About the Boys

Christina Hoff Sommers has a great piece in today’s New York Times about how to improve boys’ school performance. Christina was ahead of the curve on this, publishing The War Against Boys in 2001. 

Here, she argues that the huge push 20 years ago to help girls with math and science was successful, and that boys, who are struggling compared with girls at every level of education, deserve no less. 

She quotes Richard Whitmire, an education writer, and William Brozo, a literacy expert:

The global economic race we read so much about — the marathon to produce the most educated work force, and therefore the most prosperous nation — really comes down to a calculation: whichever nation solves these ‘boy troubles’ wins the race.

Sommers thinks that may be an overstatement, but writes that “boy-averse trends like the decline of recess, zero-tolerance disciplinary policies, the tendency to criminalize minor juvenile misconduct, and the turn away from single-sex schooling” have hurt boys.

There are many reasons to attempt to help boys do better in school, and Sommers touches on many of them. But here’s one that’s a little sensitive: marriage. With women earning 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and closing the gap on Ph.D’s, there are many fewer men for those women to marry. Women prefer to marry their equals or superiors. Very few marry “down.” It’s just a fact. Among blacks, women are twice as likely as men to earn a college degree. 

Since we know that married people are happier, healthier, and better for society, what Hanna Rosin has too blithely called “The End of Men” is a profound challenge to the happiness of all. 

  1. Richard Fulmer

    I think that the criminalization of juvenile hijinks is a consequence of our over-lawyered society.  When I was a kid, getting in trouble at school meant getting in trouble at home.  Nowadays it means that the school gets in trouble in the form of lawsuits for denying Johnny his civil rights.  Parents wanted their kids treated like adults and they got their wish.  When Johnny gets in a fistfight, he no longer gets paddled, he gets arrested.

  2. katievs

    George Gilder foretold it all decades ago in Men and Marriage, didn’t he?

  3. Richard Fulmer

    No fair citing George Gilder.  The only thing that he didn’t correctly forecast was Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction in the 2004 Super Bowl.

  4. epoche

    I wrote a rebuttal to the end of men at

    http://ricochet.com/member-feed/Rebuttal-To-The-End-of-Men

    I am writing another article entitled 

    The United States of Disparate Impact: How the AAUW And Other Civil Rights Grievance Rackets Caused The Student Loan Crisis

    Here is one of the key lines: 

    Feminists believe that making loans is more important than making good loans provided the women are in charge. 

  5. genferei
    Mona Charen: With women earning 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and closing the gap on Ph.D’s, there are many fewer men for those women to marry. Women prefer to marry their equals or superiors. Very few marry “down.” It’s just a fact.

    Easy fix: stop considering university education as having anything to do with “up” and “down”.

    (What sort of strange person thinks having a doctorate implies anything other than that they have a doctorate anway? Empirically, of course, the sorts of people who go in for Ph.D’s are almost certain to be socially maladjusted…)

    Thank goodness the strange fascination that the US has with university education is about to undergo a radical shakeup…

  6. david foster

    “the marathon to produce the most educated work force, and therefore the most prosperous nation “…the idea that the key to prosperity is “education,” irrespective of the content of that education, is at the root of many of our problems. Sitting in a classroom does not create an entrepreneurial spirit…and, if the content of the class is watered down, politicized, or even outright useless, may well not create economically-relevant skills of any kind.

    “With women earning 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and closing the gap on Ph.D’s, there are many fewer men for those women to marry”….I think we will find that degrees  in lame subjects (of whatever level) will be devalued as the higher-ed bubble begins to deflate. It will take longer for the ascribed status associated with these degrees to fall, but it will surely happen.

  7. Indaba

    The single sex schooling you mention in the list to be addressed is to me one of the most critical.

    There is such a fear to say boys and girls differ because this may be used as a reason to get women back to the home. Boys are suffering as more women are teachers and the courses are designed to teach the female brain. Boys need to get up and physically move. Girls like to do the fine motor work and can sit. This is not rocket science.

  8. Songwriter

    I dunno. As a husband, father of two married sons, and friend to a lot of guys – I’m pretty sure just about every woman marries “down” – at least as judged on the societal evolutionary scale. After all, the main difference between boys and girls is this: Girls reach the age of 14 and grow into women. Boys reach the age of 14 and grow taller.I’d write more, but there’s a Three Stooges marathon on TV….

  9. Vice-Potentate

    I think the worry is not on the high side of IQ, but on the low. Maybe introduce some active competition in the classroom? Nothing motivates teenage boys more than active public competition and recognition.

  10. The Cloaked Gaijin
    Mona Charen: But here’s one that’s a little sensitive: marriage. With women earning 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and closing the gap on Ph.D’s, there are many fewer men for those women to marry. Women prefer to marry their equals or superiors. Very few marry “down.”

    The thing I worry about is that about 70% of single women thought Mitt Romney was unacceptable, the anti-Christ, or something.

