Charlotte Allen Blames Sandy Hook on Easy Bake Ovens

I’ve been trying hard to ignore Charlotte Allen suggestion in the National Review that the Sandy Hook tragedy happened because elementary schools are too “feminized” and there were no adult men on the premises (except for the shooter, of course). But I can’t do it any more, and you know why? She’s responded to criticism by doubling down.

No, I was not blaming any of the 26 victims or the parents who enrolled their kids at Sandy Hook. I am, however, blaming our culture that denies, dismisses, and denigrates the masculine traits—including size, strength, male aggression and a male facility for strategic thinking–that until recently have been viewed as essential for building a society and protecting its weaker members. We now have Hanna Rosin at Slate urging parents to buy their little boys Easy Bake ovens so they’ll be more like little girls. Women are less aggressive by instinct, and they are typically trained to be nice.

How to even respond? It’s honestly hard to take this sort of thing seriously.

Is Allen seriously suggesting that the solution to male aggression – in the form of the shooter – is more male aggression? Is she seriously suggestion that strategic thinking is only a “male” thing, and that we as a culture denigrate strategic thinking? Also, am I missing something, or is she arguing that Hanna Rosin’s suggestion that Easy Bake ovens should be toys for boys as well as girls somehow shares part of the blame for mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary?

Let me see if I have this straight. Allen says that we socialize girls to be “nice” (which is true) and that by suggesting that boys might like Easy Bake ovens too, we are trying to get them to be like girls (i.e. “nice”). And then, somehow, she turns around and blames the Sandy Hook shooting on society teaching boys to be “nice” instead of valuing “male aggression.”

I want to finish by simply stating that feminism is not that complicated. Feminism is about socializing both boys and girls to do things like strategic thinking, to be compassionate, to be good leaders, to work well with others, to take initiative, and to care for the weak, among other things. Feminism is about seeing people as people first, rather than first sifting them into “male” and “female” categories. Really, not that difficult. Do we want boys to learn to be “nice” like girls? What we want is to stop socializing girls to be “nice” and boys to be “aggressive.” We think people should be viewed as people first rather than being sorted into gendered boxes.

See, the reality is, gender does deserve a role in the conversation here. All but one of the shooters in the sixty-two mass shootings of the past thirty years have been male. That’s significant. So we do need to be talking about male aggression, about how we socialize boys, and about the messages our society sends about masculinity. But Allen’s suggestion that the key to prevent future mass shootings is to place more value on male aggression and to stop trying to teach boys to be “nice” like girls stops that conversation before it even starts.

Also, I’m not sure if Allen realizes this when she endorses the idea that there are “natural” gender traits, but the idea that women are naturally “nice” and men are naturally “aggressive” is the reason elementary schools are what she calls “feminized” spaces. That’s not something that can be blamed on feminism. In fact, that there are any male elementary school teachers at all is the result of feminism’s efforts to get out the message that men can be caregivers – aka “nice” – too.

Honestly, I wasn’t surprised when evangelical and fundamentalist leaders came out blaming the shootings on Engel v. Vitale. I wasn’t surprised when opponents of gun control suggested that we should arm elementary school teachers. Allen’s suggestion that the problem is that we have been devaluing male aggression and trying to teach boys to be “nice,” however, was unexpected. But perhaps it shouldn’t have been. After all, the conservatives had to find some way to blame feminism. They always do, after all.

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About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Lana

    These people are brainwashed to see everything through patriarchal view no matter the evidence. Puck me.

  • Lucreza Borgia

    You know they are coming out with a gender neutral Easy-Bake oven, right?

    • Christine

      I think that’s what Ms. Allen was talking about. She believes that an Easy-Bake Oven (by virtue of being about the domestic sphere, and probably also by being a wussy & boring version of a real oven) is an inherently feminine toy. Trying to market it as gender-neutral is feminizing boys.

  • AnyBeth

    Might break her brain: baking is chemistry. I’ve no doubt she thinks chemistry (and other hard sciences, at least) are for men and she thinks baking (if not all cooking) is for women. But baking is a particular kind of chemistry that usually ends at least one edible product. Baking is a kind of chemistry. Chemistry is a science. So is baking for men, women, both or neither? Even taking gendered activities as a given, the answer isn’t so clear.

    Also, so we don’t need boys to be nice, we need to value male aggression, and we need (aggressive?) men to be kindergarten teachers? And probably want them armed, too. So aggressive, armed kindergarten teachers. Somehow, I can’t imagine that being the best of ideas.

