Re : Education of Girls&Boys

Linda Purrington (
Thu, 02 Apr 1998 21:18:06 -0800

Perhaps we would all do better with this issue if we imagine ourselves
to have both a daughter and a son; the issue of how to parent them is
more acutely sensitive than that of teaching them (although I noted
elsewhere the importance of focusing on schools and teachers because
they, unlike parents, have a uniform law and a powerful national
insitution that serves as a channel for change--and resistance to
So let's imagine we have children, male and female, whom we love very
much, and whom we seek to place in good positions in life. And let's say
we are all, further, teachers and school administrators; we make public
policy and socialize children.
So we see at our dinner tables and on chore details a lot of the
behavior we need to change to provide equity. Is our son going to
benefit from not doing the chores, while his sister does more than her
Well, yes and no. He may go into the den and sit down at the computer,
thus getting more computer skills, and also perhaps taking time she or
someone else may need to do homework, etc. So he will gain in this way;
and later his skills may translate into higher pay. His assertiveness or
aggression may also pay off in economic terms.
He will lose ethically; and because ethics link to emotions, he may
lose emotionally--he may become insensitive to others' needs; he may get
used just to taking the lion's share of things. This is definitely to
his disadvantage.
But that is not so easily quantified. On the other hand, we can reckon
the cost to society of this kind of miseducation pretty well--it costs
huge amounts of money to deal with violence, for example; it costs
megabucks to deal with maldistribution of goods.
Surely we can see that boys are harmed by being left to deal with past
ways of dealing with things. And it must be painful to realize that
individual boys--our sons--are going to go on paying for the
consequences of patriarchy because the huge and unwieldy human society
that is jettisoning patriarchal values in order to deal with
overpopulation, ecological concerns, and technological advances, cannot
possibly do so fast enough to even things out in one generation. But
that is true of our daughters as well--there is absolutely no way we can
make the world equitable for our daughters. Or for our granddaughters.
But what we can see is that the absolute best thing we can do for both
our son and our daughter is to make sure that they get equal chances at
education and jobs. It cannot possibly benefit either if one gets more;
it cannot possible benefit either if they cannot work together under the
conditions of stress that are crashing down on them And believing in
democracy as a way of governing and a way of educating,
we had better get to work to even out their education now. And that is
what Title IX is positioned to help us do; it's not enough by any means,
but it is a beginning, and it could be used far more effectively than it
is at present, if we chose to do so.
Linda Purrington
Title IX Advocates <>

Marty Henry wrote:
> Sorry, I can't agree with the statement that we would rather examine
> the negative effects on young women. I am extremely interested in
> this, having experienced them myself, however, I strongly support an
> examination of the system that produces these disfunctional behaviors
> in both women and men. I can't help but believe what we do to/for one
> sex affects the other. It IS a two way street. Examining only one lane
> gives us half the story. We may learn what not to do with young women
> by examining how we socialize men. We may learn what to do with young
> men by how we have successes with young women.

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