    Mitt Romney is what single women find repulsive?  You’ve got to be kidding me!

    If single women hate an honorable, faithful, hard-working, highly-educated, soft-hearted husband like Mitt Romney, what chance do the rest of us male single conservatives have?  Almost zero it seems sometimes.

  11. Nick Stuart
    Mona Charen:

    There are many reasons to attempt to help boys do better in school, and Sommers touches on many of them. But here’s one that’s a little sensitive: marriage. With women earning 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and closing the gap on Ph.D’s, there are many fewer men for those women to marry. Women prefer to marry their equals or superiors. Very few marry “down.”

    Any possibility that the men who are available would want to marry women who’ve been prosletyzed to a world view of adamant gender feminism through the master’s & doctorate level?

    On those cold winter nights they can snuggle up to their diplomas. They’re a little scratchy, but they’re nicely inscribed.

  12. Devereaux

    Marrying “up” or “down” is a cultural thing. I know a lot of electricians, carpenters, and cops who are smarter than many college grads that I know.

    Intelligence, character, and values are not schooling results. Women need to know that. But the biggest drawback that I see among women that are successful is that they are attracted to the “bad boys” – guys no rational parent would ever want their child associated with.

    What we need as a society is to decide just who we are. Feminism has had many positive results, but many negative ones also. Those issues need to be resolved socially. Women are not the same as men. There are aspects of them that are, but in the end women and men are not “equal”. The recent decision to introduce women into the infantry is just such an example.

    It is high time to start celebrating the differences between men and women, and not trying for a North Korean solution of one-size-fits-all.

  13. epoche

    An even better s0lution than going back to school would be to scrap the welfare state entirely. Men need some conscious raising of their own.  Let baby boomer women who have been spitting in men’s faces for the last 40 years fend for themselves after they receive whatever they have paid into the system. The personal is the political afterall. 

    Nick Stuart

    Mona Charen:

    There are many reasons to attempt to help boys do better in school, and Sommers touches on many of them. But here’s one that’s a little sensitive: marriage. With women earning 60 percent of bachelor’s and master’s degrees and closing the gap on Ph.D’s, there are many fewer men for those women to marry. Women prefer to marry their equals or superiors. Very few marry “down.”

    Any possibility that the men who are available would want to marry women who’ve been prosletyzed to a world view of adamant gender feminism through the master’s & doctorate level?

    On those cold winter nights they can snuggle up to their diplomas. They’re a little scratchy, but they’re nicely inscribed. · 45 minutes ago

  14. Nanda Panjandrum

    Contrary to C. S. Lewis’s assertion that he saw a new generation of “men without chests” (from The Abolition of Man, iirc) we now seem to be raising “men without spines” or fill-in-the-blank.  My nephews’ generation – and their children – will certainly suffer from this neglect.  Thanks for the post, Mona!

  15. Indaba

    Gaijin, most women would be lucky to have the quality of man like Romney for a husband. His kindness to others was Evident and his five sons were also a credit to him. What a role model.

  16. John Fitzgerald

    Our discussion of the current state of our society begins and ends with our discussion of the implosion of the American family, and the absence of men in the household.  

    I teach in a public school, and for many young men, the only contact that they have consistently with men is a teacher or coach.  Often young men do not know how to act because they have no fathers to model their actions after nor a father who will drop the hammer on them.  

    They often don’t respond to their stepfathers although some love their stepfathers since their biological father is a deadbeat, drunk or worse.  

    Many do not talk about their mom’s boyfriend in glowing terms, and if they are old enough, recognize that they are an inconvenient obstacle to their mom attracting a new mate, and/or an impediment to mom’s boyfriend living a life without parental obligations. 

    Due to the instability of the American family, many families are looking to the government as co-parent with the public school being used to solve problems formerly dealt with at home.

    These young men are lost, directionless, and in need of fathers.

  17. Matthew K. Tabor

    “It’s just a fact.”

    I’d love to link to the most recent data for the male/female higher ed gap and how it’s affected relationships [Edited for CoC]

    Here’s a hint: It surprised me, and I think it would surprise Mona.

  18. Matthew K. Tabor

    Oh, you’re absolutely kidding me, editors.

  19. david foster

    Would someone like to explain what link was deleted here and why?

  20. Indaba

    Songwriter, that is too funny and that sums up Mr. Indaba who loves to imitate the Three stooges and it really annoys me because I want him to be all Harvard MBAish…but that he ain’t. In fact, i am the MBA type and he is practical and tough and I respect that. I secretly like his Three Stooges routine with our two sons as they are happy but I do not get it. Women are different from men!

Want to comment on stories like these? Become a member today!

You'll have access to:

  • All Ricochet articles, posts and podcasts.
  • The conversation amongst our members.
  • The opportunity share your Ricochet experiences.

Join Today!

Already a Member? Sign In