Guerre des sexes: Si la civilisation avait été laissée aux mains des femmes, nous vivrions encore dans des cases en paille (Camille Paglia: How ignoring biological differences undermines Western civilization)

https://scontent-b-cdg.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1466136_3740337004038_161703403_n.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/12/29/article-2530741-1A5518F500000578-984_634x382.jpg« Lone Survivor » burns with the fever of a passion project. Writer-director Peter Berg’s gratitude to United States servicemen for all their sacrifice comes through viscerally, from first frame to last. The film … amounts to « The Passion of the Christ » for U.S. servicemen: a bloody historic episode recounted mainly in images of hardy young men being ripped apart, at screeching volume. Though Berg’s source material isn’t the New Testament, he often handles Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell’s account (via ghostwriter Patrick Robinson) of his doomed 2005 reconnaissance mission with the thunderous reverence Mel Gibson brought to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Berg is at heart an action director, so his way of restraining the urge to Rambo-fy his heroes in the interest of this film’s patriotic agenda is to double down on their suffering. Steven Boone
Lone Survivor is war porn of the highest order, relishing every bloody bullet hit and Dolby-accentuated bone crunch while trading in the most facile armed-conflict ironies. Berg treats the SEAL team like cartoon symbols of American sacrifice—in one sequence, several of them even roll down the steep side of a cliff like Wile E. Coyote thwarted by jihadist Road Runners. Those evil Afghans, meanwhile, twirl their mustaches plenty in the first act, which of course portends the appearance of a bunch of saintly ones in the third. Berg may be adhering to the basic facts, but his movie’s childish machismo is a disgrace to all involved. Keith Uhlich
Lone Survivor … is a jingoistic snuff film about a Navy SEAL squadron outgunned by the Taliban in the mountainous Kunar province. (…) These four men were heroes. But these heroes were also men. As the film portrays them, their attitudes to the incredibly complex War on Terror, fought hillside by bloody hillside in the Afghan frontier with both U.S. and Taliban forces contributing to an unconscionably high civilian body count, were simple: Brown people bad, American people good. When the guys debate whether to kill the three goat herders who’ve stumbled onto their hiding place — a dilemma that, morality aside, could have been solved if any of them had recalled that middle school logic problem about the fox, the chicken, the feed, and the too-small boat — Foster grabs an unarmed teenager by the face and insists, « That’s death. Look at death. » And when the firefight starts, he bellows, « You can die for your country — I’m going to live for mine. » (…) Berg (…) ‘s done the right thing by refusing to whitewash these guys as saints, although three of the four are depicted as devoted husbands and fiancés, and the fourth gets to be Mark Wahlberg. And Berg is justified in hoisting these guys up as real-life action stars, building his case with an opening montage of actual Navy SEAL training footage in which screaming instructors winnow a pack of athletes into an all-for-one-one-for-all band of badass brothers who, when forced to float in freezing ocean waves, link arms and sing « Silent Night. » (…) I’d like to think that, on some level, Berg is questioning the sense of a film — and a foreign policy — that makes target practice of our magnificent teams of hard-bodied, hairy-chested, rootin’-tootin’, shootin’, parachutin’, double-cap-crimpin’ frogmen, these soldiers who decorate their bunks with baby pictures of themselves next to an American flag and are so nobly eager to sacrifice their lives for each other and their country. But the ammo doesn’t stop blasting long enough for their deaths to have weight. Instead, Lone Survivor just reads like a quasi-political exaggeration of a slasher film: the cellphones that don’t work, the rescuers just out of reach, the killers chasing our victims through the woods. What are we meant to learn from this waste of life? Who is even to blame? All Lone Survivor offers is the queasiest apology of the year. Grunts a battered Wahlberg to his even more-battered best buddy, « I’m sorry that we didn’t kill more of these motherfuckers. » Replies his fellow soldier, « Oh, don’t be fucking sorry. We’re going to kill way more of them. » Amy Nicholson
 Un film de guerre peut-il échapper à la propagande ? (…) A croire que les bons films de guerre actuels ne parlent que de défaites… Télérama
Quel récit collectif sommes-nous capables de mettre en avant qui puisse donner un sens au sacrifice de ces jeunes ? Et l’absence d’un tel récit – qui va au-delà du sens subjectif que chacun d’eux pouvait donner à l’éventualité de mourir au combat et que chacun assumait en s’engageant dans l’armée – dépossède les jeunes soldats tombés du sens de leur mort. Danièle Hervieu-Léger
Si les hommes sont obsolètes, alors les femmes disparaîtront bientôt, à moins que nous nous précipitions sur le sinistre chemin du « meilleur des mondes », où les femmes se feront cloner par parthénogenèse, comme le font à merveille les dragons de Komodo, les requins marteaux et les vipères.Une rancune mesquine et hargneuse contre les hommes a été l’une des caractéristiques les plus désagréables et injustes du féminisme de la deuxième et de la troisième vague. Les fautes, les défauts et les faiblesses des hommes ont été saisis et décuplés par d’affreux actes d’accusation. Des professeurs idéologues dans nos grandes universités endoctrinent des étudiants de premier cycle aisément impressionnables par des théories négligeant les faits, arguant que le genre était une fiction oppressive et arbitraire dénuée de fondement biologique.(…) Une rancune mesquine et hargneuse contre les hommes a été l’une des caractéristiques les plus désagréables et injustes du féminisme de la deuxième et de la troisième vague. Les fautes, les défauts et les faiblesses des hommes ont été saisis et décuplés par d’affreux actes d’accusation. Des professeurs idéologues dans nos grandes universités endoctrinent des étudiants de premier cycle aisément impressionnables par des théories négligeant les faits, arguant que le genre était une fiction oppressive et arbitraire dénuée de fondement biologique. Faut-il s’étonner que tant de jeunes femmes de haut niveau, malgré tous les discours heureux sur leur réussite scolaire, se retrouvent dans les premiers stades de leur carrière dans l’incertitude chronique ou l’anxiété concernant leurs perspectives d’une vie privée épanouie émotionnellement ? Lorsqu’une culture instruite dénigre systématiquement la masculinité et la virilité, puis les femmes se retrouveront perpétuellement coincées avec des garçons qui n’ont pas intérêt à la maturité ou à honorer leurs engagements. Et sans hommes forts comme modèles à accepter ou (pour les lesbiennes dissidentes) contre lesquels se positionner, les femmes n’atteindront jamais une image centrée et profonde d’elles-mêmes en tant que femmes.(…) D’après ma longue observation, qui est antérieure à la révolution sexuelle, cela reste un grave problème qui afflige la société anglo-américaine, avec ses résidus puritains. En France, Italie, Espagne, Amérique latine et Brésil, en revanche, beaucoup de femmes professionnelles ambitieuses semblent avoir trouvé une formule pour affirmer le pouvoir et l’autorité dans le monde du travail tout en projetant encore attrait sexuel et même glamour. Il s’agit de la vraie mystique féminine, qui ne peut être enseignée mais découle d’une reconnaissance instinctive des différences sexuelles. L’atmosphère punitive aujourd’hui de propagande sentimentale sur le genre, l’imagination sexuelle a fui tout naturellement dans l’univers alternatif de la pornographie en ligne, où les forces rudes mais exaltantes de la nature primitive se défoulent sans être entravées par le moralisme religieux ou féministe. (…° L’histoire doit être perçue clairement et équitablement : les traditions obstructives ne provenaient pas de la haine ou de l’asservissement des femmes par les hommes, mais de la division naturelle du travail qui s’est développée pendant des milliers d’années au cours de la période agraire. Celle-ci a immensément bénéficié et protégé les femmes, leur permettant de rester au foyer pour s’occuper des nourrissons et des enfants sans défense. Au cours du siècle dernier, les appareils susceptibles d’épargner du travail, inventés par les hommes et répartis par le capitalisme, ont libéré les femmes des corvées quotidiennes. (…) En effet, les hommes sont absolument indispensables en ce moment, bien que cela soit invisible pour la plupart des féministes — qui semblent aveugles à l’infrastructure qui rend leur propre travail possible. Ce sont majoritairement des hommes qui font le sale (et dangereux) boulot. Ils construisent les routes, coulent le béton, posent les briques, pendent les fils électriques, excavent le gaz naturel et les égouts, coupent les arbres, et aplanissent au bulldozer les paysage pour les projets immobiliers. Ce sont les hommes qui soudent les poutres d’acier géantes qui maintiennent nos immeubles de bureaux, et ce sont les hommes qui font le travail ébouriffant d’encartage et d’étanchéité des fenêtres, posant ces plaques de verre sur des gratte-ciel hauts de 50 étages. Chaque jour, le long de la rivière Delaware à Philadelphie, on peut regarder le passage de vastes pétroliers et imposants cargos en provenance du monde entier. Ces colosses majestueux sont chargés, dirigés, et déchargés par des hommes. L’économie moderne, avec son vaste réseau de production et de distribution, est une épopée masculine, où les femmes ont trouvé un rôle productif – mais les femmes n’en sont pas les auteurs. Certes, les femmes modernes sont assez fortes maintenant pour donner du crédit lorsque le crédit est dû ! Camille Paglia
Le féminisme est héritier de Rousseau en ce qu’il voit chaque hiérarchie comme répressive, une fiction sociale ; chaque négatif sur la femme est un mensonge masculin conçu pour la garder à sa place. Le féminisme a dépassé sa mission propre de recherche de l’égalité politique pour les femmes et a fini par rejeter la contingence, c’est-à-dire les limites humaines par la nature ou le destin…. Si la civilisation avait été laissée aux mains des femmes, nous vivrions encore dans des cases en paille. Camille Paglia
The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster. These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality. (…) So many women don’t realize how vulnerable they are by what they’re doing on the street. I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters. (…) Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys. They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters. » This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralization of maleness. Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now. Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly. (…) Michelle Obama’s going on: ‘Everybody must have college.’ Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum » and « people end up saddled with huge debts. What’s driving the push toward universal college is social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window. I have woodworking students who, even while they’re in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on. (…) I personally have disobeyed every single item of the gender code, » says Ms. Paglia. But men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making. I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented.  Camille Paglia
In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality – as I one hundred percent do. ‘If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again, they have a right of religious freedom there. Camille Paglia
A review of the facts shows boys, not girls, on the weak side of an education gender gap. The typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing; he is less committed to school and less likely to go to college. In 1997 college full-time enrollments were 45 percent male and 55 percent female. The Department of Education predicts that the proportion of boys in college classes will continue to shrink. Data from the U.S. Department of Education and from several recent university studies show that far from being shy and demoralized, today’s girls outshine boys. They get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow more-rigorous academic programs and participate in advanced-placement classes at higher rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more girls than boys enroll in high-level math and science courses. Girls, allegedly timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and in debating clubs. Only in sports are boys ahead, and women’s groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance. Girls read more books. They outperform boys on tests for artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. At the same time, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, but it is boys who more often succeed. In 1997, a typical year, 4,483 young people aged five to twenty-four committed suicide: 701 females and 3,782 males. (…) Gilligan appears to be making the same mistake with boys that she made with girls — she observes a few children and interprets their problems as indicative of a deep and general malaise caused by the way our society imposes gender stereotypes. The pressure to conform to these stereotypes, she believes, has impaired, distressed, and deformed the members of both sexes by the time they are adolescents. In fact — with the important exception of boys whose fathers are absent and who get their concept of maleness from peer groups — most boys are not violent. Most are not unfeeling or antisocial. They are just boys — and being a boy is not in itself a failing. (…) Every society confronts the problem of civilizing its young males. The traditional approach is through character education: Develop the young man’s sense of honor. Help him become a considerate, conscientious human being. Turn him into a gentleman. This approach respects boys’ masculine nature; it is time-tested, and it works. Even today, despite several decades of moral confusion, most young men understand the term « gentleman »and approve of the ideals it connotes. What Gilligan and her followers are proposing is quite different: civilize boys by diminishing their masculinity. « Raise boys like we raise girls » is Gloria Steinem’s advice. This approach is deeply disrespectful of boys. It is meddlesome, abusive, and quite beyond what educators in a free society are mandated to do. Did anything of value come out of the manufactured crisis of diminished girls? Yes, a bit. Parents, teachers, and administrators now pay more attention to girls’ deficits in math and science, and they offer more support for girls’ participation in sports. But who is to say that these benefits outweigh the disservice done by promulgating the myth of the incredible shrinking girl or presenting boys as the unfairly favored sex? A boy today, through no fault of his own, finds himself implicated in the social crime of shortchanging girls. Yet the allegedly silenced and neglected girl sitting next to him is likely to be the superior student. She is probably more articulate, more mature, more engaged, and more well-balanced. The boy may be aware that she is more likely to go on to college. He may believe that teachers prefer to be around girls and pay more attention to them. At the same time, he is uncomfortably aware that he is considered to be a member of the favored and dominant gender. The widening gender gap in academic achievement is real. It threatens the future of millions of American boys. Boys do not need to be rescued from their masculinity. But they are not getting the help they need. In the climate of disapproval in which boys now exist, programs designed to aid them have a very low priority. This must change. We should repudiate the partisanship that currently clouds the issues surrounding sex differences in the schools. We should call for balance, objective information, fair treatment, and a concerted national effort to get boys back on track. That means we can no longer allow the partisans of girls to write the rules. Christina Hoff Sommers
What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide, » says Camille Paglia. This self-described « notorious Amazon feminist » isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. By denying the role of nature in women’s lives, she argues, leading feminists created a « denatured, antiseptic » movement that « protected their bourgeois lifestyle » and falsely promised that women could « have it all. » And by impugning women who chose to forgo careers to stay at home with children, feminists turned off many who might have happily joined their ranks. For all of Ms. Paglia’s barbs about the women’s movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women’s movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the « nanny state » mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one « open to stay-at-home moms » and « not just the career woman. » More important, Ms. Paglia says, if the women’s movement wants to be taken seriously again, it should tackle serious matters, like rape in India and honor killings in the Muslim world, that are « more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus. » Bari Weiss

