The End of Boys?

Originally posted on February 20, 2012

In his article The End of Boys, Mark Sherman ponders culture’s shifting impact on boys. While plenty of people talk about the end of men, it is really boys who will pay the price. As Sherman notes, girls outperform boys on most levels, and the situation does not appear to be getting better for boys:

You may have already seen data comparing how young American males and females are doing today, but one of the best comparisons comes from Tom Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, in his oft-cited “For every 100 girls…” Here is a sampling of his statistics: “For every 100:

• tenth grade girls who play videogames for an hour or more a day, there are 322 tenth grade boys who do.
• girls who are suspended from high school, there are 215 boys who are suspended.
• young women who earn a bachelor’s degree, there are 75 men who do.
• women ages 25-29 who have at least a bachelor’s degree, there are 83 men who do.
• women ages 25-29 who have a doctoral degree, there are 80 men who do.
• females ages 15-24 who kill themselves, 586 males do.
• women ages 18-24 who are in correctional facilities, there are 1439 men who are behind bars.”

Those numbers should be a wake up call for anyone with boys in their families. With the exception of the first statistic (I know people love to hate on videogames or whatever popular thing boys like, but honestly playing videogames more than girls is hardly the problem), the above numbers are troubling. They show a society that seems to discount boys to such an extent that it would rather have them drop out of school. lock them up or have them kill themselves rather than have them succeed.

Sherman goes on to state:

… [M]y three daughters-in-law, all born between 1961 and 1983, knew they could do whatever they wanted. They are, of course, the beneficiaries of a women’s movement that was necessary and important—and still very much is in many parts of the world. But in our country today, and in much of the developed world, even the most casual look at statistics will show that it is our young males who need our help and attention far more than our young females.

Ultimately, I believe the impetus will have to come from the parents and grandparents of boys, though I can sense in feminists with sons the conflicts they feel around this issue. […] Closer to home, I have listened to a feminist friend talk with concern about her only child, a son in his early 30s, who has struggled with work and relationships. […] I know she is worried about her son, but, as I have seen so many times when parents talk about the problems their sons are having, she sees it as an individual problem, not as a social one. I am sure it is hard for her to accept the possibility that the feminism she so strongly believes in might have, by ignoring boys, allowed a progressively more unbalanced situation to develop, one in which her son is caught up.

Sherman’s observation about feminism’s impact on boys is nothing new. Plenty of people, from Warran Farrell to Christina Hoff Sommers, talk about how the focus on girls resulting in people ignoring boys. Yet it is not just that people ignored boys, but that they also set up institutions to work against boys. The education system in its current form is heavily geared towards girls. The prison system is built around putting more boys and men in prison. The social service programs either focus on girls specifically or women’s issues.

When groups, schools, and organizations break these molds and decide to help boys, they do not always get support. There are plenty of feminists who support single-sex schools and classrooms, but only for girls, despite that boys in single-sex classes and schools classes do much better academically than boys in mixed sex classes.

It should be a no-brainer that focusing only on one group would cause problems for those being ignored. It should also be a no-brainer that boys and young men who appear unfocused are probably that way because no one has ever tried to motivate them. Our culture spent the last forty years telling its daughters that they could do and be anything they wanted, yet it forgot to say the same thing to its sons.

While some people have a wealth of internal motivation, much of what pushes a person to achieve is outside support. If parents, teachers, and the community never tell boys they can achieve whatever they set their minds to, never encourage them, never motivate them to put forth the effort, never support their interests and goals, how can we as a society act shocked when boys and young men drift through their lives?

9 thoughts on “The End of Boys?

  1. We are going to pay a heavy price for our feminist bullshit. I only hope I am alive to see the fembots chased through the streets with torches and pitchforks.

  2. “There are plenty of feminists who support single-sex schools and classrooms, but only for girls, despite that boys in single-sex classes and schools classes do much better academically than boys in mixed sex classes.”

    I wrote a paper on this a couple years ago. The research is mixed, but most of it seems to indicate that boys perform better in coed classes (except PE) while girls perform better in single sex classes (except in PE). Despite a good deal of evidence for this, most feminist groups (such as AAUW and NOW) oppose single sex education even for girls, though they do make some exceptions for math, science, and computer courses.

