Christina Hoff Sommers wrote an article for AVfM, where she casts her eye over a new documentary film called The Mask You Live In – even the title makes me shudder.
Anyway – in her first two paragraph, Hoff Sommers indulges herself in a bit of hand-wringing and worrying, about how this film might, just might be misrepresenting boys. Then goes on to do just exactly that herself.
“ It argues that American boys are captive to a rigid and harmful social code of masculinity. From the earliest age, they are told to “Be a man!” “Don’t cry!” “Stop with the emotion!” and “Man up!” This “guy code” suppresses their humanity, excites their drive for dominance and renders many of them dangerous. The trailer features adolescent men describing their isolation, despair and thoughts of suicide, artfully interspersed with terrifying images of school shooters and mass murderers.”
Fair enough, though the fact that the filmmaker is described BY Hoff Sommers as “filmmaker and feminist activist Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s” might be a great big bloody honking clue as to how Newsome might view boys and all male human beings!
In light of the fact that it was Hoff Sommers own book – “The War Against Boys”, in which SHE described this “war” as a “war” initiated, waged and perpetuated by BLOODY FEMINISTS “Against Boys.” The rest of her “article” is………..bizarre.
But, alas, one of the things that feminists are famous for is, backpeddling, indulging in a little linguistic sleight of hand, depending on which way the wind blows, and how uncomfortable that fence they’ve been sitting on is getting. Sommers apparently is no exception as this article illustrates.
“Christina Hoff Sommers, who played a starring role in the anti-feminist backlash of the 1990s, is back again with a new edition of her book The War Against Boys. Originally subtitled How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, it’s now relabeled How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men;”
Well now! Isn’t that intriguing? All of a sudden feminism is quietly swept under the carpet, and “policies” are now the big bad wolf creeping up on the hen house. Such a nice “let’s not point the finger at anybody or anything in particular” just some unattributed vague neutral “policies”
Eh, yeah, right!
The article was published on Feb 14th 2013 – the author of this piece, Jim Naureckas, is very obviously not a fan of Sommers, and in this instance who can blame him.
I’m wondering, to myself, is this a chance to seize an opportunity to come in from cold? It can be a mite chilly being outside the sisterhood, especially when one yearns for “nice feminism” to come back into fashion. Naureckas helpfully supplies a link to another article, this time penned by Hoff Sommers herself.
Perhaps we’ll just let Hoff Sommers explain the little word substitution herself – I took a screen shot of the relevant paragraph, because for some reason I couldn’t copy and paste it, and am no good at figuring out what the problem is.
In her own words then. Click on the link above to go read the article yourself.
“For a revised version of the book, due out this summer, I’ve changed the subtitle – to “How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men” from “How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men” – and moved away from criticizing feminism; instead I emphasized boy-averse trends like the decline of recess, zero-tolerence disciplinary policies, the tendency to criminilize minor juvenile misconduct and the turn away from single-sex schooling. As our schools have become more feelings-centred, risk-averse, collaboration-orientated and sedentary, they have moved further and further from boys’ characteristic sensibilities. Concerns about boys arose during a time of tech bubble prosperity; now, more that a decade later, there are major policy reasons – besides the stale “culture wars” of the 1990’s – to focus on boys schooling.”
Ah, well then, let’s all stop “criticising feminism” because obviously since from the first time Hoff Sommers published her ground-breaking book, it appears that now, feminists have become so much nicer, so much more concerned about boys, it would be better if we all just learned to get along, and play nicely together. You read it from the horse’s mouth – feminism is OFF the hook.
B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T – B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T – B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T – B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T – B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T – did I mention that this is B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T?
Sommers does make a few friendly and nice “suggestions” as to how Newsome can improve her film, but decides to regale us first with some nice descriptive words about what men are, and what women are.
“A recent study on sex differences by researchers from the University of Turin, in Italy, and the University of Manchester, in England, confirms what most of us see with our eyes: with some exceptions, women tend to be more sensitive, esthetic, sentimental, intuitive and tender-minded, while men tend to be more utilitarian, objective, unsentimental and tough-minded. We do not yet fully understand the biological underpinnings of these universal tendencies, but that is no reason to deny they exist.”
Where is the link to this “study please? I’d like to read it myself, and make my own mind up about what it found, if that’s all right with you Dr. Sommers? Because what I’m seeing here is a pithy little analysis that functions to confirm and perpetuate STEROTYPES – what is “stereotypical female behaviour, and stereotypical male behaviour or if you prefer. Myths.
What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice………..you all know the rest.
I especially liked the words “sensitive” and “tender-minded” applied to women, I must have misinterpreted all those RED PILL stories from all those MEN on AVfM forum, where they described the horrors they endured at the hands of “sensitive” and “tender-minded” women – but the words she uses for men are classic gynocentrism wrapped up in nice feminist bullshit, my absolute favourite being “utilitarian” ah yes – men have always been “utilitarian” FOR the benefit of women.
But it was Hoff Sommers suggestion No, 4 that made me literally drop my jaw in amazement – in one paragraph she chides Newsome for misrepresenting boy’s mental health, claims that most boys are basically as happy as Larry AND points out that “Among 10- to 24-year-olds, 81% of suicide victims are male.”