Attention: une guerre peut en cacher une autre!

Emasculation des garçons dès leur plus jeune âge, perte de l’expérience militaire dans la classe dirigeante, assignation de la masculinité aux réserves d’indiens des radios sportives, dévalorisation systématique du travail manuel, bannissement de toute critique de l’homosexualité, déféminisation et déresponsabilisation vestimentaire des femmes, apaisement complice du totalitarisme islamique …

En ces temps étranges de politiquement correct et de féminisme triomphant …

Où l’expérience militaire n’a plus droit de cité hormis sous la forme de la défaite ou de la passion christique

Et où, obsédées par leur chasse aux différences biologiques et aveugles aux conditions de possibilité de leurs critiques, nombre de théoriciennes féministes en sont à rêver d’un monde sans hommes …

Comment ne pas voir avec les dernières voix dissidentes qui restent comme celles de Camille Paglia ou Christina Hoff Sommers  … 

L’impasse et les aberrations vers lesquelles nous pousse toujours plus le féminisme actuel ?

Camille Paglia : une féministe qui défend les hommes

Le Bulletin d’Amérique

12 décembre 2013

La « guerre des sexes » fait toujours rage en Amérique du Nord, où le féminisme demeure l’un des piliers du progressisme. Pourtant, au sein même de ce mouvement, certaines commentatrices se font plus critiques, à l’instar de Camille Paglia*, une « féministe post-féministe ».

Titre original : « Camille Paglia Defends Men » . Traduit de l’anglais par Le Bulletin d’Amérique.

AEIdeas

Par Christina Hoff Sommers** — « Que cela soit entendu : les hommes sont périmés » : tel était le sujet d’un récent débat à Toronto. Maureen Dowd et Hanna Rosin défendaient ce dernier point de vue, tandis que Camille Paglia* et Caitlin Moran y étaient opposées. Très pince-sans-rire, Dowd fit par exemple remarquer que les hommes avaient joué de façon si téméraire avec le monde entier « qu’ils l’avaient presque cassé« . Nous allons dans une nouvelle direction, dit-elle alors, avant d’ajouter : « Zut, les hommes ne prennent même pas la peine de demander quelle direction prendre! »

Mais ce sont les déclarations électrisantes de Camille Paglia qui attirèrent toute l’attention :

Si les hommes sont obsolètes, alors les femmes disparaîtront bientôt, à moins que nous nous précipitions sur le sinistre chemin du « meilleur des mondes », où les femmes se feront cloner par parthénogenèse, comme le font à merveille les dragons de Komodo, les requins marteaux et les vipères.

Une rancune mesquine et hargneuse contre les hommes a été l’une des caractéristiques les plus désagréables et injustes du féminisme de la deuxième et de la troisième vague. Les fautes, les défauts et les faiblesses des hommes ont été saisis et décuplés par d’affreux actes d’accusation. Des professeurs idéologues dans nos grandes universités endoctrinent des étudiants de premier cycle aisément impressionnables par des théories négligeant les faits, arguant que le genre était une fiction oppressive et arbitraire dénuée de fondement biologique.Paglia n’a pas seulement défendu les hommes, elle a aussi livré une défense rare du libre marché et de ses avantages pour le beau sexe. Selon ses propres termes :

L’histoire doit être perçue clairement et équitablement : les traditions obstructives ne provenaient pas de la haine ou de l’asservissement des femmes par les hommes, mais de la division naturelle du travail qui s’est développée pendant des milliers d’années au cours de la période agraire. Celle-ci a immensément bénéficié et protégé les femmes, leur permettant de rester au foyer pour s’occuper des nourrissons et des enfants sans défense. Au cours du siècle dernier, les appareils susceptibles d’épargner du travail, inventés par les hommes et répartis par le capitalisme, ont libéré les femmes des corvées quotidiennes.

