AROUND THE NETWORK; Fighting Words on Gender Equity: Are Boys under Siege in School?

By Muson, Howard | Family Therapy Networker, July/August 2000 | Go to article overview

AROUND THE NETWORK; Fighting Words on Gender Equity: Are Boys under Siege in School?


Muson, Howard, Family Therapy Networker


A surprising argument in the May issue of The Atlantic Monthly magazine has raised the hackles of many family therapists, as well as feminists. "The War Against Boys" by Christina Hoff Sommers challenges the view widely held in the 1990s that boys are systematically favored over girls in school due to the male bias in our culture. Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, disputes data showing that girls, as a result, lag far behind boys in scores on standardized tests. She also levels a blast at the view popularized by two psychologists, Carol Gilligan and Mary Pipher, that adolescent girls suffer a debilitating blow to their self-confidence.

In truth, argues Sommers, it is the boys who need the most help. They have lower grades on average, higher dropout rates, far more learning disabilities; they are more likely to be held back in the grade and less likely to go to college. On almost every measure--intellectual, behavioral and emotional--she says, boys are having more trouble than girls. Yet, they are viewed as oppressors by feminist ideologues, who have influenced  the nation's schools of education and the attitudes of a whole generation of teachers. "In the view that has prevailed in American education over the past decade," writes Sommers, "boys are resented, both as the unfairly privileged sex and as obstacles on the path to gender justice for girls. Predictably, Sommers's attack on the gender wisdom of the '90s blew up a ministorm among readers. By the end of May, The Atlantic had received more than 100 letters about the piece--quite unusual for us," according to one editor, who said the mail was running about 5 to 4 in Sommers's favor. More than 60 visitors to the magazine's website weighed in with comments, some accusing Sommers of having an ideological ax to grind or sensationalizing the issues in order to sell her new book with the same title, from which the article was drawn. In a lengthy joust with Sommers on the website, Gilligan defended herself against the charge that three of her key studies were never been published in peer-reviewed journals and couldn't be obtained by Sommers's assistants who had called requesting the data.

Some family therapists, in interviews, objected to the provocative and highly inflated headline of The Atlantic piece. "Any article called 'The War Against Boys' is specious to begin with," commented Marianne Walters of the Family Practice Center in Washington, D.C. "It's mind-boggling to think there's a war against anybody, boys or girls." Evan Imber-Black of the Center for Families and Health at the Ackerman Institute in New York had a similar reaction. "A lot of our children are in trouble, and I believe a good bit of the trouble is due to gender socialization," she said. "For years and years, we knew that in math and science, for instance, girls did not do as well as boys. That need had to be addressed. But the idea that school is a zero-sum game, that you can only help one sex while the other has to be sacrificed, is ridiculous."

 At least one family therapist, however, Edith Lawrence, believes The Atlantic article is "more accurate than inaccurate." Lawrence, an associate professor at the University of Virginia, says: "Recent research shows boys are more at risk than girls in early adolescence and adolescence--as measured by fairly important criteria, such as academic achievement, behavior problems and dropout rates. And, yes, she [Sommers] is right that a majority of girls aren't short changed by schools or 'losing their voice' during adolescence."

Who is Christina Sommers and why is she saying these things? In her last book, Who Stole Feminism, the former philosophy teacher argued that the women's movement had become captive to a privileged elite of extreme feminists who see men as the enemy and play fast and loose with facts. Sommers has made a vocation out of bird-dogging weaknesses in research invoked to redress the wrongs done to girls. …

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

AROUND THE NETWORK; Fighting Words on Gender Equity: Are Boys under Siege in School?
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.

    Author Advanced search

    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.