The Profs who arranged this first historic seminar are very brave and have received copious criticism from feminists who see their entitlement based agenda as a zero sum game. In Ontario boys in JK to 12 seldom get a male teacher and may be feminized by the time they get out of high school. In the age group 20-30 female teachers outnumber men by over 4-1 and the trend is toward greater disparity. Boys are suffering from this and need a different teaching regime to deal with their energy not medication like Ritalin or more punishment.
Here are a few stats. Men are outnumbered in degrees grant by about 60%-40%, the federal and provincial public service is 55% female and with their emphasis on minorities white males are less inclined to be favoured, health care is dominated by females, social work is 95% female and this includes child protection, the latter are aligning themselves with the VAW feminist camp which will further marginalize dads, moms get 90% sole physical custody, dad is marginalized as a visitor but pays through the nose, but the boyfriend can move in for 24/7 access to the kids raising the chances they will be harmed. Single moms are the most likely to kill or harm the child. Its time for a new paradigm dealing with equality of gender not Zero Sum identity politics.
Small step for men
Worried about "the declining state of today's male," a group of leading scholars gathered at the bucolic campus here this week for a mini-conference to tackle the problem.
But before the panellists could begin their discussion on the increasing powerlessness many men and boys feel, the symposium got pushed from its planned venue to make way for the announcement of a new men's basketball coach.
Miles Groth, a Wagner professor specializing in the psychology of being male and the event's host, shook his head.
"We planned this thing three months ago," he said on the sidelines of the alternative site as the conference was gearing up to go live online to participants in five different continents.
The ironic indignity might just be the first of many slights and obstacles as the academics attempt to establish what they say will be a first for modern man: a male studies program. Their hope is to begin offering degrees in the new academic discipline at a major research university -- perhaps a Harvard, a Columbia, a Stanford --within the next couple of years.
When word of the conference started spreading on the Internet last week, some observers wondered whether it was an April Fool's joke. After all, isn't most of what people read in newspapers, watch on the news and study at university about men?
But Wagner's Prof. Groth said that view fails to appreciate the well-documented decline of the state of men and boys, particularly those under the age of 35, over the past 15 to 18 years.
"It's just now beginning to surface in the job market, in academe and in the offices of counsellors and psychologists," he said. "[Male studies] is not to look at a few men who are CEOs and have a tremendous amount of money. I'm talking about what Australians call a bloke. Today's five-and six-year-old boys into their 20s just don't know who they're supposed to be."
While not exactly an endangered species, men are in danger of becoming an underclass, the panel of PhDs specializing in boys and men warned.
In the latest recession, 82% of pink slips handed out in the United States went to men, and a good chunk of those jobs won't be coming back. Boys and young men commit suicide at a rate of more than four times that of girls and young women. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin. In the United States, women outlive men by an average of seven years. In Eastern Europe the gap is 15 years. At universities in the United States and Canada, women make up about 60% of the student population, men only 40%, a dramatic reversal from the early days of feminism.
Amid this growing divide between the sexes, 90% of the academic resources for gender studies are devoted to women, said Prof. Edward Stephens, chairman of the newly launched Foundation for Male Studies, which aims to raise US$2-million or more to endow a chair for the discipline at a major university.
"What are the ethics of devoting 90% of academic resources to one gender?" he asked the gathering and the roughly 250 participants listening in via videoconference. "What are the unintended consequences of the failure of our academic institutions to consider the 21st century needs of males?"
As a young psychiatrist, Prof. Stephens gave his daughter a gender-neutral name -- Jarret -- so that she might have an easier time breaking through the so-called glass ceiling many women encounter as they try to advance in the workplace.
Now, he said, there's a new phenomenon: "the lace ceiling" or "the lace curtain."
"We as men and males can see through it, but we can't get through it," he said.
Christina Hoff Sommers, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, told the story of how her son went to a camp where the kids were asked to go off each on his or her own into the desert with a pencil, a notebook, a candle and matches to write a journal about their feelings.
The girls did exactly as they were told, while the boys went in a pack and built a bonfire with the notebooks and pencils.