Les partisans de la théorie selon laquelle les « mâles seraient sur le déclin » avancent que l’avenir appartiendrait aux femmes communicatives, de consensus, à l’intelligence émotive. Les hommes, avec leur force musculaire, leurs prises de risque et leur penchant pour le chaos ne seraient plus d’actualité. Dowd se demandait s’ils allaient finalement s’éteindre, en prenant « les jeux vidéo, Game of Thrones en boucle et une pizza froide le matin avec eux. » Paglia rappela poliment mais fermement à ses contradicteurs que si les « femelles alpha » pouvaient en effet aujourd’hui rejoindre les hommes dans la gestion du monde, elles n’étaient guère sur le point de les remplacer. Et leurs brillantes carrières sont rendues possibles par des légions d’hommes travailleurs, preneurs de risque et innovants. La citant de nouveau :

En effet, les hommes sont absolument indispensables en ce moment, bien que cela soit invisible pour la plupart des féministes — qui semblent aveugles à l’infrastructure qui rend leur propre travail possible. Ce sont majoritairement des hommes qui font le sale (et dangereux) boulot. Ils construisent les routes, coulent le béton, posent les briques, pendent les fils électriques, excavent le gaz naturel et les égouts, coupent les arbres, et aplanissent au bulldozer les paysage pour les projets immobiliers. Ce sont les hommes qui soudent les poutres d’acier géantes qui maintiennent nos immeubles de bureaux, et ce sont les hommes qui font le travail ébouriffant d’encartage et d’étanchéité des fenêtres, posant ces plaques de verre sur des gratte-ciel hauts de 50 étages. Chaque jour, le long de la rivière Delaware à Philadelphie, on peut regarder le passage de vastes pétroliers et imposants cargos en provenance du monde entier. Ces colosses majestueux sont chargés, dirigés, et déchargés par des hommes. L’économie moderne, avec son vaste réseau de production et de distribution, est une épopée masculine, où les femmes ont trouvé un rôle productif – mais les femmes n’en sont pas les auteurs. Certes, les femmes modernes sont assez fortes maintenant pour donner du crédit lorsque le crédit est dû !

Malgré plusieurs décennies de « girl power« , les femmes montrent peu ou pas l’envie de pénétrer de nombreux domaines traditionnellement masculins. Le Bureau of Labor Statistics rapporte que plus de 90 % des travailleurs dans le bâtiment, électriciens, mécaniciens de l’aviation, éboueurs, grutiers, pompiers, plombiers, tuyauteurs, réparateurs de lignes de télécommunication, et ingénieurs électriques sont des hommes. Ce sont encore des hommes qui déposent plus de 90 % des brevets.

Au début des années 1980, le dessinateur Nicole Hollander, créateur de Sylvia, publiait une caricature dans laquelle quelqu’un demande à Sylvia à quoi ressemblerait le monde sans hommes. Celle-ci lui répondit : « Il n’y aurait aucun crime et beaucoup de grosses femmes heureuses« . La prédiction de Paglia sur leur extinction est bien meilleure. Son intervention mérite d’être lue dans son intégralité.

_____________

*Camille Paglia est une « féministe dissidente » et critique du post-structuralisme « français » (issu de Foucault, Derrida, Lacan). Enseignante à l’University of the Arts de Philadelphie, elle est l’auteur de Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), de Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992), et Vamps and Tramps (1994).

**Christina Hoff Sommers est Senior Fellow à l’American Enterprise Institute. Elle est notamment l’auteur de Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women (1995), The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men (2000) et Freedom Feminism (2013).

Voir aussi:

Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues

The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization.

Bari Weiss

Dec. 28, 2013

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide, » says Camille Paglia. This self-described « notorious Amazon feminist » isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.

When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of « Sexual Personae, » she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled « Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson,  » and it’s easy to see why. « If civilization had been left in female hands, » she wrote, « we would still be living in grass huts. »

The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, « Glittering Images, » is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.

Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and « abrasive, strident and obnoxious. » Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (« a true artist »), then blasting ObamaCare (« a monstrosity, » though she voted for the president), global warming (« a religious dogma »), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (« the biggest canard, » yet she herself is a lesbian).

But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.

She starts by pointing to the diminished status of military service. « The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster, » she says. « These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality. »

The results, she says, can be seen in everything from the dysfunction in Washington (where politicians « lack practical skills of analysis and construction ») to what women wear. « So many women don’t realize how vulnerable they are by what they’re doing on the street, » she says, referring to women who wear sexy clothes.

When she has made this point in the past, Ms. Paglia—who dresses in androgynous jackets and slacks—has been told that she believes « women are at fault for their own victimization. » Nonsense, she says. « I believe that every person, male and female, needs to be in a protective mode at all times of alertness to potential danger. The world is full of potential attacks, potential disasters. » She calls it « street-smart feminism. »

Ms. Paglia argues that the softening of modern American society begins as early as kindergarten. « Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys, » she says, pointing to the most obvious example: the way many schools have cut recess. « They’re making a toxic environment for boys. Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters. »

She is not the first to make this argument, as Ms. Paglia readily notes. Fellow feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has written about the « war against boys » for more than a decade. The notion was once met with derision, but now data back it up: Almost one in five high-school-age boys has been diagnosed with ADHD, boys get worse grades than girls and are less likely to go to college.

Ms. Paglia observes this phenomenon up close with her 11-year-old son, Lucien, whom she is raising with her ex-partner, Alison Maddex, an artist and public-school teacher who lives 2 miles away. She sees the tacit elevation of « female values »—such as sensitivity, socialization and cooperation—as the main aim of teachers, rather than fostering creative energy and teaching hard geographical and historical facts.

By her lights, things only get worse in higher education. « This PC gender politics thing—the way gender is being taught in the universities—in a very anti-male way, it’s all about neutralization of maleness. » The result: Upper-middle-class men who are « intimidated » and « can’t say anything. . . . They understand the agenda. » In other words: They avoid goring certain sacred cows by « never telling the truth to women » about sex, and by keeping « raunchy » thoughts and sexual fantasies to themselves and their laptops.

Politically correct, inadequate education, along with the decline of America’s brawny industrial base, leaves many men with « no models of manhood, » she says. « Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now. » The only place you can hear what men really feel these days, she claims, is on sports radio. No surprise, she is an avid listener. The energy and enthusiasm « inspires me as a writer, » she says, adding: « If we had to go to war, » the callers « are the men that would save the nation. »

And men aren’t the only ones suffering from the decline of men. Women, particularly elite upper-middle-class women, have become « clones » condemned to « Pilates for the next 30 years, » Ms. Paglia says. « Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly, » adding that online pornography is increasingly the only place where men and women in our sexless culture tap into « primal energy » in a way they can’t in real life.

A key part of the remedy, she believes, is a « revalorization » of traditional male trades—the ones that allow women’s studies professors to drive to work (roads), take the elevator to their office (construction), read in the library (electricity), and go to gender-neutral restrooms (plumbing).

 » Michelle Obama’s going on: ‘Everybody must have college.’ Why? Why? What is the reason why everyone has to go to college? Especially when college is so utterly meaningless right now, it has no core curriculum » and « people end up saddled with huge debts, » says Ms. Paglia. What’s driving the push toward universal college is « social snobbery on the part of a lot of upper-middle-class families who want the sticker in the window. »

Ms. Paglia, who has been a professor of humanities and media studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since 1984, sees her own students as examples. « I have woodworking students who, even while they’re in class, are already earning money making furniture and so on, » she says. « My career has been in art schools cause I don’t get along with normal academics. »

To hear her tell it, getting along has never been Ms. Paglia’s strong suit. As a child, she felt stifled by the expectations of girlhood in the 1950s. She fantasized about being a knight, not a princess. Discovering pioneering female figures as a teenager, most notably Amelia Earhart, transformed Ms. Paglia’s understanding of what her future might hold.

These iconoclastic women of the 1930s, like Earhart and Katharine Hepburn, remain her ideal feminist role models: independent, brave, enterprising, capable of competing with men without bashing them. But since at least the late 1960s, she says, fellow feminists in the academy stopped sharing her vision of « equal-opportunity feminism » that demands a level playing field without demanding special quotas or protections for women.

She proudly recounts her battle, while a graduate student at Yale in the late 1960s and early ’70s, with the New Haven Women’s Liberation Rock Band over the Rolling Stones: Ms. Paglia loved « Under My Thumb, » a song the others regarded as chauvinist. Then there was the time she « barely got through the dinner » with a group of women’s studies professors at Bennington College, where she had her first teaching job, who insisted that there is no hormonal difference between men and women. « I left before dessert. »

In her view, these ideological excesses bear much of the blame for the current cultural decline. She calls out activists like Gloria Steinem, Naomi Wolf and Susan Faludi for pushing a version of feminism that says gender is nothing more than a social construct, and groups like the National Organization for Women for making abortion the singular women’s issue.

By denying the role of nature in women’s lives, she argues, leading feminists created a « denatured, antiseptic » movement that « protected their bourgeois lifestyle » and falsely promised that women could « have it all. » And by impugning women who chose to forgo careers to stay at home with children, feminists turned off many who might have happily joined their ranks.

But Ms. Paglia’s criticism shouldn’t be mistaken for nostalgia for the socially prescribed roles for men and women before the 1960s. Quite the contrary. « I personally have disobeyed every single item of the gender code, » says Ms. Paglia. But men, and especially women, need to be honest about the role biology plays and clear-eyed about the choices they are making.

Sex education, she says, simply focuses on mechanics without conveying the real « facts of life, » especially for girls: « I want every 14-year-old girl . . . to be told: You better start thinking what do you want in life. If you just want a career and no children you don’t have much to worry about. If, however, you are thinking you’d like to have children some day you should start thinking about when do you want to have them. Early or late? To have them early means you are going to make a career sacrifice, but you’re going to have more energy and less risks. Both the pros and the cons should be presented. »

For all of Ms. Paglia’s barbs about the women’s movement, it seems clear that feminism—at least of the equal-opportunity variety—has triumphed in its basic goals. There is surely a lack of women in the C-Suite and Congress, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who would admit that he believes women are less capable. To save feminism as a political movement from irrelevance, Ms. Paglia says, the women’s movement should return to its roots. That means abandoning the « nanny state » mentality that led to politically correct speech codes and college disciplinary committees that have come to replace courts. The movement can win converts, she says, but it needs to become a big tent, one « open to stay-at-home moms » and « not just the career woman. »

More important, Ms. Paglia says, if the women’s movement wants to be taken seriously again, it should tackle serious matters, like rape in India and honor killings in the Muslim world, that are « more of an outrage than some woman going on a date on the Brown University campus. »

Ms. Weiss is an associate editorial features editor at the Journal.

