[EDEQUITY] Re: Boys and School Article

From: Linda Purrington (lpurring@earthlink.net)
Date: Tue May 23 2000 - 15:22:48 EDT

S. Barlow wrote that there is a gender gap in reading and writing,
favoring the girls; and in math, technology, and science, favoring the
boys. There is no doubt about what the consequences are: Women still
earn only 75 cents on the male dollar. It's an interesting result, isn't
it? What can you say about an advantage that disadvantages you?

But the boys' problem is a real one: They have been socialized to defy
their mothers, and hence maternal discipline; and they have been
socialized to defy women's authority, hence the authority of women
teachers, who are clustered in the lower-paying jobs during the years in
which reading/writing are taught. Teachers struggle to teach reading to
boys who are not socialized to the goals of communication and therefore
relationship--which is what reading and writing are about--but the girls
are socialized from the git-go to pay close attention to relationship
and communication, because they are the subordinates always looking to
superiors for cues on how it is safe to behave.

The tragedy of this is that indeed the boys are unsocialized; they do
not learn that they must civilize their own biological impulses, just as
the girls do, to live in good relationship with others. Hence rape, and
violence, and war. The profound silliness of seeking to ban, for
example, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights on the grounds that it appeals
to girls misses the point entirely: The antihero of that book is a
smoldering little fury who grows up to lay waste everything that in fact
he held most dear. It ends with the last male of his line reconciling in
a love affair with the daughter of his enemy--for courtship, she teaches
him to read, lovingly and patiently.

Linda Purrington
Title IX Advocates

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