Saturday, February 11, 2006

Some really interesting blog posts highlighting the new "victimization sweepstakes."

And, if you want to see the article that sparked the blogging, here you go:

Ironically enough, white men are claiming that schools have become so "feminized" as to devalue "male characteristics." Suddenly, sitting at a desk is a "female" task. Funny, I wonder if those complaining have looked into the history of schooling, because, call me crazy, but I believe our modern day education system springs directly out of what was designed by, and for, well-off Western white men.

Somehow, the idea of discrimination against middle class white men doesn't hold much water with me. Maybe because I had a high school teacher joke to my face that I was "getting my MRS degree" at MHC because of a major and minor in English/ Spanish. Yeah, Bob Level didn't QUITE catch on to the fact that I attended a freaking WOMEN'S COLLEGE. Not exactly going to college looking to capture a husband. [Mr. Level also overlooked the fact that I had worked my ass off to get into a good college, and that I planned on going to graduate school. Mr. Level seemed to be behind the times, not remembering that in my graduation year, there were 8 valedictorians -- all of us women. We weren't particularly "favored" by the system. We all did the work to get to that point, taking risks with our GPAs to take the AP courses.]

Anyway, back to the news story that's linked above.

Basically, a white, middle-class male high school student is claiming he's been discriminated against in school. What's the solution? As you might have guessed, it doesn't involve Mr. Doug Anglin putting in more hours at studying a foreign language or calculus. No, Anglin astutely proposes that standards be lowered. And luckily, coming from a fairly privileged family, he can run to daddy:

"Anglin -- whose complaint was written by his father, who is a lawyer in Boston -- is looking for broader changes. He says that teachers must change their attitudes toward boys and look past boys' poor work habits or rule-breaking to find ways to encourage them academically."

OK, so we should get over "poor work habits." Yes, they must be "intrinsically male qualities," which males simply can't help. I'm confused -- we should ignore bad behavior (that often bullies other students)? Do we really want to propose that there are unalterable, essential qualities that break down by sex? With all the attention and theorizing on how gender is constructed, essentializing (and stereotyping) male/female traits is dangerous and unscientific (not to mention anachronistic).

As appalling as all this might sound, Anglin's father goes a step further:

"Gerry Anglin, Doug Anglin's father, said the school system should compensate boys for the discrimination by boosting their grades retroactively.

''If you are a victim of discrimination in the workplace, what do they do? They give you more money or they give you a promotion," Gerry Anglin said. ''Most of these kids want to go to college, so these records are important to them." "

Does anyone else find this downright offensive? Boosting grades retroactively?? I'm sorry, but if you want the grades, then work for them. As the other bloggers point out, when female students underperform in math and science, the solution is never "let's think about how we're favoring male students," it's always "let's get females up to the standard we've set." But here, somehow, we should lower the standards? Anglin the younger even proposes dropping community service requirements that are currently in place to graduate, simply because "it's another burden that will just set off resistance from boys, who may skip it and fail to graduate as a result." WHAT? Are you KIDDING me? Get off your ass and do something for the community you're a part of, and then go home and do your G*# d*#%ed homework!

Why should society lower its standards (sure, don't worry about being a productive member of your community; and actually, who cares about study habits?) because the most privileged people in it are falling behind when the playing field is more level? This high school student sees, everyday, that the people in the most powerful positions in society are white men (government -- hell, look at our freaking Supreme Court, CEOs, etc.). And the well documented "glass ceiling" means that many women don't rise up in the ranks of businesses as men do. Oh, AND women STILL earn 70% of what men earn. So please, spare me the victimization crap. Instead of filing a lawsuit, why don't you find some studying skills that work for you?

File under: Another blatant attempt to avoid taking responsibility for one's own actions.

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