    “Our culture spent the last forty years telling its daughters that they could do and be anything they wanted, yet it forgot to say the same thing to its sons.”

    Our culture hasn’t just forgotten to tell this to our sons, it has actively sent out the exact opposite message and frequently vilifies them.

    On the other hand, our boys may be doing just fine. Their so-calkled “failure” may be more of a natural reaction to a culture that has turned against them. Boys learn to assert their masculinity by asserting independence and in many ways by rebelling against their parents (mothers in particular) while at the same time identifying with their fathers (yes, its a bit Freudian). What we see (and call) boys failing, may be a shift in the way they are asserting independence. Our culture used to reward boys for becoming independent and self-sufficient producers who could support a family. boys who did this successfully became men and were thought of as masculine. Today, our culture punishes and vilifies that type of masculinity with divorce, alimony, child-support, loss of children, property, etc. The only other way to assert independence and rebell against it is to drop out or become a revolutionary. Right now we are seeing more of the former, but I think eventually we may see more of the latter. Revolutions tend to happen when enough men are willing to drop out and begin to seek something better.


  3. “tenth grade girls who play videogames for an hour or more a day, there are 322 tenth grade boys who do.”

    It’s obvious that the young boys’ network is hard at work here and keeping women from entering the more lucrative fields of computer gaming and beyond.

    Single sex classrooms are horrifying because then they lose control of molding boys behavior according to feminine sensibilities. Boys in single-sex schools don’t have to study chick lit. but could read reactionary and god forbid, misogynistic literature. And how else the boys would realize what sexual harassment is?
    All this beside the radical notion that if gender is yours for the choosing, like that Sweden school where no gendered pronouns are used, why should the schools keep you apart.

    I am against co-ed education but academics itself would only be a small part of it.

  4. This is biting single women in the ass. Read the piece “All the Single Ladies.” Successful men can play the field because the ratio of successful women: successful men makes those men a hot commodity.

  5. Zorro, I do not approve of wishing for violence against anyone. I am letting this comment through, but do not make other comments like that again.

  6. Boys in single-sex schools don’t have to study chick lit.

    If by “chick lit” you mean anything written by Jane Austen or books like Romeo and Juliet, those were assigned books in my English classes at my all-boy high school. I am not opposed to boys reading the classics, however, I do dislike that so many of the chosen texts only appeal to a certain group of students. It is better to have students read all types of books, not just 19th century character studies.

  7. Mathematics will destroy Feminism and, unfortunately, human rights as we know it (at least in nations like France and GB). If a well educated woman has, let’s say, statistically 1.6 children and illiterate immigrant from Africa has 5 or 6… how many generations till (democratically !) women will lose their rights ?

