Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lining Up Last

At St. William’s School, we always lined up before doing anything. It was girls on the left and boys on the right whether we were going out to recess, to the lunchroom, back to the classroom, or wherever. The girls’ line always went first and sometimes I resented that. If I was shivering in the cold wind, I had to wait for the girls to file in first. Seldom did they seem to appreciate our sacrifice. They accepted their privilege as a matter of course.

Girls were more organized than we were. If I forgot to write down a homework assignment or lost it entirely, I could always call up Mary Bauer or Geraldine Hoyle. One of them would be home and able to tell me what it was we were supposed to do. Both were kind and helpful and I didn’t mind if they always went first, but some of other girls were annoying and it was easy to resent them. But it didn’t matter what I thought. They were girls and they always went first.

When I graduated from eighth grade, I went to a Catholic all-male high school and my sisters went to a Catholic all-female high school nearby. After graduation, young men my age were last in line again as Affirmative Action programs were getting started. Women and minorities were given preference over Caucasian males in hiring and promotion. Then we had to get in line for the draft during the Vietnam War. Women were exempt from that. They didn’t have to line up at all.

In those days there were demonstrations in which women demanded equal pay for equal work. I had no objection. In the kinds of jobs I was working at the time, women were getting the same low wages I was getting. I didn’t see any wage discrimination, but that’s not to say it wasn’t happening somewhere else.

When my first three children were girls, I was glad women were guaranteed at least as many opportunities as men were. With Affirmative Action and other developments, they were likely to get even more opportunities than men. They were born in the 1970s when girls were thought to be disadvantaged in schools so special programs were set up to assist them. Evidently they’ve been successful, inasmuch as girls’ performance is measured against boys’ performance at least. Girls are way ahead.

Most feminists pushing these special programs believed there were no differences between males and females beyond the obvious physical ones. We’re all the same, they insisted. They really believed this and still do. The only reason men achieved more than women was because the evil patriarchy conspired to keep women down. They insisted that if you raised girls the same as boys, they would turn out the same.

The most tragic result of this fallacious teaching is what happened to an unfortunate boy born an identical twin in 1965. When he and his brother were circumcised, his was botched. A woman using an electrical cauterizing device accidentally burned off his penis. His parents were persuaded by Dr. John Money of Johns Hopkins University that the boy could be raised as a girl just as easily as his twin brother would be raised as a boy. So the rest of his genitalia were removed in a sex change operation. He was raised as a girl and given hormone treatments during adolescence. In spite of socialization, hormones, the nurturing as a girl, he never adjusted. He didn’t want to play with dolls; he was prone to fighting; he peed standing up. Finally, he was told what really happened to him and he set out to reverse it. He had surgery again to reconstruct a penis and even married. Two years ago, at age 38, he killed himself. Dr. John Money is still writing and lecturing, however, about how there are no differences between males and females beyond the obvious physical ones.

At a recent in-service workshop in MSAD 72 called “With Boys in Mind,” two veteran elementary teachers offered data convincing most present that boys are in trouble. Nationally, boys make up 2/3 of students in special education and are more likely to be classified as hyperactive. Boys earn 70% of D’s and F’s and fewer than half of the A’s. Boys represent 90% of discipline referrals. When it comes to grades and homework, girls outperform boys in elementary, middle, high school, and even graduate school. Men make up less than 40% of college graduates these days. Boys are many times more likely to commit suicide than girls and women.

There were brain research findings indicating that girls mature earlier than boys. One woman at the workshop wondered aloud if men ever caught up. I told her we would eventually, but we die too soon. The average life span for women is several years longer than for men. Finally, men are allowed to go first - to the morgue.


Anonymous said...

You have many correct facts but it can not be said that guys are always the trouble makers because I my self knew very many trouble making girls and also some boys who were much smarter than girls.

Tom McLaughlin said...

I did too. I still know some. I think boys are called troublemakers sometimes when they're just being boys, but typical male behavior is too often considered disruptive or "dysfunctional." Too many boys are labelled ADHD when they're just rambunctious. There's little tolerance for male behavior in a female-dominated profession, at least in the elementary schools and middle schools.

Anonymous said...

you are so right! Recently my son was repremanded by the school vice principal for grabbing his friend's aht after school and running away with it...the same week they had a party at school with decorative baloons the principal has taken away a ski trip from him for what he was about to do...apprently she can read minds...I am fighting this rediculous allegation, unbelievably unfair! (he's in 7th grade)It is ver difficult to fight the system they have labelled our sons delinquint...I am fighting to keep my son on the right path and not fulfill their prophecy....

Tom McLaughlin said...


That boys are not served well in our public schools is finally beginning to dawn on the "progressives." They don't come to the realization easily, but it's been moved along by recent books like: "The War Against Boys" by Christina Hoff Sommers. I recommmend it highly.

There has been precious little change in educational programming so far, but people like you need to keep pushing.