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Children of the gender wars

The Washington Times, by Lisa De Pasquale, March 15, 2002

The March 3 Parade magazine announced that, starting next year, the Ms.Foundation will expand its popular feminist holiday Take Our Daughters to Work Day to include boys. It will now be called Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. Marie Wilson of the Ms. Foundation said, "Now we need to look at how girls and boys can progress together." This was, perhaps, in response to California male rights activist Joe Manthey's civil rights lawsuit against the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. Mr. Manthey contends that government support of this holiday discriminates against boys. Mr. Manthey is correct in that assumption. However, the Ms. Foundation's plans are now doubly detrimental. It offers boys no benefits and subjects them to the same feminist propaganda girls have had to endure.

Beginning in 1995, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute began to expose this stealth feminist holiday that breeds victimology in girls and left boys behind year after year. At national press conferences, in speeches and op-ed pieces, the Luce Policy Institute exposed how the Ms. Foundation and Take Our Daughters to Work Day participants divide the sexes at a young age to foster the feminists' ideological agenda. It is now clear that the Ms. Foundation is including boys simply to expand their "gender sensitivity" program designed to retrain boys into girls and labels boys as oppressors of women.

The Ms. Foundation distributes materials to re-educate boys and girls on "gender stereotypes," including posters, activity kits and booklets for parents and teachers. Activity booklets explain that gender sensitivity programs are needed because some men have been "forcefully opposed to the se societal changes."

Take Our Daughters to Work Day materials explain that they are "designed to challenge limited-and limiting-views of gender roles." Suggested classroom activities to prepare for Take Our Daughters to Work Day asks students to imagine that they are living in a box. Questions that teachers should ask include "What do people say to girls to keep them in 'boxes'?" and "Can you think of anything people have said or done to you to keep you in a box?"

The Ms. Foundation's materials for children, parents and teachers state that the metaphor of "living in a box" is used because, "To be gay, disabled, female, too small, or too smart is to be perceived as an object of disdain."

Teaching young girls that they are victims of patriarchal oppression gives them a false view of society and is hardly liberating.

Continuing with the box metaphor, the teacher is to instruct students to cut out pictures of "extreme stereotypes of women and men" and those "reinforcing traditional stereotypes." The students should then paste the pictures on the inside of a cardboard box. Finally, students should cut out pictures of women and men who are challenging stereotypes and paste them on the outside of the box.

This activity is supposed to make children feel that they should be ashamed if they choose to pursue a traditionally male or female career, such as a firefighter or homemaker. It also demonizes those with parents who have chosen traditionally male or female careers. A child is led to think that if his mother chooses not to work outside the home she is "living in a box" and trapped in a stereotype.

In Working It Out Especially for Boys, a booklet of activities aimed at boys, one exercise suggests that boys keep track of their feelings of "anger and distress" and insights in a journal (or "workbook" if they feel threatened by the term "journal"). The instructions caution that many boys might think this activity is "stupid" or "boring" because they think keeping a journal is only appropriate for girls. In such a scenario, teachers should tell the students that everyone has "the right to keep a journal without being seen as unmanly." This is a "right?"

In an activity called the "Personal Bill of Rights," boys are told that they "have the right to be good at - and interested in - reading," the right "to play no sports," and "the right to be a caring individual." These absurd characterizations undermine boys' true rights to choose their interests while stigmatizing boys who want to play sports or aren't interested in reading.

Another section in Working It Out Especially for Boys helps students explore their aspirations and identity. In the first exercise, boys are asked to list their interests and skills. Teachers are to then guide them toward career options based on the boys' interests. One example in the instruction booklet leads "likes to play basketball" to the popular career path of "ballet dancer." In another exercise, boys are told to pretend to be statues and pose in the position of "acting like a lady." Teachers are told to "help them explore the discomfort they may feel."

Children, girls and boys alike, will always benefit from attention from their parents and teachers. However, our nation's daughters and sons will not "progress" because we teach our daughters that they are victims and teach our sons that they are oppressors who need to act more like girls.

Lisa De Pasquale is president of the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute.

Copyright 2002 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.