Chris McGovern: BBC should realise boys are the losers in the gender war

No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free? is the BBC’s latest contribution to ‘identity theft’. BBC-2 aired the first of two programmes on Wednesday evening. Its basic premise was that boys dominate girls from an early age because of gender stereotyping and that girls suffer as a result.

The primary school chosen was on the Isle of Wight – a low performing education authority. There was no obvious presence in the Year 3 class chosen of any of our most hardworking and successful pupils – recent immigrants and those from ethnic minorities.

The programme makers found a 7-year-old girl to say the only way girls beat the boys was in being prettier and wearing dresses. A small selection of her classmates, both boys and girls, thought boys were stronger, “better at being in charge” and “cleverer…because they get into president easily.”

Having taught this age group (Year 3) for some years, I was rather of the opinion that it was girls who tended to dominate. The precocious Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame is a common enough figure in primary school classrooms. Indeed, on her website, JK Rowling admits that Hermione “is an exaggeration of how I was when I was younger”, a “little know-it-all”.

Dr Javid Abdelmonein, who presented the programme, appears to take it as a ‘given’ that girls underperform because of the boys. He failed to mention that in SATs tests at 7 and 11, at GCSE age 16, at A-Level aged 18, and at university degree level, girls consistently outperform boys.

Nor did he seem to realise that many 7-year-olds are inclined to provide the answers that an authoritative adult, like himself, is seeking. They wish to please. Equally, he demonstrated a lack of awareness that young children tend not to share his anxiety and angst about gender and related issues of political correctness. When such matters are foisted on them by adults it can cause genuine distress, even trauma.

Viewers caught a glimpse of this when Lexi, clearly a sensitive 7-year-old girl, became upset and tearful after she successfully completed the ‘strength test’. She was told that she must agree that her tears were tears of joy. Her distress, however, was obvious and worrying.  Advancing the cause of political correctness is no excuse for child cruelty. A little boy named Riley suffered an even more obvious emotional collapse when he failed to register any score at all on the same ‘strength test’.

Should 7-year olds be subjected to such socio-psychological experimentation? Next week we find out how they respond to non-gender toilets.

There is a significant gender issue in our education system but it is not the one dealt with in this programme. It is that the attainment of boys does not match the attainment of girls. Above all, it is the under-achievement of white working class boys that should worry us.

Bottom of the attainment heap on every measure, they pass through our school system as the condemned prisoner walks the ‘green line’ to oblivion. They are the group most likely to leave school lacking basic literacy and numeracy, destined for a life of no job, no hope and no future.

Quite a number of their US equivalents were seen on TV a few days ago marching through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia carrying torches. Social breakdown and disorder is an inevitable consequence of ignoring the very real problem of alienated and underachieving boys.

Blinkered, irresponsible and feminist in a dangerous way, the BBC’s new programme creates a sense of grievance on behalf of girls when the real casualties of the current ‘gender war’ are boys.

Chris McGovern

  • Busy Mum

    Ref the headline, maybe the BBC does realise that boys are the losers, but as this was the aim, it is something to be celebrated? We must not fall into the trap of trusting that the BBC cares for all humans, just because we do.

    • Groan

      Yes I noted “boy”
      books were thrown out. Quite possibly in there in the first place precisely because its, belatedly, recognised
      that concerted effort needs to be made to encourage boys to read ! So through
      stupidity or design a specific intervention to improve educational outcomes for
      boys specially is junked!

      • Busy Mum

        Yes, and one would only do that if one is either stupid or a boy-hater, or both.

  • Groan

    It is a huge scandal
    that the considerable “gender gap” in education that leads to 35% more young
    women than men achieving a degree each year is almost completely ignored. Even
    the lazy journalism and headlines that simple regurgitate Gov. press releases
    were a lie. There has been an improvement in the proportion of boys getting
    higher marks but of course many fewer boys even take A levels so overall many
    more Girls take A levels and although as a proportion of those girls the %
    achieving top grades is slightly lower; the actual numbers of girls getting top
    grades remain much higher than the number of boys. Hence the gap of 100,000 in
    applications for university and 60,000 fewer males getting on courses and the
    35% “Gender Gap” in favour of women in achieving a Degree.
    And before anyone trots out the “boys do apprenticeships” line in fact there is roughly parity boys and girls doing aprentiships, with a positive gap for girls recently

  • Adrian Wakeford

    I did not see the programme as happily the trailer helped me work out it would be biased in the ways described in this article. However, is it not silly to do a strength test for infants anyway? Surely boys do not really start to become that bit stronger than girls until the start of puberty?

