Ottawa Citizen
June 19, 2001

Little man on campus: `Second-wave feminism' has conquered Canadian campuses. So much for truth and male students.

Ilana Mercer
Citizen Special
The Ottawa Citizen

VANCOUVER - Veronica Dahl is a professor of computing science at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. While the estimable professor doubtless has considerable expertise in her field, computers were not the topic on which she was asked to expound by a Vancouver TV network. In a taped interview, Dahl offered that the reason boys were falling behind girls in the school system was that boys were lazy. They know they are the "ruling class," she said in a soothing dulcet voice, and they know that no matter how badly they perform, their position in society is secure.

I followed up with a column in a newspaper in which I identified Dahl's faux pas with Second-wave feminism -- whereby women are seen as a besieged political class fighting to unseat the ruling class, whose members refuse to let go of patriarchal privilege and power. Dahl and colleague, John Dewey Jones, director of the school of engineering science, protested to the editor that I had failed to divine the laudable context of Dahl's message. Here is the gist of Mr. Jones' rebuttal: Dahl didn't say what Mercer alleged she said, but even though she didn't say what she is alleged to have said, what Dahl didn't say is accurate (see satire Yes, Prime Minister). Dewey and Dahl deny the quote, but go on to reinforce its message, namely that girls work hard because of society's expectations; boys don't because they dominate society. Voila, second-wave feminism!

To anyone who has any doubts, feminism, and second-wave feminism in particular, is a theory, and a conspiracy theory at that, since it claims that throughout history men have conspired to dominate women.

The position of men today now contradicts this dogma. It is quite striking that an educator can shrug off the facts: Women continue to live longer than men. Five times as many young men as women commit suicide, men are twice as likely to be unemployed and infinitely more likely to suffer industrial accidents and diseases which may destroy their lives. Boys, moreover, are far more likely to be diagnosed as learning disabled, and subjected to the Ritalin assault, as are they less likely to graduate from high school and go on to college.

Judging from the letters I received from students at SFU, the devoted faculty are blithely unaware of the experience many men have on campus. Wrote one student: "I cannot seem to escape the biases of feminism no matter where I turn. Every female teacher somehow manages to bring the argument around to point out that males overrun everything. If I produce any artwork with any sort of tall thin form in it, I immediately am criticized for producing artwork that involves phallic symbolism. Thus meaning that I obviously am promoting male dominance in society." The young man described this as "wearing of his spirits." The academe, once dedicated to freedom of expression and learning, now lets philistines hound males for producing personalized imagery.

The wild fire of radical feminism has pretty much engulfed universities. Women's studies courses and English departments are littered with its lumpen jargon, which takes the tack of reducing works of literature and art to the bare bones of power relationships in society. Great artists like Shakespeare, Tolstoy or T. S. Eliot are dissolved into pale, patriarchal ruling class oppressors. Text is routinely deconstructed and shred using sophistic constructs. My point is that radical feminism is nothing but a subjective world-view based on a narrow insular and partial view of history. Why then is it touted as an immutable truth fit to guide public policy?

Until the last stages of the Industrial Revolution, writes Barbara Amiel in her book Confessions, societies were preoccupied with the propagation of its members. The division of labour was the culmination of necessity and biology; it was necessary to make the most of man's superior physical strength and woman's ability to bear children. For a few children to have survived, explains Amiel, a woman had to give birth to 10 or 12. Were women not pregnant or in labour for most of their arduous lives, the tribe would not have lingered. There are other biological differences that separate the sexes -these have become taboo to study or discuss. Men do have an advantage in the perception of spatial-geometrical relationships. This advantage was vital in earlier societies that relied on brute force and hunting for survival.

Feminism is staple doctrine in secondary schools as well, and it animates the child-centred education system and the 1960s' vision its teachers hold. My daughter's schooling has, for the most part, transmitted sentimentality over reason, attitude and mush over canon and curriculum. She has been forced-fed a pedagogic diet of pop psychology. Her female teachers have been feminists who promote every mythical, politically correct orthodoxy that pervades the zeitgeist. The dyed-in-the-wool feminist teachers will invariably greet a show of individualism or a sharp retort from the child with sly assertion - not reasoned argument. No doubt, the child-centred progressive public schooling is bad for girls and boys alike, but it is probably particularly bad for boys.

Research has indicated that boys thrive in a disciplined, structured learning environment. Child-centred schooling shuns discipline and moral instruction, and promotes co-operative working habits and groupthink over individual achievement. Boys like competition and are hard-wired for it. But when they invariably bubble over with unbridled testosterone, rather than harness their energies, they are all too often subdued with Ritalin.

While the child-centred schooling system, with its lax standards and shopping mall assortment of flimsy courses, is girl friendly -- it is hostile to boys. Boy biology is demonized, and boys are made over in the emotional image of woman, or at least in the image of the caricature-of-woman promoted by feminists.

SFU professor Doreen Kimura, on the other hand, is not wont to theorize into the ether. She has demonstrated empirically that there is "no evidence for systemic discrimination against women ... and that when women do apply for science jobs they get preferential treatment." Her findings confirm that women "self select out of certain science careers." She confirms that men and women differ cognitively in how they solve problems. As I've indicated, men, on average, are better at spatial tasks, mathematical reasoning and co-ordination of visual and motor activities. Given these findings, women would not be equally represented in professions such as physics and engineering.

After years of producing bad science on the wage gap, Statistics Canada has finally admitted the pay gap is not due to discrimination, something the quasi-free market Fraser Institute demonstrated long ago. The faulty premise held by public school educators such as Dahl and Jones is equally hard to relinquish, because it is politically expedient: The fight is on for power not truth.

Ilana Mercer is a freelance writer in Vancouver

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.