Voir aussi:

‘There’s no room for anything manly now’: Feminist writer Camille Paglia speaks out AGAINST the loss of masculine virtues and its negative impact on society

The self-described ‘dissident feminist’ believes society is neutering boys of their maleness at a young age

She also believes the lack of people with military experience in important positions is a recipe for disaster

An avid listener of sports radio, she believes these ‘are the men that would save the nation’

‘Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly,’ she said

Paglia also recently spoke out in favor of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson and defended his right to free speech

The Daily Mail

30 December 2013

Our society is neutering boys of their maleness at a young age, while the lack of people with military experience in important positions is a recipe for disaster, claims Camille Paglia, the controversial lesbian author and social critic.

Self-described ‘dissident feminist’ Paglia, 66, believes that attempts to deny the biological distinctions between men and women is to blame for the much that is wrong with modern society.

‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide’ she told the Wall Street Journal.

Paglia, a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, is well known for her critical views on many aspects of modern culture, including feminism and liberalism.

She recently spoke out in support of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson, supporting his right to express homophobic views.

‘In a democratic country, people have the right to be homophobic as well as they have the right to support homosexuality – as I one hundred percent do.

‘If people are basing their views against gays on the Bible, again, they have a right of religious freedom there.’ she told Laura Ingraham’s radio show last week.

Paglia, who is promoting her latest book, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt To Star Wars, told the WSJ that the diminished status of military service in people in important positions is a big mistake.

the diminished status of military service in people in important positions is a big mistake, says Paglia

The emancipation of masculine virtues is something that is beginning as early as kindergarten in the U.S., argues Paglia

Our society is neutering boys of their maleness at a young age, right, while the lack of people with military experience in important positions is a recipe for disaster, left, claims Paglia

‘The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service – hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,’ she said.

‘These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.’

According to Paglia the results are there for all to see in the on-going dysfunction in Washington, where politicians ‘lack practical skills of analysis and construction’.

The emancipation of masculine virtues is something that is beginning as early as kindergarten in the U.S., argues Paglia.

‘Primary-school education is a crock, basically. It’s oppressive to anyone with physical energy, especially guys,’ she said.

The author, who along with her ex-partner Alison Maddex, is raising an 11-year-old son Lucian, believes that the way many schools have cut recess is ‘making a toxic environment for boys.’

‘Primary education does everything in its power to turn boys into neuters,’ she said.

The decline of America’s industrial base is another factor that the author believes is leaving many men with ‘no models of manhood.’

‘Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.’

Bizarrely Paglia claims that the only place that you can hear what men really feel these days is on sports radio.

The professor claims to be an avid listener and that the energy and enthusiasm ‘inspires me as a writer.’

‘If we had to go to war,’ the callers ‘are the men that would save the nation.’

Paglia didn’t spare the role of women in her musings and said that elite upper-middle-class women have become ‘clones’ condemned to ‘Pilates for the next 30 years.’

‘Our culture doesn’t allow women to know how to be womanly,’ she said.

THE OUTSPOKEN CAMILLE PAGLIA – SELF STYLED ‘DISSIDENT FEMINIST’

Ms Paglia (pictured) said some of Rihanna’s more candid shots were reminiscent of the work of Kathy Keeton – a South African ballet dancer who once edited Viva and whose fashion editor was Anna Wintour

Camille Paglia, is a self styled ‘dissident feminist’, outspoken on pop culture, and who has been described as a feminist bete noire.

The 66-year-old has been a professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA since 1984, but came to attention with the publication of her first book, ‘Sexual Personae’, in 1990, when she also began writing about popular culture and feminism in mainstream newspapers and magazines.

It is these articles which have propelled Paglia to the controversial figure she is today.

One scathing attack saw her conclude that Katy Perry and Taylor Swift, have ‘insipid, bleached-out personas’ that hark back to the man-pleasing, pre-feminist era.

In an article for The Hollywood Reporter, she wrote that as a result, many of today’s young women fail to realize the role their sexuality plays in society and ‘partying till you drop has gotten as harmless as a Rotary Club meeting’.

She said: ‘Swift’s meandering, snippy songs make 16-year-old Lesley Gore’s 1963 hit It’s My Party (And I’ll Cry if I Want to) seem like a towering masterpiece of social commentary, psychological drama and shapely concision.

‘Indeed, without her mannequin posturing at industry events, it’s doubtful that Swift could have attained her high profile.’

She cuttingly described Perry as a ‘manic cyborg cheerleader’.

Paglia previously slammed Lady Gaga, insisting her over-the-top sexuality is actually ‘stripped of genuine eroticism’.

She said the star’s willingness to dress in crazy outfits as an example of ‘every public appearance… has been lavishly scripted in advance’.

Voir également:

Munk Debate on the End of Men Post Debate Commentary

Christina Hoff Sommers

November 16, 2013

Be it resolved that men are obsolete. That was the question last week at a high spirited edition of Toronto’s celebrated Munk Debates. Hanna Rosin and Maureen Dowd said, “OMG Yes!” Camille Paglia and Caitlin Moran: “No way!” To men offended by the proposition: Lighten up. Don’t join those censorious feminists who have made the battle of the sexes a humor free zone. Rosin opened by asking, “How do we know men are finished?” Her answer was a quote from embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. “Yeah, there have been times I have been in a drunken stupor.” Exhibit B for her argument that men have become as fussy and insecure as women was a tweeted photograph of Anthony Wiener’s meticulously waxed chest. Along the way, she made serious p oints about how men are falling behind in education and the workplace. Women are adapting in the new world of gender equality; men are not. “Men are the new ball and chain,” Rosin said. Paglia was having none of it. She reminded Rosin and the female supr emacists that their busy Alpha female lives are made possible by an invisible army of men — “men who do the dirty, dangerous work of building roads, pouring concrete, laying bricks, tarring roofs, hanging electric wires, excavating natural gas and sewage lin es, cutting and clearing trees, and bulldozing the landscape for housing developments.” Paglia described the modern economy, with its vast system of production and distribution, as a sublime “male epic.” Women have joined it — but men built it. “Surely,” sai d the fiery Paglia, “modern women are strong enough now to give credit where credit is due!” And she reminded women that without strong men as models to either embrace or reject, women will never attain a distinctive sense of themselves as women. Maureen Dowd made good fun of her misfortune in following Camille Paglia — beginning, “Um, I’ve never debated before, and I am so screwed.” She did not fully engage the topic, but her beguiling style was a caution against letting “men and women are identica l” ideologues drive the discussion. With her Veronica Lake hair       and slinky black dress, Dowd was an alluring 1940s style vamp with up to date female taunts: “Men are so last century… they seemed to have stopped evolving.” When guys finally exit the stage, she wondered if they would be taking “video games, Game of Thrones on a continuous loop and cold pizza in the morning with them.” Women, said Dowd, have “clicked their ruby red stilettos three times” and now realize they are in charge. “The world is not f lat, Tom Friedman. The world is curvy.’” Actually, the world is both — as Dowd clearly knows and enjoys. And she does not want to destroy men, she wants to have fun with them — while joining them in the pursuit of power and happiness. Her playful, femme fatale feminism was more appealing than anything in Women’s Studies 101. Caitlin Moran, British writer and humorist, began by warning that her feminism was strident, Marxist, and “fueled by cocktails.” But she turned out to be a down to earth humanist, remindin g everyone that calling men obsolete was no better than the bad old sexist days when women were said to be irrelevant. We are in this together, said Moran: if one sex fails, the other staggers. All of the speakers acknowledged that working class men’s fort unes have fallen and that boys are having serious difficulties in schools. But, Moran insisted, that does not mean we should celebrate their travails, but rather that we should do everything possible to improve their prospects. She shocked and delighted th e audience with her concluding remark: “The question of the evening is: Are Men Obsolete? My conclusion is: No! I won’t let you be — you f___ers!” Imagine four brilliant, accomplished, funny women discussing the politics of gender outside the dreary, angry, “rape culture” obsessed framework of contemporary feminism. That happened this past Friday night at the Munk Debate, and both sexes came out ahead in the encounter. Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute a nd the author of The War Against Boys. The Munk Debates wished to thank Ali Wyne for his assistance in commissioning and compiling these essays. Ali Wyne is an associate of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. A frequent commentator on international affairs, he is a coauthor of Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World (2013 ).

Voir enfin:

The War Against Boys

This we think we know: American schools favor boys and grind down girls. The truth is the very opposite. By virtually every measure, girls are thriving in school; it is boys who are the second sex

by Christina Hoff Sommers

The Atlantic

May  2000

IT’S a bad time to be a boy in America. The triumphant victory of the U.S. women’s soccer team at the World Cup last summer has come to symbolize the spirit of American girls. The shooting at Columbine High last spring might be said to symbolize the spirit of American boys.