    • pagansister

      How does she explain the abundance of male chefs? If women are supposed to use the Easy Bake ovens how does she explain the chefs that are male?

      • Leigha

        Men cook, women bake. I’ve noticed from watching the food channel that there is actually a divide there. Female chefs very often get pushed towards being pastry/dessert chefs. And when I say I’ve noticed, I don’t mean based on the number there are in each category, but in comments the women make on the attitudes they’ve received. Many of them complain that it’s hard for them to be seen as “real” chefs.

    • Sue Blue

      I remember reading that more women are getting college degrees worldwide now than men, and more and more of those graduate degrees are in the sciences – and not just the so-called “soft” sciences like sociology and psychology, but in math, chemistry, biology, physics and various engineering fields. Just this year in Saudi Arabia women graduating with degrees in the sciences were outnumbering the men to such an extent that the muslim patriarchs felt compelled to ban women from these areas of study….because everyone knows that women using their brains makes men’s genitals shrivel up and drop off – and it’s just so embarrassing. Or something.

      • Lucreza Borgia

        The reason for the ban is, if I’m remembering right, due to the fact that there are no job openings for women other than teaching and fields that are limited to working with women such as gynecology and OB. Having an abundance of women in fields that they will never be allowed to work in is kinda self-defeating. Of course, the Saudi solution isn’t to allow mixed-gender work environments *sigh*

  • TheSeravy

    If being nice is such a bad thing, goes to show how highly Charlotte Allen thinks of girl/womens; boys and men get belittled for displaying any “feminine” traits because femininity is associated with weakness and inferiority. It’s not ok for boys to be weak and inferior but it’s ok for girls to be??

    As Libby Anne has pointed out, positive traits are universal and genderless. Splitting up traits along gender lines creates behavourial extremes, gender segregation and inequalities. It also stunts personal growth as gender immediately alienates one from certain traits (e.g. niceness for boys, aggression for girls). People need balance within themselves and not a two gender party system that pits one against the other, hoping that the clashing will resolve itself into some sort of harmony.

    And the easy bake oven? most chefs are men and I’m pretty sure 99.9% have used an oven at some point; given from what I know of chefs… ovens do not compromise manly aggression.

    • lucrezaborgia

      This is where complementarianism would say:

      Women are made by god to be the weaker vessel whilst raising children, but they are equal spiritually in the mind of god.

      Men are made by god to protect women and be leaders, therefore aggressiveness is a positive thing.

      • Jarred H

        Women are made by god to be the weaker vessel whilst raising children

        And yet, those same women made by god for certain roles apparently need scads of books telling them how to successfully be in the “weaker” role they were designed for.

        Irony, they haz it.

  • Uly

    If boys are naturally aggressive, how could we train it out of them? Do they listen to what they are saying, these people?

  • Michael Busch

    Part of the problem with fighting gender-stereotyping of behavior traits is that gendered socialization happens early and is often unconscious. I’ve had a _third grader_ tell me she was interested in science, particularly observational astronomy, but couldn’t ever be good at it because she “knew girls can’t do math” (I really hope she’s learned better by now, and likes calculus and physical optics). And I recall a linguistics professor recounting how she finally understood the extent of gendered socialization: she realized she called her young son ‘tiger’ and her young daughter ‘sweetie’. How can we make ourselves and other people better aware of what’s happening here?

    And, tangentially and largely off-topic:

    I’m confused why any kid should use an Easy Bake oven. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t using the real tools in the kitchen, albeit with considerable parental supervision at the beginning (particularly with regards to knife-work). I realize not everyone cooks as much as my family did or I do now, but mixing powder with water and pushing a button is not much like actually making good food.

    • Kate

      Because they’re fun and less dangerous?

    • Christine

      I think it’s because there are parents who don’t have time/knowledge to let their kids cook. Easy-Bake Ovens can be used without parental supervision, and is probably almost as much fun as real baking (at that age). But I don’t get it either. (Or the crayon melter ovens.)

      • Jayn

        Could also be because as a kid it’s nice to have things your size. I had both an Easy Bake oven and a child-sized woodworking set when I was a kid. It wasn’t like I couldn’t use the real things, but the toy ones were MINE.

      • Michael Busch

        As I said, I can understand the convenience of the toy (and Jayn, good point about the pride of ownership). But it doesn’t actually teach particularly good cooking skills. Maybe I’m just being a food snob.

