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Allowing Boys to be Boys

  • Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D. The Beverley LeHaye Institute
  • 2007 3 Jan
Allowing Boys to be Boys

I spent the first 10 years of my life living near my grandparents and my father's four younger brothers. I heard dozens of tales about the escapades of those five Shaw brothers; from the accounts, my dad and his brothers certainly fit the description given of boys by one psychologist who called boys "little aggression machines."

The mischief of my dad and his brothers was tolerated (and often encouraged) by my grandfather, but he also established boundaries and meted out decisive punishment when the boys found ways to sneak around the rules. In the process of taming those troublemakers, while cherishing their masculinity, my grandfather taught them how to become men. Each of the four older ones volunteered for service in WWII in different branches of the service, thus becoming members of the "greatest generation." These fine men illustrate that the liberals lie when they say that such boys will become abusive and controlling as adult men.

There is more and more research indicating that my father's and uncles' development, under the watchful eye and Godly guidance of my grandfather, was just "the way it's supposed to be" - confirmed from the neurological patterns to the hormonal testing, from the psychological analyses to the behavioral studies. And a wide variety of authors are addressing the issue. James Dobson wrote Bringing Up Boys. Christina Hoff Sommers wrote The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming Our Young Men. Stephen Rhoads wrote Taking Sex Differences Seriously. The common theme of these books is that sex differences are hard-wired into human beings and that culture and nurturing have only minor influence on the development of those traits typically associated with masculinity and femininity.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that boys ought to be allowed to be boys, efforts to make little boys more "feminine" have become part of the national culture and accepted policy. Formal efforts can be traced from the passage in 1994 of the Gender Equity in Education Act. This legislation poured many hundreds of millions of dollars into efforts to end so-called bias against girls. Sadly, the "evidence" of bias was based on a study from the early 1980s. It was soundly discredited only after it had been widely accepted as fact and after having made headlines in the major media, creating a massive policy response that continues today. In spite of its blatant falsehoods, the "findings" of that long-ago flawed study are still part of "conventional wisdom."

Today, while many of the gender stereotypes that caused problems for girls are now reversed, the emphasis has swung so far in the opposite direction that we are seeing equal problems today for boys. As a consequence, boys are falling further and further behind girls in academic achievement, and more and more of them are growing up uncertain about how to express their masculinity.

Worse still is that the submerged, but testosterone-fueled, maleness of young boys -- deprived of positive role models of disciplined, restrained manhood -- can explode in the horrific ways they continually hear described in misogynist rap music and see vividly depicted in violent movies and on television. Little wonder, then, that little boys who grow up without fathers turn into predatory males who give women good reason to fear and loathe.

Far from providing solutions to the problem of male aggressiveness through the proper socialization that has occurred for centuries in the bosom of marriage and family, the feminist vision, which goes completely against nature, is a recipe for disaster. Foolish feminism includes encouraging females to act like aggressive, promiscuous and uncommitted males - à la the still-popular (especially among teens and young adults) reruns of television shows like Sex in the City and Friends. At the same time, those same foolish feminists argue that women are not inherently vulnerable; they pretend that they don't have to protect themselves from the violence engendered among boys and men who have been raised without male socialization or role models.

All this would be laughable and absurd were it not for the disastrous effects produced in the United States and throughout the Western world as a consequence of this vision. There is nothing wrong with masculine gentleness, compassion and tenderness; likewise, there is nothing wrong with teaching boys to be kind, considerate and thoughtful. And there is definitely nothing wrong with masculinity (boys being boys and men being men) or with femininity (girls being girls and women being women). At the same time, there is nothing wrong with competitiveness or aggressiveness within bounds. For girls as well as boys, those qualities are essential for leadership and for achieving one's goals.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse is a Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s  Beverly LaHaye Institute. She writes about contemporary issues that affect women, family, religion and culture in her regular column "Dot.Commentary."