Tuesday, March 06, 2018

What does it mean to be a male?

I had drafted a blog-post. And then I read the news.

Now, I want to think more about "save the males."  That other post will appear later.

In this #MeToo context, "save the males" might sound strange.  But, it is not. Not to me.  I have been saying this, and blogging about it, for a mighty long time.

I am not referring to the rapists and the gropers and the assholes.  Nope. Not at all.  I have no sympathy for those males, and I continue to be shocked and angry that 63 million voters elected one such scumbag to the Oval Office.

The "save the males" that I have been writing about has many aspects. For one, boys are getting lost all the way from middle school on.  They are falling behind.  We have not been able to articulate for them what it means to be a man in a changed and changing world.

Right from the mid-1990s, I was talking with people and cautiously writing in op-eds that we were not paying attention to the developing trends of boys being neglected.  I deleted all the blog posts from 2001 to 2007 because looking back I felt they were rather sophomoric. I wish I had not.  Thus, the earliest I can cite as evidence from this blog is this one from November 2008.

I don't mean neglected as in abused, but neglected as in we were systematically redefining what it meant to be a girl in the changing world, but were not doing the same with boys.  And boys were falling behind in schools.  Men were falling behind in colleges. Masculinity was being re-made and men were not readying themselves.

Thus, when I read this NY Times piece, I was not surprised one bit.
For parents, raising a girl can seem as if it’s about showing them all the things they can do, while raising a boy is telling them what not to do, researchers say.
“There’s been a much more complete gender revolution for women than for men,” said Dan Clawson, a sociology professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “If I’m raising a daughter, I’m raising someone who can challenge conventions, and that’s an attraction. On the other hand, if I’m raising a boy, am I raising someone who’s going to get in trouble, who won’t do well in school and so on?”
The fading bias against girls should cheer all who desire a more egalitarian society. But there are risks to society if what replaces it is a bias against boys.
I don't understand what it will take for American society to start talking about this.  But then we are the same people who don't talk about guns, about racism, about ...

One of the earliest scholars whose works I found to be extremely valuable in this is Christina Sommers.  Which is the reason I spent a good chunk of a Sunday, four years ago, watching her on C-Span.

Even early on, Sommers was sharply attacked by her critics. Now, those attacks have become even more vicious because she is a feminist from the right side of the political spectrum.  So much so that her scheduled talk in Oregon--in Portland--was interrupted and had to be wrapped up early because of protesters.

Sommers was labeled a "fascist" and protesters wanted her talk to be canceled!

I don't always agree with Sommers. But, to call her a fascist? To not let her speak on a college campus?  It is one thing to protest against a Richard Spencer or a Stephen Bannon. They are thugs. Fascists. Neo-Nazis. But why shut down Sommers?

Lost in all this brouhaha: The much needed discussion on what it means to be a male, and what we ought to be teaching young boys about masculinity!

1 comment:

Ramesh said...

You raise a very important point. The reducing bias against girls should not be replaced by a bias against boys. In an ideal world, we will be completely gender neutral, but I suppose that is utopia. Hopefully the pendulum will swing as close to the centre as possible.

I don't know who Ms Sommers is, and not particularly interested in finding out ! You spent a "good part" of a Sunday watching her on C-Span of all the places. God!!