        Back to the phenomenon of unconscious gender stereotyping: Stony has flagged another possible example below. I think I usually here ‘chef’ used for professional cooks, and ‘cook’ being used more generally, regardless of gender. But I’m not sure now. I’ll have to watch out for that one.

    • Leigha

      When I was a kid, I helped out in the kitchen all the time, but I also had an Easy Bake Oven. Why? Because anytime I wanted to (assuming we had the mix packets), I could get out my Easy Bake and make myself a little cake. If I wanted to make a REAL cake, I needed to get permission, dirty several dishes (bowl, measuring cup, cake pan), use eggs (which we may not have had) and oil, and take over the kitchen for a half an hour. Sometimes my family just didn’t feel like letting me do that. It usually wasn’t for any real reason besides not being in the mood to deal with it (when I was young enough to need slight supervision, at least; once I got older, they didn’t really care unless they needed the kitchen or the ingredients I would use), but it was sufficient reason to keep me from baking.

      Plus, the Easy Bake Oven was fun.

  • Katherine A.

    What she is saying reminds me of a South Park episode- “South Park is Gay.” In the episode almost all the men and boys start to act effeminate because being “metro-sexual” is a new fad. They were watching shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Suddenly being masculine wasn’t cool anymore. It turned out that the stars of Queer Eye were crab people in disguise. Crab people were small and weak compared to humans. So they hatched a plan to take over the world by making men effeminate so they wouldn’t fight back. At least South Park was only joking with the effeminate equals useless and weak idea Allen seems to believe.

  • AndersH

    Would it blow her mind to learn that toy stores were a whole lot more gender-neutral in their approach in the 70s and 80s (at least in my area)?

    By the way, this paragraph ends abruptly:

    I want to finish by simply stating that feminism is not that complicated. Feminism is about socializing both boys and girls to do things like strategic thinking, to be compassionate, to be good leaders, to work well with others, to take initiative, and to care for the weak, among other things. Feminism is about seeing people as people first, rather than first sifting them into “male” and “female” categories. Really, not that difficult. Do we want boys to learn to be “nice” like girls? What we want is to stop socializing girls to be “nice” and boys to be “aggressive.” We think that

    And even more of a sidenote, at the end of this post the article recommendation thing is messing with my mind, because it says “You may also like – The Good Men Project and “Accidental” Rape” – I like neither of those things!

  • Notreligious

    Only in America do we see more guns and more aggression as the answer to mass shootings perpetrated by aggressive people with lots of firepower. (How could this go wrong? /snark.) Our insistence on increasing gun use and ownership after massacres is like a bad scene that keeps being replayed, along with the boom in gun sales that happens after every mass shooting.

    Charlotte also denigrated the heroic actions of the principal, who lunged at the attacker and was shot to death. Not aggressive enough I guess? Or was she just the wrong gender?

    • Stony

      It’s craziness, isn’t it? One of the first suggestions was to arm teachers. Guns in close proximity to little children, all the time. What could go wrong?? Oy. (One of the few people I know who had a serious public meltdown and break with reality? A high school teacher. Let’s not add to the stress of a difficult job.)

      A side note: girls who want to learn to cook are cooks. Boys who want to learn to cook are “chefs”. Screw that noise.

      • Pam

        My year six class were the catalyst for a teacher’s nervous breakdown. What was it that pushed her over the edge? – throwing paper planes. I’m serious! She just burst into tears and ran out of the room (while us students just looked at each other going ‘huh..?!’), but imagine an armed teacher who gets to the point of breakdown? It wouldn’t be pretty.

      • Jarred H

        My other big problem with that idea is that teachers are often overworked and are often trying to manage classroom sizes that are way too big. They already have their hands way too full, and some people want them to manage keeping around a weapon that (a) needs to always be accessible to them in case something happens but (b) is safely secured at all times so none of their students (or any other person, for that matter) get their hands on it.

        I’m inclined to wonder if people really hate teachers that much.

  • jose
  • J-Rex

    I wonder how she would respond if you asked her whether we should train *everyone* to be more strategic and aggressive. If having more aggressive males around would have helped, wouldn’t having aggressive females around have helped even more?
    I fail to see how when teachers and the principle ran at the gunman to stop him, that doesn’t count as the good sort of aggression she’s talking about. If a man had been there and run at the gunman, would he have had more of a chance against the bullets because he’s just naturally better at that sort of thing?

