Thursday, January 26, 2017

Are We Failing Our Boys? How can we truly "Man up"?

"The three most destructive words that every boy hears when he's young is when he's told to be a man."

As an educator and a father of a boy and girl, I am worried about our boys, our young men. The "mask of masculinity" which has effectively feminized basic human values such as empathy seems to be entrenched and gaining ground in contemporary American society. And it has led more than one parent I know to ask "What are we doing to help our boys?" From the way they talk to each other to the way they talk about females, the contemporary young "man" may well be in a state of crisis. And that issue is the source of an important and timely documentary called "The Mask You Live In," which is produced by the Representation Project.



"As a society, how are we failing our boys?"

1 comment:

Lynn Oliver said...

The belief boys should be strong “allows increasingly” more aggressive treatment by parents, teachers, peers, and others as early as one year of age, designed to create more anger, fear, and tension, so they will be prepared to fight, defend, and be tough. This is coupled with “much less” kind, stable, (very little kind verbal interaction), and much less mental/emotional support, knowledge, and skills for fear of coddling. It is the more aggressive, less supportive treatment, which creates the toughness or extra maintained layers of average stress: anger, fear, preparation for defense, and anxiety. These layers remain in the mind and take away real mental energy from academics, so those boys will have to work two or three times as hard to receive the same mental reward for work expended.
This more aggressive, less supportive treatment creates more social/emotional distance/distrust of others – parents, teachers, peers, and others in society. It creates lags in social vocabulary, less knowledge of syntax and other communication we as girls are given on a more continuous basis. It creates higher average stress, which creates more activity for stress relief (not genetics but environmentally created). The higher average stress also creates higher muscle tension, which hurts handwriting: more pressure on the pencil and a much tighter grip, hurting handwriting and motivation to write (too much pressure tighter grip causing early fatigue).
The total effect including less care and support creates much more failure and a feeling of hopelessness, especially with our false genetic models firmly in place. Also to make it even tougher for boys is the granting of love and honor (feelings of self-worth) only on some condition of achievement, status, or image. This was designed to keep Male esteem and feelings of self-worth low to keep them striving and even be willing to give their lives in time of war for small measures of love and honor from society. Males not achieving in school or other areas are given more ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not given boys for fear of coddling. Many boys (as you would expect) thus falling behind in school then turn their attention to sports and video games to gleam small measures of love and honor not received in the classroom. This also acts as a psychological catharsis for much more “maintained anger, anxiety, and hurt” they accumulate from the more harsh treatment they experience over time. The belief boys should be strong and the false belief in genetics creates a blatant mental denial of the differential treatment, which is creating the lower academics, lower esteem, and other problems many boys are facing today. So strong is the belief boys should be strong there is an almost emotional cannibalism allowed upon boys and men who appear weak in some way by society: parents, teachers, others, even from many girls and women, especially in the media.
Note, this is not about showing feelings or openness from boys and men, it is about support, care, and respect for boys even when appearing weak in some way. Remember aggressive treatment is increased for any sign of weakness and the much wariness boys feel for parents and teachers who feel it necessary and more freely allowed to use more aggressiveness for any sign of weakness or vulnerability in boys, later men. This is condoned by many in society today.