An updated and revised edition of the controversial classic—now more relevant than ever—argues that boys are the ones languishing socially and academically, resulting in staggering social and economic costs.
Girls and women were once second-class citizens in the nation’s schools. Americans responded with concerted efforts to give girls and women the attention and assistance that was long overdue. Now, after two major waves of feminism and decades of policy reform, women have made massive strides in education. Today they outperform men in nearly every measure of social, academic, and vocational well-being.
Christina Hoff Sommers contends that it’s time to take a hard look at present-day realities and recognize that boys need help. Called “provocative and controversial...impassioned and articulate” (The Christian Science Monitor), this edition of The War Against Boys offers a new preface and six radically revised chapters, plus updates on the current status of boys throughout the book.
Sommers argues that the problem of male underachievement is persistent and worsening. Among the new topics Sommers tackles: how the war against boys is harming our economic future, and how boy-averse trends such as the decline of recess and zero-tolerance disciplinary policies have turned our schools into hostile environments for boys. As our schools become more feelings-centered, risk-averse, competition-free, and sedentary, they move further and further from the characteristic needs of boys. She offers realistic, achievable solutions to these problems that include boy-friendly pedagogy, character and vocational education, and the choice of single-sex classrooms.
The War Against Boys is an incisive, rigorous, and heartfelt argument in favor of recognizing and confronting a new reality: boys are languishing in education and the price of continued neglect is economically and socially prohibitive.
Sommers (Who Stole Feminism?) pulls no punches in this critique of the current crop of "crisis" studies about boys. Methodically analyzing and dismantling what she calls the "myth of shortchanged girls" as well as the "new and equally corrosive fiction that boys as a group are disturbed"--theories she calls "speculative psychology"--she bolsters her findings with extensive footnotes and data from such sources as the U.S. Department of Education. Sommers's conclusions are compelling and deserve an unbiased hearing, particularly since they are at odds with conventional wisdom that paints girls as victimized and boys as emotionally repressed. "Routinely regarded as protosexists, potential harassers and perpetuators of gender inequity, boys live under a cloud of censure," she writes, going on to show how they are also falling behind academically in an educational system that currently devotes more attention to the needs of girls. Pointing out that "Mother Nature is not a feminist," she also dismisses the current vogue to "feminize" boys, calling social androgyny a "well-intentioned but ill-conceived reform." Instead, Sommers champions "the reality that boys and girls are different, that each sex has its distinctive strengths and graces." Sure to kick up dust in the highly charged gender debates, Sommers's book is at its best when coolly debunking theories she contends are based on distorted research and skewed data, but descends into pettiness when she indulges in mudslinging at her opponents. Perhaps the most informed study yet in this area, this engrossing book sheds light on a controversial subject. It deserves close reading by parents, educators and anyone interested in raising healthy, successful children of both sexes.