  • Camilla

    So the seed idea, minus the wacko and gender enforcement might be, “we should do a better job of channeling aggressive impulses into sports [or other appropriate outlets] and in order to do that, we should value aggressive impulses more.”
    I think this is reasonable on a small scale (many people are easier to get along with after a trip to the gym) but I’m not convinced that lack of a safe outlet was Adam Lanza’s problem (shooting at a target on a range seems like it’s potentially an excellent outlet).

    • Michael Busch

      Exercise _does_ have very definite mental health benefits. But I am wary of ‘valuing aggressive impulses more’.

      I did martial arts pretty heavily for five years. There, a certain amount of aggression is deliberately cultivated as a way to motivate people into engaging all of the muscles necessary for a technique (which meant I caused my karate teachers some frustration because I don’t like hurting people). But after a while, proper technique is conditioned reflex and excess aggression is _harmful_. It leads to people doing stupid things and getting injured. This isn’t limited to martial arts: football and hockey have horrible injury rates, in part because players get angry and take it out on each other.

      There is a mindset of friendly competition, where people seek to do as well as possible while simultaneously not harming their opponents (maybe that’s called ‘good sportsmanship’ ?). Try and cultivate that.

      • Leigha

        You raise a very good point. Athletic endeavors require *controlled* aggression. Too much aggression clouds your judgment and affects your ability to do the less directly physical tasks involved (passing, kicking, shooting, any sort of decision-making). A football player with a lot of uncontrolled aggression may be very good at running and tackling (though more likely to injure those he tackles), but he’d be LESS adept at the mental elements involved. The amount required/allowed varies depending on sport and (in team sports) position–a goalie, for example, doesn’t need much because their task is far more deliberate than many others–but it’s a delicate balance.

        Too often, coaches will play up the aggression needed to encourage new players to take the risks they need (natural instinct is not conducive to the “contact” part of contact sports), but forget to instruct them to control it once they’ve reached that point.

  • smrnda

    Maybe it would have been better if the shooter had been socialized to enjoy cooking rather than to be fascinated with more ‘masculine’ interests like firearms.

    She’s also suggesting that there was some past age where men’s ‘masculinity’ was valued and that this masculinity lead men to act in the interests of women and children. I’d say no such period ever existed. This masculinity was used to dominate and oppress racial minorities, keep women from voting, and exterminate native populations.

    The other thing is, feeling masculine and tough and being able to handle a high stress situation where there’s a guy with a gun are totally separate things. A man can feel like he’s validated as a socially acceptable, masculine man and then realize that when it comes to using defensive violence, it’s entirely a skill game, and that he doesn’t have the skills. An average man is just as lost as to what to do in a situation like this as your average woman.

    I’ve read lots of conservative Christian takes that ‘male anger’ is needed to handle this stuff, but ‘male anger’ is usually something that occurs because of some slight to a traditional man’s fragile little status based ego – that type of man can’t work up any outrage on behalf of oppressed people, but can get easily offended when his own benevolence or wisdom is questioned, or when his privilege is questioned. It’s not the type of emotion that predisposes one to clear, rational thinking or acting on behalf of others.

    Also, gender norms are much different in other nations . My brother lived in Japan and the ‘tough masculinity’ we think of as the norm just isn’t seen that way in many Asian countries.

    • Michael Busch

      An additional point: Allen is apparently equating masculinity with aggressive behavior. That’s very wrong. Even the Big Man phenomenon in anthropology is not maintained by aggression – being a bully is not the most effective leadership strategy for anyone (man or woman). Excessive aggression gets you killed.

      Taking a relevant example:

      I know people who have enough skill in hand-to-hand combat to negate any advantage of height and strength that their opponents may have. Picking a fight with them would be suicidal. But that doesn’t mean the karate master goes around picking fights with others – quite the opposite. She knows that four comparatively unskilled opponents attacking at once would still win any fight. Weapons only escalate things. In a hand-to-hand, excess aggression gets you beaten up. In a gunfight, excess aggression gets you shot.

      _Even if you have skill in combat_, it is far far better to avoid fights if at all possible. Which makes being easily provoked to violence for some perceived slight a liability.

      • smrnda

        As someone who has studied lots of fighting styles, I’d totally agree. I actually once encountered a very old hand to hand combat manual by Jack Dempsey (who was a heavyweight champ who had done lots of no-holds barred bar-room brawling) where he said what separated the trained fighter from an amateur was that the person who has trained isn’t acting out of anger.

  • Abby M.