That boys are in disrepute is not accidental. For many years women’s groups have complained that boys benefit from a school system that favors them and is biased against girls. « Schools shortchange girls, » declares the American Association of University Women. Girls are « undergoing a kind of psychological foot-binding, » two prominent educational psychologists say. A stream of books and pamphlets cite research showing not only that boys are classroom favorites but also that they are given to schoolyard violence and sexual harassment.

In the view that has prevailed in American education over the past decade, boys are resented, both as the unfairly privileged sex and as obstacles on the path to gender justice for girls. This perspective is promoted in schools of education, and many a teacher now feels that girls need and deserve special indemnifying consideration. « It is really clear that boys are Number One in this society and in most of the world, » says Patricia O’Reilly, a professor of education and the director of the Gender Equity Center, at the University of Cincinnati.

The idea that schools and society grind girls down has given rise to an array of laws and policies intended to curtail the advantage boys have and to redress the harm done to girls. That girls are treated as the second sex in school and consequently suffer, that boys are accorded privileges and consequently benefit — these are things everyone is presumed to know. But they are not true.

The research commonly cited to support claims of male privilege and male sinfulness is riddled with errors. Almost none of it has been published in peer-reviewed professional journals. Some of the data turn out to be mysteriously missing. A review of the facts shows boys, not girls, on the weak side of an education gender gap. The typical boy is a year and a half behind the typical girl in reading and writing; he is less committed to school and less likely to go to college. In 1997 college full-time enrollments were 45 percent male and 55 percent female. The Department of Education predicts that the proportion of boys in college classes will continue to shrink.

Data from the U.S. Department of Education and from several recent university studies show that far from being shy and demoralized, today’s girls outshine boys. They get better grades. They have higher educational aspirations. They follow more-rigorous academic programs and participate in advanced-placement classes at higher rates. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, slightly more girls than boys enroll in high-level math and science courses. Girls, allegedly timorous and lacking in confidence, now outnumber boys in student government, in honor societies, on school newspapers, and in debating clubs. Only in sports are boys ahead, and women’s groups are targeting the sports gap with a vengeance. Girls read more books. They outperform boys on tests for artistic and musical ability. More girls than boys study abroad. More join the Peace Corps. At the same time, more boys than girls are suspended from school. More are held back and more drop out. Boys are three times as likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. More boys than girls are involved in crime, alcohol, and drugs. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, but it is boys who more often succeed. In 1997, a typical year, 4,483 young people aged five to twenty-four committed suicide: 701 females and 3,782 males.

In the technical language of education experts, girls are academically more « engaged. » Last year an article in The CQ Researcher about male and female academic achievement described a common parental observation: « Daughters want to please their teachers by spending extra time on projects, doing extra credit, making homework as neat as possible. Sons rush through homework assignments and run outside to play, unconcerned about how the teacher will regard the sloppy work. »

School engagement is a critical measure of student success. The U.S. Department of Education gauges student commitment by the following criteria: « How much time do students devote to homework each night? »and « Do students come to class prepared and ready to learn? (Do they bring books and pencils? Have they completed their homework?) »According to surveys of fourth, eighth, and twelfth graders, girls consistently do more homework than boys. By the twelfth grade boys are four times as likely as girls not to do homework. Similarly, more boys than girls report that they « usually » or « often » come to school without supplies or without having done their homework.

The performance gap between boys and girls in high school leads directly to the growing gap between male and female admissions to college. The Department of Education reports that in 1996 there were 8.4 million women but only 6.7 million men enrolled in college. It predicts that women will hold on to and increase their lead well into the next decade, and that by 2007 the numbers will be 9.2 million women and 6.9 million men.

Deconstructing the Test-Score Gap

FEMINISTS cannot deny that girls get better grades, are more engaged academically, and are now the majority sex in higher education. They argue, however, that these advantages are hardly decisive. Boys, they point out, get higher scores than girls on almost every significant standardized test — especially the Scholastic Assessment Test and law school, medical school, and graduate school admissions tests.

In 1996 I wrote an article for Education Week about the many ways in which girl students were moving ahead of boys. Seizing on the test-score data that suggest boys are doing better than girls, David Sadker, a professor of education at American University and a co-author with his wife, Myra, of Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat Girls (1994), wrote, « If females are soaring in school, as Christina Hoff Sommers writes, then these tests are blind to their flight. » On the 1998 SAT boys were thirty-five points (out of 800) ahead of girls in math and seven points ahead in English. These results seem to run counter to all other measurements of achievement in school. In almost all other areas boys lag behind girls. Why do they test better? Is Sadker right in suggesting that this is a manifestation of boys’ privileged status?

The answer is no. A careful look at the pool of students who take the SAT and similar tests shows that the girls’ lower scores have little or nothing to do with bias or unfairness. Indeed, the scores do not even signify lower achievement by girls. First of all, according to College Bound Seniors, an annual report on standardized-test takers published by the College Board, many more « at risk » girls than « at risk » boys take the SAT — girls from lower-income homes or with parents who never graduated from high school or never attended college. « These characteristics, » the report says, « are associated with lower than average SAT scores. » Instead of wrongly using SAT scores as evidence of bias against girls, scholars should be concerned about the boys who never show up for the tests they need if they are to move on to higher education.

Another factor skews test results so that they appear to favor boys. Nancy Cole, the president of the Educational Testing Service, calls it the « spread » phenomenon. Scores on almost any intelligence or achievement test are more spread out for boys than for girls — boys include more prodigies and more students of marginal ability. Or, as the political scientist James Q. Wilson once put it, « There are more male geniuses and more male idiots. »

Boys also dominate dropout lists, failure lists, and learning-disability lists. Students in these groups rarely take college-admissions tests. On the other hand, the exceptional boys who take school seriously show up in disproportionately high numbers for standardized tests. Gender-equity activists like Sadker ought to apply their logic consistently: if the shortage of girls at the high end of the ability distribution is evidence of unfairness to girls, then the excess of boys at the low end should be deemed evidence of unfairness to boys.

Suppose we were to turn our attention away from the highly motivated, self-selected two fifths of high school students who take the SAT and consider instead a truly representative sample of American schoolchildren. How would girls and boys then compare? Well, we have the answer. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, started in 1969 and mandated by Congress, offers the best and most comprehensive measure of achievement among students at all levels of ability. Under the NAEP program 70,000 to 100,000 students, drawn from forty-four states, are tested in reading, writing, math, and science at ages nine, thirteen, and seventeen. In 1996, seventeen-year-old boys outperformed seventeen-year-old girls by five points in math and eight points in science, whereas the girls outperformed the boys by fourteen points in reading and seventeen points in writing. In the past few years girls have been catching up in math and science while boys have continued to lag far behind in reading and writing.

In the July, 1995, issue of Science, Larry V. Hedges and Amy Nowell, researchers at the University of Chicago, observed that girls’ deficits in math were small but not insignificant. These deficits, they noted, could adversely affect the number of women who « excel in scientific and technical occupations. »Of the deficits in boys’ writing skills they wrote, « The large sex differences in writing … are alarming…. The data imply that males are, on average, at a rather profound disadvantage in the performance of this basic skill. » They went on to warn,

The generally larger numbers of males who perform near the bottom of the distribution in reading comprehension and writing also have policy implications. It seems likely that individuals with such poor literacy skills will have difficulty finding employment in an increasingly information-driven economy. Thus, some intervention may be required to enable them to participate constructively.

Hedges and Nowell were describing a serious problem of national scope, but because the focus elsewhere has been on girls’ deficits, few Americans know much about the problem or even suspect that it exists.

Indeed, so accepted has the myth of girls in crisis become that even teachers who work daily with male and female students tend to reflexively dismiss any challenge to the myth, or any evidence pointing to the very real crisis among boys. Three years ago Scarsdale High School, in New York, held a gender-equity workshop for faculty members. It was the standard girls-are-being-shortchanged fare, with one notable difference. A male student gave a presentation in which he pointed to evidence suggesting that girls at Scarsdale High were well ahead of boys. David Greene, a social-studies teacher, thought the student must be mistaken, but when he and some colleagues analyzed department grading patterns, they discovered that the student was right. They found little or no difference in the grades of boys and girls in advanced-placement social-studies classes. But in standard classes the girls were doing a lot better.

And Greene discovered one other thing: few wanted to hear about his startling findings. Like schools everywhere, Scarsdale High has been strongly influenced by the belief that girls are systematically deprived. That belief prevails among the school’s gender-equity committee and has led the school to offer a special senior elective on gender equity. Greene has tried to broach the subject of male underperformance with his colleagues. Many of them concede that in the classes they teach, the girls seem to be doing better than the boys, but they do not see this as part of a larger pattern. After so many years of hearing about silenced, diminished girls, teachers do not take seriously the suggestion that boys are not doing as well as girls even if they see it with their own eyes in their own classrooms.

The Incredible Shrinking Girl

HOW did we get to this odd place? How did we come to believe in a picture of American boys and girls that is the opposite of the truth? And why has that belief persisted, enshrined in law, encoded in governmental and school policies, despite overwhelming evidence against it? The answer has much to do with one of the American academy’s most celebrated women — Carol Gilligan, Harvard University’s first professor of gender studies.

Gilligan first came to widespread attention in 1982, with the publication of In a Different Voice, which this article will discuss shortly. In 1990 Gilligan announced that America’s adolescent girls were in crisis. In her words, « As the river of a girl’s life flows into the sea of Western culture, she is in danger of drowning or disappearing. » Gilligan offered little in the way of conventional evidence to support this alarming finding. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what sort of empirical research could establish such a large claim. But she quickly attracted powerful allies. Within a very short time the allegedly vulnerable and demoralized state of adolescent girls achieved the status of a national emergency.

