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The Gender Gap
Heretical Gender Truths at the NYT

The NYT has discovered a shocking fact: boys and girls are different in key ways. After issuing the obligatory caveats about the “lingering sexism” afflicting the economy, David Leonhardt summarizes new research into the early sources of the achievement gap between men and women. On all sorts of key metrics, girls outperform boys:

By kindergarten, girls are substantially more attentive, better behaved, more sensitive, more persistent, more flexible and more independent than boys, according to a new paper from Third Way, a Washington research group. The gap grows over the course of elementary school and feeds into academic gaps between the sexes. By eighth grade, 48 percent of girls receive a mix of A’s and B’s or better. Only 31 percent of boys do.

And in an economy that rewards knowledge, the academic struggles of boys turn into economic struggles. Men’s wages are stagnating. Men are much more likely to be idle — neither working, looking for work nor caring for family — than they once were and much more likely to be idle than women […]

“We know we’ve got a crisis, and the crisis is with boys,” said Elaine Kamarck, a resident scholar at Third Way and a former Clinton administration official. “We’re not quite sure why it’s happening.”

There are lots of complex factors that have contributed to the “boy crisis,” no doubt, but perhaps one of them is our destructive narrative about gender. The genders, we are now told, are essentially the same, and any apparent differences are explained away as being socially constructed. Occasionally, as with this article, we are allowed to deviate from that line to note ways in which women have special qualities that men lack. It’s certainly a heretical step in the right direction for the NYT to acknowledge that at least some gender differences are stubborn and significant. But never are men taught what special qualities they might have, what they can offer that women cannot, and how they can develop those habits and skills. A man today is arguably depicted as nothing but a woman without the ability to give birth. Is it any wonder that such an uninspiring vision makes them feckless and unproductive?

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  • Fred

    I’ve always been struck by the irony that feminists and the Christian fundamentalists they despise have one key thing in common. Neither believes in biology.

  • LivingRock

    Add to that according to Joe Biden men who attend college are all suspicious objects of sexual assault waiting to happen. Not only are men not taught what special qualities they have, but they are categorically put down in our most vaunted educational institutions.

  • Andrew Allison

    This is not rocket science. In the current so-called “equality” climate, girls are encouraged to be girls, and boys are discouraged from being boys. Is it any wonder that boys are under-performing? Boys and girls are different, and the differences should be celebrated, not castigated.

    • El Gringo


      • Corlyss

        How bad was patriarchy? 3700 years of it gave us Western Civ. Nothing is quite so bogus as the relentless effort 1) to find and make a BFD out of matriarchal societies, and 2) to find and make a BFD out of minority contributions to Western Civ, particularly America’s part of Western Civ. Both trends depend heavily on a) massive distortions of history and b) energetic fabulists, of which the Progs produce a limitless supply.

        • El Gringo

          That’s exactly what a patriarch would say.

          • Corlyss

            So? It conforms to history.

            Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence. – John Adams

          • El Gringo

            So sayeth John Adams, king of patriarchs.

            I’m being sarcastic, by the way.

          • Corlyss

            Thanks for the tip off. I thought you were serious.

        • Jim__L

          Minoans, American Indians, African-Americans — matriarchal societies are societies either in terminal stages of decline, or societies that are easy pickings for patriarchal societies.

          In human experience, patriarchy is stable, matriarchy is not. We will return to it sooner or later.

    • Corlyss

      Girls are encouraged to be girls and boys are reviled for not being girls.

  • Anthony

    Kay Hymowitz has been writing about this social trend for more than a decade; she offers insightful perspectives regarding Feed’s subject matter whether reader agrees or disagrees.

  • Richard T is pretty long, but sheds some light on this issue. A similar theme may even have been covered on this blog last year. Boys need a place and a time to “let off steam” and safety-obsessed schools are clamping down on such. It isn’t really even the school’s fault; it’s the lawyers’.

    • Bruce

      Good insights. We used to play tackle football with no equipment at recess. Don’t forget about dodge ball. The lawyers took all that away. Society is trying to excessively keep testosterone in check. Nature doesn’t work like that. You fool with it and you get what we are getting.

      • Corlyss

        I have heard reports that the introduction of estrogen into our food supply might account for some of the issues with men’s changing physiology over the last 50-60 years. I haven’t heard anything about it lately. Don’t know if it was debunked or in the pipeline for more study.

    • Corlyss

      I heard a great hour long interview with the author on Radio West last month. I wouldn’t blame just the schools, but they seem to make more than their fair share of stupid decisions re: kids in general and boys in particular. It is after all a “woman’s profession” and when you think 1) about how much they control both administration and teaching in the classroom and 2) how risk averse women are as a rule, the feminization of the schools as a contributing factor “war” on boys doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. Just wait till women start to dominate the military. It hasn’t happened yet, but I expect it by the last half of this century. Fortunately, I’ll be dead by then so I won’t have to write irate blog posts about it. 😉

      • rheddles

        When I was young one of the elite private boys’ schools in our area scheduled recess for whenever the boys became fidgety. After 15 minutes of uncontrolled mayhem they returned to class prepared to sit quietly. Lots cheaper than Ritilan.

        • Corlyss

          I found it hard to believe, but one caller to the program reported that schools had banned running and jumping during recess. I was incredulous. What the heck is recess for if not running and jumping? Chess matches? You’d think these people knew nothing about kids at all.

  • Breif2

    “The genders, we are now told, are essentially the same”

    It follows that if girls are out-performing boys in school, it must be the result of discrimination against boys, no? We must fight for equal rights; down with philogyny!


  • Jim__L

    At some point, a generation of males is going to discover that in the not-so-distant past, being a man meant something.

    The more society goes the way it’s been going, the more novel this realization is going to be, and the more electrifying it will be.

    When that happens, watch out.

    • Corlyss

      Quite. And their consciousness will occur in a society in which the moral restraints previously supplied by religious ethical systems will have largely disappeared. Bill Bennett once remarked that there was no restraint on the hedonism of the randy male that could match religion for effectiveness.

      • Diws

        A point that is not widely understood – the civic stability that traditional organized religion provides (specifically Christianity), and the inadequacy of any model that proposes to replace that religion.

      • Jim__L

        I’m not sure that the consciousness will be entirely bad; amidst the destruction there will be a constructive school of thought that remembers all the restraints and rules, and that school will at some point gain a great deal of support.

        Game of Thrones vs. the movies of John Ford, to provide a pop culture comparison.

  • Corlyss

    I have heard discussions as recently as two years ago concerning the impact of genetics on race centric diseases, e.g., sickle cell and diabetes as problems that disproportionately affects American blacks, and invariably they discuss heart disease studies from the late 80s early 90s that revealed how wrong-headed the male paradigm was for crafting heart disease treatments for women. Interestingly, I don’t recall a backlash against the analysis that showed women manifesting heart disease somewhat differently from men and being treated accordingly. Those studies caused researchers to study diseases in women separately and distinctly from men because the standard male model was not infallible for analyzing diseases in women. But when successful treatments (and I stress successful treatments) for diseases that affect blacks disproportionately were demonstrated to be based on racial differences, I vividly recall a black woman passionately denouncing the treatment with “I’d rather die of a disease than accept a treatment based on my race.” Must be a liberal . . . True, studies among African blacks didn’t find diabetes to be higher than it is in western non-black populations, so the problem seems to be with American blacks, not blacks in general. Nevertheless, it seems foolish to scorn a treatment that was actually effective, regardless of the reason.

    • Fred

      Well then I guess I have to amend my earlier comment. Feminists and fundamentalists don’t believe in the parts of biology that contradict their dogmas.

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