    Sometimes I get really irritated when people don’t take the time to open a history book. Charlotte Allen says that throughout history male aggression has been “essential for building a society and protecting its weaker members.” Protecting weaker members from what, exactly? Oh, that’s right. Male aggression. Just like you don’t see very many female mass murderers, history doesn’t give us too many examples of women-run governments invading other countries, raping and pillaging, initiating genocide, and the like. Obviously not all men are violent, but male aggression (Alan Alda called it “testosterone poisoning”) is arguably humankind’s biggest problem. Trying to treat the consequences of male aggression with more male aggression is like trying to lose weight on an all-donut diet. You may end up dropping a few pounds, but you certainly won’t get healthy.

    • Carys Birch

      I sort of adore Alan Alda.

    • J-Rex

      Great assessment!
      Shooter in the school = we need more people with guns in the school to stop the first person with a gun.
      Aggressive male in the school = we need more aggressive males to fight the first aggressive males.
      Why not work to stop the guns and stop the aggression in the first place??
      Back in the day, male aggression might have helped when it came to hunting and protecting from predators. These days when we don’t need it for those things, it can do very little to help us. Nowadays, all we can think of for its potential uses is so that a strong boyfriend/husband can fight off all other aggressive males. Yeah, male aggression is just great.

      • Michael Busch

        You are using the terminology wrong. Excess ‘male aggression’ is not the problem. Excess _aggression_ is the problem.

        It happens that in many current cultures, men are socialized to be more aggressive in general than women are. But gender itself does not determine how aggressive somebody is. Higher levels of testosterone are correlated with more aggressive behavior in many mammals, but in humans socialization dominates over biochemistry.


        Abby, part of the reason that there are few historical examples of overly aggressive behavior by governments led by women is that historically there have been relatively few governments of any sort led by women. Men occupying a disproportionate fraction of leadership positions and men being socialized to be more aggressive may be correlated with each other, but you would have to do a lot more work to show that women who led governments are less aggressive in general than men who do.

        And J-Rex, you are falling into a trap of evolutionary psychology. Not everything in human behavior is adaptive or was selected for. Excess aggression is always a sub-optimal strategy, but it can and has persisted (in significant part because the definition of ‘excess’ is indeed situation dependent). And, again, while men may generally be socialized to be more aggressive than women, excess aggression is not determined by gender. That said, you are quite correct that we have a lot of work to do as a culture in order to learn how to better live together and that everybody walking around armed to the teeth would not help.

      • Brittany-Ann

        Aggression doesn’t make a good hunter. Hunting requires several skills: patience, knowledge of animal anatomy, their habitats, and skill with a weapon appropriate for the game you’re after.

  • JW

    It is so easy to play the blame game when it comes to these shootings. Some say guns are to blame. Some will say it is evil spirits. Some say video games did it. All speculation and when it comes down to it has anyone ever come up with a motive for why each shooter did what they did? We all have our personal opinions as to why these incidents happen. It doesn’t mean we are right and it doesn’t mean we are wrong either.
    Personally, I think there is some sort of revenge factor in many of these incidents as well as wanting to be known as in entertainment of some sick kind. With the latest incident in CT, from what I have read, it seems as if it had to do with Adam and his feelings towards his parents and their divorce? Seems he may have snapped?

    • Leigha

      So this comment may seem a tad silly, but have you ever watched Degrassi? By this point, it’s gotten a bit over-the-top ridiculous, but for the first few seasons it was pretty realistic (with the caveat that it, of course, focuses on the more dramatic elements of high school life). One of the most heart-wrenching episodes, in my opinion, was the one with the school shooting. The episode centered around Rick, who had just come back to the school after being away for a season or so. The reason he left is because he had been in anger management counseling as a consequence of abusing his girlfriend and ultimately putting her into the hospital. As such, he is by no means a sympathetic character at the beginning. You remember him, and you hate him for what he had done to her. The same is true of the rest of the cast. Despite him continually trying to prove that he had changed, they were unforgiving and generally not nice. Only a couple people gave him the benefit of the doubt. One such person got him admitted to an academic quiz team (like the Mathletes on Mean Girls, but broader subject matter), and towards the end you see him helping the team win a competition, and the look of sheer happiness on his face that maybe people will finally stop seeing him only as what he was before…and then he gets yellow paint and feathers dumped on him in front of everyone. This causes him to snap, and he leaves the school only to return with a gun, which he points at all of those who had (in his view) pretended to be nice to him (none of whom were being insincere, though the one admits she only did it because she felt sorry for him, and was displeased with his interpretation that she’d been attracted to him). He only shoots one person, but as it happens this person was friends with one of the guys who’d been involved in the prank (though he himself knew nothing about it, and it ruined their friendship with a good season or two since he blamed him for his injury, which landed him in a wheelchair).

