The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It's always an eye-opener when a really good look at statistics shows some glaring errors in widely held assumptions. It's even more of an eye opener to realize that some of your own carefully held assumptions are wrong.
This book, published in 2001, seems kind of political and reactionary, but that is only the fault of the title. The contents are much more revealing.
Feminism is political. This should not be surprising. We see it everywhere. Some a***holes take it way too far. What we have in America's school systems (and probably quite a few other places as well) is a climate where we are told that girls are being held back by the patriarchy, that their voices are not being heard, and that all boys should be more like girls.
No joke. I was in the school system when this was really getting started. I bought into it, myself. Even thought of myself as a feminist. Yes. I'm a white male feminist. Or, at least, I thought I should have been. I kept trying to be more feeling and thoughtful and in touch with my feelings. I valued cooperation over competition. I felt bad because I was a boy. Boys are violent. Boys are rapists. Boys the embodiment of the patriarchy that has done so much to transparently ruin women.
I was indoctrinated. And I bought it, hook, line, and sinker.
So what do I learn here? I went through college and got a degree in Psychology and English Literature in the mid 90's and learned a lot about education. The big keys were inclusion and tolerance and above all, making sure that women have all the benefits that had been taken from them in the past. I thought I approved of this.
I also found myself not being heard. I, as a male, surrounded by hundreds of academic studies revolving around a certain Carol Gilligan, then a superstar of feminist studies and the leader of the movement to change all our schools into this bright feminist ideal, was quoted everywhere. I didn't bat an eyelash. I studied more feminists and wanted to see more equality between the sexes. I got upset with every revelation of rape, abuse, and wage differential.
So, after all this time, thinking that it's only individual bad apples who like to say things like "murder all men", I held to my beliefs anyway.
So what do I believe after realizing that Carol Gilligan had fudged research data, hid sources, and used a very limited several thousand student sample in her study? Remember, she was the foundation of hundreds of similar papers and books that became the forefront of a full politicized movement. A movement that transformed almost every school in the nation based on faulty data.
A later study using a hundred thousand samples show a very different picture, and yet the weight of the political movement could not be stopped.
What did it report?
Little things like girls are twice as likely to be heard in class. That boys are much more likely to give up an not take tests like the SAT or the ACT, leaving only the very confident to take the tests, whereas girls almost always take them. That girls are more confident and self-reported happy in schools than boys.
And it didn't stop there. I went to many many in-school campaigns brought up in this book. Campaigns with a clear agenda where I was told about date rape, bullying (that was always bent toward unwanted sexual advances to girls), talking about my feelings, being inclusive, and never, ever, ever violent.
Remember, this is 2001 when the book came out. We were already seeing a whole generation of boys be told to be just like girls. That we should all be ashamed of what and who we are regardless of what we may or may not have ever done. I knew a lot of them that took it to heart like I did. Who bought the indoctrination.
Of course, after about 12 years of this, we get a complete eroding of value systems and a complete blindfolding of the educational system as to what BOYS ARE. They respond very differently to teaching techniques as compared to girls. It's NOT all learned. They're rambunctious. They do need strict limits and precise indoctrination into values. They respond to active play much stronger than girls, learn from scuffles and a lot of competition AND form very strong and beneficial ties with other boys through it. This is real. And yet the system is devoted to wiping out all the things that most boys are, naturally.
I'm speaking in general terms and ignoring outliers.
And it's getting worse. It's an ideology that ignores basic reality.
You know what opened my eyes back in the day? Fight Club. For how amazingly F***ed-up it was, it absolutely spoke to me on many other levels. It was the repudiation of all the indoctrination I had gone through.
I still don't want to hurt anyone. I still believe in equality. But by the actual numbers and the harmful teaching practices and the direction all this is taking us, I now fully agree with the conclusion.
Boys (and of course, men) are well on the way to becoming the "second sex". Just look at some of the stats in this book already and you'll see. College grads make more money, but 38% of men go in while 51% of women do. That margin has probably increased in the near 20 years since this book was published.
I'd love to see how many men are severely depressed or have gone through long periods of depression, listlessness, and despair after going through the school system. I know I did. I also improved a TON after getting into college. I was surrounded by a much healthier atmosphere.
I bought into the lies. I didn't realize I was being downgraded just because I was male. I wonder if a lot of this is the direct cause of some men's backlash. Anger, turned to violence, after having so many of their natural play and learning impulses quashed, being told that they were all rapists in training, that most of our natural desires were not to be channeled into appropriate directions, but told that they were simply and baldly BAD.
Of course, I'm not saying that we're all unaccountable to our own actions. Of course we are. But I'll admit that I am rather angry that I have not had any positive male role models.
I was brought up to be a girl. I love women. I thought that was okay.
It's just a shame... this dog was taught to use the kitty-litter box and meow for affection.
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