GENDER ISSUES FROM A MALE PERSPECTIVE

Gathered together are a number of articles related to how men and boys are treated by society and the media. The articles, for the most part, concentrate on misandry, domestic violence and female violence and reflect an anti-RADICAL FEMINIST viewpoint. Although articles are pro-male, they are not anti-female.

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Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Monday, May 09, 2005

ARE MEN AND WOMEN DIFFERENT?

On January 14, 2005, Dr. Larry Summers, the President of Harvard University did the unthinkable.

At an educational symposium, Dr. Summers stated that Jews are inadequately represented in farming, that there aren’t many Catholics in investment banking, and that whites are a minority in the National Basketball Association. These comments brought a firestorm of negative response from Jews, farmers, Catholics, investment bankers and basketball players. The media fanned the controversy with constant updates. As a result, Dr. Summers has promised to soften his style and be more thoughtful about his public remarks.

In reality, no one paid attention to any of these comments. No Jews, Catholics, basketball players, farmers or investment bankers stalked out of his presentation or gathered in angry protest.

But in the same presentation, Dr. Summers, a former US Treasury Secretary, responded to a question as to why women are inadequately represented in higher education in the fields of math and engineering. Dr. Summers suggested this situation might be the result of a number of factors, including women not being willing to make the sacrifice required to achieve these positions (working 80 plus hours a week, etc.), socialization, and the possibility that men and women might have different aptitudes when it comes to math and science. Dr. Summers prefaced his remarks by conceding that he “may be wrong,” and this was his “best guess.” He also stated that his intent was to stimulate discussion on the subject.

After a University of Washington Engineering professor stalked out of Dr. Summer’s presentation in protest, feminist groups, Harvard professors, and the national media have had a hey day with Dr. Summer’s speculation that in some ways, men and women might be different.

Some members of Harvard’s faculty have angrily called for his resignation. Summers, noted for his confrontive and challenging style of leadership has been involved in a month long back-pedal and mea culpa. He has offered several apologies, consulted numerous management experts (including Bill Clinton), started reading management skills books, promised to soften his style, and even went to see the movie “Hitch.”

Ironically, the majority of undergraduate students at Harvard support Dr. Summers and a class he teaches is one of the most popular on campus.

The average person outside the ivy covered walls of academia might be wondering, “what’s the big deal?”

The big deal is that feminist politics control most major universities in this country. Dr. Summers stomped on the Holy Grail of feminist educational philosophy – i.e., girls and boys are born exactly the same and any observable differences in men and women are the result of discrimination and social conditioning not inherent genetic wiring.

I was taught this “truth” in my graduate level human development courses at a state university in the early 80’s. My professors confidently asserted that a child’s mind is a “tabula rasa,” or “blank slate.” Acting is if any debate on the influence of nature vs nurture had long been resolved, my teachers confidently asserted that little boys and little girls are born with identical temperaments and potentials, and that families and society imprint gender expectations upon these impressionable minds. Thus, it was merely culture that forced little girls to be passive nurturers and little boys to be aggressive risk takers. In these discussions, the male traits of aggression and competition were always cast in a negative light.

The rationale of this feminist based view of society and human development was that if we could remove the harmful effects of gender socialization, then women could grow up and be whatever they wanted. This utopian view of culture promised a world where even the least intelligent girl could grow up to be a nuclear scientist and the least attractive could find unconditional love from prince charming.

Oh yes, and the world would be freed from the tyranny of the patriarchy (don’t get a feminist going about the “patriarchy.”) Boys would no longer grow up to be bad men who rape women, destroy the environment and start wars (I’m not making this up).

The goal of this educational philosophy was to remove the bad “aggressive” traits of little boys and therefore allow little girls to blossom and grow without the restraint of having to compete in a male dominated world.

In this educational context, “competition” was a dirty word, one that had to be eliminated from all educational contexts. This bad word was replaced with a much nicer word; “cooperation.” Competition, a male trait, was seen as the cause of all the injustice that women suffered in the world. Therefore, games that encouraged competition, like red-rover or kickball were banned (choosing teams was deemed detrimental to children’s self-esteem).

Teams of students were encouraged to work together to spell words or solve math problems. Students were given praise for effort, even if they got the answers wrong, since getting wrong answers was detrimental to one’s self-esteem. My graduate professors promoted the “soft” sciences – art, music, poetry – as apposed to the “hard” sciences – math, chemistry and biology – because the former were “feminine” endeavors (i.e. good) and latter were “masculine” (i.e. bad).

Most of my classmates were education majors, i.e. school teachers. Since the majority of students in these classes were either women, or sensitive new age guys (like me) we all bought into this philosophy because it was presented as fact and it fit our post 70’s desire to make a better world; starting with the children.

Before my son Grant was born in 1985, I stated that regardless of his gender, I would raise him the same without socialized pressures to adopt either feminine or masculine traits. I bought him a Cabbage Patch Doll. I tried my best to make sure none of my expectations of him were gender based. I didn’t push him into sports and we tried to limit his contact with toy guns and violent video games.

But, even with my best intentions, I failed miserably. Grant grew up to be a competitive, over-achieving young man. He excelled in several sports. At age 14, he was an AAU national weight lifting champion. He was the starting middle linebacker for three years for his high school football team. He was president of DECCA. At 19, he is now a corporal in the US Marines serving his country in Iraq.

He’s a great young man (all male) -- I don’t know where I went wrong.

Fast forward 20 plus years after my graduate school training. I thought that perhaps this nonsense of boys and girls being born as blank slates had finally been driven from the halls of academia. Scientific study has shot this assertion full of holes. There are many innate physical and emotional differences between the genders, and science bears this out. The nature/nurture debate has yet to be resolved, and this is a good thing.

Nevertheless, in light of the Dr. Summers scandal, I discovered that the feminist myth of the “tabula rasa” continues to be taught as fact in our institutions of higher learning.

In an article about the Dr. Summers situation at Harvard, the New York Times quoted Dr. Howard Georgi, a physics professor at Harvard as saying, “It’s crazy to think that it’s an innate difference. It’s socialization. We’ve trained young women to be average. We’ve trained young men to be adventurous.” (New York Times, February 18, 2005)

When I read Dr. Georgi’s statement, it was de ja vu all over again.

Many of us might questions, what’s the big deal? Does anybody really buy into this nonsense outside of a few women’s studies programs and the faculty at a few Ivey League universities?

The answer is “yes.” It is bigger than it might appear.

Written by Robert A. Glover

Source: http://mensightmagazine.com/Articles/Glover/different.htm

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