts.

          • No, you’ve just been silly. Cons frequently try this….nobody buys it.

            Don’t bother coming back until you intend to be serious.

          • I’m a Conservative now? That’s new.

            And, no, I’m not being the silly one, since you’re the one still resorting to ad hominem.

          • No, I said Cons do this.

            Like I said….Ciao.

          • Right wing, conservative, misogynist, racist etc are all used by “social justice” ideologues to discredit dissent when they know that they do not have a logical, evidence based reply.

          • Basic biology Em. Lots and lots of studies show male & female brains operate differently. If they operate differently, they are likely to interpret inputs from innately different viewpoints regardless of socialization.

            You do believe gays are born that way, right? If so, then it should be much easier to accept that men’s and women’s brains operate somewhat differently (on average) and that therefore will generally respond somewhat differently to the same input.

            I know feminists have a hate on for biology, but science is science. And aren’t you the one who always says science should trump ideology?

          • How long did it take you to find that article?

            So do you believe homosexuality is innate, or is it a socially learned behaviour? From your argument that there is no difference between men and women, I have to conclude the latter.

            I’m not saying the difference is astronomical, or that there is no overlap – in fact, quite the opposite. There are differences within a given sex. The differences are subtle and so the sources are hard to pin down. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. The difference between us and chimps, genetically, is small – yet look at the impact that difference makes. The claims of observational bias given in the article you cite work both ways – you do realize that, right?

            Nature vs nurture? It’s definitely a mix of both. You, in your typical all-or-nothing, binary approach to the world, are throwing out nature altogether. Big surprise there!

            Like I say, Em – feminist ideology over science is itself a form of sexism.

          • About ten seconds.

            There are many of them….because in spite of people wanting things to be neat and simple….black/white….binary….whatever….they are not.

            Everyone on the planet is an individual….so these group stereotypes are silly and artificial……not all boys think like other boys, not all girls think like other girls, gays, lesbians don’t think like other kids….or like each other.

            We already have RC schools, Jewish and Muslim ones, a national FN school system, a black school in Toronto….it’s just another excuse for segregation, and some people getting a poorer education than others. We group people by gender, color, religion, age….and it’s all artificial.

            Groupthink is nonthink.

          • In the context of this debate to say everyone is an individual and that gender norms do not exist opens the question how you think humanity really is?

            If we are all unique individuals psychologically and behaviorally and our biological sex says nothing more about us than the fact we are anatomically different, you are basically saying we are blank slates, one and all.

            That the biological fact that women carry and give birth to life and that for millions of years of men were obligated to compete for mating rights and took the role of protector and provider has nothing to say about how we are today.

            How do you explain the greater size and strength of males if our evolutionary history has nothing to do with how we are today?

            How do you explain stronger monogamous and maternal instincts in females if our evolutionary history plays no part?

            And most of all if our most fundamental definitions of what constitutes male and female are worthless and we are nothing but blank slates then surely LGBT, black and Muslim identities are of even less consequence as they don’t even have a tenuous connection with anatomy and biology.

            I realise you are denying all group difference but the same cannot be said for most who deny gender differences.

            If one denies gender difference one should be just as opposed to anything which caters to or acknowledges sexual, religious and racial identity but from my experience those who want to deny gender difference want to celebrate and protect racial, sexual and cultural/religious identity as long as it’s not heterosexual, white or Christian.

            I see a glaring double standard here.

          • I see the human race evolving…..from a bunch of monkeys in trees, that basic tribal society, and purely biological…..to conscious thinking individuals. Learning and moving forward…eventually to the stars.

            There are, of course, some who prefer to remain in the trees…on the veldt….throwing faeces and shrieking. Their choice, but they can’t be allowed to harm the rest of us.

            Here’s to evolution….!

          • Hey, you’re the binary thinker – not me.

            As it happens I agree with a number of your points – we are all individuals, and segregation by race, sex or religion for education is not a good thing. It fosters divisiveness and intolerance and leads to narrowed world views.

            But you’re wandering off target here; this particular exchange began with Smutka’s assertion – based in part on the article – that our current educational processes systemically discriminate against males (as seen by the disparity in levels of educational achievement between males and females).

            You pooh-pooh the notion that there is any biological, sex-based difference between the way males and females think. I and several others have disputed that (& I may come back to it in a bit), but since you think the issue is society-based, and given this is a recent problem within our society, where do you think we went wrong and how do you propose we get back on track to providing equal educational experiences regardless of gender? (And no, telling guys to “suck it up” is not an answer; it is a cop-out.)

