6.Myth: Girls have been shortchanged in our gender-biased schools
Fact: No fair-minded person can review the education data and conclude that girls are the have-nots in our schools. Boys are slightly ahead of girls in math and science; girls are dramatically ahead in reading and writing. (The writing skills of 17-year-old boys are at the same level as 14-year- old girls.) Girls get better grades, they have higher aspirations, and they are more likely to go to college.
Maybe girls are just smarter. Wouldn’t that explain the ‘evidence’ just as well? Fortunately, this is something we can test! What would it mean for a school to be biased toward one particular gender? I’m not an expert but since we’re all making stuff up, how about this: the amount of time teachers spend with kids. We could test whether attention from teachers made kids more likely to succeed in education, couldn’t we? And then we could measure whether girls or boys tend to get more attention. Other measures might be devised.
Have studies like this been carried out? I’ve no idea, but I’d be surprised if they hadn’t. But it doesn’t matter: it’s the sort of test we’d need to do to determine whether girls are just better at school or whether the school system gives them an unfair advantage.
Another issue is that this claim is very US-centric. As I understand it, boys have enormous opportunities in US schools that girls do not. I’m talking in particular about sport scholarships. In many places, girls are severely disadvantaged. In many places, they aren’t allowed to go to school at all or are attacked with acid or bullets if they do. Those girls don’t get the chance to get better grades or go to university. But if this is true in the US (I’ve no idea whether it is) then let’s not just assert that it’s because schools are biased toward them.
Is this a claim feminists actually make anyway?
7. Myth: “Our schools are training grounds for sexual harassment… boys are rarely punished, while girls are taught that it is their role to tolerate this humiliating conduct.”
(National Organization of Women, “Issue Report: Sexual Harassment,” April 1998.)
Hey, a source! Too bad I don’t have time to verify it. Let’s assume it’s legit for now.
Fact: “Hostile Hallways,” is the best-known study of harassment in grades 8-11. It was commissioned by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in 1993, and is a favorite of many harassment experts. But this survey revealed that girls are doing almost as much harassing as the boys. According to the study, “85 percent of girls and 76 percent of boys surveyed say they have experienced unwanted and unwelcome sexual behavior that interferes with their lives.”
Sneaky. The statistic quoted, assuming it’s correct, doesn’t say much useful about harassment, does it? It’s no surprise that both girls and boys tend to experience harassment but the author doesn’t say anything about the extent, degree or type of harassment. Is harassment of boys as routine and endemic as it is of girls? This is something else we can test and – again – I expect somebody has. But the author doesn’t seem to have looked. He’s found a stat that seems to fit his preconceptions and that’s good enough for him.
(Four scholars at the University of Michigan did a careful follow-up study of the AAUW data and concluded: “The majority of both genders (53%) described themselves as having been both victim and perpetrator of harassment — that is most students had been harassed and had harassed others.” And these researchers draw the right conclusion: “Our results led us to question the simple perpetrator-victim model…”)(See: American Education Research Journal, Summer 1996.)
More smoke. This does nothing to either confirm or refute the ‘myth’. It’s saying something completely different.
8. Myth: Girls suffer a dramatic loss of self-esteem during adolescence.
Fact: This myth of the incredible shrinking girls was started by Carol Gilligan, professor of gender studies at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Gilligan has always enjoyed higher standing among feminist activists and journalists than among academic research psychologists.
Ad hominem. Attack the argument, not the arguer.
Scholars who follow the protocols of social science do not accept the reality of an adolescent “crisis” of confidence and “loss of voice.” In 1993, American Psychologist reported the new consensus among researchers in adolescent development: “It is now known that the majority of adolescents of both genders successfully negotiate this developmental period without any major psychological or emotional disorder [and] develop a positive sense of personal identity.”
I think we’ve lost sight of the myth here. The author seems to be suggesting that there’s a persistent claim that girls suffer from a loss of self-esteem during adolescence more than boys. Is this really a common claim by feminists? But either way, the cited study seems to suggest there’s no differential. So isn’t the claim correct? I sure as shit had a crisis of self-esteem during adolescence and so did absolutely everyone I know. That includes some girls. I survived it. So did everyone else who is still alive.
I really don’t see what point is supposedly being made and I certainly don’t understand what the supposed evidence says about the claim one way or another.
9. Myth: Gender is a social construction.
Fact: While environment and socialization do play a significant role in human life, a growing body of research in neuroscience, endocrinology, and psychology over the past 40 years suggests there is a biological basis for many sex differences in aptitudes and preferences. In general, males have better spatial reasoning skills; females better verbal skills. Males are greater risk takers; females are more nurturing.
I’d love to see this ‘growing body of research’, but of course none of it is cited. I wonder why. Stating a thing doesn’t make it so and 40 years of studies with the same outcome ought to have dredged up enough evidence to cite, right? Apparently not. Perhaps those four decades also chivvied up some evidence that aptitudes and attitudes are not determined by biology alone. To make an argument, the author would have to demonstrate why those studies are flawed and the ones that happen to support his conclusion are not. He doesn’t do anything even similar to that.
If the author were concerned with whether or not gender is a social construct, he’d focus on ways to test that. Do girls automatically like pink regardless of culture or do they like pink because they’re taught that they should? That kind of thing. But he’s not concerned with that, he’s concerned with re-enforcing the gender roles he thinks ought to exist.
Of course, this does not mean that women should be prevented from pursuing their goals in any field they choose; what it does suggest is that we should not expect parity in all fields.
If you could take a month off work to strive night and day to come up with a better excuse for sexism, do you think you could? Let’s turn the argument around to reveal what the author really means: women can’t do some stuff as well as men, so we get to treat women like idiots. Poor little things, trying to do men’s work. We indulge them, bless their hearts, but they can’t expect us to pay them the same as men or treat them with the same respect.
More women than men will continue to want to stay at home with small children and pursue careers in fields like early childhood education or psychology; men will continue to be over-represented in fields like helicopter mechanics and hydraulic engineering.
First, hilarious choice of macho occupations. Second, isn’t this begging the question? It’s such transparent bullshit that I’m not even going to bother teasing it out.
Warning: Most gender scholars in our universities have degrees in fields like English or comparative literature–not biology or neuroscience. These self-appointed experts on sexuality are scientifically illiterate. They substitute dogma and propaganda for reasoned scholarship.
If they are university scholars, aren’t they appointed by the university? In what sense are they self-appointed? Besides, the term' ‘gender scholars’ is deliberately and stupidly vague. What does it mean? Do all these ‘gender scholars’ have the same sort of outlook? Do they make the same claims? Is it the gender scholars who came up with all these supposed myths?
10. Myth: Women’s Studies Departments empowered women and gave them a voice in the academy.
Fact: Women’s Studies empowered a small group of like-minded careerists. They have created an old-girl network that is far more elitist, narrow and closed than any of the old-boy networks they rail against.
Vast numbers of moderate or dissident women scholars have been marginalized, excluded and silenced.
Citation needed. Look, just asserting something doesn’t make it so. Haven’t you understood that yet? If your claim is true, it’s interesting. If it’s just made up, it’s worthless.
I don’t know how to go about measuring empowerment. But I know a silencing tactic when I see one. The author is asserting with no evidence that women’s studies is no good based on no stated criteria so women should probably just shut up and stop being annoying.
So there you have it: the 10 most common feminist myths debunked, apparently.