Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Wagner Conference on Male Studies: Christina Hoff Sommers, on why outrageous injustices against men go unnoticed

The Wagner conference that concluded this afternoon was an attempt to initiate a new way of studying the problems males face, and what it means to be male in our society.  There are innumerable studies about the male of every species, except humans.  The stellar panel included Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers and Dr. Paul Nathanson, among many others, and I will have more to say on it. But right now, I want to quickly highlight comments made by Dr. Hoff Sommer on the "structural asymmetry" in the study of men and women -- boring as that might sound -- because it has crucial consequences for what we do here. 

Why is it so difficult to effect policy change for issues that affect men, and why have feminists been so successful in effecting policy change for issues that affect women?

Clue: the feminists aren't sitting at their computers preaching to the choir or writing essays on why men are flawed.  They are putting their belief that men are flawed into action.

Dr. Hoff Sommers noted that there are approximately 112 important centers for the study of women.  It is, she noted, an "elaborate empire of . . . activism" that produces volumes and volumes of research, some good, but "much of it ideological."  That, of course, "is problematic." 

But since they are the groups addressing issues, Congress listens to them, and journalists call them when they want to write stories. 

Read this next sentence carefully: "If there's any social policy practice that has a disparate impact on women, they're right there to make it known and to correct it." 

In contrast, for men, there is virtually nothing

Yes, she said, there are fledgling groups, but in comparison to the women's groups, essentially nothing. 

The result? "There can be outrageous injustices against men, and these go almost unnoticed. . . . Just to give one notorious example, the Duke lacrosse case, where there was a persecution, like a witch trial, and it took a very long time [to react to it]."

"Imagine," she said, in perhaps the understatement of the year, "if the genders had been reversed." She concluded: "This is the first thing we have to correct," because the organizations that do exist are largely ideological, and many of the researchers feel that if there is a disparity that favors women, it is to be  celebrated as a triumph of equity.  Never do they admit victory. And "it's young men who pay the price."

[Very soon we will be announcing an advocacy effort for false rape claims that is set to launch through a coalition of like-minded bloggers, yours truly included.  It is my goal that we start trying to effect policy change.  It will not happen without cooperation, and perhaps doing something a lot of males are loathe to do -- working with others, even if it isn't exactly the way you'd do it.  Stay tuned for details.]