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          • This comment was deleted.

      • I agree, education should take into account individuality but not sacrifice the vast majority of people who will instinctively choose traditional gender roles. I understand this first hand being both a school drop out who found the feminized way of learning impossible to work with and as someone whose sexual identity, sexuality and gender role are far from traditional.

        Anyway if feminists truly wanted education tailored for individuals it wouldn’t seek to do away with traditionally masculine learning processes and create feminized touchy feely ones.

        How can you really care about individuals if you don’t care about the individuals who want to be traditionally masculine and feminine?

        • Leave feminists out of it….that is just a red herring.

          I went to school in the 40’s and 50s…..ALL the teachers were female. I didn’t even know there WERE male teachers until high school. And boys did just fine. Better than now in fact.

          So don’t tell me about ‘traditional’. Or how you are into creationism and religion.

          It’s the 21st century. We know better now.

          • You didn’t read my post. I am not a creationist. I said the way feminists deny biology and the effects of evolution on the divergent sexes was comparative to the way creationists deny evolution.

          • I said you were going back to the creationist way of thinking about gender….’where the men are men, and the women are women, and the sheep are nervous…..’ etc

            No one is denying biology Oliver….they are calling the interpretation of it wrong….because it’s not objective. It’s not science. It suits an agenda.

            We don’t know that much about biology…..what we do know has often been wrong…..and we make parts of it up.

          • You have completely misread what I said. The traditional way of teaching didn’t allow for individual choices. I specifically said our education system should cater for the vast majority who conform as well as the minority (like myself) who do not conform to traditional gender roles.

            You only want to cater for the minority in futile hopes based on feminist dogma which flies in the face of hard evidence to the contrary.

            The interpretation isn’t wrong. As I stated earlier

            “the research on newborn babies shows the majority of girls gravitate towards toys with faces and boys gravitate towards mechanical toys long before society can coerce them into these roles”

            How else could you interpret this?

          • And I don’t agree that the education system should cater for the ‘vast majority who conform’…..because there is no such majority.

            Nor should we have separate schools who cater to LGBT etc.

            This is about the individual human mind…NOT people divided into cultural groups.

            I haven’t the slightest interest in ‘feminist dogma’….or even what you think is feminist dogma. This has nothing to do with feminism.

            And you’ve been told that the ‘studies’ on newborns are bosh.

          • You are just denying reality, if there is no majority who conform to traditional gender roles then your work is done. You can stand down but the thing is you know most of us will conform to traditional roles you just cannot accept that as it doesn’t fit your unscientific world view.

            You started out saying the interpretation of the science was wrong now you are saying the science is “bosh”

            Which is it?

          • There is no majority who conform to ‘traditional’ gender roles…..we see that every day as more people come out as LGBTI etc.

            They’ve been hiding….but there all along, and that my friend, is science.

          • I am a bisexual man and ex cross dresser who is engaged to a wonderful trans woman so I know personally first hand we do not all conform to the gender norms.

            Please don’t assume that because you are touting the “gender is a social construct” dogma that you are the enlightened, open minded one debating a bunch of traditionalist conservative dinosaurs.

            I have stated already that gender roles are not a rule, but as natural as us LGBT people are we are still a minority and always will be.

            It seems you are saying LGBT people are the norm and the norm doesn’t exist and that you think you have science on your side!

            Your posts are getting more and more anti scientific as you go on.

            Keep digging

          • Pay careful attention, and stop misquoting me.

            GENDER is not a social construct. Gender is what you are born. How we treat and teach people because of old UNSCIENTIFIC OUTDATED beliefs about gender is a social construct.

            Maybe LGBT people will always be a minority, maybe not. We have no idea how many there even are, so we can’t tell.

            And people change genders….still difficult now, but easier in the future.

            Now try and understand this part before moving on.

          • Funny that you would accuse me of misquoting you when you have persistently miss represented my posts.

            (I haven’t actually quoted you at all, just disputed what I interpret to be your positions. Maybe I have misinterpreted your position but I have not misquoted you. At least get your criticism right)

            Now onto your points.

            First you are showing your ignorance. Biological sex is what you are born with, gender is how you express and identify with your biological sex.

            As I said we are a sexually diomorphic species and our evolutionary/genetic instinct is to reproduce. To say you think LGBT people could be a majority shows how profoundly ignorant of biology you are.

            The fact that you still seem to be lecturing me on transgender issues when I have told you I am a bisexual man engaged to a trans woman just shows you are not bothering to read my posts.