Popular writers, electrified by Gilligan’s discovery, began to see evidence of the crisis everywhere. Anna Quindlen, who was then a New York Times columnist, recounted in a 1990 column how Gilligan’s research had cast an ominous shadow on the celebration of her daughter’s second birthday: « My daughter is ready to leap into the world, as though life were chicken soup and she a delighted noodle. The work of Professor Carol Gilligan of Harvard suggests that some time after the age of 11 this will change, that even this lively little girl will pull back [and] shrink. »

A number of popular books soon materialized, including Myra and David Sadker’s Failing at Fairness and Peggy Orenstein’s Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap (1994). Elizabeth Gleick wrote in Time in 1996 on a new trend in literary victimology: « Dozens of troubled teenage girls troop across [the] pages: composite sketches of Charlottes, Whitneys and Danielles who were raped, who have bulimia, who have pierced bodies or shaved heads, who are coping with strict religious families or are felled by their parents’ bitter divorce. »

The country’s adolescent girls were both pitied and exalted. The novelist Carolyn See wrote in The Washington Post in 1994, « The most heroic, fearless, graceful, tortured human beings in this land must be girls from the ages of 12 to 15. » In the same vein, the Sadkers, in Failing at Fairness, predicted the fate of a lively six-year-old on top of a playground slide: « There she stood on her sturdy legs, with her head thrown back and her arms flung wide. As ruler of the playground, she was at the very zenith of her world. »But all would soon change: « If the camera had photographed the girl … at twelve instead of six … she would have been looking at the ground instead of the sky; her sense of self-worth would have been an accelerating downward spiral. »

A picture of confused and forlorn girls struggling to survive would be drawn again and again, with added details and increasing urgency. Mary Pipher, a clinical psychologist, wrote in Reviving Ophelia (1994), by far the most successful of the girls-in-crisis books, « Something dramatic happens to girls in early adolescence. Just as planes and ships disappear mysteriously into the Bermuda Triangle, so do the selves of girls go down in droves. They crash and burn. »

The description of America’s teenage girls as silenced, tortured, and otherwise personally diminished was (and is) indeed dismaying. But no real evidence has ever been offered to support it. Certainly neither Gilligan nor the popular writers who followed her lead produced anything like solid empirical evidence, gathered according to the conventional protocols of social-science research.

Scholars who do abide by those protocols describe adolescent girls in far more optimistic terms. Anne Petersen, a former professor of adolescent development and pediatrics at the University of Minnesota and now a senior vice-president of the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, reports the consensus of researchers working in adolescent psychology: « It is now known that the majority of adolescents of both genders successfully negotiate this developmental period without any major psychological or emotional disorder, develop a positive sense of personal identity, and manage to forge adaptive peer relationships with their families. » Daniel Offer, a professor of psychiatry at Northwestern, concurs. He refers to a « new generation of studies » that find 80 percent of adolescents to be normal and well adjusted.

At the time that Gilligan was declaring her crisis, a study conducted by the University of Michigan asked a scientifically selected sample of 3,000 high school seniors, « Taking all things together, how would you say things are these days — would you say you’re very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy these days? » Nearly 86 percent of the girls and 88 percent of the boys responded that they were « pretty happy » or « very happy. » If the girls polled were caught in « an accelerating downward spiral, » they were unaware of it.

Contrary to the story told by Gilligan and her followers, American girls were flourishing in unprecedented ways by the early 1990s. To be sure, some — including many who found themselves in the offices of clinical psychologists — felt they were crashing and drowning in the sea of Western culture. But the vast majority were occupied in more-constructive ways, moving ahead of boys in the primary and secondary grades, applying to college in record numbers, filling challenging academic classes, joining sports teams, and generally enjoying more freedom and opportunities than any other young women in history.

The great discrepancy between what Gilligan says she discovered about adolescent girls and what numerous other scientists say they have learned raises obvious questions about the quality of Gilligan’s research. And these questions loom larger the more one examines Gilligan’s methods. Carol Gilligan is a much-celebrated figure. Journalists routinely cite her research on the distinctive moral psychology of women. She was Ms. magazine’s Woman of the Year in 1984, and Time put her on its short list of most-influential Americans in 1996. In 1997 she received the $250,000 Heinz Award for « transform[ing] the paradigm for what it means to be human. » Such a transformation would certainly be a feat. At the very least, it would require a great deal of empirical supporting evidence. Most of Gilligan’s published research, however, consists of anecdotes based on a small number of interviews. Her data are otherwise unavailable for review, giving rise to some reasonable doubts about their merits and persuasiveness.

In a Different Voice offered the provocative thesis that men and women have distinctly different ways of dealing with moral quandaries. Relying on data from three studies she had conducted, Gilligan found that women tend to be more caring, less competitive, and less abstract than men; they speak « in a different voice. » Women approach moral questions by applying an « ethic of care. » In contrast, men approach moral issues by applying rules and abstract principles; theirs is an « ethic of justice. » Gilligan argued further that women’s moral style had been insufficiently studied by professional psychologists. She complained that the entire fields of psychology and moral philosophy had been built on studies that excluded women.

In a Different Voice was an instant success. It sold more than 600,000 copies and was translated into nine languages. A reviewer at Vogue explained its appeal: « [Gilligan] flips old prejudices against women on their ears. She reframes qualities regarded as women’s weaknesses and shows them to be human strengths. It is impossible to consider [her] ideas without having your estimation of women rise. »

The book received a mixed reaction from feminists. Some — such as the philosophers Virginia Held and Sara Ruddick, and those in various fields who would come to be known as « difference feminists » — were tantalized by the idea that women were different from, and quite probably better than, men. But other academic feminists attacked Gilligan for reinforcing stereotypes about women as nurturers and caretakers.

Many academic psychologists, feminist and nonfeminist alike, found Gilligan’s specific claims about distinct male and female moral orientations unpersuasive and ungrounded in empirical data. Lawrence Walker, of the University of British Columbia, has reviewed 108 studies of sex differences in solving moral problems. He concluded in a 1984 review article in Child Development that « sex differences in moral reasoning in late adolescence and youth are rare. » In 1987 three psychologists at Oberlin College attempted to test Gilligan’s hypothesis: they administered a moral-reasoning test to 101 male and female students and concluded, « There were no reliable sex differences … in the directions predicted by Gilligan. » Concurring with Walker, the Oberlin researchers pointed out that « Gilligan failed to provide acceptable empirical support for her model. »

The thesis of In a Different Voice is based on three studies Gilligan conducted: the « college student study, » the « abortion decision study, » and the « rights and responsibilities study. » Here is how Gilligan described the last.

This study involved a sample of males and females matched for age, intelligence, education, occupation, and social class at nine points across the life cycle: ages 6-9, 11, 15, 19, 22, 25-27, 35, 45, and 60. From a total sample of 144 (8 males and 8 females at each age), including a more intensively interviewed subsample of 36 (2 males and 2 females at each age), data were collected on conceptions of self and morality, experiences of moral conflicts and choice, and judgments of hypothetical moral dilemmas.

This description is all we ever learn about the mechanics of the study, which seems to have no proper name; it was never published, never peer-reviewed. It was, in any case, very small in scope and in number of subjects. And the data are tantalizingly inaccessible. In September of 1998 my research assistant, Elizabeth Bowen, called Gilligan’s office and asked where she could find copies of the three studies that were the basis for In a Different Voice. Gilligan’s assistant, Tatiana Bertsch, told her that they were unavailable, and not in the public domain; because of the sensitivity of the data (especially the abortion study), the information had been kept confidential. Asked where the studies were now kept, Bertsch explained that the original data were being prepared to be placed in a Harvard library: « They are physically in the office. We are in the process of sending them to the archives at the Murray Center. »

In October of 1998 Hugh Liebert, a sophomore at Harvard who had been my research assistant the previous summer, spoke to Bertsch. She told him that the data would not be available until the end of the academic year, adding, « They have been kept secret because the issues [raised in the study] are so sensitive. » She suggested that he check back occasionally. He tried again in March. This time she informed him, « They will not be available anytime soon. »

Last September, Liebert tried one more time. He sent an e-mail message directly to Gilligan, but Bertsch sent back the reply.

None of the In a Different Voice studies have been published. We are in the process of donating the college student study to the Murray Research Center at Radcliffe, but that will not be completed for another year, probably. At this point Professor Gilligan has no immediate plans of donating the abortion or the rights and responsibilities studies. Sorry that none of what you are interested in is available.

Brendan Maher is a professor emeritus at Harvard University and a former chairman of the psychology department. I told him about the inaccessibility of Gilligan’s data and the explanation that their sensitive nature precluded public dissemination. He laughed and said, « It would be extraordinary to say [that one’s data] are too sensitive for others to see. » He pointed out that there are standard methods for handling confidential materials in research. Names are left out but raw scores are reported, « so others can see if they can replicate your study. » A researcher must also disclose how subjects were chosen, how interviews were recorded, and the method by which meaning was derived from the data.

« Politics Dressed Up as Science »

GILLIGAN’S ideas about demoralized teenage girls had a special resonance with women’s groups that were already committed to the proposition that our society is unsympathetic to women. The interest of the venerable and politically influential American Association of University Women, in particular, was piqued. Its officers were reported to be « intrigued and alarmed » by Gilligan’s research. They wanted to know more.