    • Groan

      Indeed the point is actually made by the presenter himself, yet then ignored. Thus one observation by a girl that firemen are men because they have to lift heavy ladders is taken to be a “stereotype” yet as Firefighters are employed after puberty not at age 7 it is in fact a perfectly accurate assessment. Indeed where Fire services have taken on women they both reduce the physical requirement and have to invest in “two person” equipment. Much of the “similarity” stuff in the programme seemed predicated on the idea that the children would remain the same for the rest of their lives. Thus the girls will never experience the changes to their body that mean they can have and nurse children for instance. Of course the point of bringing up children is to help them develop into adulthood, which brings some pretty major changes on the physical side at the very least. Behaving as if they will be 7 for ever seems a pretty perverse approach to this.

      • Behaving as if they will be 7 for ever seems a pretty perverse approach to this.

        If the “transgender lobby” gets its way this could be true as they are calling for children with gender “gender dysphoria” to have medication that stops puberty. The small conspiracy theorist in me says that this show could be linked to swaying public opinion.

    • My thoughts exactly when I saw the adverts for the show. I have yet to watch it, but I think the purpose of this show is political rather than any sort of proper research. I seem to be proved right when the advert featured a young boy crying with frustration at something. I cannot understand why the poor children were subjected to this horrid show in the first place.

      Prior to puberty, boys and girls are more or less equally matched physically. Whilst at middle school, the fastest runner in my year was a girl.

  • Busy Mum

    As a parent, I would refuse consent for my children to take part in research like this.

    If I were a teacher, I would refuse to take part in what is essentially child abuse.

    • My thoughts too. I have often wondered if they are the children of BBC staff or the friends.

  • “Above all, it is the under-achievement of white working class boys that should worry us.”

    Conservative minded people should be worried about ALL working class boys regardless of the colour of their skin. Colour is irrelevant. It is time to stop this categorising of people, and playing into the Lefts hands of identity politics. Otherwise you are just as bad as them creating division between people.

    • Busy Mum

      Likewise, we should be worried about all boys, regardless of their ‘class’!

      • It’s not all boys in Mr Mcgovern’s example, just those of the lower income families. Class will always be something measured in society.

        And we know that grammar schools were the best way of providing better education for the poor and working classes based on merit.

    • KilowattTyler

      Working class boys who are white tend to do less well than working-class boys of other ethnicities.
      The poor performance of white working-class boys is perhaps due to them being at the bottom of all priorities of the educational establishment:

      1/ Because they are working class, their parents do not have the political mechanisms used by middle-class parents to cheat the state education system and obtain an unfair share of resources, e.g. pretending to be devout so the kids can go to state-funded Church schools; cultivating school and education authority people socially; kicking up a fuss if their wishes are not met.

      2/ Being working class their parents cannot afford private education, or private tutors to top-up performance in weak subjects, or to move to expensive houses in the catchment area of good schools.

      3/ The traditional weakness of women in STEM subjects has received a great deal of attention over many years. The traditional weakness of men in learning foreign languages and in the arts more generally has received no attention whatsoever. This has meant that women have added traditional male strengths to their academic achievements, without men improving their skills in traditionally female-dominated subjects.

      4/ If ethnic minorities perform badly a political stink is soon raised, targets are set, the problem is solved. There is no political storm if white kids underachieve.

      White working-class boys simply have no-one fighting for them.

      • Groan

        This was demonstrated in London. Unlike the rest of the country “black” working class boys do quite well (afro carribean to use an old term). For many years additional resources were put in and targeted. It took a decade but the fruits of this policy are clear in dramatically better outcomes than in my own Greater Manchester as well as the other English conurbations with large “black” populations.

  • PierrePendre

    The idea that boys are the losers in the gender wars presupposes that feminists who make so much of the political weather in the work place and social contexts are genuinely interested in parity. Their aim is not equality – 50% of women in any activity in which women are represented – but as much power as they can accumulate in order to dictate whatever rights men may be allowed. If boys who grow up under the increasing influence of feminism are the losers in the gender wars, that is not an accident. Feminists are not unique in seeking to grab all the power in order to be in charge of outcomes; it is the history of society at work. When boys lose out, the real culprits are not feminist activists who are a minority among women but liberal men and organisations like the BBC which promote feminist interests for ideological reasons. I have never yet read a rational justification for the claim that women should represent 50% of MPs or managers other than the fact that they are 50% of the population. It would be hard to concoct a weaker and more arbitrary justification.

