The boy crisis

Newsweek's cover story this week is "The Trouble With Boys," and it's all about how boys are falling behind girls in school. The premise that runs throughout the piece is that schools--nay, the very fabric of our society!--have become so feminized that boys can't possibly function. Overtly, the article notes:


Some scholars, notably Christina Hoff Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, charge that misguided feminism is what's been hurting boys. In the 1990s, she says, girls were making strong, steady progress toward parity in schools, but feminist educators portrayed them as disadvantaged and lavished them with support and attention. Boys, meanwhile, whose rates of achievement had begun to falter, were ignored and their problems allowed to fester (click here for related essay).
Couple of problems with that paragraph:

~ No notation that the American Enterprise Institute is a conservative--and actively anti-feminist--thinktank.

~ The "related essay" is written by feminist scholar (and mother of three boys) Carol Gilligan, who has written a thoughtful piece on how helping both girls and boys doesn't have to be a zero-sum game, and that "the remarkable transformation in the lives of girls over the past 20 years suggests that similar results could be achieved with boys." But Gilligan's view doesn't get equal time in the main piece--just a link to a side essay--while Sommers' view stands alone, uncritiqued and lacking context.

~ I'm hard-pressed to discern how schools have changed so dramatically in their structure that they now explicitly favor girls. I'm 31 years old; my life spans the exact time frame since the passing of Title IX and all the supposed radical changes in education that helped girls and hurt boys. About the only example of female-specific "lavishment" I can recall is a poster in my male-taught physics class that said, "Girls can like science, too!"

But I digress.

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