Focusing on women, girls leaves boys out in the cold
This is in response to the Star-Bulletin's series in September about the "Women of Hawaii."
Ignoring the fact that gender inequities hurt boys has promoted the idea of girls as "underdogs" while suggesting that boys are somehow privileged.
Boys are more likely to have learning disabilities, but nothing has affected American public schools more than the study commissioned by the American Association of University Women titled "How Schools Shortchange Girls: A Study of Major Findings on Girls and Education," which found that girls are slightly behind boys in math and science. Had these "women in power" commissioned a balanced study, they would have found that boys are far behind girls in reading, writing, social studies, spelling, biology, art, visual arts, music, theater and languages.
Without incorporating boys into these studies, how can any coalition fairly conclude that schools "shortchange" girls? Hearing only of girls' struggles makes it seem that only girls are struggling, and in a school system slanted against them, but the truth is entirely the opposite. No one is doing worse than African-American boys in urban areas, yet after the AAUW's study, the public school formed in Harlem is for girls, not boys.
Women's coalitions complained that women's health concerns receive only 10 percent of all health research funding (while men's health receives 5 percent). These women had the power to inform the public that practical health research is lacking, but they decided to make a competitive claim that alluded that the remaining 90 percent was spent on men. This lead to the creation of the Office of Women's Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There is no comparable organization that looks out for the welfare of boys.
Men and women in power praise Title IX, and embrace how it benefits girls, but there's another side of Title IX that is responsible for the elimination of more than 20,000 men's athletic positions, and the number of boys in sports is still severely limited. Is it fair that last year, the University of Hawaii's women's athletics profited only $1 million, but costs more than $4 million to operate, while men's athletics paid for itself and most of the cost of women's athletics? This is ignored as more scholarships are given to women across the academic curriculum, while scholarships for boys are eliminated.
As for the idea that women earn less than men, statistics showing that women make about 80 percent of men's wages fail to account for differences identified in Warren Farrell's new book, "Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About It." It's unfair to compare a waitress and an Alaska crab fisherman, women who work part time and men who work full time, or wives and husbands in the same fields without adjusting for mothers who take time off for childbirth, leaving fathers to work overtime to make ends meet. This myth is misleading and only breeds resentment for fathers who are only trying to provide for their families.
The YMCA offers programs for both boys and girls, while the YWCA remains gender-specific for girls only. The Boys Club is now the Boys and Girls Club, while the Girls Club remains gender-specific under their new name Girls Inc. It's outrageous that boys are further limited by organizations like Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawaii, which does not allow boys to enter its anti-drug workshop by claiming that there are drug issues specific to girls, but they have yet to reveal how these issues are irrelevant to boys, nor are there any comparable programs offered to boys. Drug abuse and drug-related crimes have claimed many children in their destructive cycle. Anti-drug workshops should be offered to boys as well.
Finally, dogmatic claims of "Women's rights are human rights" or "Women's issues are family issues" are proven false by women's coalitions nationwide that ignore anything male. Where's the fair and equal treatment? Looking at only one side of a problem makes equality impossible. Enough special coalitions for women only and gender-specific programs for girls only! We need men and women in power to think about both men and women and all children.
Gerald Nakata lives in Kapolei.