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March 1 2003

The War Against Boys

Various

How Women Beat Men at College Sports
Jessica Gavora reveals why schools must abolishmen's teams to comply with Title IX.

College sports are required-by Title IX of the 1972 education amendments to the Civil Rights Act of 1964-to provide equal opportunities for men and women. Although enacted as an anti-discrimination statute, Title IX has quietly become a quota system that has decreased sports opportunities for men while demanding endlessly expanding opportunities for women. What's more, the losers from Title IX are not limited to the now familiar angry white male. Pursuit of "gender equity" in college athletics is alienating key parts of the affirmative action constituency-black males and liberal college administrators-while minority women see little benefit. The only clear winners, for the time being, are middle- and upper-class white women.

Because men tend to participate in sports at higher rates than women, university administrators-under pressure both to comply with Title IX and balance their budgets-resort to simply cutting men's athletic slots to avoid the charge that women are "under-represented" in sports. But when men's opportunities are cut in sports such as basketball and football-which have high concentrations of minority athletes-"gender equity" often supplants racial equity, spelling trouble in the world of race and sex bean-counting. Last year the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted to cut men's basketball scholarships while leaving women's untouched, raising howls of protest from black coaches. At many universities, non-scholarship slots on large men's basketball, football, and track squads are being trimmed-taking opportunities for black male athletes with them. At some schools, these sports are being eliminated altogether.

And who benefits? The women's teams most often added to achieve Title IX compliance are in sports like tennis, rowing, and soccer-not the stuff of heated competition in the inner city. NCAA statistics bear this out: The women who participate in these sports (that is, sports other than women's basketball and track) are eighty-six percent white, five percent black, and two percent Hispanic.
~Autumn 1995

Boys Should Be Boys
Anne Roche Muggeridge defends the little savages.

It's not a good time to be male. Prevailing sociology now thoroughly regards young men as social invalids and blames their parents. The fashion in education for the past three decades has been to try to make boys more like girls: to forbid them their toy guns and rough play, to engage them in exercises of cooperation and sharing, to involve them in dolls and courses in the domestic arts, to denounce any boyish roughness as "aggressive" and "sexist." And boys rebel at their peril.

Yet the educational methods now forced on boys exhibit a fundamental misunderstanding of male nature. Modern educators believe that the sexually based distinctions made in the past were arbitrary inflictions by a theologically based culture whose claims have been exploded by modern research. The latest, very cautious (and politically fraught) studies reveal what instinct tells us-that boys show distinct behavioral differences from girls early in infancy, well before they could be socialized otherwise. Yet the governing organs of society still persist in thinking that boys, if caught early enough, can be feminized.

A kind of madness has taken over. My own four boys went through the school system at the zenith of experimentation in the 1970s and early 1980s. The old Home Economics class, designed for girls, was turned into Unified Arts. Boys were supposed to learn to cook and sew, girls to fix cars and weld. My preteen son refused to make a cake or sew a piece of clothing. Under pressure, he asked me, "Mom, could you help >me crochet a hockey net?"

Of course, it's good in a pinch to know how to sew on a button, or make a meal, or change a baby or a tire. Boys are quite willing to babysit their sisters or wash a few dishes. But that isn't what the reformers have in mind-and the boys know it.
~Summer 1995

The Missing Persons of Domestic Violence
Richard J. Gelles shows us how men are victims too.

The most controversial finding [in my research], as it turned out, was that the rate of female-to-male intimate violence was the same as the rate of male-to-female violence. Not only that, but the rate of abusive female-to-male violence was the same as the rate of abusive male-to-female violence. When my colleague Murray Straus presented these findings in 1977 at a conference on the subject of battered women, he was nearly hooted and booed from the stage. When my colleague Suzanne Steinmetz published a scholarly article, "The Battered Husband Syndrome," in 1978, the editor of the professional journal published, in the same issue, a critique of Suzanne's article.

The response to our finding that the rate of female-to-male family violence was equal to the rate of male-to-female violence not only produced heated scholarly criticism, but intense and long-lasting personal attacks. All three of us received death threats. Bomb threats were phoned in to conference centers and buildings where we were scheduled to speak. . . .

