OPINION: Dear Boys, We Hate You

Terry Brennan | Co-Founder, Leading Women for Shared Parenting

When Sebrina Rubin Erdely fist published her now infamous piece, “A Rape on Campus,” she appeared on the Melissa Harris-Perry show.

There, Chloe Angyal, a guest from Feministing, said:

I have to thank you, Sabrina, for writing this. I think you’ve done a tremendous act of public service and I’m genuinely very, very grateful. It is hard to read an article like this and avoid the conclusion that we live in a culture that hates women. Just hates us.

Certainly, it would be wrong if our culture hated girls simply because of their gender. But is the reverse also true? Or has it become acceptable — sometimes even advantageous — to disparage boys?

Mary Curnock Cook, who served as the head of the U.K.’s Universities and Colleges Admission Service, pointed out in an interview with The Telegraph, “Boys underachieving in education is becoming pretty normalized — everyone knows it yet no one is doing anything about it.”

Cook also explained the unique nature of the widening educational gap between genders, stating, “other disparities in education — such as the gulf between rich and poor children — are narrowing, but the gap between boys and girls is getting wider.”

Why isn’t anyone addressing that problem? The title of The Telegraph’s story, “Boys left to fail at school because attempts to help them earn wrath of feminists,” provides the explanation.

Boys’ declining educational achievement isn’t a new issue, nor is it a problem specific to the U.K. Just after he was sworn into office in 2009, President Obama created a White House Council on Women and Girls.

Dr. Warren Farrell agreed to be an advisor to that counsel, and simultaneously suggested the creation of a council to address the needs of boys and men. The first component of his suggestions was “The Education of Our Sons,” which states, “Boys continue to lose ground in education, yet we do little to alleviate the serious problems for our nation’s sons.”

Although suggestions were made to address very real issues faced by boys and men (education, emotional health, fatherlessness, physical health and work), the creation of a council has been stymied by the White House for approaching a decade.

The message is clear: girls have needs worthy of addressing, but boys face literally none.

Even further back, a 2004 piece, “Why Aren’t Boys Learning?” quoted Michael Gurian on the reasons boys are failing. He said:

Educators often lack understanding of ‘typical boy traits’ like aggression, verbal and emotional reticence, and interest in objects moving through space. An early elementary school student can learn extensive math, geometry, problem-solving and social skills from LEGO, building blocks, and woodworking projects. According to Gurian, current curricula and classroom structures deny boys these opportunities.

Do classroom structures really deny boys Legos? Kindergarten teacher Karen Keller did exactly that in pursuit of “gender equality.” She explained this to the boys, stating, “I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over,’ in my head.”

But beyond denying attempts to address boys needs in education, and pursuing social re-engineering of male children, has it also become advantageous, to denigrate boys?

In mid-2016, heartthrob actor Ryan Gosling said:

I think women are better than men. They are stronger. More evolved … You can tell especially when you have daughters and you see their early stages, they are just leaps and bounds beyond boys immediately.

Perhaps such will be the future of marketing a romantic comedy to a female audience as, a few months later, Gosling’s “La La Land” collected $446 million at the box office.

So who is advocating for the needs of boys? It’s certainly not academic institutions, government or political parties. From them, boys are infinitely more likely to face social engineering to cleanse them of their “toxic masculinity” than to have someone advocate to reverse the decline in their educational achievement.

If their fathers speak up, they are quickly shouted down by the same forces Mary Curnock Cook encountered. But what about their mothers?

Those calling attention to issues negatively impacting male children know if mothers were to collectively advocate for their sons, things would change, and quickly.

Unfortunately, advocates often see two reactions from boy moms. First, due to a lack of broad media coverage; they are unaware of the multiple obstacles increasingly awaiting their sons. Second, as they see their son as “a good kid,” they don’t believe he’ll encounter these obstacles.

For typical mothers of sons, the awareness only comes after the playground problems, after the school problems, after the girlfriend issues, or after the divorce and loss of custody. It’s always going to happen to someone else until it happens to them.

If we genuinely want to help boys, we need only to give them three things: give them their fathers back, give them an education and give them jobs. Although each of these provides the foundation for a successful life, each has also been consistently eroded over the past 40 years, with few attempting to reverse the negative trend.

Typically, calls to address the needs of boys are met with the same response; ridicule and a push to advocate for girls. Those giving this response are sending a clear signal; they have no interest in addressing the needs of all children, but only those of one gender.

If discriminating against girls because of their gender is wrong, discriminating against boys for the same reason is as well. Worse still, harassing those trying to address boys failing in school is downright hateful.

Terry Brennan (@TerryBrennan211) is a co-founder of Leading Women for Shared Parenting, an international child advocacy group.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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