“If you let boys be boys, they will murder their fathers and sleep with their mothers.” This shocking statement came from Stephen Marche’s recent New York Times column, titled “The Unexamined Brutality of the Male Libido.”
Marche’s column shows that, after the unfolding of waves of sexual harassment scandals, the radical left’s moral signaling has reached a new height. It’s not enough to call all men pigs. The radical left wants to condemn all boys, too.
What’s their proposed remedy to cure sexual harassment? Make boys and men more feminine. This approach can’t be more wrong.
Boys and Men Are Sexually Harassed, Too
Whenever the topic of sexual harassment comes up, most people immediately fixate on the image of a powerful male sexually harassing a powerless female. While that image can be true sometimes, it represents an incomplete picture.
A recent study published in the International Journal of Public Health, based on interviews of more than 3,000 high school students in Norway, finds non-physical sexual harassment in schools happens to boys and girls equally. For physical sexual harassment, more and more female teachers are being charged for having sex or sexually harassing male students.
A CBS News site documents 61 notorious female teachers’ sex scandals in American schools. While mainstream media generally underreports sexual harassment cases when boys or men are the victims, Instapundit.com, a libertarian blog maintained by Glenn Reynolds, has been tracking such cases through its “teaching women not to rape” section.
Beyond schools, a growing number of men report being sexually harassed at workplaces. In 2015, 17 percent of the workplace sexual harassment claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission were filed by men. If that number seems low to you, it’s because many males choose not to report harassment. Like female victims, males are embarrassed and are afraid of losing their employment. In addition, these male victims face credibility issues because many people simply don’t believe a man can be sexually harassed.
Sexual harassment is wrong no matter which sex is the aggressor and which is the victim. We as a society can’t condemn an entire sex based on a few highly publicized cases. We need to treat each case seriously and honestly without starting a gender war.
Our Schools Do a Poor Job of Nurturing Boys
This nascent gender war is already having real consequences. For decades, there has been a widening academic achievement gap between American girls and boys, with girls leading the way. Girls today are more likely to graduate from high schools and colleges than boys are. Girls also earn higher grades than boys in all school subjects, according to an analysis published by the American Psychological Association in 2014.
The co-author of this analysis, Susan Voyer, points out that “The fact that females generally perform better than their male counterparts throughout what is essentially mandatory schooling in most countries seems to be a well-kept secret, considering how little attention it has received as a global phenomenon.”
The Washington Post recently reports that “The differences (academic gap) between boys and girls are largest among the most disadvantaged children. But socioeconomic status does not entirely explain the gender gap. Even well-off boys struggle to compared to well-off girls.”
The same article finds that boys start to fall behind girls at an early age. They are less likely to be kindergarten-ready than girls, “less likely to identify letters of the alphabet, less likely to be able to communicate their needs.” As they grow, boys continue to lag behind girls academically, but lead in absences and suspensions. These gaps are especially wide for kids from the most disadvantaged families: “Boys in broken families were 8 percentage points less likely than girls to be kindergarten ready.”
Given this context, it is an especially poor time to aggravate attacks on the masculine sex as a whole.
Why Do Girls Perform Better in Schools than Boys Do?
Researchers have several explanations for boys’ lag behind girls. One is that the traditional schooling model of students sitting in a classroom quietly for a long period of time favors girls. Boys learn differently than girls. Girls make more serotonin and oxytocin, chemicals that enable them to sit for a long time. But boys learn better through hands-on activities, visual experiences, and movement.
So in a traditional classroom setting, boys, especially young boys, are more likely to move around and disrupt, which leads to them being disciplined by teachers more, which can lead them to like school less. While these differences are a powerful argument for school choice, in the absence of real choice, boys are being left behind.
There are many programs inside and outside schools that nurture girls and encourage them to be whoever they want to be. Yet young boys don’t get as much attention. On the contrary, schools seem to have lower expectations for boys. Some parents say teachers tell them things such as “Your kid’s handwriting is so-so. But it’s good enough for a boy.” Very few teachers will speak like that about a girl.
This is all the more reason we should evaluate each person on his or her own needs and merits rather than talk down to boys and slam their entire sex.
Good Male Role Models Benefit Both Boys and Girls
Researchers also notice the behavior differences between boys and girls (must be shocking to liberals). Boys are more impulsive, more likely to act out than contain themselves. Therefore, boys need different attention, nurturing, and role models to help teach them good behavior. This starts with parents. “When boys don’t get enough parental attention, they misbehave. Boys are particularly at risk when they grow up in single-mother households.”
Besides parents, boys also learn from other males they encounter. Our entertainment industry, one of the most liberal places on earth, has been churning out strong female characters and denigrating male characters for decades. The TV sitcom doofus dad paired with a highly competent mom is a common cliché.
Also, look at the Star Wars franchise. Since Disney took it over, the last two movie installments and the upcoming new one all feature strong heroines in leading roles, while the men are in supporting roles. In the Star Wars universe outside the movies, Leia takes a leading role while Han Solo and Luke Skywalker act the idiot, running around like chickens with their heads cut off.
As someone who has four young nieces, I welcome these strong female characters. But I can’t help worrying about two things: how does this lack of strong male characters affect young boys? And how will it affect perceptions of males when girls turn into women?
A strong masculine character is able to stand next to a strong feminine character, which can enhance both. A character like the marshal played Gary Cooper in “High Noon” will not only teach boys what it means to be a good man and how to treat women, but also teach girls what a loving and respectful relationship looks like.
Condemning Males Will Hurt Females, Too
Now liberals want us to ignore these biological differences between boys and girls, to either condemn all boys as bad or treat them like girls, erasing the sex difference, which will further delay boys’ development. Boys who don’t do well in school are more likely to end up with lower-paying jobs as young men. Such economic realities have ripple effects on women, too.
The share of Americans who are married is at its lowest point since at least 1920. Pew Research shows one of the main reasons is that young people, especially young men, do not feel financially prepared for such a commitment. I know several women who are beautiful, intelligent, and have good-paying jobs, but have been single for a long time because they just can’t find men who are emotionally mature, sharing their intellectual and financial abilities.
The NYT column is wrong. In their quest for gender sameness, liberals have gone too far. It’s time to stop their war on boys and men. Our society should treat boys and girls, men and women, equally, while honestly taking into consideration their biological differences. We need to nurture boys as boys and girls as girls. One way to start is by not telling men they are horrible beasts just for the sin of being born with XY chromosomes.