  8. This is about Gender Equality in the USA as it currently exists. Over the years I have observed the pendulum swing from one extreme to the other. In our zeal to make certain women and girls were treated equally, the unintended consequences have resulted in a war against men and boys. This war is being acted out on several fronts. I have listed a few below. This blog is open to all for comment on both sides of the issues, please keep your comments clean and respectful.
    Educational system: Lets us begin with Title 9, pertaining to sports in our public school systems. It was intended to expand participation of girls in sports. However in practice the unintended consequence has been to take resources away from boys sports activities. Here is how it works ( or doesn’t) In order for boys to have a baseball, football, soccer, etc. programs, there has to be an equal number of girls fielding a team of a similar girls sport, otherwise funding will not be available. Well as it turns out girls are just not as interested in team sports as boys are, who could have guessed? As a result boys sports have suffered for lack of funding because we can’t spend more on boys sports than we do on girls sports.
    For years, in the past, girls lagged behind in math and sciences. Huge amounts of funds and attention were thrown at the problem, so much so that nearly all the attention is currently directed to educating girls, whereas the boys are being left behind in huge numbers. All one needs to do is look at the graduating HS statistics, the GPA’s and College admission statistics to understand that we are not fairly or properly educating our boys any longer. I am the mother of two fine young men, and I can tell you first hand that battling for male equality in the public school system has been a real challenge. There are not enough male teachers to begin with and many of the women who teach simply do not care about the boys. I have seen them grade the males much more harshly than the girls, even cutting the girls breaks. I have had occasion to speak with two who felt that boys were a nuisance and distraction and just sent them to the principal’s office. I agree boys are full of energy and can be a distraction, that’s how they are wired, boys and girls are different but both can be a distraction, boys are more routinely punished for it than girls.
    WAR AND MILITARY SERVICE: Well here again the males come up with the short straw. Granted both young men and women serve in the military, it is predominately our young men who come home dead or with mutilated bodies. The women that serve do so in support positions to free up the males for the front lines. Granted many women have suffered the same fate as the males in Iraq and Afganistan, due to the indiscriminate bombing done by our enemies, but these numbers are a very small percentage.
    We have become desensitized to all these deaths and the fact that males are considered expendable when it comes to war, we have become used to it ( men in body bags that is). We are not ready to see our pretty little girls come home in body bags, or maimed, and we shouldn’t be. Why are we so accepting of our beautiful young men coming home that way. I think the reason is simply that someone has to do it, males are better suited for it because of their strength and that society has placed a lower value on the life of a male over that of a female.
    DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: When you hear that phrase you automatically think of a man beating a woman, or some similar vision, heck I did, until I looked into it. We have become brainwashed and conditioned to think that way. Statically according the bureau of labor and statistics DV has 60 female and 40% male victims. However males are far less likely to report, or admit to being a victim of DV, while this is true for some women as well, think about the male “ macho thing” and what makes sense to you? So if you agree that men are less likely to report or admit to being a victim of DV, what would you say the actual real statistic would be 50/50? He is what we do know from the reports. Women are much more likely to be more violent in their attacks against a husband or boyfriend, to include using knifes, scissors, bats, groin kicks, etc. than males are
    HE DARK SIDE OF WAR AND WHAT OVER GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW: About 20 years ago, I had the opportunity to talk with my uncle. He was an army doctor who served in the Pacific Theatre as well as the European Theatre during WWII. He was insistent that I know of these atrocities so they could be known. Until now I have not done much with the information he gave me but feel I should share it now. I should note that I have done some additional research on this and there is clear evidence that these practices still go on and that they have for hundreds and hundreds of years, in one form or another.
    Pacific Theatre: The Japanese did not take prisoners as the conditions were primitive on these islands and they had no place to hold them. Rather than just shoot these young men, they tortured them to death. The most common practice was to kick or otherwise beat their testicles until they were mush. Whether or not they survived those beatings, which sometimes lasted for days, the Japanese would cut off the guys Penis, which would cause the captive the bleed to death. The Japs would collect these Penises for trophy’s and hang them in their caves. Hundreds were found in the aftermath, but did you hear about this from our government?
    European Theatre: Here the Germans were just as evil, perhaps more. The translated term for this was called testicle “pulping” but to be fair, both sides engaged in this torture. The Nazi’s for the most part did take prisoners and many men survived these beatings, albeit without a set of working testicles. You would think that with so many survivors of this torture it would be widely known. However not many men wanted to make it known they had no testicles, as it was humiliating and embarrassing. The Nazi’s had a particularly cruel method of torture that some of the gestapo units practiced, that did often lead to death of the guy. The practice started with one particularly evil female officer. This was the practice of inserting a curved glass rod up into the penis and then inducing and erection. This would cause the rod to break within the penis causing significant bleeding and other obvious complications. Those that received medical attention afterwards survived but most lost the organ and many died. Other gestapo agents just inserted a straight glass rod into the penis then smashed the organ with a hammer. These unfortunate men lost the organ. Did you hear about any of this from our government?
    Vietnam: There is plenty of literature written and available on the web about the occurrence of castration by the VC on our young men. Rather than a “policy” however it appears to have been up to the whims of the captors. The are several pieces written about one VC woman sniper who enjoyed torturing her captives for hours, including cutting off eyelids, breaking fingers, etc. . before finally cutting off the captives entire package with one cut. Then there was the “bouncing Betty” land mine. Originally developed by the Germans to explode 3 feet off the ground it was designed to destroy, penis, testicals and even rip through femoral arteries. Again our government does not want you to know this happens.

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