Michael Kimmel and Christina Hoff Sommers did a dialogue at the Huffington Post. It didn’t create a new bridge between feminists and Christina Hoff Sommers.
Sommers: Now I have a question for you, Michael. In the past, you seem to have sided with a group of gender scholars who think we should address the boy problem by raising boys to be more like girls. Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but does your praise for my New York Times op-ed indicate a shift in your own thinking?
Ouch; that’s a Radfordesque question. “When did you stop dressing your son in frilly skirts?”
Kimmel: Not at all. I’m not interested in raising boys to be more like girls any more than I want girls to be raised more like boys. The question itself assumes that there is a way to raise boys that is different from the way we raise girls. To me this is stereotypic thinking. I want to raise our children to be themselves, and I think that one of the more wonderful components of feminism was to critique that stereotype that all girls are supposed to act and dress in one way and one way only.
Eww! Gender feminism! He said “stereotypic”! He thinks girls and boys are exactly the same! Ewww!
Kimmel: Our disagreement, I think, comes from what we see as the source of that falling behind. My interviews with over 400 young men, aged 6-26, in Guyland, showed me that young men and boys are constantly and relentlessly policed by other guys, and pressured to conform to a very narrow definition of masculinity by the constant spectre of being called a fag or gay. So if we’re going to really intervene in schools to ensure that boys succeed, I believe that we have to empower boys’ resilience in the face of this gender policing. What my interviews taught me is that many guys believe that academic disengagement is a sign of their masculinity. Therefore, re-engaging boys in school requires that we enable them to reconect educational engagement with manhood.
Sommers, you won’t be surprised to learn, isn’t buying it.
Sommers: I agree that we should raise children to be themselves. But that will often mean respecting their gender. Increasingly, little boys are shamed and punished for the crime of being who they are. The typical, joyful play of young males is “rough and tumble” play. There is no known society where little boys fail to evince this behavior (girls do it too, but far less). In many schools, this characteristic play of little boys is no longer tolerated. Intrusive and intolerant adults are insisting “tug of war” be changed to “tug of peace”; games such as tag are being replaced with “circle of friends” — in which no one is ever out.
Those are the feminists who say “all men are rapists,” aren’t they. They live in the same mist-shrouded part of the North Pole where no one can ever find them, don’t they.