          • I said nothing like that….you are simply making stuff up.

            I have no interest in trying to talk to someone who does that.

            Ciao

          • I made up nothing. Everything I replied to you said.

            You said I misquoted you, I pointed out I hadn’t actually quoted any of your text.

            You said gender was what we were born with rather than biological sex. I corrected you.

            You implied that it was possible that LGBT people could actually be the majority, I pointed out the absurdity of such a claim.

            I fail to see what your objection is, what exactly did I make up?

          • If you can’t discuss a subject without being silly, then don’t bother….I haven’t the time.

            I said Ciao.

          • So you can’t point to me making anything up, you just reassert that you think I have made stuff up and like a child take your ball home and refuse to play.

            Off you pop

          • …says the master of silly.

          • Please stop trying… LOL!

          • PS: Who says the studies are “bosh”, gender studies ideologues or other biologists and developmental psychologists?

            This is peer reviewed science and requires more than some gender studies hack or a commentator on a blog calling it “bosh” to discredit.

            It requires peer reviewed refutation by another developmental psychologist or biologist. Anything else is……bosh

          • Emily says it. So that should be good enough for us all (or so she thinks).


          • I haven’t the slightest interest in ‘feminist dogma’….or even what you think is feminist dogma. This has nothing to do with feminism.”
            To borrow one of your favourite lines: AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

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          • “You have completely misread what I said.”
            It’s her trademark; you’ll get used to it… or not. I’ve suggested remedial reading courses on more than one occasion.

      • We have a silly gender division right now… over 85% of elementary teachers actually teaching (not counting administrators) in elementary schools are women in Ontario. So my son didn’t have a single male teacher for the most formative years of his education. He and his buddies – were repeatedly left with the impression that “school was for girls” because the teachers, the rules, the “sit down, shut up and listen to the woman at the front of the classroom” mentality… all mitigated against his boyness. He survived thankfully and is headed into… you guessed it… engineering… but no thanks to all the women – including his female highschool guidance counselor who told him “you aren’t smart enough to be an engineer” – that discouraged, reprimanded and outlawed so many aspects of what was central to his identity… the fact he was male.

        Paying male teachers more to teach in the Venus-worshipping covens that most elementary schools have become… instead of gravitating to admin jobs or escaping to high school would be one solution to this problem.

        But good luck getting that by the teacher’s unions… they don’t care about students success… especially if those students happen to be boys.

        • I went to school in the 40s and 50s and all the teachers were women. I didn’t even know there WERE male teachers.

          The boys all turned out just fine….better than today in fact. So don’t tell me about ‘boyness’. That’s usually an excuse for poor behavior and lazy parents.

          When I was in first year high school I went to the guidance counsellor…..and he told me that as long as I could bake bread and change diapers I’d be fine…..and not to worry about any career.

          He then refused to give me the brochures I had requested.

          So I have nooooo sympathy.

          • Hahaha… let me get this straight… 2 wrongs make a right?

          • I said you are not unique….such is life.

          • Right… so because “such is life” we should do nothing about 50% of the kids being purposely shut out of real achievement due to the female-centric teaching methods and school environments?

            We wouldn’t stand for this in health care or social services or engineering or any other field… why do we stand for it in education?

            Because men are on “outs” and no one cares, just like you EmilyOne. You are officially part of the problem not the solution.

          • There is no ‘female-centric’ teaching. Math is math. Geography is geography. Get a grip fergawdsake.

          • Read the article, which you obviously haven’t given your lack of grasp of the basic concepts at issue here. When rudimentary boyishness is outlawed and all the authority figures are female it is absolutely stacked in favour of girls.

          • Rubbish. ‘School marms’ have been a fixture for a couple of centuries.

            ‘Rudimentary boyishness’…..Snort!

            More to the point is why you hate women.

          • Right so instead of addressing the facts, figures and arguments in typical lib fashion you just start slinging mud? Point GenWTF (waving goodbye EmilyOne)

          • Oooh no answer eh?

            Stay in the closet then.

            Ciao.

            PS….not a lib…or dipper….sorry.

          • And no one is arguing that we go back to a system where boys are forced into the military and girls chained to the cooker. You are strawmanning.

          • My mother went to school in the 40s and 50s. She became a scientist, quit, raised kids, then went back to being a scientist. She actually did far better as far as lifetime salary and benefits then a similar person today would do without taking time off for raising kids.

