Intended Consequences #2
With all the talk of colleges treating maleness/masculinity as a mental and emotional disorder, I decided it is time for me to talk about my own experience of raising three boys.
I realized I was out of my depth fairly soon with three young rapscallions under the age of five. I was fortunate to have a present and supportive husband. Even so, it was my initiative that led us to an understanding of the male psyche that saved my sons from the fate intended for them by a school system specifically designed for girls.
Until I read Bringing Up Boys, by Dr. James Dobson, I believed the school system was just doing their job to civilize and educate. I had already had numerous conflicts with school authorities about the behavior of my sons:
- they always have to be first in line
- they don’t wait their turn
- they can’t stay still
- they always want to win
Well, yes. These are all natural, normal male responses to the restraints of a school system geared to the sensibilities of the more placid nature of girls. My response eventually became “So?”
Other parents, we were told by the school, complained that my three received all of the attention. Perhaps that was because they were intelligent, free-spirited, inventive, fun-loving and were encouraged to express their individuality. Too many boys were pushed under the thumbs of teachers and a male principal who had authoritarian desires.
Every day, we received calls from this principal about this transgression or that bad behavior. The situation became so untenable that we discussed with our children taking them out of school. The most precocious of the three replied, “I can handle [name of principal].” At that point I had no doubt that he could.
The purpose of education is to prepare children with the skills they will require to face the rigors of life, not to quash their natural capabilities. This school wanted the male children to sit in the corner and listen. This is unnatural and detrimental to the health (physical, mental and emotional) of boys.
At this time, I worked in community health and one of my colleagues had been involved in a study of suicide among young men between the ages of 16 and 35. This included unintended suicides such as car crashes, drug overdoses and other risky behaviors. She discovered that the suicide rate among young men is close to 25% between those ages. Her hypothesis, supported by eminent psychologists and researchers such as Dr. Dobson, concluded that boys are different and require a much different education style than girls.
All three of my sons have attended the funerals of their friends and male classmates, mostly in their mid-teens. Some died because of their risky behaviors and far too many committed suicide.
Emasculating our male children, furthering the notion that somehow their masculinity is undesirable runs the very great risk of destroying the essence of our civilization. Men are different. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Teaching boys that masculinity is wrong is tantamount to saying they have no place in the natural order.
On the other hand, encouraging their natural inclination to provide, protect and procreate helps them acclimate their hard-wired behaviors of dominance and strength to better serve our society. We currently live in a culture that is nearly equal in its treatment of women. Gone are the days when women were discouraged from exercising their abilities in male-dominated fields.
This relentless push to eliminate the male role (a war on men) can only lead to an imbalance that will be destructive to our society as a whole, as is seen in societies that give unreasonable power to men over women.
We must celebrate masculinity as we should also celebrate femininity. The differences are natural and necessary to our survival.