Fox, Feminism and the Boy Crisis: In the Beginning There Was Darkness

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16:  The FOX News logo at FOX Studios on August 16, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 16: The FOX News logo at FOX Studios on August 16, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)

On Tuesday morning my husband hid the newspaper from me because he thought it was better if I drank my coffee before reading a New York Times article called "A Link Between Fidgety Boys And Sputtering Economy." It was an act of genuine kindness, knowing, as he does, that the counterproductive use of the term "boy crisis" to describe what is clearly a problem that hurts all children, and systemically disadvantages women over their lifetimes, is enough to ensure that I cannot complete a full sentence for at least an hour.

He managed to keep the paper hidden long enough for me to drink my coffee and have a nice conversation before we parted, but no one apparently did the same for the people at Fox News. I wish this clip, in which every single tired conservative boy crisis trope about the evils of feminism and the hideous dangers of focusing on girls in education is trotted out, was a parody, right down to a sloppy "regular guy" pining for shop class encircled perfectly coiffed women, but it's not.

Now, there is nothing new about this ping pong game. After the publication of The Confidence Code it's important that we circle back and make sure everyone knows that the real, because money, problem is boys and the economy. In an effort to spare everyone the hard work of recreating the wheel next time round, I thought it would be easier to create the Fox News Boy Crisis Cheat Sheet. Here goes:

1. Schools should not teach boys that traditional toughness does not cut it in today's economy. We need schools. We need boys. We need an economy. The World is tough. The economy is tough, The economy is traditional. Boys are traditional. Boys are tough. We need tough boys. Schools are not tough. Schools are not traditional. Boys are traditionally tough. I'm confused. Should schools teach toughness or not?

2. Boys are just being boys... especially boys who need to be outside, doing boy things. They're being boys and we should just let them be boys. Boys. Did I say boys? Did I say American boys. Because American boys especially are boys.

3. There is a 20 point gap by eighth grade between girl and boy scores. There has been for 100 years and yet, would you look at that: men rule. Shhh.

4. Boys suffer because schools no longer offer wood shop, metal shop, auto mechanics -- you know, places where boys can get nervous energy out. Girls don't have nervous energy. Did I say girls? Sorry, excuse me, someone is calling from the Huckabee Ranch...

5. There are too many female teachers. The wage gap does not exist. Men are not opting for higher paying "men's jobs." There are too many female teachers because women make bad choices.

6. A lot of feminism is to blame for this because in the past 100 years of the last 4000 girls have been allowed in schools and this girl focus has derailed society. Overcompensating this way has to end. It remains obvious to the greatest minds of the 19th century that educating girls is a can of worms all the way round.

7. There's books about the war on boys. Did you know there is a book about the war on boys? Say, have you read the book about the war on boys?

8. Duke. You don't even have to say it out loud. Just think it.

9. "I should take the rest of the show for the rest of the next 52 minutes." Did you now there is a book on ironic sexism?

10. And, drumroll please, because no Fox news program is complete without it: Single mother!!!!! Run away!

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a Fox commentator in pursuit of a good rating, must be in want of a boy crisis, a bad feminist and a single mother. That anyone serious is still having these conversations, using these words to describe issues that we know are borne of gender stereotypes, implicit biases and stereotype threat is gobsmacking.

Given the role that the fourth estate is supposed to play in informing the public, so that they can make informed decisions when they elect officials, and the fact that Fox viewers have been shown to understand even less about reality than if they consumed no news at all, shouldn't the corporation pay some sort of tax for the net degradation of the public good that it causes?