Finally: Unmasking the Ultimate Culprit Behind the Boy Crisis

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.



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About Tim Wright

I've been a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America since 1984, currently serving as the founding pastor of Community of Grace in Peoria, AZ. My wife, Jan and I, were married in 1979. We raised two kids and currently have 3 grandkids. I love to ride my bike, travel, read British Mysteries, and Disneyland. I have written 6 books, including my newest--Searching for Tom Sawyer: How Parents and Congregations Can Stop the Exodus of Boys From Church. My website:

  • Jim Egbert

    Tim, I recently read a two part blog from our mutual friend, David Murrow. I found it on Scot McKnight’s blog. Part 1: “Where are the Peters in church today?”. Part 2: “Why Peter Left the Building”. I found Murrow’s insights helpful. You might too.

    • RevTim

      Jim, already read it. You are right. It had great insights. Helps explain why so many church men seem so passive.

      • Jim Egbert

        Great , Tim. Marlis and I will see you in April

  • mayfieldga

    while the feminist program for equality has used various ideas (some false) to win support for women and in equal rights, and this has created more animosity toward Males and yes, Male children, the main problem is that our differential treatment of Male and Female children from a young age is creating these differences in learning and academics over time.
    The belief boys should be strong has created more aggressive treatment as early as two and differential treatment as early as one year. This increases over time. There is also a refrain from providing kind, caring mental, emotional, support and kind continuous verbal interaction for fear of coddling Male children. All of this creates higher average stress that takes away real mental energy and creates more activity for stress relief (socially created, not genetic); higher muscle tension that creates more pressure/tighter grip on pencil hurting handwriting/motivation to write; more social/emotional distance/distrust/much less communication skills; lower social vocabulary combine with higher average stress really hurts reading independently and enjoyment of reading; and less than adequate communication with teachers vocabulary and fluency. Also, boys are given love and honor only on condition of some achievement, status, etc. This leaves many boys with lower self-esteem and lower feelings of selfworth, for they must generate on their own, love and honor from society. When not achieving, instead of more support, they are given more discipline/ridicule; support is not allowed for fear of coddling and false belief in genetics or just try harder. This then leaves many boys seeking out sports, video games, risk taking to generate love and honor if only in very small amounts. As you go down the socioeconomic ladder, there are more set in place physical standards , learned helplessness for academics, and more aggressive treatment along with more allowed catharsis (anxiety from life) of aggression allowed upon those Male children. This is affecting more Male children today due to fewer and fewer middle class families with knowledge, skills, and stability to offset this differential treatment. Mind you, the belief boys should be strong and given less support also is affecting middle and upper class boys, so they are also falling behind but not as much.
    The treatment we as girls receive is far different. We are given love and honor simply for being girls. We are given kind, caring, mental, emotional support and much continual kind, verbal interaction and care from infancy through adulthood by parents, peers, teachers, and others. We are allowed much more freedom o of expression in various ways, all the while enjoying much more tolerance for our outburst and support when needed. Even though women were not in the workforce in the past due to innersecurity provided from having a house, family, and support from a husband, the much more stable, caring environments we grew up with kept our minds very in tact and capable. When the information age arrived and yes, the feminist agenda, we simply redirected our wonderfully prepared minds for academics, higher education and workforce. This support has given us much fuel to perform very well in school and the information age. If we just look over our shoulders and examine how boys are really treated, perhaps our feminist friends, teachers, and society will change from its disastrous treatment of our Male children.
    Some will say, Males deserve what they are getting. Mind you, the vast majority of Males unlike the picture the feminist agenda has created, are very kind, thoughtful, self-sacrificing, and caring toward women. The last thing we want to do is harm that wonderful majority. Also by this harmful differential treatment, we are hurting and damaging three and four old boys from a young age who have no idea what is going on in society.