The Boy Crisis

Laurie and Debbie say:

Ampersand has a deeply felt and thoughtful post commenting on on Michael Kimmel’s article, “The Boy Crisis and Anti-Male Ideology.” Kimmel’s analysis of masculinity always brings a much-needed perspective to an issue that is too often presented as a narrow-minded sexist lecture (He wrote the introduction to our own Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes.)

Kimmel doubts that this crisis exists at all.

Why don’t the critics acknowledge these race and class differences? To many who now propose to “rescue” boys, such differences are incidental because, in their eyes, all boys are the same aggressive, competitive, rambunctious little devils. They operate from a facile, and inaccurate, essentialist dichotomy between males and females. Boys must be allowed to be boys—so that they grow up to be men.

It is not the school experience that “feminizes” boys, but rather the ideology of traditional masculinity that keeps boys from wanting to succeed. “The work you do here is girls’ work,” one boy commented to a researcher. “It’s not real work.”

And Ampersand adds his own personal experience:

I was one of the boys who failed all the “masculinity” tests; I was gentle, overly sensitive, and could no more catch a ball than I could catch a jumbo jet plane. I can’t imagine how I would have survived the kind of schooling Gurian wants to shove boys into. But because wimpy boys don’t fit into the biological-essentialist worldview, their needs are never considered by the boy-crisis mavens. Their allegedly “pro-boy” reforms are really only about helping the jocky boys; all other boys can go hang.

gender, boys, school, masculinity, feminism, sexism, Michael Kimmel, Body Impolitic