A few years ago, the faculty and staff of Scarsdale High School in New York held what was called a "gender equity workshop." The goal was to identify the ways that the school was failing its female students and how education could be tailored more to feminine needs.
But the unexpected happened: Someone told the truth and helped teachers realize that they had it backward.
The someone was a male student who, in his presentation, pointed out what honest social scientists, like Christina Hoff Sommers, have known for a long time: It's our sons, not our daughters, who are not getting enough attention in school.
As Sommers points out in her new book, "The War Against Boys," there is hardly a measure of academic achievement where boys don't lag behind girls.
For instance, 55% of all full-time college students are girls. And that percentage is expected to increase since studies show that boys are less committed to school than girls. Twelfth-grade boys are four times less likely than girls to do homework and are less likely to come to school prepared than are girls.
Not surprisingly, the average male student is one and a half years behind the average girl in reading and writing.
In addition, boys are more likely to drop out of school, and they are more likely to be suspended. Boys are also much more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder. And this is just part of the crisis affecting our sons. The worst part is that our culture is ignorant and indifferent to the plight of our sons.
Why? A big part of the explanation stems from the triumph of feminist ideology in our opinion-shaping institutions, particularly the schools. This ideology views the relationship between men and women solely in terms of power.
The avowed goal of feminists has been to help girls achieve parity with boys. To justify their emphasis on girls, these groups issued reports and studies that purported to document the ways in which our schools were failing our daughters. But, scientifically, the "studies" were flawed, as Dr. Sommers points out. And as one scholar puts it, the studies were "politics masquerading as science."
Masquerade or not, it worked. As our schools became increasingly "girl-friendly," they became increasingly inhospitable to boys. William Pollack, clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and author of the book "Real Boys," told the Washington Times, "[American] schools are some of the most boy-unfriendly places on earth...."
The only way to reverse this trend is to address specifically the educational needs of our sons. And that means recognizing a basic biblical idea that feminists resist, which is that men and women are different from one another. They learn differently, they respond to their environment differently, and they have different emotional and spiritual needs.
This may sound obvious, but, as George Orwell once put it, we live in a time when "stating the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."
The Bible speaks of showing undue favoritism as the sin of "partiality," and that's something we must avoid. If trying to help our daughters has meant disenfranchising our sons, then Christians need to help restore the balance, pointing out where the culture took a wrong turn in the name of ideology and put America's boys in harm's way.
From Breakpoint 7/25/00. Copyright 2000. Reprinted by permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries, P.O. Box 17500, Washington, D.C. 20041-7500.