            EmilyOne the people you should be talking to are mothers who have both sons and daughters in school. These are the people who told me that their little girls are getting much more support and encouragement than their little boys.

            It’s not who is doing the teaching but how it’s done. In fact you confirm what the author, a woman who had a son in school, says in the book. That boys aren’t doing as well as in school as they used to, not just compared to girls.

          • People see what they want to see. There is no reason for boys to be having problems, but it certainly sells books.

            Excuses usually do.

          • ” There is no reason for boys to be having problems,”

            So it just happens, and we should STFU and live with it? niiice!

            You DO know the definition of insanity, right? Or are you secretly GLAD that boys aren’t getting an equal education these days?

            Oh and BTW the problem may not be the sex of the teacher as much as the change in attitudes and teaching methods… which goes right back to the author’s point that we need a mix of teaching styles to accomodate learning styles. That would be true even if you ignore the male/female rift and just focus on individual needs.

        • sounds like some really crappy parenting went on, here. Way to blame everyone but the person responsible for the childs upbringing.

          • Is it my fault the Ontario education system is a feminist coven run at the expense of young boys? Is it my fault that female dominated teacher unions to take any steps to address the near universally accepted poor performance of boys across the board? sounds more like some crappy reasoning on your part GFMD.

          • hey keeping blaming everyone except the kid who didn’t have the skills until the game changed to suit his little needs. keep telling him its not his fault it’s women.

            sounds like he’ll be just a wonderful success in life.

          • IN 2013 when boys… not counting my son who did… are twice as likely as girls to NOT graduate high school there is a problem. We wouldn’t stand for girls to be twice as likely to suffer any similar travesty but as your comments evidence blaming the victim is a real industry in Canada these days and I am sad to see GFMD you are joining in the chorus. What’s next for you? Shutting down cancer bike-a-thons “cause those people smoked/drank/ate too much”?

        • I don’t think the gender of the teacher is relevant. All my best teachers were females.

        • As the mother of two boys, I really sympathize with what you say because I am directly concerned with educating my own kids in a way that actually furthers rather than inhibits their development. I guess it’s why I can’t be so flippant and dismissive of the issues discussed here.

          And I do think that some boys quite evidently display traits that are what we would now call “traditionally masculine” – competitiveness, a playful roughness, etc. And although my kids are very young, I have noticed already when I took my oldest to preschool that any expression of these traits was stifled by the sappiest feminizing indoctrination. Even something as innocent as the boys deciding to race each other across the room to their new play table was lightly but quite noticeably discouraged. Any competitive spirit some kids might yearn to show and develop is systematically stifled, and the sad thing is that when this is done, the teacher basically rips out the very motive that led that child to learning. Some kids, whether we like it or not, thrive under competitive learning environment. It’s the teacher’s job to accept that and work with that to further the student’s wellbeing as much as s/he can.

          Now I think young kids develop far more than abstract cognitive skills from a teacher; they seem to learn a lot more simply through confrontation with -personalities-. And since this is when their own identity (including gender identity) develops, if they show “traditionally masculine traits,” presumably the teachers should be prepared to encourage those natural inclinations and to channel them to positive learning. Instead, these inclinations are extirpated, and the children are indoctrinated to be other than they are. This is not only unethical teaching, imho, but it is also impractical, because by doing this you have paralysed the impulse that leads to learning for those kids.

      • I think you are confused. She is not trying to bring back gender division. She is in fact, doing as you say, trying to promote education for individuals ie. by acknowledging the different learning styles of people. It just so happens that boys tend to flock to a particular way of learning. So should we reprimand the schools for offering a particular style of learning that one gender appears to favor? If it is true that social constructs create this behavior in males to favor a particular learning style, then perhaps your beef should be social constructions, rather than with the schools that are catering to particular learning styles.

        • No….I’m not confused. I’ve seen this nonsense dozens of times in my life.. she’s just the latest to try and cash in on it.

          We’ve had segregated schools for centuries….it ensures that women get a lousy education while men get a good one…..and that men and women meet for the first time as adults and haven’t a clue about each other. NOT good for society.

          ‘It just so happens……….’ No it doesn’t.

          Math, geography, history, reading, literature….are just subjects. They don’t have a gender. There is no male/female way to teach them.

          • The difference in what she is proposing is that nobody is forcing the males and females to go to particular schools. She is just making an observation that a majority of males seem to excel better under particular learning environments; while females excel under different ones. If we offer these schools, and most the males and females choose to segregate themselves by their choices, is it our place to force them to do otherwise? Should we force on them some integrated learning environment that caters to nobody, simply so that the gender ratio will hold equal?

