When playing an academic game in class, nothing helped students focus more than to make it “girls vs boys.” At fourteen, masculine and feminine pride was strong and they bore down intensely. When I afterward explained that many feminists insisted there were no differences between males and females other than the obvious physical ones, they were incredulous. “No way,” they’d say. “Are they kidding?”
“No, they’re definitely not kidding,” I’d answer. “Teacher training today ignores differences and insists that boys and girls are the same. Many if not most now believe the only differences are physical and everything else is due to how they’re raised by parents and schools.” That’s when I’d pull out my VHS copy of a 1995 “20-20” episode John Stossel narrated called, “Boys and Girls Are Different: Men, Women and the Sex Difference.”
Stossel declares his personal belief at the outset, “We’re just born different,” then interviews prominent feminists of the era who disagreed. But first he set it all up by interviewing parents who believed there were no differences beyond the physical and who tried very hard to raise their children accordingly. No matter what they did or didn’t do, boys preferred playing with guns and girls chose dolls. Toy manufacturers also tried marketing traditionally female toys to boys and vice versa, but their efforts failed as well.
Stossel summarized scientific studies documenting sex differences beginning in utero and continuing afterward through most of life, but when he put them to Gloria Steinem she said those studies shouldn’t be done because they kept women down. Then Stossel asked her, “Don’t you think women are by nature better nurturers?”
The temperature in the room plummeted as Steinem responded icily: “No. Next question.” There were similarly icy interviews with Bella Abzug and Gloria Allred. My students were affirmed in their belief that Steinem and company were defying common sense. That’s when I’d tell them the next generation of feminists younger than Steinem and Abzug were claiming there were more than two “genders,” a word they were substituting for sex — that not all humans could be categorized as either male or female.
If they were incredulous before, this time they were flabbergasted. They thought I was making it up. “What else is there?” they’d ask.
The rest is here.