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"NEVER try to teach a pig to sing: you waste your time ...and you annoy the pig." - Ssshawnnn

War Against Boys

  • Date Submitted: 05/05/2010 09:38 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 52.4 
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In 1990, Carol Gilligan announced to the world that America's adolescent girls were in crisis. In her words, "As the river of a girl's life flows into the sea of Western culture, she is in danger of drowning or disappearing." Gilligan offered little in the way of conventional evidence to support this alarming finding. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what sort of empirical research could establish so large a claim. But Gilligan quickly attracted powerful allies. Within a very short time the allegedly fragile and demoralized state of American adolescent girls achieved the status of a national emergency.
I will be subjecting Gilligan's research on girls and boys to extensive analysis in later chapters. She is the matron saint of the girl crisis movement. Gilligan, more than anyone else, is cited as the academic and scientific authority conferring respectability on the claims that American girls are being psychologically depleted, socially "silenced," and academically "shortchanged."
Popular writers, electrified by Gilligan's discovery, began to see evidence of a girl crisis everywhere. Former New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen recounted how Gilligan's research cast an ominous shadow on the celebration of her daughter's second birthday: "My daughter is ready to leap into the world, as though life were chicken soup and she a delighted noodle. The work of Professor Carol Gilligan of Harvard suggests that some time after the age of 11 this will change, that even this lively little girl will pull back [and] shrink."
Soon there materialized a spate of popular books with titles such as Failing at Fairness: How America's Schools Cheat Girls; Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls; Schoolgirls: Self-Esteem and the Confidence Gap. Time writer Elizabeth Gleick remarked on the new trend in literary victimology: "Dozens of troubled teenage girls troop across [the] pages: composite sketches of Charlottes, Whitneys and Danielles who were raped, who have...

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