F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
January 23, 2000
Boys Will be Boys & Girls Will be Girls

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

"We cannot allow our schools to become places where typical male behavior is viewed as some kind of disorder."

"There have always been societies that favored boys over girls," observes Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute. "Ours may be the first to deliberately throw the gender switch by preferring girls. Little boys are politically incorrect," says Sommers, author of a new book called The War Against Boys. "It begins in elementary schools, which are increasingly female-friendly domains -- boys are there on sufferance."

In an interview with The Women's Quarterly, published by the Independent Women's Forum, Sommers cites several examples of the elementary school's war on boys. "Boys, far more than girls, enjoy rough-and-tumble play," she asserts. "It's a very positive behavior; it is a critical part of boys' healthy development." Sommers worries that the distinction between aggression and ordinary boyish behavior is being lost. "Today, many educators regard the normal play of little boys with disapproval and some ban it outright," she reports. "Recess -- the one time during the school day that boys can legitimately engage in rowdy play -- is now under siege and may soon be a thing of the past."

Sommers charges that "many teachers are now insisting that boys and girls 'integrate,' as they call it. They must play together and sit together," she explains. "Often, they don't want to. The girls don't want it, and the boys especially don't want it. Between kindergarten and sixth grade, the children prefer same-sex play," says Sommers, who has encountered "schools throughout the country forcing boys to play with girls, and to play like girls. School officials," she reports, "have young boys playing with dolls, quilting, playing female roles in non-sexist fairy tales."

As another example of the elementary school's war on boys, Sommers points to the application of sexual harassment laws to juveniles. "Harassment laws are confusing to adults," she emphasizes. "Imagine applying them to kindergartners and first graders! Children need guidance and discipline" Sommers affirms; "they do not need divisive gender politics. The problem is going to get worse," she predicts, "because of a recent Supreme Court decision that makes schools legally vulnerable if they don't take action against what feminists regard as the sexist behavior of little children."

One of the more entertaining features of life at the tail-end of the 20th century is getting to hear young parents acknowledge, shamefully or triumphantly, that, yes indeed, boys and girls are different. Few of these postmodern moms and pops are yet sufficiently deconditioned to celebrate the striking dissimilarity between their male and female offspring, but they know from firsthand experience that it cannot be denied, and recognition of the difference (so long suppressed, despite its self-evidence) is a good beginning.

Boys and girls are different, all right, and so are men and women -- ain't it grand! And isn't it about time that we shook off our unisex delirium? Instead of trying fanatically to blur the distinctions between the sexes, let's go back to accentuating and celebrating them. Everyone, all together now, repeat after me: "Vive la difference!"

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