Christina Hoff Sommers raised the alarm twelve years ago. Our culture, she wrote, had declared war on boys. In the name of social justice it decided to undermine male supremacy by demeaning, diminishing and demoralizing boys in favor of girls.
It was and still is a grand exercise in social engineering, a cultural reconstruction that enhances feminine values at the expense of masculine values.
We no longer expect boys to grow up to be men; we want them to grow up to become persons. When the wives of these persons become pregnant, these persons happily announce that they themselves are pregnant.
Grammatically, writers have adopted the affectation of using the generic female pronoun in places where the generic male pronoun used to rule. If you are talking about an engineer of undetermined gender you have to speak about her children, not his children.
Of course, this thoroughly modern usage ignore the fact that while the generic masculine pronoun included women the generic feminine pronoun excludes men.
Feminists led the charge. The only reason, they opined, that women wanted to be good wives and mothers was that the culture was discriminating against girls, undervaluing their talents and making to more difficult for them to have good careers.
The feminist solution, imposed through the media and especially through the school system sought to improve the performance of girls at the expense of boys.
Everyone knows that classroom performance is directly linked to teacher expectations. If a teacher believes that a class is filled with little Einsteins the class will do better than the same group of students taught by a teacher who believes that they are all little dolts.
So teachers started praising girls for being girls and punishing boys for being boys. After a while, they got the hint.
Teachers have redirected their lesson plans toward the expression of emotion and feeling, and away from the skills in which boys might do better.
When it comes to math and science, areas where boys are more likely to excel, schools have lowered the standards to the point where America’s children simply cannot compete with children in other parts of the world.
American children do very badly in science, unless, of course, they are Asian and have Tiger Moms.
The goal is to have girls feel good about being girls and to have boys feel bad about being boys.
Girls receive constant confidence-building support and boys receive a constant guilt trip.
The policies have nothing to do with gender equity. They are engineering female superiority.
The result should surprise no one. In most areas of adult competence women are largely outpacing men. When compared with other countries in the world America is losing its competitive advantage.
Rest assured, the value of this experiment in social engineering will be decided in the international competitive marketplace.
Into the mix comes Hanna Rosin’s new book, The End of Men.
It is a feminist’s wet dream. Rosin describes a culture that has engineered a new feminist-friendly order, one that favors women to the detriment of men.
Rosin suggests that women’s ascent is historically inevitable. She believes that women, more than men, possess the skills needed to succeed in the new world economy.
This is Hegelian claptrap, the kind of thinking that tells us that the world spirit is directing the world toward the reign of the Great Mother.
If feminists were intellectually honest, they would take credit for what they have created. There was nothing inevitable about it. It was imposed on the nation by a band of ideological zealots who are working to remake the world in the image of their ideology.
Arguments for historical inevitability also tell people that it is futile to resist the great wave. Jump on it or be left behind. It’s a rhetorical ploy, one that is often used by demagogues.
David Brooks likes to pretend that he is a deep thinker, so he was happy to catch the wave. He agrees with Rosin that the ascent of women was inevitable, but he does not agree with her on why.
In his words:
Over the years, many of us have embraced a certain theory to explain men's economic decline. It is that the information-age economy rewards traits that, for neurological and cultural reasons, women are more likely to possess.
To succeed today, you have to be able to sit still and focus attention in school at an early age. You have to be emotionally sensitive and aware of context. You have to communicate smoothly. For genetic and cultural reasons, many men stink at these tasks.
But, in her fascinating new book, "The End of Men," Hanna Rosin posits a different theory. It has to do with adaptability. Women, Rosin argues, are like immigrants who have moved to a new country. They see a new social context, and they flexibly adapt to new circumstances. Men are like immigrants who have physically moved to a new country but who have kept their minds in the old one. They speak the old language. They follow the old mores. Men are more likely to be rigid; women are more fluid.
This is pathetic. Rosin and Brooks are not as far apart as he thinks. Both define success in the new world in terms of more feminine skills: sensitivity to emotion, empathy, an ability to communicate smoothly. Both think that soft will prevail over hard in the new world economic order. By implication they also believe that the weak will prevail over the strong.
Both Rosin and Brooks manifest a grotesque misunderstanding of the world’s economic future.
For example, high technology jobs are increasingly going unfilled in America because the school system is not training young people to do them. All those sensitive young people who can communicate smoothly and can feel your pain are inept at doing high tech work. Lacking the hard training to do the job their soft skills are useless.
The jobs are migrating to cultures that place more importance on math excellence than on social justice.
Most experts will tell you that the future does not lie in touch-feely skills, but in in the STEM subjects, in science, technology, engineering and math. In those fields, America’s children are seriously lagging the world.
If we didn’t have as many Asian students, we would be lagging further.
The problem is not limited to the school system. The current administration, following many past administrations, has enhanced women’s work and has denigrated jobs where men are more likely to excel.
We are told that those who work in the caring professions are doing God’s work and that there should never be a limit on how much we spend on them.
We have been told that men are so degenerate that they should not be allowed to compete in the marketplace unless they are strictly regulated and supervised by government bureaucrats.
We are diminishing self-reliance, individual initiative and personal responsibility in favor of a Nanny state.
Male dominant professions, we are told, are intrinsically evil. Wall Street fat cats are so prone to do ill that they need to be constantly controlled.
How long do you think it will be before the financial services industry migrates to a part of the globe where a masculine ethos has a better chance at survival?
Of course, the Obama administration has done everything in its power to stifle the energy business, a business that would, if it were allowed to prosper, create myriad jobs for young men.
Energy, after all, is a dirty business. It pollutes the environment and destroys the pristine beauty of nature.
We are not allowed to exploit our natural resources because we want to preserve them for their aesthetic value.
Famed investor Jim Rogers has often stated that the future of the world economy will rest on agriculture and mining. He has since added energy production as a part of mining.
Like technology, these industries attract men and function according to a manly ethos. What part of the Brooks/Rosin vision of the future takes account of the skills required to excel in these fields. Do they require more empathy and more sensitivity to the hurt feelings of others, or do they require a roughneck spirit?
Yet, agribusiness is often attacked for producing food that is inorganic, unwholesome and poisonous.
That’s why I was struck last week to read Roger Cohen’s sensible statement that if we stifle big agribusiness in favor of the dubious virtue of organic foods we will never be able to feed the people of this planet.
Rosin and Brooks are describing the effects of a cultural movement that has been created and directed by leftist intellectuals.
Their world favors women over men, favors women’s skills over men’s skills, and has systematically denigrated men and their manly virtues.
None of this is inevitable. None of it represents the course of world history. It shows a nation that no longer wants to compete on the world stage, that no longer wants to earn its way but that it wants to hunker down and spend money that it has not earned.