Christina Hoff Sommers, who played a starring role in the anti-feminist backlash of the 1990s, is back again with a new edition of her book The War Against Boys. Originally subtitled How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, it's now relabeled How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men; she now stresses–in a major New York Times op-ed (2/3/13) and a 10-minute one-on-one interview on NPR's Tell Me More (2/12/13)–that changing schools to help boys do better educationally is just a question of "basic fairness." She writes in the Times:
That boys struggle with school is hardly news…. Over all, it's likely that girls have long behaved better than boys at school (and earned better grades as a result), but their early academic success was not enough to overcome significant subsequent disadvantages….
Those disadvantages have lessened since about the 1970s…. Universities that had been dominated by affluent white men embraced meritocratic values and diversity of gender, race and class…. And while workplace inequities persisted, changing attitudes, legislation and litigation began to level the occupational playing field.
Sommers labels as "understandable but misguided" the attitude, "Isn't it time for women and girls to enjoy the advantages?" A more pertinent question to ask Sommers, though, is what advantages are women enjoying that suggest boys deserve an extra boost?
And that meritocratic academy still tends to find much more merit among males: At the most prestigious institutions, those that award doctorates, only 26 percent of tenured professors are women.
When some of these numbers start reversing themselves, it'll be time to see what can be done to make sure that boys have a fair shot at success in this country. As it stands now, though, it there's a war against boys, the men still seem to be winning.