Is there a boy crisis?
Is there a dad crisis?
Are gender roles essential?
Find out… Now
‘Men.’ Yell it in a crowded place and everybody scatters.
But it wasn’t always that way.
The author of this book, Warren Farrell, PhD, became well-known in the 70’s as the only man to be elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) in N.Y.C. He was an early supporter of the feminist movement.
But as we are all progressing, he has noticed that something else may be going on…
3 Big Ideas
1. The Boy Crisis
I remember growing up as a boy.
Riding my tricycle, playing hopscotch, being told I was going to be an oppressive patriarch, having some ice-cream, being ashamed of my toxic masculinity, you know, the usual boy stuff.
Boys are now dropping out of school in numbers we’ve never seen before.
The sense of purpose of a boy being a warrior or a leader or the sole-bread winner are being crushed and replaced with feelings of shame and alienation. Then they are withdrawn and become addicted to instant gratification and video games and then they live with their parents for 30 years.
Not-so-fun fact: Boys commit suicide four times as often as girls.
Is there a boy crisis? Maybe.
Are we doing anything about it? No.
There are a plethora of white house councils on girls and women, though not one for boys and men.
And men may need it.
There are many inherent differences in girls and boys that could be taken into consideration by these councils, as well as social factors, but one example of a general difference that could be contended with is boys have poorer social skills growing up, so the quality of their childcare is hugely important.
Women though, in general, are doing great.
“If your son plans to live in an urban area, he’ll likely live in one of the 147 US cities in which young women under 30 haven’t just caught up to their male peers but now out-earn their male peers by 8%. In only three cities do young males earn as much or more.”
Single women are now buying their own homes as 2.5x the rate that single men are.
Your son is more likely to be charged and more likely to be subsequently convicted of a crime and then receive on average a 63% longer sentence.
Maybe there isn’t a boy crisis. Maybe equalizing the playing field is just proving that women are better than men, a common suspicion.
But, as we’ve learned to do in a democracy, when we don’t think something is fair we – whine about it.
And it could end us up with some more good progress if our whining goes anywhere, like it usually does.
But the boy crisis is only just the tip of the ice-berg…
2. The Dad Crisis
A sad story in one of the chapters starts out with a boy drawing a picture of his family. He draws himself, his sister and his mom all in the house, then a fence around the house and in the distance a box with his dad inside, alone. His parents were divorced.
After a questioning, the child had revealed that he didn’t want to be a father and end up like his dad.
Generally, fathers want to be fathers – but instead they are wallets. And if they aren’t good wallets - they are deadbeats.
The cultural meme of divorce is kids living with their mothers and dads paying child support.
In men’s groups what is commonly brought up is the powerlessness of “visitation and custody.”
Fathers want to be fathers.
The divorce rates are high and the treatment of fathers as parents is low, which has led to dad deprivation…
Dad deprived children are children who grow up with little to no father involvement.
Being dad deprived is a good predictor of:
Poor school performance, dropping out and being unemployed.
“Living in a home without a dad is more highly correlated with suicide among children and teenagers than any other single factor.”
Being dad deprived also correlates with:
Higher drug use, homelessness, being a bully or being bullied, being victimized, violent crime, being unable to escape poverty and having a lack of trust.
Prisons are made up of 93% men, and 85% of prisoners are dad deprived.
Dad enrichment on the other hand, having a father around, is the “single biggest predictor of the gap between boys that are economically rich and economically poor, and between boys who are emotionally rich and emotionally impoverished.”
A study including father enriched daughters showed that not one father enriched daughters in the study had a child before the age of 19.
So it seems dads do make a contribution, though it’s not obvious how because their style is not always compassion focused, so it may be hard to take it into consideration.
Fathers father “by doing, exploring, playfully teasing, encouraging physical risk-taking while being a trusted safety net, bonding through play, coaching, roughhousing and (…) enforcing boundaries”
When the dad-style is not appreciated, when mom gate-keeps dad to fathering the way she thinks he should father, he feels like a rule-ridden babysitter.
Dads are important, more than just as wallets too.
And that’s just the middle of the ice-berg…
3. The Men Crisis
Men. Beasts of burden, cannon fodder and wallets.
Women. Child bearers, berry pickers and caretakers.
Though no longer.
“Help your son see that just being male does not make him an oppressor, that the obligations of traditional men built virtually every home and office and every infrastructure of sanitation and transportation that allow us to live twice as long as in 1900. Both sexes made a myriad of sacrifices in life so their children didn’t have to. Both sexes served each other. Both sexes were and are in the same family boat”
Maybe it’s time to pursue the new horizon.
Instead of being a life-insurance policy, life for men can be about the glint in their eye, doing what interests them and being fathers.
“The degree to which our sons become as free to be who they wish to be as our daughters are is the degree to which we have taken a huge step from women’s liberation to gender liberation. This requires not a women’s movement blaming men, nor a men’s movement blaming women, but a gender liberation movement freeing both sexes from the rigid roles of the past toward more flexible roles for our future… When only one sex wins, both sexes lose.”
Boys are behind. They could probably use a Whitehouse council and some new societal expectations.
Dads are extremely important. It’s hard to tell from the counter-intuitive dad-style but the data are in, let dad be rough and tease and encourage.
The new horizon is ahead. We can cross it together, hand in hand as people… or keep yelling at each other that the other one has cooties.
This was a pretty cool book.
It ended up being something like Inception: the boy crisis to dad deprivation to marriages to a history of gender roles all connecting and explaining each other.
And then PhD John Gray’s section at the end on ADHD and how to avoid it was also very informative, though I sadly couldn’t make room for it.
I do indeed recommend this book.
Can we keep moving forward, assuming no catastrophes, and go into the future better than before, without gender roles? As people being people? Is it a good idea - is it even possible? Or does the grass just look greener on the other side? Hmmmm?
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https://youtu.be/Qi1oN1icAYc Warren Farrell PhD Ted Talk
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