The war against boys

Here are some excerpts from the first (2000) edition of
The War Against Boys by Christina Hoff Sommers.

[From chapter 3, on page 87.]

Daniel Goleman, a science writer at the New York Times
and author of Emotional Intelligence [writes]
“By age 13 … girls become more adept than boys at artful aggressive tactics like
ostracism, vicious gossip, and indirect vendettas….
Boys, by and large, simply continue being confrontational when angered,
oblivious to those more covert strategies.”

[This excerpt is near the end of chapter 7, on page 178.]

[T]he academic plight of boys has not yet even been identified as a serious problem
by either the government or the educational establishment.
Boys are still not on the agenda.
The media’s interest in boys is focused not on their academic deficits
but on their potential for violence.
Then, too, the child-centered, therapeutic style of education under which boys do not do well
appears deeply entrenched in many of our “best” school systems.

[This excerpt is near the end of chapter 8, on pages 205-6.]

Jerry Harrington has been teaching for almost thirty years.

[H]e says no one seems to be focused on boys.
“Every time I turn around,
if there is an event or program where someone is going to be lifted up and encouraged,
it’s for girls.”

[This excerpt is the conclusion of her book.]

An unacknowledged animus against boys is loose in our society.
The women who design events such as Son’s Day,
who write antiharassment guides,
who gather in workshops to determine how to change boys’ “gender schema”
barely disguise their anger and disapproval.
Others, who bear no malice to boys, nevertheless do not credit them with sanity and health, for they regard the average boy as alienated, lonely, emotionally repressed, isolated, at odds with his masculinity, and prone to violence.
These “save-the-male” critics of boys start out by giving boys a failing grade.
They join the girl partisans in calling for radical change in the way American males are socialized: only by raising boys to be more like girls can we help them become “real boys.”

In our schools, therapeutic practices have effectively supplanted the moral education of yesteryear.
Ironically, those who pressed for discarding the old directive moral education did so in the name of freedom, for they sincerely believed that moral education “indoctrinated” children and “imposed” a teacher’s values on them, something they thought the schools had no right to do.
In fact, the “therapism” that took the place of the old morality is far more invasive of the child’s privacy and far more insidious in its effects on the child’s autonomy than the directive moral education that was once the norm in every school.

It is also unfortunate that so many popular writers and educations think ill of all American boys.
The worst-case sociopathic males—gang rapists, mass murderers==become instant metaphors for everyone’s sons.
The vast numbers of decent and honorable young men, on the other hand, never inspire disquisitions on the inner nature of the boy next door.
The false and corrosive doctrine that equates masculinity with violence has found its way into the mainstream.

We are at the tail end of an extraordinary period of moral deregulation that is leaving many tens of thousands of our boys academically deficient and without adequate guidance.
Too many American boys are foundering, unprepared for the demands of family and work.
Many have only a vague sense of right and wrong.
Many are still being taught by Rousseauian romantics, which is to say that they are badly taught and left to “find their own values.”

We have created serious problems for ourselves by abandoning our duty to pass on to our children the moral truths to which they are entitled and failing to give them the guidance they so badly need.
We have further allowed socially divisive activists, many of whom take a dim view of men and boys, to wield unwarranted influence in our schools.
And because we have allowed ourselves to forget the central purpose of education, we have become overloaded with well-intentioned teachers who undervalue knowledge and learning and overvalue their role as healers, social reformers, and confidence builders.

As part of our Grerat Relearning, we must again recognize and respect the reality that boys and girls are different, that each sex has its distinctive strengths and graces.
We must put an end to all the crisis mongering that pathologizes children: we must be less credulous when sensationalistic “experts” talk of girls as drowning Ophelias or of boys as anxious, isolated Hamlets.
Neither sex needs to be “revived” or “rescued”; neither needs to be “regendered.”
Instead of doing things that do not need doing and should not be done, we must dedicate ourselves to the hard tasks that are both necessary and possible: improving the moral climate in our schools and providing our children with first-rate schooling that equips them for the good life in the new century.

We have created a lot of problems, both for ourselves and for our children.
Now we must resolutely set about solving them.
I am confident we can do that.
American boys, whose very masculinity turns out to be politically incorrect, badly need our support.
If you are an optimist, as I am, you believe that good sense and fair play will prevail.
If you are the mother of sons, as I am, you know that one of the more agreeable facts of life is that boys will be boys.