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Education Reporter

Book of the Month
The War Against BOYS
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The War Against Boys, Christina Hoff Summers, Simon & Schuster, 2000, 213 pps., $25

"It's a bad time to be a boy in America. As the century drew to a close, the defining event for American girls was the triumph of the U.S. women's soccer team. For boys, the symbolic event was the mass killing at Columbine High School." So notes successful author and scholar Christina Hoff Summers as she opens her brilliant expose on the largely unspoken casualty of radical feminism - America's male youth.

Summers writes that, although many boys performed heroically during the nightmare at Columbine - one boy paid with his life while helping others escape - the two "morbid killers" seem to have become representative of "the nature of boyhood." She calls this distortion "profoundly misguided and deeply disrespectful of boys in general."

"I realized that no one was telling the real story about how boys and girls are faring," Summers says. "According to conventional wisdom girls are second class citizens in school, but nothing could be farther from the truth."

Summers builds her case by revealing the fatally flawed research of girl advocacy groups including the American Association of University Women, the Ms. Foundation and the Wellesley Center, which have painted American society as a "girl-poisoning" and "girl-destroying culture." She points out that, far from being demoralized, girls now outshine boys in nearly every educational sphere. Girls outnumber boys on most college campuses: 1997 figures show an overall percentage of 55% girls to 45% boys.

"If America's teenage girls are silenced, tortured , voiceless, and otherwise personally diminished," writes Summers, "it has escaped the notice of conventional psychiatry." She notes however, that this baseless exercise in victimology has been accepted as fact, and that boys have garnered resentment and are viewed as obstacles to "gender justice."

The War Against Boys tells the tragic story of "how it has become fashionable to attribute pathology to millions of healthy male children and how, in turning against boys, society is forgetting a simple truth: that the energy, competitiveness, and corporal daring of normal, decent males is responsible for much of what is right in the world."

Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 0-684-84956-9, www.simonsays.com

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