I had a fascinating “discussion” with a Facebook friend a few weeks ago. He has been a supporter of my work on boys and is passionate about the issue as well. But he took me to task, saying I had “lost it,” I’d “lost focus,” I’d “contaminated my ministry to boys,” all because I also, from time to time, address the issues and challenges that our girls are facing in the 21st Century. Bottom line, I had sold my soul to the “feminist agenda” and had therefore lost my ability to fight for our boys.
There you have it. The reason why our boys are falling behind in school, the reason our boys are dropping out of college, the reason why their reading skills have declined over the last 20 years in a world where jobs demand reading skills, the reason why they have no compelling vision for manhood is because of the feminists (both male and female feminists).
And he’s right…in part. Because we wanted to get our girls caught up in school in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s we created education systems that speak better to a girl brain than a boy brain. Because we worked so hard to get our girls caught up in society, we neglected the needs of our boys…and we continue to do so by perpetuating the storyline that our girls are still falling behind (they stopped falling behind in 1982 and have been sailing past boys ever since).
But most women (and male feminists) want their sons and the men in their lives to succeed. So while our appropriate concern for the well-being of our daughters may have swung the pendulum so far away from boys that we are increasingly raising lost boys, the fault does not lie with the feminist movement per se. Yes, there are voices on the fringes that try to drown out the voices speaking on behalf of boys, but these are fringe voices. The feminist movement is about equality for all—male and female.
So if it’s not completely the feminists’ fault, then who is to blame for the boy crisis? Since much of the challenge for our boys begins in school, then perhaps it’s the teachers and educators. After all, most of them are women so it’s only natural that they would teach to a girl’s brain, leaving the boys behind.
Again, there is some truth here. Schools, in their attempt in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s to get girls caught up, have over-corrected with educational systems that now favor girls. Boys receive 70% of all D’s and F’s. That’s not a boy problem. That’s a systemic problem. 85% of all Ritalin type drugs prescribed in the world are prescribed to US boys. That’s not a boy problem. That’s a systemic problem. So yes, education systems need radical change to change the storyline of boys.
However, teachers want boys to succeed. The overwhelming majority of teachers are not starting out each day thinking about how they can get the boys in their classrooms to fail. If anything, this is a sin of lack of training in how boys learn differently from girls. Do teachers and educators need to step it up for our boys? Absolutely. Are they the ultimate culprit behind the boy crisis in our culture? No.
We could go on to blame the media (because they continue to perpetuate the old story that girls are falling behind) or the President (who started a White House Council on girls and women but has yet to create a similar commission for boys and men—but give him his due for his new initiative for African American Males—that is an awesome start).
So who is the ultimate culprit behind the boy crisis in our country? Many factors go into that answer, but since you’re pressing me on this, here’s my answer:
You are! I am! As long as we stand idly by watching our boys fall behind in school, in the job market, and in marketable skill sets, as long as we watch them drop out of Church in droves, as long as we let them grow up with no compelling vision for good noble manhood, then we are the ultimate culprits.
But here’s the good news. We changed the storyline of our daughters. We can change the storyline of our boys.