In 1990 The New York Times Sunday Magazine published an admiring profile of Gilligan that heralded the discovery of a hidden crisis among the nation’s girls. Soon after, the AAUW commissioned a study from the polling firm Greenberg-Lake. The pollsters asked 3,000 children (2,400 girls and 600 boys in grades four through ten) about their self-perceptions. In 1991 the association announced the disturbing results, in a report titled Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America: « Girls aged eight and nine are confident, assertive, and feel authoritative about themselves. Yet most emerge from adolescence with a poor self-image, constrained views of their future and their place in society, and much less confidence about themselves and their abilities. » Anne Bryant, the executive director of the AAUW and an expert in public relations, organized a media campaign to spread the word that « an unacknowledged American tragedy » had been uncovered. Newspapers and magazines around the country carried reports that girls were being adversely affected by gender bias that eroded their self-esteem. Sharon Schuster, at the time the president of the AAUW, candidly explained to The New York Times why the association had undertaken the research in the first place: « We wanted to put some factual data behind our belief that girls are getting shortchanged in the classroom. »

As the AAUW’s self-esteem study was making headlines, a little-known magazine called Science News, which has been supplying information on scientific and technical developments to interested newspapers since 1922, reported the skeptical reaction of leading specialists on adolescent development. The late Roberta Simmons, a professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh (described by Science News as « director of the most ambitious longitudinal study of adolescent self-esteem to date »), said that her research showed nothing like the substantial gender gap described by the AAUW. According to Simmons, « Most kids come through the years from 10 to 20 without major problems and with an increasing sense of self-esteem. » But the doubts of Simmons and several other prominent experts were not reported in the hundreds of news stories that the Greenberg-Lake study generated.

The AAUW quickly commissioned a second study, How Schools Shortchange Girls. This one, conducted by the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women and released in 1992, focused on the alleged effects of sexism on girls’ school performance. It asserted that schools deflate girls’ self-esteem by « systematically cheating girls of classroom attention. »Such bias leads to lower aspirations and impaired academic achievement. Carol Gilligan’s crisis was being transformed into a civil-rights issue: girls were the victims of widespread sex discrimination. « The implications are clear, » the AAUW said. « The system must change. »

With great fanfare How Schools Shortchange Girls was released to the remarkably uncritical media. A 1992 article for The New York Times by Susan Chira was typical of coverage throughout the country. The headline read « Bias Against Girls is Found Rife in Schools, With Lasting Damage. » The piece was later reproduced by the AAUW and sent out as part of a fundraising package. Chira had not interviewed a single critic of the study.

« Some of us grew up with the image of reporters as tough-minded skeptics. Yet there were no tough-minded reporters in sight in 1992, when the American Association of University Women released its report ‘How Schools Shortchange Girls.' » A Wall Street Journal article posted by the Brookings Institution.

In March of last year I called Chira and asked about the way she had handled the AAUW study. I asked if she would write her article the same way today. No, she said, pointing out that we have since learned much more about boys’ problems in school. Why had she not canvassed dissenting opinions? She explained that she had been traveling when the AAUW study came out, and was on a short deadline. Yes, perhaps she had relied too much on the AAUW’s report. She had tried to reach Diane Ravitch, who had then been the former U.S. assistant secretary of education and was a known critic of women’s-advocacy findings, but without success.

Six years after the release of How Schools Shortchange Girls, The New York Times ran a story that raised questions about its validity. This time the reporter, Tamar Lewin, did reach Diane Ravitch, who told her, « That [1992] AAUW report was just completely wrong. What was so bizarre is that it came out right at the time that girls had just overtaken boys in almost every area. It might have been the right story twenty years earlier, but coming out when it did, it was like calling a wedding a funeral…. There were all these special programs put in place for girls, and no one paid any attention to boys. »

One of the many things about which the report was wrong was the famous « call-out » gap. According to the AAUW, « In a study conducted by the Sadkers, boys in elementary and middle school called out answers eight times more often than girls. When boys called out, teachers listened. But when girls called out, they were told ‘raise your hand if you want to speak.' »

But the Sadker study turns out to be missing — and meaningless, to boot. In 1994 Amy Saltzman, of U.S. News & World Report, asked David Sadker for a copy of the research backing up the eight-to-one call-out claim. Sadker said that he had presented the findings in an unpublished paper at a symposium sponsored by the American Educational Research Association; neither he nor the AERA had a copy. Sadker conceded to Saltzman that the ratio may have been inaccurate. Indeed, Saltzman cited an independent study by Gail Jones, an associate professor of education at the University of North Carolina, at Chapel Hill, which found that boys called out only twice as often as girls. Whatever the accurate number is, no one has shown that permitting a student to call out answers in the classroom confers any kind of academic advantage. What does confer advantage is a student’s attentiveness. Boys are less attentive — which could explain why some teachers might call on them more or be more tolerant of call-outs.

Despite the errors, the campaign to persuade the public that girls were being diminished personally and academically was a spectacular success. The Sadkers described an exultant Anne Bryant, of the AAUW, telling her friends, « I remember going to bed the night our report was issued, totally exhilarated. When I woke up the next morning, the first thought in my mind was, ‘Oh, my God, what do we do next?' » Political action came next, and here, too, girls’ advocates were successful.

Categorizing girls as an « under-served population » on a par with other discriminated-against minorities, Congress passed the Gender Equity in Education Act in 1994. Millions of dollars in grants were awarded to study the plight of girls and to learn how to counter bias against them. At the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women, in Beijing in 1995, members of the U.S. delegation presented the educational and psychological deficits of American girls as a human-rights issue.

The Myth Unraveling

BY the late 1990s the myth of the downtrodden girl was showing some signs of unraveling, and concern over boys was growing. In 1997 the Public Education Network (PEN) announced at its annual conference the results of a new teacher-student survey titled The American Teacher 1997: Examining Gender Issues in Public Schools. The survey was funded by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and conducted by Louis Harris and Associates.

During a three-month period in 1997 various questions about gender equity were asked of 1,306 students and 1,035 teachers in grades seven through twelve. The MetLife study had no doctrinal ax to grind. What it found contradicted most of the findings of the AAUW, the Sadkers, and the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women: « Contrary to the commonly held view that boys are at an advantage over girls in school, girls appear to have an advantage over boys in terms of their future plans, teachers’ expectations, everyday experiences at school and interactions in the classroom. »

Some other conclusions from the MetLife study: Girls are more likely than boys to see themselves as college-bound and more likely to want a good education. Furthermore, more boys (31 percent) than girls (19 percent) feel that teachers do not listen to what they have to say.

At the PEN conference, Nancy Leffert, a child psychologist then at the Search Institute, in Minneapolis, reported the results of a survey that she and colleagues had recently completed of more than 99,000 children in grades six through twelve. The children were asked about what the researchers call « developmental assets. » The Search Institute has identified forty critical assets — « building blocks for healthy development. » Half of these are external, such as a supportive family and adult role models, and half are internal, such as motivation to achieve, a sense of purpose in life, and interpersonal confidence. Leffert explained, somewhat apologetically, that girls were ahead of boys with respect to thirty-seven out of forty assets. By almost every significant measure of well-being girls had the better of boys: they felt closer to their families; they had higher aspirations, stronger connections to school, and even superior assertiveness skills. Leffert concluded her talk by saying that in the past she had referred to girls as fragile or vulnerable, but that the survey « tells me that girls have very powerful assets. »

The Horatio Alger Association, a fifty-year-old organization devoted to promoting and affirming individual initiative and « the American dream, » releases annual back-to-school surveys. Its survey for 1998 contrasted two groups of students: the « highly successful » (approximately 18 percent of American students) and the « disillusioned » (approximately 15 percent). The successful students work hard, choose challenging classes, make schoolwork a top priority, get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, and feel that teachers and administrators care about them and listen to them. According to the association, the successful group in the 1998 survey is 63 percent female and 37 percent male. The disillusioned students are pessimistic about their future, get low grades, and have little contact with teachers. The disillusioned group could accurately be characterized as demoralized. According to the Alger Association, « Nearly seven out of ten are male. »

In the spring of 1998 Judith Kleinfeld, a psychologist at the University of Alaska, published a thorough critique of the research on schoolgirls titled « The Myth That Schools Shortchange Girls: Social Science in the Service of Deception. » Kleinfeld exposed a number of errors in the AAUW/Wellesley Center study, concluding that it was « politics dressed up as science. » Kleinfeld’s report prompted several publications, including The New York Times and Education Week, to take a second look at claims that girls were in a tragic state.

The AAUW did not adequately respond to any of Kleinfeld’s substantive objections; instead its current president, Maggie Ford, complained in the New York Times letters column that Kleinfeld was « reducing the problems of our children to this petty ‘who is worse off, boys or girls?’ [which] gets us nowhere.' » From the leader of an organization that spent nearly a decade ceaselessly promoting the proposition that American girls are being « shortchanged, » this comment is rather remarkable.

