Men-It's in Their Nature. (Bird's Eye)

By Sommers, Christina Hoff | The American Enterprise, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Men-It's in Their Nature. (Bird's Eye)


Sommers, Christina Hoff, The American Enterprise


This past spring, my son spent a month in Israel with his senior class. Only one activity disappointed him. While camping in the Negev Desert, special counselors from a progressive-socialist kibbutz paid a visit and led the students through a sensitivity exercise. The students were told to walk out into the desert until they were completely alone. The counselors (mostly American-born) supplied them with a pencil, paper, matches, and a candle and instructed them to absorb the quiet calm of the desert, to record their feelings, and to "find themselves."

The girls happily complied. Most of the boys did not. They scattered into the desert, quickly became bored, and sought out each other's company. Then they threw the pencils and paper into a pile, and used the candles and matches to start a little bonfire. The boys loved it; the sensitivity trainers were horrified. They viewed the boys' behavior as an expression of primitive violence--a lethal masculinity straight from The Lord of the Flies.

Later in the evening, the students sat in a circle while the girls read their impassioned reactions to the "haunting loneliness" of the desert; the boys could barely suppress laughter--confirming once again the worst fears of the sensitivity trainers. Gender equity experts in America's schools, universities, government agencies, and major women's groups would share the distress of the kibbutz counselors, having spent more than a decade trying to resocialize boys away from "toxic masculinity."

In a great number of American schools, gender reformers have succeeded in expunging many activities that young boys enjoy: dodge ball, cops and robbers, reading or listening to stories about battles and war heroes. A daycare center in North Carolina was censured by the State Division of Child Development for letting boys play with two-inch green Army men. The division director described the toys as "potentially dangerous if children use them to act out violent themes."

Activities deemed "safe" by the gender equity experts and the teachers they inspire include quilting, games without scores, and stories about brave girls and boys who learn to cry. The goal is to resocialize boys, freeing them from male stereotypes, and, ultimately, to promote genuine equality between the sexes--which for the reformers means sameness.

But decades of research in neuroscience, endocrinology, genetics, and developmental psychology, strongly suggest that masculine traits are hard-wired. There are exceptions, but here are the rules: Males have better spatial reasoning skills, females better verbal skills. Males are greater risk-takers, females are more nurturing. Boys like action, competitive rough-housing, and inanimate objects, and they are the one group of Americans who do not spend a lot of time-talking about their feelings.

Try as they may, parents, teachers, and gender facilitators have not been successful in rooting out male behavior they regard as harmful. An "equity facilitator" tried to persuade a group of nine-year-old boys in a Baltimore public school to accept the idea of playing with baby dolls. According to one observer, "Their reaction was so hostile, the teacher had trouble keeping order." And then there was Jimmy. At age 11, this San Francisco sixth-grader was made to contribute a square to a class quilt "celebrating women we admire." He chose to honor tennis player Monica Seles who, in 1993, was stabbed on the court by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf. Jimmy handed in a muslin square festooned with a tennis racket and a bloody dagger. His square may be unique in the history of quilting, but his teacher did not appreciate its originality and rejected it. American classrooms are full of Jimmys.

Efforts to change boys like Jimmy or my son and his bonfire companions will be difficult if not impossible. Nature is obdurate on some matters. While environment and socialization do play a significant role, scientists are beginning to pinpoint the precise biological correlates to many typical gender differences. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Men-It's in Their Nature. (Bird's Eye)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.