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Gender Studies and Feminization in Education


Gender studies in education has become a topic of debate since the second half of the twentieth century due to the increasing importance of feminism. The growing role of women in the traditional educational system, which was previously focused on men, brought about many changes to educational practice. In addition, numerous issues related to non-educational aspects of the end of single-sex education have emerged. As a result, there have also been impacts on male students in all stages of education. Both texts chosen for this assignment discuss the feminization of classroom learning and its effect on male students, and they place it in a broader socio-political context. This paper aims to analyze the use of rhetorical devices such as pathos in both entries, and to compare the two articles based on this analysis in order to identify similarities and differences in their use of this rhetorical device.

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A War Against Boys

The first entry under consideration is A War Against Boys, an essay by Michael Kimmel that discusses the feminization of educational systems as a political concept. The author draws on historical and scientific evidence to explain concerns regarding boys’ position in contemporary education. The text effectively uses pathos as a rhetorical device to prove the author’s viewpoint and to evoke sympathy in readers. The article was first published in Dissent magazine in 2006 and is thus aimed at a general audience, including parents, scholars, and educators.

The Use of Pathos in Kimmel’s Work

Pathos is among the most used and most effective rhetorical devices. It has been employed by an immense number of speakers and writers to arouse the emotions of an audience. Kimmel’s appeal to pathos is evident throughout the work. The author introduces the topic by referring to the case of Doug Anglin, a high schooler who sued his school for sex discrimination (Kimmel 521). The description of the boy provided in the first paragraph serves to distinguish Doug Anglin from other high school boys, presenting him as quite a heroic figure fighting the systemic power of feminized education. The author quotes the boy’s father to establish the problem: “From the elementary level, they establish a philosophy that if you sit down, follow orders, and listen to what they say, you’ll do well and get good grades” (Kimmel 521). The father’s words are important in appealing to the readers’ emotions, as they reflect the viewpoint of many parents. Thus right from the beginning of the article, the author uses pathos to establish the existence of a feminized education system and its relevance to the readers’ children.

The author also uses pathos to explain the cause and effect relationship between feminism and the shift in education. Kimmel addresses the significance of women’s achievements from a negative perspective, commenting on their adverse effects (522). Instead of remaining neutral on the issue, Kimmel argues that the environment created by feminists is unnatural and restricts the development of young boys (522). Ultimately, the language of the first few paragraphs supports the central thesis of the work, arguing that the events in education triggered by the rise of feminism are, in essence, a war on boys. The author uses the semantically powerful and emotion-provoking word “war,” which would appeal to the emotions of readers.

Throughout the article, Kimmel maintains emotional development by reflecting the readers’ thoughts and questions. For instance, Kimmel asks rhetorical questions, such as “Why now?”, “Whose fault it is?”, and “What’s wrong with this picture?” (522-523). Asking such questions is one of the most common representations of pathos. The author uses these questions to engage his readers in a deeper emotional connection with the text, which serves as a basis for persuasion of the audience. Also, Kimmel cites both the direct speech of adolescent males and females and statements from literature, for example, “Reading is lame, sitting down and looking at words is pathetic”, “Real men don’t speak French”, “In English you have to write down how you feel and that’s what I don’t like” (525-526). These quotations are also used to provoke emotions in the audience since the boys’ direct speech helps readers to better understand their attitude towards education, and the citations from literature serve as another instance of emotional engagement.

How the Schools Shortchange Boys

How the Schools Shortchange Boys is an article by Gerry Garibaldi, an American writer and teacher. After working in the film industry for almost three decades, Garibaldi switched career paths, becoming a high school English teacher in Connecticut. The piece was published in City Journal in 2006; similar to Kimmel’s article, it is aimed at quite a broad audience and is written accordingly. The entry also reflects Garibaldi’s previous work as a writer, with dialogues and personal narratives mixed in with logical arguments for a more substantial effect.

