Need To Know with Mona Charen and Jay Nordlinger
Episode 19: Where The Boys Are

Guest: Christina Hoff Sommers
Feb 9, 2013
Direct Link to MP3 File

This week on Need To Know, Jay and Mona talk to author, columnist, and AEI scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, who discusses her latest piece The Boys At The Back. It’s a provocative and important conversation for anyone that has children or cares about them (that pretty much covers everyone, right?). 

Thanks to Ricochet member Franco for choosing this week’s closing song, Soliloquy (from Carousel) by Frank Sinatra. 

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  1. outstripp

    You need to be more explicit. 1. War is always bad.2. War is caused by men. 3. Men cause war because they learn it in their youth. 4. Therefore we must eradicate it at its root.Oh, btw, let’s let women serve in combat too.

  2. epoche

    I work for a collection agency that services student loans. Fixing the schools is exactly what got us into this problem in the first place. I wrote a rebuttal to the end of men at

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

    As long as disparate impact, the income tax and equal pay for equal work are in place fixing the schools is irrelevant. From the above link

     How a group of people determine achievement says nearly everything about how their lives are going to be lived – this is why feminist Kay Hymowitz noted that these degrees “take years” in “preadulthood” but mistakenly blamed the “knowledge economy” instead of noting the shift away from material resourcefulness and towards credentialing as the source of social standing. Those are the “special ingredients” that “The End of Men” author Hanna Rosin never mentions.

  3. Crow

    Apropos of Mona’s account of Power Ranges and the salutary impact this sort of play has on directing/channelling male impulses in the right way, I wanted to briefly add something to the notion of rough and tumble play (and, in fairness, I agree with Jay here. That description is somewhat feminine–can you imagine two linebackers describing what they do as “having a tumble”? Me neither).

    It is not only that the play must be rough and tumble (I’ll defer to the convention of naming here), it is that is must also be somewhat unstructured.

    It is unstructured play, play that demands boys to call into being a game (and they will, because boys can’t just do nothing), and set down its rules, that further develops these natural traits–and others, like leadership.

    Now, even in the course of games whose rules are well known, a dispute will arise. There will be a debate about how the rules operated in a particular instance. I dare you, watch a group of boys play tag (or anything) on the playground—at some point, someone will say “that’s not fair” or “you cheated” when something happens.

  4. Crow

    (cont)

    In embryo, these disputes show the coming into being of the manly qualities of imposing justice, creating order, and standing up for yourself in the face of rules or risk (yes, yes, I know, I hear you: I might also be over-thinking it and overstating it here just a bit. Nevertheless, I do think there is something to this).

    If no adult intervenes, how do they resolve the dispute? Who defers to whom and why and when? Did it end in a fist fight? Did it end in an argument? Why or why not? What do the other boys do aside from the two having the dispute? Was play resumed? How was it resumed (was a rule change made, an additional rule added, did someone quit)? 

    Strangely, women, who generally possess greater emotional intelligence, seem tone deaf when it comes to the organizing principles of these male-male relationships on the playground and, quite frankly, unobservant of the details. In their misinterpretation of what happens (the adult monitors in schools are overwhelmingly female), they have unwittingly created/exacerbated the “zero-tolerance” disciplinary approach which is overly harsh to young men, but also deprives them of a necessary activity.

  5. billy

    The war against boys isn’t new:

    “In the view of the National Peace Council,” ran the extract, “there are grave objections to presenting our boys with regiments of fighting men, batteries of guns, and squadrons of ‘Dreadnoughts.’ Boys, the Council admits, naturally love fighting and all the panoply of war . . . but that is no reason for encouraging, and perhaps giving permanent form to, their primitive instincts…”

    From the “Toys of Peace” by Saki.

    N.B.- the British Empire dissolved within a generation.

  6. Richard Fulmer

    Perhaps we could stem the tide of nuisance lawsuits (and put a rein on the ACLU) by instituting “loser pays” rules as they have in Great Britain.

  7. Christopher Riley

    Very interesting.

    This podcast only strengthens my opinion that intellect is the greatest gap-bridger between the genders.

    I have trouble relating to the first portion, though. I never really cared about superheros or narrative role play; LEGOs and non-fiction books were always more satisfying. I’m an oddball, I guess.

  8. Jeff

    Loved this.

  9. KC Mulville

    Men who let women tell them how to be men are women.

  10. Edward Smith

    Excellent choice of closing song.

    I looked it up.  Soliliquay from Carousel, one of the best and most moving of the Rogers & Mammerstein Musicals.

    There’s a lot of bite in the lyrics.  It is a long song, that foreshadows tragedy (and redemption):

    I-I got to get ready before she comes! I got to make certain that she Won’t be dragged up in slums With a lot o’ bums like me She’s got to be sheltered In a fair hand dressed In the best that money can buy! I never knew how to get money, But, I’ll try, I’ll try! I’ll try! I’ll go out and make it or steal it Or take it or die!
  11. Nick Stuart

    The public schools are irremediable. The answer is vouchers, so that parents can choose where they want their children, boys and girls, to go.

    Faced with the potential loss of 1/2 their student base (and correspondingly 1/2 their revenue) a public school would very quickly figure out ways to help their boys succeed. Needless to say the same would apply to boys.

  12. Post updated to credit who came up with the idea for the closing song. Thanks again,  Franco.  

    By the way, Edward — that’s Rogers and Hammerstein. 

    Edward Smith: Excellent choice of closing song.

    I looked it up. SoliliquayfromCarousel, one of the best and most moving of the Rogers & Mammerstein Musicals.

