"Feminists, masculinists, blacklists", reads a front-page "National Post" story on June 5, 2003, with the claim made in the very first line of the article that the report's authors have produced "an enemies list". The "Ottawa Citizen" of June 2, 2003 had started the ball rolling with the ominous warning that "Censoring men won't make women equal", and the June 9, 2003 edition of the "Vancouver Sun" went on to claim that "Feminists use tax dollars to assault 'masculinist'". In the "Fox News" edition of June 6, 2003, Wendy McElroy wrote an article entitled "Gender Issues Impacted by Masculinists". Not hesitating to pick up on these critics' distortions and questionable amalgams, Canadian Alliance MP Betty Hinton echoed their words in Parliament, on June 5, deploring that public funds had been wasted on "a project that is a poorly-disguised attack on men and the family unit."|
The report that produced this national tempest, ? School Success by Gender?: A Catalyst for Masculinist Discourse?, reflects an extensive research project conducted by three Laval University scholars, Pierrette Bouchard, Isabelle Boily and Marie-Claude Proulx. Their study investigates the advocacy discourse focussing on boys and men during the decade between 1990 and 2000, as reported in the Canadian and the international press. The heart of this research therefore lies in the treatment of school achievement gaps between boys and girls by the national and international press. Canadian magazines and the daily newspapers published in Canada, France, the U.S.A., Australia and Great Britain provided the basic study material. Exacting content analysis by the researchers reveals an ideology that aims to challenge the gains made by women and to discredit feminism. The three authors propose to deconstruct social perceptions according to which only boys experience problems at school.
A critique targeting amalgams and generalizations, not journalists
One can only wonder whether media pundits and the Official Opposition have read the work they are lambasting or whether they have simply allowed themselves to surf on the antifeminist backlash much in evidence these last few months in Quebec and Canada media circles.
In an interview given to Sisyphe in mid-June, the study's Project Director, Pierrette Bouchard, who also holds the Claire-Bonenfant Chair for Research on the Status of Women at Laval University (Quebec, Canada), called these criticisms unjustified.
? A report from Status of Women Canada about the discursive denial of gender inequalities ?. Pierrette Bouchard, the study's Project Director, responds to critics. Interview on Sisyphe.