Kathleen Parker

WASHINGTON -- With a flick of his pen, President Barack Obama finally laid to rest Freud's most famous question and iterated one of man's hardest-won lessons: Women want what women want.

And the wise man sayeth: "Yes, dear."

Thus, it came to pass that the president created the White House Council on Women and Girls to ensure that all Cabinet-level agencies consider how their policies affect women and families. Presumably, men and boys may expect to benefit from what is helpful to women and girls. We shall see.

There's little profit in criticizing a move to make life better for the fairer sex. Still, one does have to suppress a chortle as we pretend that the First Father's rescue of damsels in distress is not an act of paternalistic magnanimity. Chivalrous, even.

Oh, well, irony is hardly a stranger to gender. Neither are exaggeration and myth. If I may ...

First, the statistics cited by Obama as rationale for the council weren't quite accurate, though they were, to borrow from Stephen Colbert, truthy. And surely the president can't be ignorant of the fact that boys in this country are in far graver danger than girls in nearly every measurable way.

Where's the White House Council on Men and Boys? OK, let men fend for themselves. But boys really do need our attention, not only for themselves, but for the girls who will be their wives (we hope) someday. We do still hope that boys and girls grow up to marry, don't we? Preferably before procreating?

Certainly, the Obamas seem to. A model family, they undoubtedly want their girls to excel and, eventually, to marry equal partners. But boys won't be equal to girls if we don't focus some of our resources on their needs and stop advancing the false notion that girls are a special class of people deserving special treatment.

There isn't space here to fully critique each statistic mentioned by the president, but here's just one: Women still earn 78 cents for every dollar earned by men.

As has been often explained, apparently to deaf ears, this figure is derived by comparing the average median wage of all full-time working men and women without considering multiple variables, including the choices women and men make. A more accurate picture comes from a 2007 report prepared for the U.S. Department of Labor by the CONSAD Research Corp.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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