on 2 July 2015
This book details how feminists in the US have used fraudulent research, claiming girls to be in crisis when they are not and in fact it is boys who are being outperformed, to get special programs in schools for their own political ends.
The book also shows how feminists are interfering with boys normal harmless play. The author shows the type of behaviour that does cause harm in boys. As is happens when Tony Blair was the UK prim minister he pointed out research that shows that boys who play with boys stereotyped toys, including to toy guns, in pre school and primary school do better academically. You would think that better educated boys would be less violent rather than more.
Sommers points out the general types of educational settings that give better behaviour and academic results in boys including more guided learning and stricter discipline.
As it happens I was studying maths in the mid 1990's in Australia and our lecturers had to have a special meeting of all the maths students because the ability of maths and engineering students had fallen so badly in the previous 15 years. This happens to be the time when girls school and university marks went from behind to ahead of boys. That there should be a large overall reduction in ability when half the population has improved so much is hard to understand and is more like the legitimate advantages of boys are not being taught or assessed properly. Also during this time, and earlier, work kept being removed from high school science, such as parts of the REDOX and carbon chemistry electives for final year chemistry in 1984, and in every case girls marks improved.
Also while I was studying maths the state education minister Virginia Chadwick said the words "Boys read maps better, so we changed them." Boys tend to get the specific thing from the whole better due to their spatial advantage, say, which is a legitimate part of real world activity. This has lead to question types to be created that are designed to get answers right, say by being more discrete, rather than including legitimate cognitive areas thus improving girls marks
I think the deliberate hindering of boys in school has lead to the above mentioned poor ability in the areas historically done well by boys in universities causing universities to have to dumb down the work where girls have had their problems as universities don't want high a failure rates. In 1994 all students where I studied were told that there would be a failure restriction of .15% in all classes with 30 or more in the class due to federal government funding changes. The maths degree did not have a single compliant subject although 15 years earlier before the girls improved at school and university as much the maths people would not have had a problem with this failure restriction. When I did data structures only 30% of the class passed, all the girls failed, then the next time they had to pass 85%.
on 21 November 2000
A few years ago, as I was looking for studies about men on the web, I was appalled by the general bias against masculinity which seemed to influence this area of knowledge. I also realized then it was reflecting a dangerous (typical of our time?) one-sided way of thinking... Christina Hoff Sommers very accurately describes the consequences of this lack of scientific objectivity in the educationnal area: heartbreaking violence done to boys (and men) in the very building of their identities.
Even if I do not necessarily agree with the solutions the author offers, I think that anti-male bias (cf. p211 of the book) pervades all western countries, and that we need to build a balanced approach to gender studies.
on 21 June 2009
Whilst a review is, by nature, subjective, one has to say that if you have not awarded this outstanding treatise five stars, then you have probably either missed the point or possess insufficient intellectual faculty to conceive and rationalise the truth Hoff Sommers presents herein; which is essentially nothing short of a Doctoral thesis. In reality the laymen seldom reads academia and so that could detract somewhat from what is ultimately a compelling and above all a flawlessly researched academic text.
Although the text is, itself a little old, the central thesis and conjecture undoubtedly remain as relevant today as it was when it first hit the press nearly a decade ago, back in 2000. That thesis being that feminist (female supremacists, as they should be called) will stop at nothing to advance their perverse agenda. Be it distorting the facts, engaging in 'truthiness' or whatever means are employed to justify the end. This text gives an impartial blow-by-blow account of the methods, the movement and the main protagonists in what is ultimately a fascistic and wholly repugnant charade that masquerades as a genuine concern movement which has the concern of girls at its heart. What it fact has at its core is a manifesto of supremacy and domination, playing God with Darwinian evolution and the history of biological development.
Without revealing too much to the potential reader, all I should say is please read this text, check the research and the references for yourselves, do some further research and read a few more texts. Then with a clear head and a clear heart arrive at your own conclusion. A conclusion which any sane individual (who is devoid of an agenda) will reach, arriving at a place called disbelief.
I also recommend that any educator read this text, to see how you may be unwittingly contributing to the greater problem by your personal pedagogical philosophy and approach to classroom management. I personally found chapter eight 'The Moral Life of Boys' to be a real treat,
This book works for a number of reasons, amongst which I would include the following:
i) It is flawlessly researched
ii) Hoff Sommers is a REAL academic, a real intellectual who, despite also having an agenda, is clearly sane and rational in her conclusions and suggestions.
iii) Its structure, cohesion and central thesis are all articulate and concisely presented, the author is professional and largely impartial.
iv) It is relevant to anyone who has a child, especially a male child.
v) It will make the reader think and consider what they have just read and hopefully want to go out and validate those arguments.
To conclude, this is a superb book, an outstanding argument coherently and concisely put forth. Although it is real academia it is a quick read and does not alienate the non-academic reader.
This book summarizes the feminist research about repression of girls and the Gilligan and Pollack research about the problems boys are having. Ms. Sommers goes on to cite exhaustive research that draws opposite conclusions about what problems exist for boys and girls and what the causes and solutions are. Looking at work done with boys in England and in the United States, she concludes that major issues about male misbehavior, when it occurs, relate to the lack of moral leadership at home and at school in directing boys to employ proper behavior.
All discussions about large groups are inherently flawed because the circumstances of each individual in that group will be vastly different from the average of the group. The War Against Boys continues the debate about whether or not young women are being treated poorly by society, especially in school, by pointing out that boys are doing more poorly than girls. That observation, while true, doesn't answer the problem of what to do about the girl or boy who is having a problem with another child (whether from sexual harrassment, being overbearing or from some other source). Clearly, something is wrong with the circumstances of our young people today because psychiatrists report rapid growth in depression among them. Neither side of the debate regarding repressed females addresses this more serious question.
I dislike a tone of polemicism, and Ms. Sommers gave me more of it than I like. On the other hand, if you enjoy reading about the weaknesses of much feminist scholarship, this is your book. I was glad that I read this material, because I was familiar with the Gilligan work about girls from reading about it in The New York Times. Determined to be a good father, I constantly ask my daughter about whether the boys in school are behaving appropriately towards her. I really felt foolish in being so concerned about this issue after reading in this book what the follow-up studies have shown -- that girls generally are treated better and are happier in school than boys are, as perceived by teachers, the boys and the girls.
Ms. Sommers is offended by many government-supported programs that encourage teaching boys to be more like girls. Having seen my two sons benefit in many ways from such programs, I did not share her reactions. Reasonable people can and will differ on this point.
The main weakness of the book is that is does not address the deep resonance that occurs among some women when someone talks about girls being repressed by male behavior in school. Clearly, that resonance suggests to me that many women have experienced that repression. Before this debate is going to be concluded, someone is going to have to address the sources of that resonance. If boys in school are not repressive now, were they many years ago?
I was still left wondering why feminist books that talk about mistreatment of girls by boys in school are so popular. That thought reminded on a seminar I sat in on concerning English literature at a college a few years years ago. The class had mostly women in it, yet one young man dominated the conversation for almost an hour. But this young man had little of value to say. The female professor could not quite get him to slide into a lesser role, and a lot of time was wasted. After class was over I asked the woman at my side if this was typical. She rolled her eyes, and said that every session was like this. We continued talking, and she told me some of her thoughts about the subject of that hour's discussion. Clearly, her ideas were superior to those offered by anyone else in the class. Yet she had said nothing. I don't know why, but I was struck that clearly we would all benefit from a society where all spoke openly so we would have a chance to hear what was on each person's mind.
The work in this book on the need for moral leadership is superb, and is worth reading the book for.
Love, support and guide children of all ages, regardless of their sex!