Feb
14
2013

If There's a 'War Against Boys,' Why Are Men Still Winning?

The-War-Against-Boys-Sommers-Christina-9780786118601Christina 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?

After all, women who work full-time still make only 81 percent of what men do. And women own only 36 percent as much wealth as men do.

Only 4 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, as are 17 percent of directors on Fortune 500 boards. Women are 18 percent of U.S. representatives and 20 percent of U.S. senators.

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, if there's a war against boys, the men still seem to be winning.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.