          • Gender aside, are you willing to acknowledge that some people learn differently and excel better under different learning environments? So if we were to make these learning environments available, and it just so happens that it causes gender segregation as a latent affect, would you then want to rip down the schools on the sole basis that it encourages gender segregation?

          • EVERYone learns differently. We are individuals, not groups.

            We left tribes behind thousands of years ago.

            Let everyone learn via computer….at their own speed….and past a basic subject core…their own interests.

            Leave segregation and other such cultural nonsense behind with the shamans.

          • Sure. Sounds good. I’m not sure computer learning will work for all subjects, but it is certainly showing much promise.

          • A developmental psychologist would bristle at this conversation. Honestly, expecting a child at the concrete operational stage of development to sit in front of a computer in order to acquire their education will probably breed a generation of alienated zombies who have difficulties connecting not only to each other, but to their world. They may quite simply not acquire the cognitive skills we acquire only through social interaction and through manipulation of concrete materials, as one can do in some kind of learning environment. An -environment-, that is the key, for kids are not brains in vats. So to me it really seems we’re dodging the issue of creating an education that works for ALL by simply appealing to the educational shopping mall of the internet and computer gurus, which may work for an adult, but a developing mind??

          • Although young people need much more than computer learning. People are not born with interests. They need inspiration, and often a good teacher can offer that inspiration, if they can’t get it from home.

          • So can being online.

          • So very true. I have great expectations for the future of social networks and internet learning. Maybe these technologies can give us everything individuals need to achieve their own ideal of success without having to fit into traditional social frameworks imposed upon them.

          • Ahhhh a point of agreement.

            Cheers!

          • Oh goodness no! We should never teach children ANYthing! Just let them do what they want! Segregating males and females or blacks and whites or FN and Canadians….I mean what could possibly go wrong hmmm?

          • You are missing the point. Nobody is trying to segregate anyone. Maybe this more blatant comparison is more clear to you. Shall we ban Philosophy? Since it is dominated by 90% males? And in its stead…. hmmm lets merge Philosophy with some female dominated subject like Psychology. With these disciplines merged the numbers are relatively even. Now gender aside, anyone who wants to get a Psychology degree *must* also do high-level philosophy, even though they hate it and have no interest in it – just so that we can keep the gender ratio even. Make sense to you? Your claim of *segregation* on the proposition of creating schools that cater to different learning styles is tantamount to claiming that a University is segregating, by offering a philosophy degree.

          • Girls classes and boy’s classes. Girls schools and boys schools.

            Segregation

            Subjects have no relevance at the moment….it’s only recently in history women have been allowed into most of them. So bit by bit they are moving into all subjects. This will include philosophy….and engineering and math and computer science etc.

            No one is trying to ‘keep the gender ratio even’. They just opened everything up. People take what they want to.

            Only culture holds them back. That’ll pass.

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  7. I’d say that the Education Establishment wants to dumb down all children, but attacks boys with special ferocity.

    There are many gimmicks but the most devastating one is teaching boys to read in a way that doesn’t work. This way is variously named: Whole Word, Balanced Literacy, Sight-Words, etc. Reject these and demand phonics. Children should learn to read in the first grade; otherwise parents should picket the principal’s office.

    The second worst gimmick teaches arithmetic in a way that doesn’t work. This is generally known as Reform Math, which is a tumor in all of its variations. Reject Reform Math and insist on Saxon Math or similar.

    The thing that parents have to know is that the schools will lie. “Oh, your boy is getting plenty of phonics.” That’s right there with “the check’s in the mail.” They have to lie because almost everything they do is, at bottom, a sophistry and a trick.

    @educatt

    • Don’t forget the culture war against malehood.
      Most obvious in the ban on books and stories that model male virtues or activities, such as competition, risk-taking, curiosity, independence, stoicism, silence, chivalry, action, and exploration.
      Anyone for a hunting story?
      Also, at certain key levels and ages — crucial ones — it’s impossible for the feminized teaching profession to serve the male learner — esp.now that curricular male-bashing is the vogue.

      • I am a woman, but I daresay it is true. Just take a literature class, and you’re bound to be enlisted for a “machismo” hunt. It makes me sick how much ink is spilled to prove how “sexist” love poems written by men are (or just about anything they write, no matter how abstract). Just the word “machismo” says it all: feminist critics love to vilify all traditionally male virtues, and as a society, I believe, we followed suit. Much of the material for our comedies is provided by males attempting to embody traditionally male virtues, only to be made fools of in the process. The fact that we find this systematic deflation of all things male humorous says a great deal in favour of the author’s argument.