Boys and Their Mothers

GROWING evidence that the scales are tipped not against girls but against boys is beginning to inspire a quiet revisionism. Some educators will admit that boys are on the wrong side of the gender gap. In 1998 I met the president of the Board of Education of Atlanta. Who is faring better in Atlanta’s schools, boys or girls? I asked. « Girls, » he replied, without hesitation. In what areas? I asked. « Just about any area you mention. » A high school principal from Pennsylvania says of his school, « Students who dominate the dropout list, the suspension list, the failure list, and other negative indices of nonachievement in school are males by a wide margin. »

Carol Gilligan, too, has begun to give boys some attention. In 1995 she and her colleagues at the Harvard University School of Education inaugurated « The Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology, Boys’ Development and the Culture of Manhood. » Within a year Gilligan was announcing the existence of a crisis among boys that was as bad as or worse than the one afflicting girls. « Girls’ psychological development in patriarchy involves a process of eclipse that is even more total for boys, »she wrote in a 1996 article titled « The Centrality of Relationship in Human Development. »

Gilligan claimed to have discovered « a startling pattern of developmental asymmetry »: girls undergo trauma as they enter adolescence, whereas for boys the period of crisis is early childhood. Boys aged three to seven are pressured to « take into themselves the structure or moral order of a patriarchal civilization: to internalize a patriarchal voice. » This masculinizing process is traumatic and damaging. « At this age, » Gilligan told The Boston Globe in 1996, « boys show a high incidence of depression, out-of-control behavior, learning disorders, even allergies and stuttering. »

One can welcome Gilligan’s acceptance of the fact that boys, too, have problems while remaining deeply skeptical of her ideas about their source. Gilligan’s theory about boys’ development includes three hypothetical claims: 1) Boys are being deformed and made sick by a traumatic, forced separation from their mothers. 2) Seemingly healthy boys are cut off from their own feelings and damaged in their capacity to develop healthy relationships. 3) The well-being of society may depend on freeing boys from « cultures that value or valorize heroism, honor, war, and competition — the culture of warriors, the economy of capitalism. » Let us consider each proposition in turn.

According to Gilligan, boys are at special risk in early childhood; they suffer « more stuttering, more bedwetting, more learning problems … when cultural norms pressure them to separate from their mothers. » (Sometimes she adds allergies, attention-deficit disorder, and attempted suicide to the list.) She does not cite any pediatric research to support her theory about the origins of these various early-childhood disorders. Does a study exist, for example, showing that boys who remain intimately bonded with their mothers are less likely to develop allergies or wet their beds?

Gilligan’s assertion that the « pressure of cultural norms » causes boys to separate from their mothers and thus generates a host of early disorders has not been tested empirically. Nor does Gilligan offer any indication of how it could be tested. She does not seem to feel that her assertions need empirical confirmation. She is confident that boys need to be protected from the culture — a culture in which manhood valorizes war and the economy of capitalism, a culture that desensitizes boys and, by submerging their humanity, is the root cause of « out-of-control and out-of-touch behavior » and is the ultimate source of war and other violence committed by men.

But are boys aggressive and violent because they are psychically separated from their mothers? Thirty years of research suggests that the absence of the male parent is more likely to be the problem. The boys who are most at risk for juvenile delinquency and violence are boys who are physically separated from their fathers. The U.S. Bureau of the Census reports that in 1960 children living with their mother but not their father numbered 5.1 million; by 1996 the number was more than 16 million. As the phenomenon of fatherlessness has increased, so has violence. As far back as 1965 Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called attention to the social dangers of raising boys without benefit of a paternal presence. He wrote in a 1965 study for the Labor Department, « A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken families, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future — that community asks for and gets chaos. »

The sociologist David Blankenhorn, in Fatherless America (1995), wrote, « Despite the difficulty of proving causation in the social sciences, the weight of evidence increasingly supports the conclusion that fatherlessness is a primary generator of violence among young men. » William Galston, a former domestic-policy adviser in the Clinton Administration who is now at the University of Maryland, and his colleague Elaine Kamarck, now at Harvard, concur. Commenting on the relationship between crime and one-parent families, they wrote in a 1990 institute report, « The relationship is so strong that controlling for family configuration erases the relationship between race and crime and between low income and crime. This conclusion shows up time and again in the literature. »

Oblivious of all the factual evidence that paternal separation causes aberrant behavior in boys, Carol Gilligan calls for a fundamental change in child rearing that would keep boys in a more sensitive relationship with their feminine side. We need to free young men from a destructive culture of manhood that « impedes their capacity to feel their own and other people’s hurt, to know their own and other’s sadness, » she writes. Since the pathology, as she has diagnosed it, is presumably universal, the cure must be radical. We must change the very nature of childhood: we must find ways to keep boys bonded to their mothers. We must undercut the system of socialization that is so « essential to the perpetuation of patriarchal societies. »

Gilligan’s views are attractive to many of those who believe that boys could profit by being more sensitive and empathetic. But anyone thinking to enlist in Gilligan’s project of getting boys in touch with their inner nurturer would do well to note that her central thesis — that boys are being imprisoned by conventional ideas of masculinity — is not a scientific hypothesis. Nor, it seems, does Gilligan regard it in this light, for she presents no data to support it. It is, in fact, an extravagant piece of speculation of the kind that would not be taken seriously in most professional departments of psychology.

On a less academic plane Gilligan’s proposed reformation seems to challenge common sense. It is obvious that a boy wants his father to help him become a young man, and belonging to the culture of manhood is important to almost every boy. To impugn his desire to become « one of the boys » is to deny that a boy’s biology determines much of what he prefers and is attracted to. Unfortunately, by denying the nature of boys, education theorists can cause them much misery.

Gilligan talks of radically reforming « the fundamental structure of authority » by making changes that will free boys from the stereotypes that bind them. But in what sense are American boys unfree? Was the young Mark Twain or the young Teddy Roosevelt enslaved by conventional modes of boyhood? Is the average Little Leaguer or Cub Scout defective in the ways Gilligan suggests? In practice, getting boys to be more like girls means getting them to stop segregating themselves into all-male groups. That’s the darker, coercive side of the project to « free » boys from their masculine straitjackets.

It is certainly true that a small subset of male children are, as Gilligan argues, desensitized and cut off from feelings of tenderness and care. But these boys are not representative of their sex. Gilligan speaks of boys in general as « hiding their humanity, » showing a capacity to « hurt without feeling hurt. » This, she maintains, is a more or less universal condition that exists because the vast majority of boys are forced into separation from their nurturers. But the idea that boys are abnormally insensitive flies in the face of everyday experience. Boys are competitive and often aggressive, yes; but anyone in close contact with them — parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, friends — gets daily proof of their humanity, loyalty, and compassion.

Gilligan appears to be making the same mistake with boys that she made with girls — she observes a few children and interprets their problems as indicative of a deep and general malaise caused by the way our society imposes gender stereotypes. The pressure to conform to these stereotypes, she believes, has impaired, distressed, and deformed the members of both sexes by the time they are adolescents. In fact — with the important exception of boys whose fathers are absent and who get their concept of maleness from peer groups — most boys are not violent. Most are not unfeeling or antisocial. They are just boys — and being a boy is not in itself a failing.

Does Gilligan actually understand boys? Does she empathize with them? Is she free of the misandry that infects so many gender theorists who never stop blaming the « male culture » for all social and psychological ills? Nothing we have seen or heard offers the slightest reassurance that Gilligan and her followers are wise enough or objective enough to be trusted with devising new ways of socializing boys.

Every society confronts the problem of civilizing its young males. The traditional approach is through character education: Develop the young man’s sense of honor. Help him become a considerate, conscientious human being. Turn him into a gentleman. This approach respects boys’ masculine nature; it is time-tested, and it works. Even today, despite several decades of moral confusion, most young men understand the term « gentleman »and approve of the ideals it connotes.

What Gilligan and her followers are proposing is quite different: civilize boys by diminishing their masculinity. « Raise boys like we raise girls » is Gloria Steinem’s advice. This approach is deeply disrespectful of boys. It is meddlesome, abusive, and quite beyond what educators in a free society are mandated to do.

DID anything of value come out of the manufactured crisis of diminished girls? Yes, a bit. Parents, teachers, and administrators now pay more attention to girls’ deficits in math and science, and they offer more support for girls’ participation in sports. But who is to say that these benefits outweigh the disservice done by promulgating the myth of the incredible shrinking girl or presenting boys as the unfairly favored sex?

A boy today, through no fault of his own, finds himself implicated in the social crime of shortchanging girls. Yet the allegedly silenced and neglected girl sitting next to him is likely to be the superior student. She is probably more articulate, more mature, more engaged, and more well-balanced. The boy may be aware that she is more likely to go on to college. He may believe that teachers prefer to be around girls and pay more attention to them. At the same time, he is uncomfortably aware that he is considered to be a member of the favored and dominant gender.

The widening gender gap in academic achievement is real. It threatens the future of millions of American boys. Boys do not need to be rescued from their masculinity. But they are not getting the help they need. In the climate of disapproval in which boys now exist, programs designed to aid them have a very low priority. This must change. We should repudiate the partisanship that currently clouds the issues surrounding sex differences in the schools. We should call for balance, objective information, fair treatment, and a concerted national effort to get boys back on track. That means we can no longer allow the partisans of girls to write the rules.

9 commentaires pour Guerre des sexes: Si la civilisation avait été laissée aux mains des femmes, nous vivrions encore dans des cases en paille (Camille Paglia: How ignoring biological differences undermines Western civilization)

  1. […] qui restent comme celles de Camille Paglia ou Christina Hoff Sommers  …  L’impasse et les aberrations vers lesquelles nous pousse toujours plus le féminisme actuel […]

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