6 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2010
It's about time men spoke openly about the male-bashing sexism of the Headway books. It seems the Soars hired a 80s-style Gender mainstreaming consultant to bring these books in line with what was popular at the time, bashing or putting men down at all opportunities and boosting women whenever possible. There is not time for me to highlight all the cases of sexism in these books, but just one will show what I mean. Intended to 'put men in their place', this sexism would be better if it kept to facts, but unfortunately these books spread rumours long-since shown to be untrue, or invent or twist facts when they don't promote women or knock men. On page 57 of the Upper Intermediate book there is an exercise on radio advertisements. One of them is advertising car insurance, and points out that men are responsible for 81% of parking offenses. No arguments there. Most (nearly 100%) of delivery drivers are men, and double parking is a necessary evil of inner city deliveries. Also consider the number of men on the roads. In Germany, 75% of all drivers are men. If Britain has similar statistics, then suddenly the 81% figure doesn't look so bad! But Headway twists this statistic even more. What we hear on the radio is two men trying to park while criticizing a woman, before crashing. Yet this not a parking offense! Parking illegally, overstaying your meter time, double parking, those are parking offenses. Why do woman pay less insurance? NOT because they're better drivers, but because their crashes are cheaper! In Germany 25% of the drivers are women and they're responsible for 31% of all crashes. But because they drive more slowly and carefully, stay off the freeways and in the suburbs, don't work as delivery drivers, and don't drive while intoxicated their many crashes don't cost as much as the fewer accidents that men cause. What is really amazing is that with all their recklessness, speeding, drinking and driving and delivery work men still have fewer accidents than women! Any chance of Headway doing an article using real objective statistics? Not a chance!
But it gets worse. On page 11 exercise 7 number 5 of the B1.2 students book we learn that 'women earn on average 17% less than men for full-time work'. Do a little internet searching for objective information and what we find out is that: 'The sinister male conspiracy insinuated by feminism that keeps women's wages low is revealed to be a fantasy, as what we are looking at is simply a case of economic cause and effect. Don't study those fun and fulfilling courses like History of Art or French Lit. Everyone would love to do a 'hobby degree', especially if you have a partner to pay the bills, but you'll never get one of those jobs which require a real degree, like in Engineering, Science, Architecture or Medicine, which men don't do more often because they enjoy it, but because they know they're not going to find a woman to fund their needs if they do a hobby degree. Work as much overtime as a man. Commute as far as he does. Do a job as dirty, stressful, or dangerous. Do a job with uncomfortable working conditions, preferably working 12 hour shifts outside in winter. Be prepared to face mutilation and permanent disfigurement on a daily basis. Work 84 hour weeks. Then you'll be earning 98% of a man's salary.'
False statistics like Headway is helping spread only causes anger and frustration amongst women, and guilt amongst men, and certainly works against harmonious relations within a mixed gender class. Motherhood certainly is a hindrance against climbing the career ladder. However, this only applies to a minority of people in the world. Motherhood also prevents women from going down coalmines, etc, thus helping to give them longer lives. You can't have it all unfortunately...
As a final example, I take again the B1.2 students book, page 89 exercise 1 number 3, where students have to comment on a number of statements on daily life. Once again Headway throws in an old feminist chestnut: 'Women have a higher pain threshold than men', and in the teacher's book an 'answer' along the following lines is given (quoting from memory as the book is at work): 'Although some research seems to show that men have a higher pain threshold, many people believe that childbirth has endowed women with a higher pain threshold. We don't know how men would handle childbirth.' What Headway is recommending here is that we ignore scientific research and stick with hearsay, if it's in favour of women. Incredible! I invite all to do a bit of internet searching, and see what research has been carried out in the last years. We now know that women have two-thirds the pain threshold of men. And they make much louder noises when they feel pain. The discussion in the scietific world has now moved on to what we can do to help women to cope with higher pain levels they feel. (While men were believed to have lower pain thresholds this was just seen as a joke. But as soon as it is observed that, as all men already knew, women are the ones with lower pain thresholds, there is a sudden panic to reduce these poor women's pain. These double standards are sexist in the extreme.) The reason why women don't get Singaporean floggings is that their bodies cannot handle the level of neurogens that men's bodies can, just as men handle alcohol and drugs better. In the women's concentration camp Ravensbrück, women used to die from heart failure during floggings which were far milder than what the men were receiving in their camps. All of what I have written can be confirmed by anyone doing a bit of internet research using objective (not feminist) sources.
Another feature common to all the Headway books is their choice of men to illustrate negative adjectives and women the positive ones. In Headway's world, women are perfect and never make mistakes, always the innocent victims who have to put up with silly men. I open the workbook at random, page 8. I see 3 negative comments about men here: (1)He was sarcastic about my house. (2) His comments really hurt my feelings. (3) Q: Why is Terence always so horrible to poor Janine? A: I don't know. But I could see in her face that his criticism really hit home. Perhaps she'll finally leave him this time.
The rest is gender neutral, with nothing criticizing women, who as we know are perfect...
Wake up Headway, and Liz and John Soars! The world has moved on since the male-bashing 80s and 90s. Heard about Warren Farrell? Because of him, books like yours are already under the spotlight as being sexist and misandronistic in the 21st century gender equality scene. Your constant male-bashing and female-boosting smacks of a collective female inferiority complex which is not healthy. REMOVE the bigotry and sexism and stop bashing my male students, and some may come back to using your books. Others like myself consider that the damage you're done is far too great to ever be forgiven, and even a collective apology to all the male students in the world who've used your books. Heavily involved in adult English teaching in Germany, I intend to do all in my power to stop other schools besides my own from using them.