    • Colkitto03

      That is a fair assessment. Its not just the feminists, as you say, it all those who are to scared to stand up to them also. Many of them are men.

  • English Advocate

    It’s very telling that the programme producers didn’t choose a more diverse and ‘enriched’ locality in which to conduct this experiment.

    Conservatives and nationalists take the view that males and females are different but complement each other in terms of the values they bring to a healthily functioning society. Cultural Marxists and business corporatists, on the other hand, seek to homogenise everyone in order to simplify the processes of political control and consumer marketing.

    • Dave S

      Can anyone imagine the BBC trying this in a majority Muslim school?
      The very idea is unthinkable. The BBC thinks of the indigenous English, if we ever cross their minds, as docile sheep to be insulted and patronised. Keep on paying them the tribute . What else are we good for.

    • Harley Quin

      One way in which girls are different from boys is that they mature earlier. Thus they are likely to excel boys at lower levels especially.

      Another way in which they are different is that boys are more competitive, thanks to higher levels of testosterone and no doubt, other hormones.

      They tend therefore to do better in competitive examinations while girls do well in coursework – type qualifications which reward steady conscientiousness.

      The competitiveness of boys also means they do better in single- sex environments. In a mixed – sex environment their competitiveness tends to be redirected towards the girlsand bring studious tends to be thought if as girly and ‘uncool’.

      • English Advocate

        Yes, and girls are perhaps less worried about student debt as they don’t expect to be working full-time throughout their adulthood and so will not have to pay a lot of it back.

  • John Thomas

    It was good to hear, yesterday (A level results day) the BBC having to report the depressing (for it) news that, for the first time, boys had done, not just as good as girls, but a bit better. It’s a bit like when the BBC had to tell us that the Remainers had lost the EU referendum, or that Trump had got elected. Occasionally, unexpected events can give one occasions of schadenfreude at the BBC’s discomfort …

    • Chris McGovern

      According to the Joint Council for Qualifications statistics 19,285 more girls than boys achieved A*/A grades in this summer’s A-Levels exams. It has been widely reported, however, that boys outperformed girls at the higher level since they achieved a higher ‘percentage’ pass rate. Roughly 55% of A-Level candidates are girls and 45% are boys – so a significant gap.

    • Harley Quin

      Ethnic presenters could barely restrain themselves from weeping with joy when the first ‘post racial’ candidate Obama was elected President and of course, proved himself very racial indeed.

      Likewise the astonishment and gloom when Trump was elected was plain.

      Still, this organisation has been doing its best to cover Trump with slime ever since.

      I am very fed up with the BBC and ( almost) all its works. The mere fact that so much attention is paid to it shows how overwhelming and unhealthy its power is. It badly needs to be cut down to size or better still, dismantled completely and sold off.

  • Honoria Glossop rules OK.

  • Carbonari1848

    The BBC should consider carefully the difference between influence and power.

    Influence wears out, the more you use it.

    Power only grows.

  • Old Tommer

    Have they ever considered that if the animal kingdom was to adopt these lunatic ideas the food chain would cease to exist.
    Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

  • KilowattTyler

    “No More Boys And Girls’, except of course when feminists need to present boys (men) as inherently violent, inherently thick, etc.

    If you subscribe to the idea that human beings are really all the same apart from biological appendages, then all instances of inequality must be down to environmental factors. Since girls/women now outperform boys/men at school and university, this must therefore be due to institutionalised sexism in the education establishment at all levels. This of course is a ‘forbidden thought’ so a switch needs to be made back to ‘innate’ limitations (applying only to boys of course). The old teachers’ saw about boys being less mature has the full weight of educationalists’ opinion behind it (‘mature’ is not an objective term – is senility not the ultimate ‘maturity’?). Likewise if you were to ask why boys do less well at learning languages, you would soon find lots of ‘experts’ attributing this to inherent biological factors (left vs. right brain, etc.).

    Academe is really the equivalent of a priesthood in pre-scientific societies. It is not really interested in discovering and disseminating truth. It is interested first and foremost in maintaining and propagating itself, extending its influence and control ever deeper into society at large.