        • nicely put!

    • Parent’s need to spend more time with their children, but due to cost of living, both parents are forced to have a full time career. Parents need to supplement their children’s education.

  8. So the study found that when kids did school in the mornings and airplane stuff in the afternoon they did better at school? Well duh, they only had half as much to learn.

  9. 40% of my engineering class was female at arguably one of the best engineering schools in Canada. Many of us graduated at the top of our class. I really am sick of stereotypes, and Christina is just making money from stoking the fires further.

    • No she has the statistics and science on her side. You just have anecdotal evidence.

      • Please divulge the statistics and science to which you refer? My understanding is that this is still contentious, otherwise people like Christina wouldn’t have jobs.

        • How many researchers are being sent out to document this? By whom, the feminist establishment in education? Rofl. Denial is a key weapon in the war on boys.

          The research that is done is done by politically incorrect foundations, which guarantees that you, ed-school feminist, would have an excuse to sneer at it.

        • You might want to look into Simon Baron Cohen’s work for a start. It’s all out there you just don’t want to admit it

    • Engineering is not as bad a some subjects. I have a few women in my family who also majored in engineering. How about philosophy? How many women are majoring in that?

  10. I wanted to take auto shop in high school but was strongly discouraged by the guidance councillors since it was an all-male class that would have made things uncomfortable for me. That was a real shame and I suspect much of the data that Christina cites about preferences fits into this category of being discouraged from stepping outside the prescribed, perceived gender norms.

  11. It’s appalling to know that such a text is written by a female and yes I feel that she is anti woman. Our young men are not in trouble nor are they ignored in schools. Boys who come from upper or middle class families do just as well in school as girls, maybe better as their parents invest more in their sons. Girls who come from lower class families do just as poorly in schools as boys do, actually worse, as their parents, still invest more in their sons over over their daughters. These parents feel that the role of their daughter is to stay home and the son is the one who gives added status to the family. The mentality among lower socio economic classes is that boys bring wealth to the family. Which is not the case, as parents spoil their sons, especially immigrant parents. Their sons are not expected to contribute to household chores, take care of younger siblings, they are not told to go out and work(their parents provide for them), they don’t contribute to the household economically as they are not requested to, nor do they take care of their aging parents, which is ironic as this is the prime reason why parents, especially immigrants prefer sons. In essence the daughters are requested to contribute to the family economically, contribute to household chores, take care of siblings and take care of aging parents, especially if she is the eldest and first born girl. To make matters worse the girls, especially the eldest girl, get nothing in return for their services-inheritance, it goes to their sons. This injustice produces bad husbands, brothers, fathers and students. I wish that Hoff Sommers would have done some deeper research before putting her piece together. We live in Canada, a first world nation, although women are to be treated as equals it is not a reality, by far it is a very distant one.

    In regards to her point about steering women into male dominant careers, in order to gain better income. It does not appeal to may women, mainly because their male counterparts do not make them feel welcome, this is still an issue today. The small percentage of women who work in male dominated fields are marginalized by their male colleagues, which is not the case with males who work in female dominated fields. They are not given the opportunity to show their true potential, but often given tasks/roles that these women do not find challenging and fulfilling. They are seldom promoted. What I don’t understand is and nobody to date has made this observation is, why is the pay in female dominated professions so little? When will this change? The jobs that females preform are equally as important as the ones that males do, or more important, however our efforts go unnoticed. We are the unsung heros. Given the fact that we live in the 21 century, in Canada females are still paid considerably less then males. There is a ways to go in terms of gender equality in this country/world. The boys are all right.

    Perhaps, feminism has made lives more difficult for women as they are carrying on more responsibility then men. Many males today would rather not go to work, but sit at home while their wives go to work and bring in the income. these males don’t even contribute to household chores, nor help with child rearing. It’s unfair that a woman is pregnant for nine months, goes through excruciating pain, has her genitals ripped apart when she is in labour and her husband does nothing to contribute to the family. He’d rather not even go to work. Women today have kids, they go to work, when they come home they are expected to clean house, take care of children as well as husband, who has done nothing all day long. Most men would prefer not to work or seek employment that pays less then their wives because they don’t want to pay child support or support their wives should they get divorced. Ladies nothing has gotten better for us. With each step forward we have taken, men have brought us ten steps back with their anti women bashing groups. These men don’t form groups because they feel victimized, but because they feel threatened, they feel insecure. This probelm is evident all over the world. Men have oppressed women and they still continue to do so by control and intimidation. All the while men still get away with abusing their wives, daughters and sisters, as well as get away with rape, saying that they now have a condition referred to sexomnia, What an AWFUL excuse!!!! I cannot believe that this is being validated in this country, who are our judges running the courts? Males. Nothing much has changed, we don’t need to look beyond our border to see that the situation in Canada is a s bad as it is in the Middle East/Asia.