    There’s a lot of bite in the lyrics.  It is a long song, that foreshadows tragedy (and redemption):

    I-I got to get ready before she comes!  I got to make certain that she  Won’t be dragged up in slums  With a lot o’ bums like me  She’s got to be sheltered  In a fair hand dressed  In the best that money can buy!  I never knew how to get money,  But, I’ll try, I’ll try! I’ll try!  I’ll go out and make it or steal it Or take it or die! · 1 hour ago
  13. Edward Smith

    My Mistake.

    Mammerstein helped write dialogue for Hummenschanz.

    Blue Yeti: Post updated to credit who came up with the idea for the closing song. Thanks again,  Franco.  

    By the way, Edward — that’s Rogers andHammerstein. 

    Edward Smith: Excellent choice of closing song.

    I looked it up. SoliliquayfromCarousel, one of the best and most moving of the Rogers & Mammerstein Musicals.

    There’s a lot of bite in the lyrics.  It is a long song, that foreshadows tragedy (and redemption):

    I-I got to get ready before she comes!  I got to make certain that she  Won’t be dragged up in slums  With a lot o’ bums like me  She’s got to be sheltered  In a fair hand dressed  In the best that money can buy!  I never knew how to get money,  But, I’ll try, I’ll try! I’ll try!  I’ll go out and make it or steal it Or take it or die! · 1 hour ago
    Edited 22 minutes ago25 minutes ago
  14. Peter Meza
    Nick Stuart: The public schools are irremediable.

    I totally agree that government monopoly schools are no longer working. There are any number of metrics to prove this versus other countries and also our own performance from years gone by.  Vouchers are a good first step.  My own preferred solution would be to give us back all the money from our taxes that is blown on public schools and let us send our kids wherever we want.  Let a thousand flowers bloom.   

  15. Ontos

    I suggest that it is necessary to grab this thing by the root.  We have to face the fact that it is not a question of women being “tone deaf” or some misunderstanding by the opponents in the war against boys (really men).  

    There was a conscious decision to bring down the society that existed in America.  The decisive moves came in the 1960s with the Johnson -Nixon administrations.  In the administrative agencies there were the radicals.  They interpreted and stretched the civil rights laws, the Title IX law and the pay equity laws, to be tools to undercut the world that they saw as “oppressive” in a fevered & juvenile perception.   This motivation went hand and glove with the sociological trend, the mathematizing of every aspect of knowledge and the tyranny of expertise (foolishly applied to everything) without any judgment.  There was a concomitant  abdication by the cadre of educators who were exhausted and inadequate to fight the battle.      

  16. Ontos

    These elements of the 1960′s led to the 1970′s, the implosion of the Nixon administration and the grabbing of societal power by the worst leftist radicals of the “Democrat” party.  From 1972 to 1980 all the seeds were sown wildly and the bureaucracies & courts set the direction.    The Reagan revolution tried to battle back to some extent–the last real attempt to do so, by the way.  However, once Bush 41 ‘won” the Clarence Thomas appointment, that weak sister (41) made a fateful gesture (inexcusable) and gave so much hard fought gains back in a single stroke when he agreed to sign the Civil Rights Restoration Act of Ted Kennedy.  That act of 41 sealed our fate in terms of fighting back in the courts.

  17. Ontos

    Now, what?  Of course, the goal has to be to take away the ability of the ACLU or Women’s Law Projects to fight separate sex education or sensible acts to recover masculinity in the education of boys (eg. Aviation HS).  But this can only be done when the right to make gender distinctions and discriminations is won back.   So, again, it is RINOs who have “compromised” and acted “civilly” to give away this right & lead us to  our doom.   There are steps to be taken, but they have to be radical now, and presuppose a cultural and educational sea change BECAUSE  of the two generations of schooling in the wrong direction that has taken place thanks to the weakness of Americans who should have fought  back in the most important part of the culture war.  The 60′s weak-kneed RINOs have retreated and caused the demise of boys (and thereby girls), red-blooded American youth, men, small business, free enterprise and the work ethic.    

  18. Ontos

    There has to be a grasp that we have come to this fate [not haphazzardly] but only due to a deliberate and self-conscious war that has been waged vs.  America, Masculinity, Free-Enterprise etc. {of course, not every cog was ]or need be] aware of the larger project}

    The key  tool has been the corrupt insistence on the idea of Non-Discrimination which in its unbridled deliberate “confusion”, is really a war against Judgment and the making of fine discriminations–the essence of thinking.   This is so insidious because when you take away the capacity to make judgments, you really take away freedom of speech and thought.  Many products of today’s “educational system” cannot think,  judge or act in any significant way.  They follow cultural trends in a lyrical wave that has been set in motion by the cultural tinkerers.   The death of Judgment has been truly devastating to America.  This “confusion” was diabolically set in the 1960s when there was a legitimate revulsion against government racial discrimination.  But the  insistent extension of this revulsion to the entirely different realm of voluntary association and private acts, was the step which carried within it the suicide of America. 

  19. SteveS

    In bringing up the recent story of the young boy in Colorado being “dispended” I was surprised no one mentioned how it was that anyone was aware of what the young man said or did. Are they being monitored that closely at recess or was he ratted out by a budding young leftist,

  20. Vald the Misspeller
    Edward Smith: My Mistake.

    Mammerstein helped write dialogue for Hummenschanz.

    Blue Yeti: Post updated to credit who came up with the idea for the closing song. Thanks again,  Franco.  

    By the way, Edward — that’s Rogers andHammerstein. 

    Edited 22 minutes ago

    25 minutes ago

    19 hours ago

    Or, it could be the working title for a remake of The Bride of Frankenstein starring Dolly Parton.

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