A picture says a thousand words. That’s why I still love doing videos. I just uploaded a new video to my YouTube channel. Below is the script from the part of the video where I dissect the “conversation” between Dr. Sommers and the MSNBC hosts (6 minutes in, onward). Also, see Dr. Sommers’s follow-up article in The Atlantic for more about her presentation.
You notice that the host starts off with a kind of snide condescension as well as a parroting of Feminist ideology. They point of course to the wage gap, that men make up most of the CEOs, and so forth. That is code for the true believers among them for “let’s join in and laugh.” Now of course, men are the majority sex at the top of society – i.e., they have the best jobs, they are most of those in congress, the judiciary, and so forth – but that is not the whole picture.
They are also overrepresented at the bottom of society, among the homeless, among suicides, the incarcerated (including the wrongly convicted). They take upon themselves the most brutal, filthy, and deadly jobs, and are consequently 93% of workforce deaths, and they die 5-15 years earlier depending on their race and far more often from nearly every major disease.
Now take a look at these graphs on college graduation rates:
I made these graphs myself last year, by the way, because I could not find all four of them anywhere else, including when I searched educational publications.
Imagine if, in the 1960s, we had said, “oh, please. I’ll start caring about women’s issues when men are no longer most of the homeless, those dying in the workplace, suicides, those in prison, and so forth. And not only do I not care, I think that no one in society should care about them either.” If someone were walking around today saying things like that, these people on MSNBC would call that sexism. But when they do the same to men, it is not called sexism. It is called the status quo, both at MSNBC, as well as in academia – which, by the way, is the primary reason male education issues have been ignored for so long.
Now if you notice, this host right here – Mr. Touré – is pretty slick. What he does first is establish a broad framework – that we “live in a patriarchy” – a framework through which the rest of the debate (if you want to call it that) will be filtered. And then what he does is ask Dr. Sommers a very specific and narrow question about the rough and tumble play boys. By asking her this question, he effectively denies her the chance to reframe the argument – to say, perhaps, that the world is not as one-sided as Mr. Touré is presenting it. It is not truly a “denial” per se, however, but rather a trap that Dr. Sommers falls into.
Instead of answering the question about the rough and tumble play, I would say, “well actually, Mr. Touré, I would like to go back to what you said earlier about the idea that the world is one-sided, with men on the top and women on the bottom and that’s the reason why we shouldn’t care about boys.” After listing the fact that men are at the bottom of society as well, I would then say some things that should be obvious – that gender equity is not a zero-sum game, and that we all have issues, and that both sexes deserve our compassion and support. But this idea is apparently not something that is shared by these MSNBC hosts, and if you have been following along with the videos on this channel you know that it is not something shared by a great many Feminists and academics as well.
If you notice, Dr. Sommers waited until the very end of the segment to reframe, to say that men are the majority sex at the bottom of society as well and that there are far more men at the bottom than the top. But it is too little too late at that point. The consequence of her not immediately reframing is that she allows the MSNBC to just keep going back to that framework and keep beating her up with it throughout the conversation, which they do at the beginning, middle, and end of the segment.
So if you’re an advocate for men and boys and are ever in a debate, beware of that kind of setup where they introduce the frame, and then attempt to deny you the means of reframing. The first thing you should always do is make sure your framework is, if not dominating the conversation, then at least on the table.
Now, the ironic thing is that Dr. Sommers revised her book The War on Boys to be less critical of Feminism. That is why the old version of the book says “how misguided Feminism is harming our young men” and the new version talks about “how misguided policies.” There is this presumption among some people that if we would just be less critical of Feminism, that if we play nice with Feminism – indeed, if we stop criticizing Feminism at all – then the message will be received. Because Feminism is not about dismissing the needs of men and boys, and so on, and so forth.
Bear in mind that throughout this tv segment, every time Dr. Sommers says that boys are doing poorly in terms of educational attainment and well-being, these hosts just keep coming back and saying “yeah but, yeah but, women are more important, women are more important,” as if the mere existence of any issues for women negates the vulnerabilities – and indeed the humanity – of men and boys as a group. And at the end of the day, that’s what Feminism is: the idea that women, as a group, are more important than men. That may not be what these people believe on an individual level. But in terms of men and women as a group, that is what these people believe. They start the segment with a foregone conclusion. They don’t even hear Dr. Sommers; she is speaking into the wind.
And as it is with all such ideologies, the politics of appeasement do not work. You can try to sneak past it or camouflage it by merging it with other social justice issues, like race or sexual orientation issues, but in the end there will have to be a confrontation, as we have seen in Canada.
Now I don’t agree with all of Dr. Sommers’s solutions – in particular, single-sex schooling – but I can at least look at the data and agree that there is a problem and that we need to create a national conversation about it. And that is not something that the vast majority of Feminists do. Instead, they direct the majority of their efforts to trivializing the problem.
Now to balance it out a little bit, there are some people who say that boys’ educational problems are entirely due to Feminism. I do not think this is true, although I do think Feminism has played a substantial role not only in the problems, but also in preventing any kind of action in boys’ behalf.
I have yet to read the new version of Dr. Sommers’s book, although I did read the old one. I’m currently reading The Minds of Boys by Dr. Michael Gurian, so maybe I’ll pick that up afterward.
See you next time.