Sunday, April 01, 2007

How perfect!

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- On Friday, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman addressed a conference of feminist media types, noting the ability of those who stand against feminism to create faux crises, and to serve them up beautifully packaged for mainstream media reportage. As an example, Goodman told the audience at the WAM! conference a purported crisis in the academic achievement of boys being shunted aside by their schools in favor of girls -- essentially crating conditions that made it easier for girls to achieve than boys.

Some scholars, notably Christina Hoff Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, charge that misguided feminism is what's been hurting boys. In the 1990s, she says, girls were making strong, steady progress toward parity in schools, but feminist educators portrayed them as disadvantaged and lavished them with support and attention. Boys, meanwhile, whose rates of achievement had begun to falter, were ignored and their problems allowed to fester (click here for related essay).
The notion of a boys' crisis, Goodman said, proved to be a a falsehood. As it turns out, she explained, boys are not doing worse than they used to in school, "it's just that "girls...are doing more better."

As if to prove her point, today's New York Times has a page-one story by Sara Rimer about extraordinary, high-achieving girls that's well worth the read. Your blogstress writes from the middle of WAM! session devoted feminist blogging, so she is unable to critique the story at this juncture. However, she does shudder to read in a headline of female perfectionism. The pressures to appear to be profound:
It is also to see these girls struggle to navigate the conflicting messages they have been absorbing, if not from their parents then from the culture, since elementary school. The first message: Bring home A’s. Do everything. Get into a top college — which doesn’t have to be in the Ivy League, or one of the other elites like Williams, Tufts or Bowdoin, but should be a “name” school.

The second message: Be yourself. Have fun. Don’t work too hard.

And, for all their accomplishments and ambitions, the amazing girls, as their teachers and classmates call them, are not immune to the third message: While it is now cool to be smart, it is not enough to be smart.

You still have to be pretty, thin and, as one of Esther’s classmates, Kat Jiang, a go-to stage manager for student theater who has a perfect 2400 score on her SATs, wrote in an e-mail message, “It’s out of style to admit it, but it is more important to be hot than smart.”

“Effortlessly hot,” Kat added.
Your blogstress, now past the age when mere mortal females are presumed to be capable of being "hot" without effort, thanks the goddess for nature's curative to physical perfectionism.

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