cover image The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men

The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men

Christina Hoff Sommers. Simon & Schuster, $25 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-684-84956-0

Sommers (Who Stole Feminism?) pulls no punches in this critique of the current crop of ""crisis"" studies about boys. Methodically analyzing and dismantling what she calls the ""myth of shortchanged girls"" as well as the ""new and equally corrosive fiction that boys as a group are disturbed""--theories she calls ""speculative psychology""--she bolsters her findings with extensive footnotes and data from such sources as the U.S. Department of Education. Sommers's conclusions are compelling and deserve an unbiased hearing, particularly since they are at odds with conventional wisdom that paints girls as victimized and boys as emotionally repressed. ""Routinely regarded as protosexists, potential harassers and perpetuators of gender inequity, boys live under a cloud of censure,"" she writes, going on to show how they are also falling behind academically in an educational system that currently devotes more attention to the needs of girls. Pointing out that ""Mother Nature is not a feminist,"" she also dismisses the current vogue to ""feminize"" boys, calling social androgyny a ""well-intentioned but ill-conceived reform."" Instead, Sommers champions ""the reality that boys and girls are different, that each sex has its distinctive strengths and graces."" Sure to kick up dust in the highly charged gender debates, Sommers's book is at its best when coolly debunking theories she contends are based on distorted research and skewed data, but descends into pettiness when she indulges in mudslinging at her opponents. Perhaps the most informed study yet in this area, this engrossing book sheds light on a controversial subject. It deserves close reading by parents, educators and anyone interested in raising healthy, successful children of both sexes. (July)