    We have a lot to work on to improve things for girls and women in this country. We need more women in leadership roles, more women in government holding high positions, etc. We still have not had our first female Prime Minister-Kim Campbell does count, as she was not elected and only served as a filler. Canada should be ashamed as there third world countries with females running the country. I don’t consider this a first world country,as all the programs geared towards improving women’s lives are usually cut when times are tough. There needs to be programs in place for women who wish to pursue leadership roles and do not have the financial capability of doing so. Women are generally poorer then males.

    • It is fairly well documented that girls are outperforming boys at all levels of education, in all socioeconomic brackets. This includes in traditionally “male” subjects like mathematics and science, by the way. I don’t know where you’re getting your figures from. Girls have better literacy rates, lower dropout rates, are more likely to go to college or university and come out with better GPAs when they do. You might want to do your own homework before you accuse others of the same problem.

      Honestly, this whole diatribe strikes me as unbelievably misandrist.

      Here’s some figures from statscan
      http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/200410/7423-eng.htm

  12. Sounds like we need to get a better grasp of the thinking types these children embody and then create schools to cater to these thinking types; regardless of whether it is boys or girls that dominate certain thinking types.

  13. Social constructionist theories lead to infinite regress. Neofeminists say we’re tailored to fit social roles, that the particular shape or form we take is culturally- and socially-coded into us. Our differences are coded into us by society, and there is no natural difference between the male and female experience. All right, but then who’s the tailor? Who took up the scissors and fabric and thread first? A human being, wired to cognize the world within certain parameters. On what basis does said human being base its decisions as to how to tailor these materials? You could call it human nature. The thing is more plastic, multiform and elusive than we ever considered (brain plasticity certainly makes things more interesting and complex than we ever thought), but unless we refer to it as the ground upon which “social constructions” unfold, we’re led into infinite regress.

    The whole house of cards that is the ideology of social construction of human nature (including of our “gendered” nature) will be blown to nothing once you recognize the (logically necessary) fact that our social constructions must further the ends and
    development of -human nature-. These constructions are NOT created ex-nihilo, and imposed blindly on some infinitely malleable stuff. It makes no sense whatever to think that our minds are some shapeless putty until the cookie cutters of society are applied to it: even putty offers a certain inner resistance to shaping that determines its possibilities for shaping! Instead, whatever forms we can tailor and “construct” for ourselves must fit within these natural divisions and limitations.

    The trouble comes when some reactionary dogmatist comes along and takes some partial understanding of human nature and makes it canonical. This is not what the author seems to be doing here. She seems to have forged an intermediary position between two dogmatisms : the reactionaries on one hand who hold up some schematic picture of human nature normatively, and the neofeminists on the other who dogmatically deny human nature and sexual difference. Instead, the author acknowledges it isn’t -practical- to deny human nature and the differences that effortlessly seek expression, any more than it is practical to constrain human nature to fit into an overly restrictive schematic that represents how we currently are able to conceive of our differences. -Both- educational tactics inhibit our natural unfolding. She seems to suggest that we -let- natural differences and inclinations find their fullest expression. Any educator who would, for the sake of his/her pet dogma, disallow this expression and unfolding of our natural inclinations, clearly cares less about the wellbeing of his students than he does about his own prejudiced, politically-biased notions – and this is true whether he be a reactionary or a neofeminist.

    • In a Canadian, tax-funded campus, I have seen the men in an entire (mandatory) class required to produce papers (or other vehicles) which demonstrated their own gender-based privilege and which proposed a sort of penance for it. The projects were not allowed to be tongue-in-cheek.

      There were no projects mandated for the female students, in the same class, that explored the question of whether feminist dogma was founded or fiction.

    • Well said.

