Originally posted on March 8, 2014
Here is a suggestion: if you want to change a person’s behavior, it would be best not to trash them while doing it.
There seems to be a problem with feminists and their efforts to change male behavior. Feminists seem to view men and boys as walking predators hellbent on oppressing, demeaning, and hurting women and girls every waking moment of their lives. They also seem to believe that until the advent of second-wave feminism males experienced no other emotion but rage. Feminists marry the two ideas together to come up with the theory that only with feminism can men and boys ever express true emotions and lose their violent tendencies.
Yet this desire to get men and boys to feel has nothing to do with helping them. Rather, it is only about keeping them from hurting women. So volatile is male behavior that only by “softening” boys can they be changed. Or as Jeff Bogle puts it:
Raising strong girls is not enough because a strong girl, even the strongest of mind, body, will, and spirit, can too easily be fractured into a thousand unrecognizable pieces, a glass bottle of glitter shattered on a venetian tile floor, by a physically stronger, drunker, misogynistic boy. We can cobble together and restore some of the sparkle, but it’s doomed to be mixed with crumbs, dust, and dirt, no matter how studious we are. A dulling of the shine. A repeal of the magic.
That reads like something written by someone who has never spent much time around actual, living boys. Granted, in this case that is likely a good thing because it appears Bogle is not that fond of boys. That rationale would explain his above statements. After all, how many strong, drunk, misogynistic 12-year-old boys do we see fracturing “into a thousand unrecognizable pieces” girls of “the strongest of mind, body, will, and spirit?” How many of them wake up with the intent to do that?
Let us set aside for the moment that even a boy of the strongest mind, body, will, and spirit can too easily be fractured into a thousand unrecognizable pieces by a physically stronger, drunker, misandrous girl or another boy. We do not have to talk about the countless boys who have been beaten, harassed, and raped by women, girls, men, and boys. We do not have to talk about the countless boys who seek shelter in films, video games, comic books, and music because they make easy targets for bullies. We also do no have to talk about the scores of grown men and women who seem to relish tearing apart boys by accusing boys of being sexist bullies just for being male.
Let us also set aside that girls also spend a good deal of time shattering the mind, body, and souls of other girls. We do not need to talk about how girls will single another girl out simply for the sake of mocking her. We do not have to talk about the little groups they form that seem built around humiliating other girls. We do not have to talk about the countless ways in which girls actively try to ruin another child for their own amusement.
Instead, let us talk about this:
It would seem imperative then that we, as a nation of dads and moms and parties involved in the childhood business must also, in addition to strengthening the core of our young girls, make a more substantial attempt to soften our boys. Maybe soften isn’t the proper word, not exactly. Does there exist a catchall word for “don’t rape anyone, asshole”? Maybe not. So let’s settle on “soften” for now.
As someone who lives with young boys, I do not appreciate Bogle calling them assholes or thinking that they need to be told not to rape anyone (and let us be clear, by “anyone” Bogle means “females”). I think more highly of my godson, his friends, cousins, and foster brothers than that. I live with at-risk kids, and with rare exception, none of them have done anything remotely close to hurting, let alone raping, anyone.
The idea that we need to “soften” our boys implies that they are so “hardened” that they will hurt others (and by “others” I mean “females”) unless taught not to do it.
Perhaps Bogle has forgotten a basic fact: boys are not untamed, wild animals. These are human beings, and their behavior, particularly when they are young, is a reflection of the actions committed against them. So when some self-important misandrous feminist author decides to tell boys that “if a random boy decided that he wanted something, someone, anyone, to make himself feel a sliver of ecstasy for a split second, to make the pain and hurt and expectations and anger he has carried inside for longer than he can remember, feel a little less permanent” he can “so casually [act]; he acts and he is gone,” that person, that feminist, that sexist is the one causing the behavior.
How? Simple. If you teach boys that they are only violent rapists, they will begin to think they are only violent rapists. And if you ignore the pain, hurt, expectations, and anger boys carry inside for as long as they can remember, they will learn these things do not matter to anyone else. There is no reason to care about other people’s pain because no one cares about yours.
You teach empathy by showing empathy. You do not teach it by telling someone to show compassion for others while denying them compassion in return.
Of course, I get Bogle’s position. He is the father of two girls, so the thought of boys as actual human beings deserving of the same compassion and capable of the same vulnerability as his daughters has probably never occurred to him. The irony of his Bogle’s misandry and casual dismissal of boys’ pain and vulnerability notwithstanding, Bogle fails to actually make a point.
Our society already teaches boys not to hurt other people. That is the reason why the vast majority of males do not hurt other people. He offers the idea of “softening” boys without any explanation about how people should actually go about doing it. That sentiment was likely intended to garner responses like Joanna Schroeder’s gem:
As a dad of girls, no doubt you have on your mind all the statistics about how likely it is for a woman to be raped in college – 1 in 6. That’s a startling number. And yeah, we need to start by teaching ALL kids not to rape, teaching ALL kids consent, and teaching ALL kids they deserve to be able to say “no” at any point, to anybody.
That is coming from the same person who co-wrote an article about teaching kids about consent that conveniently left out teaching girls to ask for and respect boys’ consent. But let us aside Schroeder’s tendency to flip-flop on whether boys can be raped, whether girls should be taught to ask for consent, and whether boys deserve to be able to say “no” at any point. She cannot even get her feminist talking points rights.
The 1 in 6 statistic refers to the lifetime rate, not the rate from college. The correct rate Schroeder is looking for is 1 in 4, which is from study conducted by Mary Koss. However, the rate is misleading because Koss included a broad age range, counting acts that occurred when the respondents were as young as 14. The proper way to read the statistic is that 1 in 4 women report being sexually assaulted by the time they complete college, with the added caveat that Koss counts some acts as rape that legally may not count as rape and the respondents did not consider rape.
Schroeder and Bogle’s comments may win feminist brownie points, but they will do nothing to help boys. You cannot help someone by telling them they are a bad person. I do not understand why feminists do not get this. Of all the groups of people who should understand the impact of negative messages, feminists are near the top of the list. Why any of them would think that teaching boys that they are nothing but rapists who need to be taught not to rape would ever make boys think positively about themselves, let alone respect women, is beyond me.
I have experienced first-hand the impact of this messaging, and it did not improve my opinion of women, although it made me less inclined to want to be around, particularly feminists. I have seen the impact second-hand, and watched as a teenage boy had to unlearn all the negative messaging he received, and saw how devastating it was for him to learn how abusive those messages were.
But let us say, for the sake of argument, that Bogle has a point (he does not, but humor me). His tone is so cruel, accusatory, and sexist that it would never be received well by a child. At least two of the children in this house tonight found it off-putting, which is polite version of their actual responses.
There is no reason to think of boys this way. As I noted above, the vast majority of boys do not rape or hurt anyone. When boys are inclined to hurt someone, they typically hurt other boys. While that might not concern feminists unless the boys belong to a special interest group, it remains a simple truth.
It is also true that boys’ behavior is often a reflection of the way society thinks of them. If we teach boys that they are nothing but rapists, there is a good chance that is what they will become.
Every time I read one of these “boys suck cuz they’re rapey rapists who rape” articles I am reminded of a quote from the Hagakure. I have quoted this a few times, and I think bears repeating:
For the most part, people think that they are being kind by saying the things that others find distasteful or difficult to say. But if it is not received well, they think that there is nothing more to be done. This is completely worthless. It is the same as bringing shame to a person by slandering him. It is nothing more than getting it off one’s chest. […] By bringing shame to a person, how could one expect to make him a better man?
I would love for a feminist to answer that question.