Boys and girls come out to play

Marcus Strom MSTROM at
Mon Feb 5 10:27:43 MST 1996


I'm glad you brought this up.

As you may know, I work for the NSW teachers federation. Our womens' 
coordinator and our research officers are doing work on this very 
issue. They / we are strongly resisting the feminist bashing.  
Interestingly, our outgoing deputy president made an interesting 

He said that the main reason why there is not too much fuss being 
made is because the class divide is not being broken. There was a 
report in the Sydney Morning Herald (major bourgeois paper in Sydney) 
that said that the average of girls' results from the north shore of 
Sydney (rich part of town) was 20% higher than boys from west and 
south west Sydney (working class areas).

This was just let through to the 'keeper. He said imagine if it was 
the other way around, that girls from SW and W Sydney were getting 
20% more than boys from N Sydney? Or if boys from western Sydney got 
20% more than the northern girls? In his words there'd be a fucking 
royal commission (highest legal investigation in the land - we are 
still a monarchy).

These are the issues that need to be looked at, which I doubt is 
beyond the ken of the Green Left Weekly, they'd alienate their base.

Yes, we must look at the way boys and girls are constructed in 
australia in a strong class sense. The education area is one of the 
strongest areas of class warfare. The state poors money into 
subsidising private schools and ignores this whole debate, or calls 
it a feminist plot. The problem is that much of 'feminist analysis' 
of this issue is so middle class it's not funny. That's why people 
have problems getting any handle on it.

Success in working class culture in Australia for boys is strongly 
associated with sport or a trade. Me and my sister are the first people in my 
fathers side to have gone to university - ever. My cousins can't 
understand why they all have mortgages, a car, the older ones a small 
fishing boat and a million kids (my dads side is catholic). My 
cousin Kevin is the shop steward at Arnotts Biscuits - this is 
succes, all the boys play football (rugby league - known here as the greatest 
game of all).

I am more familiar with these pressures on boys. My female cousins 
are either successful by having great kids who manage to stay out of 
trouble with the cops, or to have a career. This takes getting an 

These issues of processes of class composition, class identity and 
the construction of gender identies of working class kids. In one 
sense, I don't give a toss about the kids from the north shore (well, 
the ruling class kids anyway) I went to uni with them, and most of 
them are fuckwits.

There is an interesting book on these issues by a sociologist from 
Wollongong University - Mike Donaldson. I can't remember the exact 
title (Something, something: Life, labour and Love of the working 

Any ideas out there?

> Date:          Sun, 04 Feb 1996 11:35:20 +1000
> From:          g.maclennan at
> Subject:       Boys and girls come out to play
> To:            marxism at
> Reply-to:      marxism at

> As a life long educationist I have been extremely interested in a report 
> in The Green Left Weekly (DSP i.e. American SWP) about the recent 
> performances of girls in schoold examinations in NSW Australia.
> Briefly the girls whipped the boys.
> "Of the students completing the Higher School Certificate (HSC) in NSW in 
> 1995, female students returned an average score of 54.04 out of 100 
> comapred to 46.15 for male students; young women also made up 58% of the 
> top 5000 students; and of the 13 to receive perfect scores of 100, nine 
> were women." (T.Corcoran, GLW, Jan 24:12)
> What is especially interesting about this is the response of the media.  
> No one has advanced the explanation that girls are born smarter than 
> boys.  No way. Here by sharp contrast with the I.Q. debate the emphasis 
> is all on environmental factors.  The favourite explanantion appears to 
> be that feminists have bullied educators into ignoring boys!
> Few people have advanced an hypothesis which is linked to the way boys 
> are constructed.  What we are seeing with these results is surely the 
> result of the encouragement of anti-intellectualism among boys.
> Regards
> Gary
>      --- from list marxism at ---

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