The creative-writing sensitivity trainer "thought they were sociopaths," Ms. Hoff Sommers said. "I'm concerned that male-averse attitude is widespread in the United States, that we're in a society where masculinity is politically incorrect."
Enter the need for male studies.
Only in its infancy, the proposed field of study has already attracted some dissention -- from men. Specifically, from professors in "men's studies," an academic subfield that started emerging in the 1980s as part of women's and gender studies programs.
Robert Heasley, president of the American Men's Studies Association, rejected an invitation to sit on the panel because of what he viewed as a combative attitude toward feminism. "If what they're presenting -- that feminism has hurt men and oppressed boys -- had some data to support it might be fine," he said in an interview. "It's not like men don't have challenges, but they tend to present it in a way that says feminism has done this to men. Men's rights are like having whites' rights."
Panellist Rocco "Chip" Capraro, director of Men's Studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., said vast teaching and research about men already is underway and ought to remain "pro-feminist" so the reality of sexism is acknowledged.
The rest of the panel scoffed at both notions. They argued men's studies is generally limited to sociology and filtered through a feminist lens. The upshot: Boys can't necessarily just be boys. Instead, they argued, boys and men are considered to be inadequate girls and women.
The scholars of boys and men behind the proposed male studies program said they have no interest in replicating women's studies or men's studies programs.
Unlike men's studies programs, male studies -- assuming it ever gets off the ground -- will be offered as a major course of study. It will not only include sociology, but also take into account biology, evolution, history, literature, anthropology, education, law, medicine and psychology.
The program will have to do a certain amount of bashing of some strains of feminism, particularly the ideological kind, said Paul Nathanson, a professor of religious studies at McGill who cowrote books on misandry -- the hatred of boys and men.
"The fact is that much of this misandry is being generated by feminists," he said. "Not all feminists. [But] there are some fundamental features of ideological feminism over the last 30 or 40 years that we need to question."
Even egalitarian feminism can unwittingly deny men the possibility of establishing a healthy collective identify because, by saying men and women are equal, the implication is that men and women should be the same, Prof. Nathanson said.
Women's studies programs got their start in the late 1960s as part of the second wave of feminist activism. But they've been on the wane in the past several years. Some programs such as Guelph University's have shut down altogether, while many others have changed their names to add more inclusive words such as "gender," "sexuality," and "social justice."
The male studies advocates on the panel said that women's studies programs and women's institutes are still going strong and can pose a danger to men and boys because they often teach that women live in a state of siege.
One of the first things teenagers get when they leave home to go to college is a rape seminar, said Lionel Tiger, a Montreal native who is the Charles Darwin Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University in New Jersey and author of The Decline of Males and Men in Groups. "Male students are informed right at the outset that they are predatory and dangerous organisms, and women are informed that they are potential victims."
He described feminism as "a well-meaning, highly successful, very colorful denigration of maleness as a force, as a phenomenon."
Ms. Hoff Sommers, the author of The War Against Boys, said although she's critical of the feminist establishment, male studies proponents could learn a lot from its members.
When girls had a serious deficit in math, for instance, feminists galvanized around the problem and test scores in the subject strengthened.
By imitating feminists, in the same way, boys could become stronger in reading and writing, she said. "But we don't have to imitate the ideological extremes in denigrating the opposite sex."
Meghan Carboni, a senior psychology major with a minor in gender studies at Wagner, said she found the college's gender studies program too focused on females.
Wagner offers only one male studies class: the psychology of men, taught by Prof. Groth.
"It's the best course I've ever taken. That's what made me realize what's being left out," Ms. Carboni said. "Everyone loved the course. They didn't realize how big an issue it was."
Prof. Stephens, the Male Studies Foundation chairman, said the group plans to wait until it has a US$2-million cheque in hand before approaching colleges about having a chair endowed for the program and a faculty established.
"Two million is on the low side. I've been thinking bigger numbers because the work to be done is so immense," he said in an interview. "What's happening right now because of this lace ceiling is you can't even get a hearing."
In the meantime, the foundation is putting together a marketing plan and will hold its first major conference in early October at the New York Academy of Medicine. The group will introduce Male Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal next year.