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. …