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Home > Gender Roles > Historical Archive

Feminism and the Boy Crisis: How Boys Got Left Behind

by Carey Roberts    --show me more like this

© PixBox - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.

Most feminists will come right out and tell you they pretty much despise men. But some feminists, like the leechers and blood-letters of yore, make the claim that yet another spoonful of feminism will actually make boys and men feel better.

It all goes back to 1982 when psychologist Carol Gilligan released her book, In A Different Voice, hailed as "the little book that started a revolution." The book examined the ways men and women make decisions about right and wrong -- what psychologists call "moral reasoning."

Gilligan concluded that men tended to focus on rules and principles, while women were more swayed by their personal experiences and emotional take of the situation. That common-sense description is hardly earth-shattering.

Translated into nine languages and with 600,000 copies sold, In a Different Voice was a huge success.

But the acclaim was not unanimous. The Sisterhood was aghast that Gilligan would even hint that innate differences existed between the sexes. Feminist Linda Kerber ridiculed Gilligan's book as echoing the "romantic sentimentalism of old voices in the women's movement."

Sure enough, Gilligan soon buckled under the weight of the criticism and fell into lock-step with the rad-fem vanguard. But she knew that at some point, she would have to make amends for her revisionist past.

That moment came in 1990, when Gilligan published Making Connections, which was based on her interviews with well-to-do girls attending an upstate New York boarding school. Gilligan reported that at the age of 11, these carefree, confident girls suddenly hit the "wall of Western culture" (read "patriarchy"), and suddenly found themselves voiceless and adrift.

Now really, I have never in my entire life seen a group of adolescent girls who hesitated to speak out on practically anything that crossed their minds. But that's what Gilligan's research claimed.

Needless to say, Gilligan never bothered to interview any teenage boys.

Soon Gilligan was regarded with a cult-like veneration. Senator Barbara Mikulski, one of those poor women who had lost her voice, now sang the professor's praises: "All of us are familiar with Dr. Carol Gilligan and her pioneering work...Dr. Gilligan's research indicated that women speak in a different voice, but those voices are often made silent by the stereotypes in the dominant culture."

Thanks to the girl hysteria that Gilligan engendered, the Gender Equity in Education Act (GEEA) was passed in 1994. Of course by that time, girls had surpassed boys on most measures of school performance.

But that didn't stop Gilligan from receiving the Heinz award from Teresa Heinz Kerry, another one of those silenced women. In 2000, Jane Fonda, her spirit also crushed by patriarchal culture, gushed, "I know what Professor Gilligan writes about. I know it in my skin, in my gut, as well as in my voice."

So thanks to the GEEA, boys are admonished that tag and dodge ball bring out their latent aggressive tendencies, so better to stick with hop-scotch and jacks. Go to any schoolyard, and you will find that more often it is the voices of boys who have become silenced.

So what is professor Gilligan's prescription for the Boy Crisis? Because fem-speak is often shrouded in weasel words and loopy logic, as a service to my readers I also include a plain-English translation.

First, Gilligan's solution for the Boy Crisis involves boys "recognizing their sensitivities, building honest relationships, and strengthening a healthy capacity for resistance." Translation: More sexual harassment lectures and fewer sports programs.

Then Gilligan warns against "reinstituting traditional codes of manhood, including a return to the patriarchal family." Read, No need to worry that 40% of American children do not live with their biological fathers.

But the real message comes out in the sub-title of Gilligan's fatuous essay: "A feminist scholar explains how the study of girls can teach us about boys." Meaning: Don't try to take even a penny of my precious GEEA money away from feminist indoctrination centers, ahem, women's studies programs.

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