It is worth repeating, however, that almost all studies of domestic or partner violence agree that women are the most likely to be injured as a result of partner violence. . . .

Given the body of research on domestic violence that finds continued unexpectedly high rates of violence toward men in intimate relations, it is necessary to reframe domestic violence as something other than a "gender crime" or an example of "patriarchal coercive control." Protecting only the female victim and punishing only the male offender will not resolve the tragedy and costs of domestic violence. While this certainly is not a politically correct position, and is a position that will almost certainly ignite more personal attacks against me and my colleagues, it remains clear to me that the problem is violence between intimates, not violence against women. Policy and practice must address the needs of male victims if we are to reduce the extent and toll of violence in the home.
~Autumn 1999

The Write Stuff
Christina Hoff Sommers believes schools should teach the lost art of penmanship.

For the past several decades, schools have been burdened by poorly conceived initiatives from schools of education. Throughout my son's education (he is now in tenth grade), the emphasis has been on creative art projects in English and social studies classes.

For one history assignment, David had to make a relief map of Israel out of pizza dough. His grandmother and I spent an entire Sunday afternoon baking it and indicating rivers with blue thread and forests with parsley. Yes, I suppose I should have let him do it himself. But the idea of David alone in the kitchen, frustrated, angry, and covered with flour was more than I could take. And what was the point? I can't count the number of collages David has thrown together over the years. A recent assignment is typical: "Mom, I need pictures from magazines illustrating 'The American Dream' for my Great Gatsby final project."

But these things are not what he or any other child needs. What they need is more work on grammar, semantics, essay construction, and vocabulary development. All children, but boys especially, need better legibility and neatness in writing. As education professor Kay Huitt warned in the early seventies, "The current tendency toward incidental instruction in handwriting can soon move toward accidental instruction, and handwriting skills are too important to be left to chance."

We have gone from one extreme to the other and now must find our way to a sensible middle. . . . We know that penmanship is a basic and essential skill, that it plays a critical role in a child's basic literacy and overall success in school, and that when schools choose not to teach it, it is boys who pay the highest price. u
~Summer 2001

It's Always His Fault
Sally L. Satel reports that feminist zeal to condemn men may be endangering the lives of battered women.

The feminist theory of domestic abuse, like the feminist theory of rape, holds that all men have the same innate propensity to violence against women: your brother and my boyfriend are deep down every bit as bad as Joel Steinberg. Men who abuse their mates, the theory goes, act violently not because they as individuals can't control their impulses, and not because they are thugs or drunks or particularly troubled people. Domestic abuse, in feminist eyes, is an essential element of the vast male conspiracy to suppress and subordinate women. In other words, the real culprit in a case of domestic violence is not a violent individual man, it is the patriarchy. To stop a man from abusing women, he must be taught to see the errors of the patriarchy and to renounce them. . . .

As well, feminists have stretched the definition of abuse to include acts of lying, humiliation, withholding information, and refusing help with child care or housework, under the term "psychological battery." A checklist from a brochure of the Westchester Coalition of Family Violence agencies tells women if their partner behaves in one or more of the following ways, including "an overprotective manner," "turns minor incidents into major arguments," or "insults you," then "you might be abused."

With money provided by Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), this view has come to pervade the bureaucracies created to combat domestic violence. In at least a dozen states, including Massachusetts, Colorado, Florida, Washington, and Texas, state guidelines effectively preclude any treatment other than feminist therapy for domestic batterers. Another dozen states, among them Maine and Illinois, are now drafting similar guidelines. These guidelines explicitly prohibit social workers and clinicians from offering therapies that attempt to deal with domestic abuse as a problem between a couple unless the man has undergone profeminist treatment first. Profeminists emphatically reject joint counseling, the traditional approach to marital conflict. Joint counseling and other couples-based treatments violate the feminist certainty that it is men who are always and solely responsible for domestic violence: any attempt to involve the batterer's mate in treatment amounts to "blaming the victim."
~Summer 1997



Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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