When our ancestors fought for the right for women to be seen as equal to men in society — a fight we’re still very much engaged in today — we bet they never imagined men would fire back with ridiculous claims of reverse discrimination. But that’s exactly the basis of a Change.org petition that asserts Michelle Obama’s push for girls in education is hateful because it leaves boys out.
And women everywhere sighed and rolled their eyes.
Howard Goldman of Patchogue, NY, in his petition description writes:
Advocating for girls to be provided an education is a noble cause. However, why would you only tout for half of uneducated children in the world and purposely keep the other half from the same pursuit of an education? According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Institute for Statistics, 48% of the world’s children that are uneducated are boys. 32 million boys in the world are uneducated and 37 million girls are uneducated according to the latest UNESCO statistics. Many of those children are uneducated due to poverty and lack of resources. Some girls are prevented from getting an education since some countries only allow boys to become educated. Similarly some boys are prevented from getting an education since some countries force them to become soldiers at very young ages and thus only girls are allowed an education.
the 62 million figure Ms. Obama uses for uneducated girls is an outdated figure from 1990)
Why would you purposely choose to ignore 32 million children and make certain that they are passed by when assistance is provided to educate them? Why would you knowingly and willingly advocate to deny education to 32 million boys based solely on their sex? Why would you advocate for sexism and gender inequality when that is what you are supposedly against and trying to stop?
When Boko Haram kidnapped girls from schools to deny them an education you spoke out and condemned the kidnappers. You campaigned for the girls release and demanded they “bring back our girls”. When Boko Haram allowed girls to go home but locked the boys in the school and burned them alive, or shot and beat them to death if they escaped, you kept silent. When boys were kidnapped, you still said nothing. There was no condemnation. No anger. Nothing. Why is it when boys are the targets of violence you show zero compassion?
An even more discouraging display towards boys’ education was exhibited recently by you. For those children that are receiving an education in more developed countries, you have shown your extreme preference for girls to do better than boys. A recent statement that you made in front of girls and young women was that they should “beat the boys” in education. This is the kind of mentality that belongs on a football field, rooting for your school. A First Lady shouldn’t be rooting for winners and losers when it comes to a country’s education. It is despicable that you would root for boys to lose when it comes to education. Shouldn’t we provide encouragement for all students? Shouldn’t boys be encouraged to do their best and shouldn’t we hope everyone succeeds? Boys are increasingly failing and dropping out. Boys are currently just over 1/3 of students in college. They are already losing, yet you are rooting for them to do even worse and are telling boys that you hope they lose. Girls should win. Despite the huge gender gap on campuses, there is still scholarships for women only. Special mentor-ship programs for girls only. When boys do excel, like in STEM, you and the administration aren’t happy and advocate that more boys lose and push for girls to win there too with special privileges for them. When have you ever spoken to boys and encouraged them to compete and “beat the girls”? No one would ever condone that. As such, no one should condone telling boys that society is rooting for them to lose to girls.
Ms. Obama, we ask that you stop your hateful campaign against boys in education. Stop the blatant sexism and desire for gender inequality by instead showing compassion for boys in school.. Show that you are just as interested in their success as you are for girls to be educated and succeed. Stop your desire for boys to meander in mediocrity and failure so girls can “beat the boys”. Stop your desire to educate only girls and leave 32 million boys in the dust. Women’s rights and feminism shouldn’t need to make sure male victims are ignored and shouldn’t tell boys they hope girls beat them. Yes, promoting that girls do their best and become educated is a noble cause, but not at the expense of boys. All children deserve an education and no child deserves to be rooted against.
Funny Howie didn’t have anything to say about how these boys who are allegedly being discriminated against grow up to make 21% more than women in the workforce. Or how boys and men have an entire system in place to help them succeed from the get-go: it’s called society. Sure, there are some boys who need additional help on the education front, and there are programs for them, but if you’re not talking about minority boys, which Howard, makes no mention of in his lengthy prose, then this point is beyond null and void.
We take comfort in the fact that so far only 343 people have signed the petition, but that’s still 343 too many, particularly when signers make comments like, “Women already have so many advantages over boys in today’s education system. Quit trying to leave boys behind.”