Fem-education down under

Christina Hoff Sommers 2000 expose “The War Against Boys – how misguided feminism is harming our young men,” provides a chilling account of how gender feminism and it academically bankrupt pseudo-research, aided and abetted by a politically correct main stream media fundamentally changed the USA’s education system to a female centric one that is hostile and harmful to boys and young men [1].

Similar trends occurred in other developed countries including Australia, where in the in the 1970’s research indicated fewer girls then boys were completing year 12, or commencing higher education.  Government action was called for resulting in the 1987 “National Policy for the Education of Girls in Australian Schools.”  By 1989 slightly more females than males were proceeding to higher education and this excess has continued to increase ever since. By 1992 school retention rates to year 12 were 10% higher for girls and have remained at or above this level.

Australia also saw the same trends toward feminization of our educational doctrine, with a shift from structured teaching with a focus on basic numeracy and literacy skills toward the laissez faire, female friendly, student centric and group learning environments so typical of todays classrooms. Predictably boys failed to thrive educationally in this milieu with documented decline in academic achievement. Boys natural exuberance and vitality did not mesh well this new pedagogy and the inability of the increasingly female teaching staff to deal with boys resistance led to a redefining of boys reactions as a variety of behavioral and learning “disorders.” A concern about boys rather than for boys led to a perceived need for boys to be socialized to be more like girls in order to fit into this feminized learning environment.

Concurrent with this and continuing there has been decline in the number of male teachers and reduction in the number of male role models for boys in schools. This is especially evident in primary education where in 2006 males accounted for about 20% of teachers and many of these in administrative rather than active teaching roles. Males make up only 2% of the preschool teacher workforce and 4% of the childcare workforce.  The impact of child protection policies, media prominence of allegations of child sexual abuse and fear of being labeled as a pedophile are significant factors in men avoiding careers in these areas.

It became apparent that the gains in terms of improved female educational outcomes were occurring at the expense of boy’s outcomes, rather than from a fair and equitable integration of the needs of both genders.  Data confirming the deterioration in boys educational achievements has been growing in all western countries since the early 1990’s, but unlike the swift action by governments to correct the “girl crisis” of the eighties, very little concrete has been done to address male educational disadvantage.

Australia’s NAPLAN scheme the “National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy” collects detailed data, which continues to confirm boy’s poorer performance in literacy [2]. Boys remain less engaged in schooling and report fewer positive experiences in terms of enjoyment, perceived relevance of curriculum and teacher responsiveness. The proportion of young men enrolling in and graduating from tertiary education courses continues to decline.  In 2009 of the 175,070 domestic students completing a tertiary degree 60% were female and only 40% were male, and in 2010 of the students commencing tertiary study 56.2% were female [3].

Australia has historically had a two-tier education system of government-funded schools, and government assisted private schools where parents supplement government funding with additional tuition fees.  Some of the private schools have been traditionally, and remain, gender segregated all boys or all girls schools. There is a current debate regarding the level of government funding for private schools, which are seen by many as elitist with an argument they should receive reduced government funding, with more funds diverted to disadvantaged groups.  Still many parents are keen to secure the best available education and elect to incur financial liability in the hope of better achievement and opportunities for their children.

During this years hype around international women’s day I came across an article over at the “Huff Post” by one Soraya Chemaly a “Feminist, Satirist, and Media Critic” titled “International Women’s Day: 10 Reasons Why Feminism is Good For Boys and Men [4]” OK, got my attention. Are there 10 reasons, really?

Not far into the article was an embedded you tube clip  (Trigger Alert: viewing this video may cause extreme nausea take an anti-emetic or have a suitable vomit receptacle handy! Feminists: suggest a good supply of chocolates and ice-cream and tissues in case of excessive bodily fluid secretion) http://youtu.be/JgIg6z5nXGI

Chemaly goes on to explain:

This video was produced as part of a Gender Equality Project at Sydney Boys High School last year. The project concluded with the boys’ joint presentation with a local girls’ school to 400 business leaders. These boys and their efforts got some flack for “mansplaining,” in this case the implications that the “little women” need the help of big strong boys. But, I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. In order for gender equity to happen, girls and boys need to be taught why it is important to them and it’s just plain fair when you respect other people’s equal rights. That’s what these boys are talking about.

The boys PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here for anyone who is game.[5]

While some of the statistics in the presentation are indeed “confronting” they are presented in the completely unbalanced non-contextual way that is so typical of feminist propaganda.  Targeting that emotive protective male response in order to co-opt advocates to their cause.

