The War Against Boys: Chapter 2, Part I (page 45-58)

August 25, 2010 | NeW Staff

In Chapter 2, Reeducating The Nation’s Boys, Sommers does a thorough job of proving the point that our society is trying to reinvent boys. There is a wonderful quote at the beginning of the chapter:

“This general evil they maintain: All men are bad and in their badness reign.” Shakespeare, Sonnet 121
Shakespeare’s insightful observation still rings true today. Our society views men as a troubled sex, prone to violence:

“As they see it, violence is ‘gendered’ and its gender is male. They regard male aggression as the root of most social evils. Many activists in the Ms. Foundation, the AAUW, the National Education Association, and the U.S. Department of Education are persuaded that boys, as unwitting carriers of a pernicious sexism, need special remedial attention.”

Katherine Hanson, director of the Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA) Publishing Center is one of the leaders in the gender-fairness debate. Hanson believes men learn violence from boyhood–Little League is partially to blame:

“This ‘culture of violence,’ says Hanson, ‘stem[s] from cultural norms that socialize males to be aggressive, powerful, unemotional, and controlling.’ She urges us to ‘honestly and lovingly’ reexamine what it means to be a male or female in our society. ‘And just as honestly and lovingly, we must help our young people develop new and more healthful models.’ One old and unhealthful model of maleness that needs to be ‘reexamined’ is found in Little League baseball. Writes Hanson, ‘One of the most overlooked arenas of violence training within schools may be the environment that surrounds athletics and sports. Beginning with little league games where parents and friends sit on the sidelines and encourage aggressive, violent behavior. . . .'”

Katherine Hanson asserts that in America, nearly four million women are beaten to death every year. She says that violence is the leading cause of death among women. Men beating women at home is the leading cause of injury among women and there was a 59% increase in rape from 1990 to 1991. Sommers discusses Hanson’s erroneous claims:
“For the record, the leading cause of death among women is heart disease (c. 370,000 deaths per year), followed by cancer (c. 250,000).”

“Male violence is also far down the list of causes of injury to women. Two studies show of emergency room admissions, one by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics and one by the Canters for Disease Control and Prevention, suggest that approximately 1 percent of women’s injuries are caused by male partners. Hanson’s other factoids are no more reliable: between 1990 and 1991 rapes increased by 4 percent, not 59 percent, and the number has gone down steadily since.”

This continual battering of the male gender does have a significant affect on boys. A high school teacher in London, Martin Spafford relates his observation:

“Boys are feeling continually attacked for who they are. We have created a sense in school that masculinity is something bad. Boys feel blamed for history, and a school culture has grown up which is suspicious and frightened of boys.”

Sommers concluding thoughts:

“All around them, boys find their sex regularly condemned, while girls receive official sympathy as a ‘historically under-served population.’ At the same time, many boys are unhappily aware that girls are outpacing them. Boys believe that teachers prefer girls, are more interested in girls, and think they are smarter. yet boys are told that live in a patriarchy in which men are unfairly ‘in control of our country, our businesses, our schools and  . . . the family.'”

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