The title got your attention, right? According to an essay published in today's New York Times, "queer" and "fag" are some of the most harmful epithets boys hurl at one another.
In the words one of teenage boy: “To call someone gay or fag is like the lowest thing you can call someone. Because that’s like saying that you’re nothing.”
The implicit homophobia is one thing. (If hearing those words make a straight boy feel like "nothing," imagine how you'd feel if you were a gay teenager hearing those words.) But this issue is bigger than homophobia; this name-calling touches on the very definition of masculinity.
Despite all our so-called advances in recent years, boys and men are still expected to conform to the Boy Code. Doing well in school and showing emotions are STILL considered female traits, and if a boy should exhibit either (or both) of these characteristics, he's ridiculed by other boys.
The essay asks, "It’s weird, isn’t it, that in an age in which the definition of acceptable girlhood has expanded, so that desirable femininity now encompasses school success and athleticism, the bounds of boyhood have remained so tightly constrained? "
Some commentators have speculated that this narrow, decades-old definition of masulinity is a reaction to our current world. The idea is that men and boys, denied their usual roles of protector and provider, are reverting to almost stereotypical behavior. (A recent Newsweek article about out-of-work men touched on this phenonmenon.)
The NYT essay quotes C.J. Pascoe, author of “Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School.” Her comments are most interesting:
“These kids experience a loss of masculine privilege on a day-to-day level. While they didn’t necessarily ever experience the concrete privilege their fathers and grandfathers experienced, they have the sense that to be a man means something and is incredibly important. These boys don’t know how to be that something. Their pathway to masculinity is unclear. To not be a man is to not be fully human and that’s terrifying.”
That's exactly what Michael Gurian, author of the just-published book, The Purpose of Boys, is saying: With the old-guard gone, too many of our boys have no idea what it means to be man.
Enter now to win a copy of The Purpose of Boys! Here's how: Leave a comment. That's it. One comment = one entry. If you'd like another chance, mention the contest of your blog, include a link back here and I'll pop your name in the hat one more time. The winner will be drawn on Sun. April 26.
Contest open to all residents of the United States and Canada. Also, I'm the featured blogger at Family Life today. Check it out!
I have two grandsons and I think this book would help us very much.ReplyDelete
Ooooh. I have two little boys and have no idea what I am doing!ReplyDelete
Have a little boy and would love to read this book!ReplyDelete
tvollowitz at aol dot com
The boys played with axes in the woods today, followed by rollerblading off skateboard ramps, biking, and chasing dogs (4 homeschooled boys participated in these activities). I think this is about as good as it gets. I do think I know what I am doing. It was a beautiful spring day. They played, explored, ran, yelled and whittled for over 3 hours. They would have kept going, but we had to move on to other things, unfortunately. I don't think there is any big mystery in why so many boys are "failing". Boys need to be allowed the freedom to explore who they are, not confined to a classroom and told what to learn. I don't think this is particularly good for girls either, but overall, it is much more detrimental to our boys. Set them free!!!!ReplyDelete
Great post! A
I recently saw the movie MILK. Very good, I highly recommend it.
This is so important, I'm glad these issues are being explored. We need to understand how boys get socially miswired and experience negative consequences throughout their lives.ReplyDelete
Would love to have a copy. I know someone who is really struggling and would like to helpReplyDelete
I would be interested in reading this book. It sounds helpful!ReplyDelete
smchester at gmail dot com
i have 4 grandsons and this would be a great learning tool for there mom.ReplyDelete
I think that this might help me with my two boys.ReplyDelete
Three of my four grandkids are boys. I'd love to let their mothers read this.ReplyDelete
jwright (at) iowatelecom (dot) net
We have female dominated childcare and education system and live in female centric society. Too many mothers rank their parenting success on how well their daughters are doing. It is no wonder boys are lost and marginalized. They don't have the same tools nor the support systems that girls have.ReplyDelete
The real answer is extensive tax credits for fathers and much more liberal leave benefits for men.
this sounds really interestingReplyDelete
I would love to have this book to read - I have two sons.ReplyDelete
i have grandsons who might enjoy this:)ReplyDelete
I would love the chance to win, thanks.ReplyDelete
I think this would help any adult with children.ReplyDelete
We need to unravel the mistaken hard wiring that plagues so many of our boys.ReplyDelete
I am a teacher and parent and would like to read this book.ReplyDelete
I would like it.ReplyDelete