Here are a couple of examples from the presentation. The first and most “unequal” statistic quoted is;

Just 2% of the world’s land is owned by females.

Land ownership is not an issue that I have found particularly prominent in my readings around gender issues. Yep, its there if you look for it, and “UN Women” is vocal about it, but it’s an issue singled out as problematic in developing countries which are in early stages of cultural evolution from long established systems of ownership and transference or inheritance of land to rightly more equitable ones. In developed countries it is more an issue of land ownership by wealthy elites versus that owned or not owned by the socially disadvantaged classes.  Given a long standing ideal is for Australian couples and families to “own their own home” it would have been more appropriate for the boys to have looked a property distribution by gender post divorce, but no matter – around half of them are likely to find out where the inequality is in that sphere in due course.

Violence is a given in any equity presentation, so let’s just spout the standard unqualified feminist line.

Guess how many women and girls are beaten or sexually abused at least once in their lifetime. Maybe you think 1 in 10, or 1 in 8, 1 in 5? It’s 1 in 3. That’s how bad the situation is. That’s how bad gender inequality is.

I wonder if any of the teacher’s supervisors had bothered to point out to them that the rate of male violent victimization is 1 in 2, perhaps if they did their concept of “how bad gender inequality is” would be different? They might even have mentioned war dead, but if that came up perhaps it was neutralized by the idea that it’s men who cause wars in the first place?

No gender equality presentation would be complete without mention of female genital mutilation.

Another story repeated every day is females being subjected to genital mutilation.” The boys go on to tell us that this affects “130 million” and “If we put that into context, that’s more than a third of the U.S. population. And the number continues to increase.  

Undoubtedly, female genital mutilation is an abhorrent cultural/religious practice that has occurred over thousands of years in some parts of the world, and deserves to be stopped. However male genital mutilation is a cultural/religious practice that has occurred over thousands of years and was accepted as a norm in western societies.  This is a clear sexual double standard that would have been worthy of noting and of debate.

The Sydney Boys High School is an elite all boys school, which aims to attract “gifted students” and prides itself on the large number of graduates going onto tertiary study and gaining recognition in public or professional careers [6]. The “GenEq” project was completed under the auspices of a group called “Highresolves” who state their aim as “developing high school students to become effective citizens and leaders who are armed with the confidence and skills necessary to tackle the unique challenges of the 21st century” [7].

It’s interesting that the Highresolves initiative arose out of the graduate program at Harvard University, and it was feminist professor Carol Gilligan of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s corrupt research that invoked the beginning of the gender feminist’s reformation of the US education system.

I wrote to both the Principle of Sydney Boys High School and the CEO of Highresolves with my concerns about the lack of balance in the project, which has been publically promoted and applauded. The principle has not responded but I did get a phone call from one of the Highresolves staff who said they did not interfere with the “content” of projects only provide tools and assistance with the “processes.”  One can only wonder why objectivity and an examination of the counter viewpoints should not be integral to the “process.” Naturally if the intent is to co-opt young impressionable minds to be better “global citizens” by adopting a feminist understanding of gender equity then all dissenting views should be explicitly excluded, lest the boys get a whiff of the truth and perhaps start to follow there own logic and reason.

While the boys may have chosen the topic themselves (and who would argue that gender equality is not a reasonable topic to investigate) I felt particular umbrage that the teachers and sponsors of the project allowed such a prejudiced perspective that assumes gender equality can be achieved simply by identifying and advocating for change in areas where females are apparently disadvantaged. This to me is an inherent breach of their duty as educators and appears as an overt attempt to indoctrinate. That boys from an elite all male school are advocating gender equality when it is inequity in wealth and educational resources that affords them the position to do so is an irony evidently not noticed by many who showered accolades on this project.

Education and its abuses remains a key area of concern for the men’s movement and I would encourage all to speak out against such instances of gender bias and misrepresentation when they encounter it.

[1] http://www.aei.org/article/society-and-culture/race-and-gender/the-war-against-boys-book/


[2] http://www.nap.edu.au/Test_Results/National_reports/index.html



[5] http://www.highresolves.org/student_projects_files/GenEq%20PPT%20Presentation.ppt

[6] http://www.sydneyboyshigh.com/enrolment

[7] http://www.highresolves.org/about_us.html

Acknowledgement: a number of statistics in this article a reproduced from the excellent 2007 briefing paper produced by Men’s Health Australia for the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissions “listening tour,” the full report can be accessed here http://mhaweb.squarespace.com/storage/files/HREOC_Briefing_Paper.pdf

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