    • “even putty offers a certain inner resistance to shaping that determines its possibilities for shaping!” Yes. Perfect analogy. This is why I directed you to this article. I wanted to say something along these lines, as you’ve made this point before and I found it very illuminating, but I didn’t quite have the words to express it. Most people seem to only consider the genetic programming, or the cultural influences, but they don’t consider anything in between. I think the author made it pretty clear that her focus is on finding ways to cater to to people who have a clear inclination towards certain modes of learning, whether they be male or female. This just so happens to also lead her to point out that a great deal of males have been affected in our inability to do so. Ultimately, it does not have to be about males vs. females, but instead about figuring out what sort of learning works best to different individuals – if it so happens that more males or females flock to a particular style of learning, then so be it. It is not for us to decide, but the individuals themselves.

  14. The men and boys are doing just fine, they may be out preformed by girls during their academic careers, however regardless of education level,men still find jobs that pay CONSIDERABLY MORE then jobs that women work in. The real problem really lies in bridging the gap between salaries that women bring home verses the ones men bring home. Women work and study considerably harder then men do in school, the same goes for every other area in their lives, however once they finish their academic studies, and enter the work force many find themselves in low paying dead end jobs. Where’s the justice? Should womens’ jobs not be valued as much as male dominated jobs? In retrospect jobs that women work in are generally more important then the ones men work in, however the value and importance of their jobs is considerably overlooked.

    There clearly seems to be a lot of female bashing here from many angry men in denial.

    • Well good heavens, someone with a brain! Thank you!

      Yes, a lot of misogynists show up here….dunno why.

      Men who haven’t thought very deeply about Life I guess….or themselves obviously.

    • Actually you are wrong. There is no pay gap. Women get equal pay for equal work, where it differentiates is when work life balance and career choices come in. Female doctors tend to specialise in more nurturing but lower paid fields. As in women are more likely to be general practitioners than surgeons. Women are more likely to choose jobs or hours which frees them up to devote time to family etc

      There is no old boy network conspiring to keep women out of certain professions or on a lower pay bracket. That is a conspiracy theory plain and simple. All of the evidence points to you being incorrect.

      And it’s not misogynistic to say these things. It’s empirical reality you have issues with not men.

    • Since this article is really about education (and the imperatives of finding educational solutions that work for all), I find it hard to understand why people drag red herrings such as the old feminism vs conservatism dichotomy over this whole issue. As I said below, I read the article as proceeding from a genuine commitment to discovering educational solutions that DO satisfy ALL. Partisan interests surely are secondary to educational considerations, whether they be reactionary or neofeminist or whatever. Somehow we need to move beyond these stupid limiting categories and deal with the issues of educating young minds in a way that does justice to their full complexity.

      I am actually surprised so much vitriol has been spilled on the comments for this article; to me it seems so obviously good-intentioned, that only the most rank ideologue could possibly fail to note that an imbalance has been created in ONE aspect of our society (boys’ upbringing) and that it needs to be redressed. Sure, there are other imbalances still to be worked out on the side of women’s treatment, but these really have nothing to do with the focus of this article, do they? Does an imbalance on women’s side justify creating an artificial imbalance for young boys?

    • And if some people have felt that they were cheated out of a real education because their needs to express and explore certain aspects of their nature were inhibited by teacher-ideologues, then is it really fair to say “Oh, you’re really fine”? If such a reply were given to a woman, everyone would be up in arms and eager to prove the workings of a patriarchal conspiracy. The logic here is just becoming absurdly skewed.

  15. There are some very simple things parents and teachers can do to help boys be successful, well integrated learners and members of our society. Boys do, indeed, learn differently, but that learning style can be used to attain the 21st century skills they need along with developing the empathy and collaborative skills they need.

    Dr. Edmond J. Dixon
    http://www.helpingboyslearn.com

  16. Well,I’m sure I’d get PLENTY of grief from at least SOME other boys were I a student in today’s schools because I was-AND AM!!!!!-cover boy handsome,genius-level intelligent (I skipped Grade Three and until my innate boredom gave back Grade Ten via repeating,I was a year younger than my boy classmates,which emphasized my small size;my IQ is between 150-160,and I began to read at two-and-one-half) and quite unathletic,but it would be other black male students who’d shun and perhaps bully me because to them,I wouldn’t be “black,i.e.,street enough.” {I was a big British Invasion fan in Grade School,a rocker dude in high school,a Country music fan since my early thirties-I’m sixty-one-and speak and comprehend the language at a 16.4,i.e.,post-graduate university student level.To top it off,then and now,I prefer buxom blondes and Latinas)
    Yes,Ms. Summers in right about today’s “boy crisis,” but the plight of smaller,handsome,unathletic and/or brainy lads seems overlooked!!!!!