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Topic: The War on Boys
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Michael Paul Goldenberg

Posts: 7,041
From: Ann Arbor, MI
Registered: 12/3/04
The War on Boys
Posted: Aug 2, 2000 11:21 AM
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There are a bunch of letters, led by one from Carol Gilligan, in the current
ATLANTIC MONTHLY, in response to an article in the May issue with the same
title as the subject of this post, written by Christina Hoff Summers.

While not squarely centered on what one would think is MC's "mission," these
kinds of issues are, I believe, a major subtext beneath much of the Parents
With Pitchforks mania: politically correct agendas. Hence, the attack on
"rainforest math" and the use of the word "fuzzy" are part of a general
assault on a certain viewpoint that can be read as either radical and
extremely left (if you're me), or as "liberal" if you're the general public
and much of the press. That MC's breast-beating "liberal Democrats," can
attack NCTM as racist and out to hurt minorities and women is an indication
of how poorly this country understands what liberalism is and how thoroughly
conflated liberalism has become with political correctness.

Hence, the War on Boys issue, which I believe has much merit, is being used
to beat up on ALL reform educators instead of being carefully applied to the
extreme and absurd ways in which legitimate concerns about harassment have
been abused. Moderate, measured criticism quickly degenerates into
sound-bites and hysteria. And kids and all of us continue to suffer as pc
types try to demonize boys and educational conservatives try to ignore the
very real issues of sexual harassment, hazing, and other forms of
inappropriate behavior (on the part of both boys and girls) which deny all
students the right to learn in a safe, relatively bias-free environment.

Are these latter concerns taken to extremes? Undoubtedly. I've seen some
ridiculous things in the past two years at the school where I have taught.
And the press is only too happy to provide us with far more absurd examples
of how legitimate concerns can become zealotry gone mad. So should we just
say, "boys will be boys" or, for that matter, "girls will be girls" and turn
our backs? Should discussions about equity, the environment, or a host of
other social issues be banned from public schools because they make some
parents uncomfortable?

There is no question that there are politically correct teachers and
administrators out there who think it is okay to proselytize since they're
so sure that they're right. (Reminds me of SOME group from California).
These folks are, in my opinion, not teachers, but preachers, and the latter
are almost never the former.

But that doesn't make the ISSUES out of place. It's no more correct for
those on the extreme left to shove their views down kids' throats (or try
to) than it was for my 11th grade history teacher to try to harass me in
class because I openly opposed the War in Vietnam or for students at Harvard
Law School to hiss classmates who dare to express conservative views. But
outraged parents and rude students of whatever political stripe don't have
the right to keep the rest of us or our kids in ignorance. Neither
demonizing nor apotheosizing EITHER gender is going to get us any further
towards social or personal sanity.

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