But the cherry on top of her “suggestion“ to Newsome is that in spite of all these happy go lucky boys that “Male suicide is a much neglected scourge, and Newsom’s efforts to raise awareness are admirable” BUT also that “Each of these deaths is a tragedy. But it helps no one to pretend that suicide is typical male behavior.”
“4. Make clear that most boys are psychologically sound and resilient
The Mask You Live In gives the impression that the average adolescent boy is severely depressed. In fact, clinical depression is rare among boys. (National Institute of Mental Health data show that the prevalence of depression among among 13- to 17-year-old boys is 4.3%; among girls of the same age group, it is 12.4%.)
Newsom’s film reports that every day in the U.S. three or more boys take their own lives. Suicide is, indeed, primarily a male disease. Among 10- to 24-year-olds, 81% of suicide victims are male. In 2010, a total of 3,951 young men died by their own hands. Male suicide is a much neglected scourge, and Newsom’s efforts to raise awareness are admirable. Still, in a nation of nearly 33 million boys, that means that the percentage of boys who commit suicide is close to 0.01%. Each of these deaths is a tragedy. But it helps no one to pretend that suicide is typical male behavior.”
So, let me see if I have this right? Boys are NOT suffering from clinical depression, because MORE girls, almost three times as more get diagnosed with REAL clinical depression – yet MORE boys than girls actually take their own lives – but not because they are as depressed as girls?
What am I missing here? Oh yeah – when girls are depressed its REAL depression, but when boys are depressed it’s………? Because obviously with nearly “33 million boys” What difference does it make if 0.01% of them take their own lives, plenty more to spare. It’s the percentages that matter, NOT the actual real human beings – because after all, it’s just a FEW BOYS! I’ll be honest, that almost made me puke in disgust.
Hoff Sommers next suggestion made me spray my coffee out all over my computer screen – she lauds the efforts in Australia to improve men’s “mental fitness” because of a report in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2006.
“Some of the most promising, innovative ideas are coming out of Australia. In 2006, a report in the Medical Journal of Australia argued for a paradigm shift in the nation’s mental-health system. Rather than blaming “masculinity” or trying to “re-educate” men away from their reluctance to seek help, the author asks, “Why not provide health services that better meet the needs of men?”
I’m just going to leave the link to Janet Bloomfield’s (aka Judgybitch) brilliant article on the issue of Male Health Studies in Australia here and this link here, and say just one thing to Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers.
What fucking planet, what parallel universe have you been living in since………being the poster girl for cool and trendy nice feminists, way back, when sitting on the fence was much more comfortable than it is now?
You cite some report from 2006, from almost eight years ago, without actually providing a link to said report, yet seem oblivious to events of recent days regarding the FIRST attempt to offer a Male Studies course – that IS actually about Male Health in Australia?
Here’s what I think – that Christina Hoff Sommers sees an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of feminism 4.0 via two avenues, first by re-issuing her book – with a new suitably sanitised tag line under the title, that takes the heat OFF feminism, and two, by offering a half baked apologia/endorsement/half fat approval, for this execrable toxic little film that is a vehicle for a repackaged, rebranded, renewed, boy friendly feminism.
The message is the same – men and boys bad – girls and women good – it’s still FEMINISM – it just got itself a makeover, has quietly nudged the screechy ranty bad feminists back into the shadows, or up into the attic and is now doing the fluffy feminist two step.
© Anja Eriud 2014
NB. I wrote this article yesterday, but held off posting it last night, because as I read the comments on AVfM on this article – with almost no exceptions the comments were all rather gushing in praise of Hoff Sommers. So I slept on it – thinking – am I just imaging this? That this article is a thinly disguised apologia FOR feminism? That this article is a sloppy, poorly researched, lazy, knocked it off in an hour piece of pro feminist bullshit? That Hoff Sommers is skating by on past glories?
Now to be fair to Hoff Sommers, her book The War against Boys was groundbreaking and rightly deserves kudos, but that was then, this is now. What I did notice about the comments as well, was that with the exception of a few minor “issues” pointed out in the actual BODY of her article – no- one directly critiqued it. No-one took this article point by point and examined it very closely. There was a lot of tippy toeing around, a few vague references to a few vague, as I said “issues” but overall it was a love fest – Christina Hoff Sommers was so cool, was so brilliant and the MHRM was sooooooooo lucky to have her!
Added this Morning: What is written above is my honest to God opinion – I stand by every word of it – should anyone wish to “take me to task” for taking swipes at the untouchable Christina Hoff Sommers – go ahead – I won’t stand in your way – won’t close comments, censor you or bar you from commenting, obviously if you decide you post poisonous ranty illiterate diatribes I might use my discretion – it is MY blog after all – otherwise nope.
What I will point out is that A Voice for Men has my full 100% support, now and always, without AVfM and Paul Elam’s vision and persistence the MHRM would probably still be in the doldrums, still languishing in dark corners of the internet, and feminism would have won – Men’s Human Rights would probably be fast becoming a distant memory.