The Use of Pathos in Garibaldi’s Work

As a writer, Garibaldi appeals to pathos consistently throughout the work. The article is structured to present episodes from the author’s personal experience mixed with logical explanations and evidence about the problem. For example, on page 516, Garibaldi offers a narrative about one of his male students, Brandon, who received detention after asking one of his female teachers about the point of studying her subject. Garibaldi uses an image of a smart and active boy, which is familiar to and favored by the audience, to showcase the problem (516). Using Brandon’s case, Garibaldi explains the differences between male and female students based on his experience as a teacher. Although the author offers no evidence in support of his claims, his arguments seem valid to the audience as they are based on his teaching experience. In this example, an appeal to pathos allows Garibaldi to connect with the audience and improve the perceived validity of his arguments.

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Another example of the author’s use of pathos can be seen on page 518, where Garibaldi discusses attempts to change boys’ nature through special education programs. Here the author uses vivid language to appeal to pathos. For instance, he writes that boys in special ed “often sat at their desks with their heads down or casually staring off into space, as if tracking motes in their eyes” (Garibaldi 518). The language used by the author creates an impression that special education programs serve to break boys down instead of correcting their behavior and equipping them with valuable tools for improving learning. Garibaldi uses vivid imagery in this passage, which makes it easier for readers to perceive and emotionally respond to the situation described by the author.

Garibaldi’s ability to provoke emotions is closely connected with his writing abilities, and this aspect should be elaborated in greater detail. The central figure of the article under discussion is Brandon, the boy who was previously mentioned. Although the author speaks about Brandon as a specific real person, the boy becomes a generalized figure, or a symbol of numerous special ed students who struggle with the same issues. The pathos is created here by the emerging sympathy for Brandon since his case could appeal to innumerable males in his position, or to the parents of such boys. Therefore an emotional connection is created. Also, the vast amount of dialogue and direct speech should also be mentioned as a representation of pathos in the text. Through the dialogues with Brandon, the author aims to express the personality of the young man. This is done to give the readers a broader context for the boy’s character and the environments in which he lives (Garibaldi 519).

Comparison of Two Entries

As the articles under consideration have been analyzed separately, they can now be compared with regard to similarities between the authors’ use of pathos in their texts, as well as with regard to the differences. First of all, both texts share a common ground of critical exploration of feminization in the modern education system. Also, both entries tend to include this issue in a broader socio-political context. The authors want readers to be emotionally engaged in the discussion of the question, and thus pathos is used in both articles.

However, one could trace several differences in the use of pathos as a rhetorical device. Both entries are very personal in tone, but Kimmel appears to be more passionate in his writing. While Garibaldi employs examples and arguments to speak from a relatively neutral point of view, Kimmel’s article is much more critical in its outlook. This dissimilarity can be partially explained by the authors’ different backgrounds since Kimmel, as a university professor and spokesman, often formulates his thoughts in oral form, while Garibaldi’s primary experience is with organizing his arguments in written form. Therefore the text by the first author could easily be imagined as if he was conducting a public speech, while the entry by the latter author reads more like a personal essay.

It is also evident that Kimmel employs a large number of emotionally charged words, such as “war”, “laughable”, “bashing”, “invaded”, “overheated”, “detriment” and many others (521-522). His metaphors and similes often entail the use of war-related terms, which he does in order to provoke emotions in his readers and to engage them with the representation of his ideas. Taking the contrary approach, Garibaldi appears to be more restrained in his discussion of the topic. His lexicon is significantly more scholarly; however, he masterfully combines passages of scientific elaboration with excerpts from his dialogues with Brandon and other people. Overall, the combination of well-written criticism with examples that move readers on an emotional level creates a powerful effect.


Both texts under analysis represent a well-conducted critical discussion of the issue of feminization in education. Both entries were analyzed to identify specific examples and features of using the rhetorical device of pathos. The articles were also compared the two articles in order to detect differences in their use of pathos as a rhetorical device. Finally, it should be noted that Kimmel’s article represents passionate and emotionally appealing writing, while Garibaldi provides a more restrained critique.

Works Cited

Garibaldi, Gerry. “How the Schools Shortchange Boys.” The Longman Writer: Brief Edition, 9th ed., edited by Judith Nadell et al., Pearson, 2014, pp. 515-519.

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Kimmel, Michael S. “A War Against Boys?” The Longman Writer: Brief Edition, 9th ed., edited by Judith Nadell et al., Pearson, 2014, pp. 521-527.

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