Among the blessings of the Internet, one often stumbles across people you wish you had known about long before. Another blessing is the ease by which to pass along these gems. Here’s one for you: Tony Woodlief’s blog Sand in the Gears. I stumbled across him via Opinion Journal , The Wall Street Journal’s online editorial portal, when Woodlief wrote a piece about fathers for Father’s Day. That led me to his blog, and from it I pass along another gem, his blog entitled “Snips and Snails and Puppy-Dog Tails” , which begins like this:
Cathy Young, whose writing I sometimes enjoy, suggests in her Reason Magazine essay that the wildly popular Dangerous Book for Boys is dangerous indeed, because it reinforces traditional sex roles. Why couldn’t it have been titled “The Dangerous Book for Kids”? In service to this question, Young quotes a female friend to great effect: “‘Where is the book for girls who did stuff like make their own chain mail as kids, or cracked rocks with sledgehammers in the driveway both to see what was inside them and to see if you could get sparks?'”
Woodlief proceeds to give an answer to this question, and it’s definitely fun to read.
While you’re at it, take a look at Young’s essay . In it, she reports that “On blogs and Internet forums, readers complaining about the book’s exclusionary message have been dismissed as angry feminist whiners …” Am I the only one who finds this sentence to capture the essence of feminist whining?
Here are more things Young finds in The Dangerous Book for Boys to complain about:
“Yet the gender-specific nature of the message, which includes a chapter on how to deal with the alien creatures known as girls, is quite deliberate. Indeed, The Dangerous Book… is being treated as something of a political manifesto—a repudiation of the idea that boys and girls are basically alike.”
“While it encourages respect for girls, it does seem to treat them more as ‘the weaker sex’ than as equals. In one grating passage, boys are encouraged to carry a handkerchief, among other things, for ‘offering one to a girl when she cries.’ ”
And, also this:
“The trouble with The Dangerous Book for Boys is not that it seeks to restore the old-fashioned charms of adventurous boyhood but that it’s being treated as a restoration of old-fashioned wisdom about boys and girls.”
Woodlief provides a helpful analysis of Young’s pique. Read it. For now, I wish to comment on this observation by Woodlief:
Part of the problem here is the mistaken notion, perhaps due to an overactive sense of grievance, that the title of the book means that the knowledge therein is exclusively for boys. A more generous reading reveals that the authors, Conn and Hal Iggulden, simply wanted to include the stories, games, and skills that a great many boys (and men) want to know. Does that mean no girls should want to know these things? Of course not.
I wouldn’t fault Woodlief too much here, but I think he has blasted right past the Real Affront that The Dangerous Book for Boys delivers to feminist feelings: the book is addressed to boys only. The back cover text includes this outrageous statement: “The perfect book for every boy from eight to eighty.” This, I submit, is what riles feminist sensibilities – that someone (especially males) would have something to say to other males, and expressly to ignore females in the bargain.
There are two books in the Bible which are written by men and for men. Christians with an orthodox view of the Bible must confess that God wrote a couple of dangerous books for men and placed them in the canon. The woman’s perspective is entirely missing in these books. Though women are mentioned in these books, it is always from the perspective of men. In these books you find information and opinion about women (though women are far from being the central subject of either tome) conveyed to men by other men.
Do you know the name of these books of the Bible? I’ll blog about them later.