      I mention that storyline for one reason–it is the only time I’ve ever been made to feel sympathy for someone responsible for a shooting. And the thing is, you don’t even like him at the beginning. He did something awful, and you want to hate him just as much as the rest of the kids do. It’s only when you see the constant bombardment of insults, torment, etc. that you realize that whether he has changed or not is irrelevant, because no one will ever give him the chance to prove it. They are HORRIBLE to him, and to humiliate him at the very moment when he starts to believe maybe things will get better is very much the straw that broke the camel’s back. Maybe he hadn’t changed much–he did try to shoot people, after all–but maybe he could have.

      You hear so much back and forth on the issue of bullying. Some argue that it’s responsible for shootings and suicides and should be fought against with everything we’ve got, and others argue that kids need to toughen up and get over it. But in my opinion, most people who argue that kids should “toughen up” simply haven’t seen bullying at it’s worst. It’s one thing to argue that when you’re talking about a kid getting teased once in awhile, but when you consider the kids who have no friends (or just one or two), who get called names by practically everyone in the school, every day, who get shoved into lockers or “accidentally” get volleyballs slammed into their face in gym class, who have to see “[name] is a whore” written on the bathroom wall, who hear people make pig noises at them every day in the cafeteria…I can’t understand why people would think that’s even remotely acceptable and that kids should just learn to suck it up and deal with it. Especially given the mental state of teenagers (lacking decision making skills, heightened emotions, extreme pressure to fit in), it’s understandable that it could push some kids to a point where violence (or suicide) seems to be the only answer.

      I do not think bullying is always to blame, and psychological problems may very well play a role in many cases, but I think where bullying is relevant, people need to take a harder look at the cause instead of dismissing it as being something the person should have been able to ignore.

      • Rilian

        I didn’t hate rick at the beginning. He was douchey, but not evil. What he did to terry was inexcusable, and he should never be in a relationship with terry again, but that doesn’t mean that he was evil, and people should have just declined to interact with him if they didn’t like him.

        I like degrassi still. My favorite character is Campbell. I actually shouted at the tv when he threw himself off that ledge.

  • Daughter

    I’m glad that even most of her readers seem to be taking her to task. As some have pointed out, the Ft. Hood shooter managed to kill 13 and wound 29 before being stopped, even though he was on a military base surrounded by aggressive men who knew how to shoot.

    But my favorite comment on another site was this: “She’s right, you know. If it’s a legitimate shooting attack, the male body has a way of shutting the whole thing down…”

  • Hilary

    I’ve somethong to point out on a minor detail of hers, that there should be aggressive male teachers un early elementary schools: her type of patriarchal culture does everything it can to disswade men from beinh that type of caretaker to small children and shows great disrespect to the men who do. My father taught kindergarten for about ten years in inner city schools. Many parents were happy to have their children know a man as a role model for being kind, but a few parents pulled their children from his class because they felt it was innapropriate for a man to teach 5 year olds. Not because they thought he would molest children, but because he was doing womans work and that was not appropriate for their kids to see.

    Btw, I don’t think you could pay my father to enjoy shooting a gun. Bow and arrow maybe, drumming rituals yes, studying masculine mythology and archtype and storytelling he’s done, but not guns.


    • Anat

      When my daughter attended preschool (in a Montessori school) each of the preschool classes had one (out of a total of three or four) teacher who was a man, and the kindergarten teacher was a man too. The kids loved this.

  • Don Gwinn

    Being “nice” only causes problems for boys because when you put it into scare quotes, you’re really referring to a way of appearing “nice” that isn’t actually about being nice.

    I don’t want my sons to be “nice.” But why would I want my daughters to be “nice?”

    To have my sons be nice, though . . . yeah, that seems fine to me. Even to get to that discussion, we had to gloss over the insane idea that if the boys play with toy ovens, they’ll be incapable of aggression. You know what I blame for the appalling lack of aggression in modern boys? The lamentable disappearance of animal fighting and public executions as entertainment. If our boys were raised on a steady diet of public torture of the state’s enemies plus some good old-fashioned bear-baiting down at the dogfight rings on Friday nights, we wouldn’t have to convince the survivors not to play with EZ Bake Ovens or dolls.

  • Zack

    I am a male evangelical Christian with evangelical parents.

    And I asked for a received an Easy Bake (okay, Mrs. Fields) oven as a child. Because I was interested in baking, and I still love it.

    People are crazy.