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interview by Michael Cromartie
The War Against Boys
Christina Hoff Sommers was a professor of philosophy at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, when her first book, Who Stole Feminism?, was published. That book, the thesis of which Sommers had laid out in a provocative Atlantic Monthly article, catapulted her to public prominence (and generated a bushel of politically correct hate-mail). Sommers has since forsaken the groves of academe for think tankery; currently she is the W.H. Brady Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.
Her new book, The War Against Boys, has generated even more controversy than its predecessor did. (For an exchange between Sommers and her critics, see the Letters section of the August issue of the Atlantic.) Michael Cromartie met with her in Washington to talk about the book.
What is the war against boys?
Boys are politically incorrect. They like action, competition, rough-housing. They are the one group of Americans who do not spend a lot of time talking about their feelings. This worries many people. A group of psychologists— mainly at Harvard—have convinced themselves that boys need to be "rescued" from their masculinity. At the same time, hard-line feminists are persuaded that unless we intervene at earliest possible age to change boys, women and girls will continue to be "oppressed under patriarchy." My book shows that these two groups—the gender warriors and the New England psychologists—have been astonishingly successful in promoting their male-averse programs in the schools. In the meantime, boys are not getting the help they really need. All the special help has been allocated to girls.
Many books have come out in the last ten years or so that report a pervasive malaise among young women and adolescent girls. Is your book intended as a corrective to these diagnoses?
Those books have had two bad effects. They overstated how bad things are for girls, and they distracted everyone's attention from the problems of boys. Contrary to Mary Pipher's ...