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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Society's War On Boys Has Gone Too Far

Has our culture's anti-bullying message become a war on boys?
Stock photo by S Braswell
Welcome to Penny Pinching Prose where we talk about finances, marriage, rap music... and occasionally devolve into infantile ranting about pet peeves and social awkwardness.

Such is today.

An issue that is near and dear to my heart is how boys—and even men in general—are treated in this culture. Now, Dani and I don't have kids... yet... but that doesn't mean we know nothing about raising children. We have parents. We have close friends who are parents. So we at least have an idea of what's involved. And when I see today's boys being told they can't play cowboys and indians because they may offend several different social groups, my heart hurts for them.

Moreover, I fear for the boys I'm (hopefully) going to have some day and the social repercussions they're going to face because, I'll be honest with ya, we're going to play cowboys and indians TO DEATH! And we're going to use toy guns and wrestle in the living room and set off rockets and learn about bows and knives and practical, every-day guy stuff, and, you know what?—damn a society that tries to tell me not to treat my boys like boys.

I take major issue with the rampant "anti-bullying" message currently plaguing our public school system. Don't get me wrong, there is a line that shouldn't be crossed when kids are being mean to each other and that line should be enforced by adults, bullies should be punished, and kids should be taught to stand up for themselves, but, NEWS FLASH: kids are kids! They're going to call each other "Poopyhead" and "Four eyes" and "Ugly fuggly dirt eater." Such is the realm of Kiddom. You can't coddle every child whose feathers get ruffled because another kid played harder than he did during recess.

The reason I take such issue with this strict anti-bullying stuff is because the great majority of it is aimed at boys who are, a lot of time, doing nothing but being boys. Boys run. They push. They shove. They fight. They like guns. They like adventure and being aggressive, but sometimes they just don't know how to express that stuff and so feelings get hurt. In the last 10-to-20 years America has seen a virtual war on masculinity that aims at making men better girlfriends to their wives while taking away their God-given nature to fight and protect and be strong and courageous and adventuresome.

American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers has recently released a new book called The War Against Boys, in which she talks about this very issue. She says it's past time to make elementary schools more friendly to boys, and she has four ways to do that: turn boys into readers; inspire their imagination; get rid of zero-tolerance policies; and bring recess back.

“Being a normal boy is a serious liability in today’s classroom,” Sommers said in a short video lesson for Prager University, a conservative video series. ”Increasingly, our schools have little patience for what only a few decades ago would have been described as boyishness.”

To no one's great surprise, Sommers is being met with tons of politically correct resistance.

I was recently hired to videotape an elementary school play when a couple of 7-to-10 year old boys noticed the pocket knife in my camera bag, which I keep with me because it has some handy tools I use with my camera gear. The boys were so unaccustomed to seeing a knife on their school campus that they took a lot of interest in it, but as soon as the principal noticed what they were so gaga about she confiscated it.

"You're not allowed to bring that onto school property," she told me.

She locked the pocket knife in the school cafeteria as though it had done something wrong, until the play was over and I had to leave, at which point she kindly returned it to me.

Our schools have become too sanitary, too feelings-centered, and so competition-free that the instinctual needs of boys are not being met. It drives me nuts, and it's one of the main reasons why my boys won't be going to public school. They'll be homeschooled where they'll learn tons of useful stuff, where they'll be taught respect and kindness, but not browbeaten when their youthful energy results in "boyishness."

And when the zombie apocalypse finally comes it will be my boys who lead the resistance for the simple reason that they'll be the only ones who know how.


  1. Unfortunately, totally agree. Very sad. :(

    From FB linkup

  2. Excellent article! I see a lot of this anti-bully stuff as creating victims and tattle tales. It's not empowering and drives codependency even deeper. It takes power away from parents and gives it to state institutions. It drives the school-to-prison pipeline.

    Just where does this bully line end and where does it begin. We live in a world of duality there needs to be balance. Anger is part of this, so just where is this going expressed and how. The learning process starts at home and in school. When you're not allowed to express yourself it is called oppression!

    "As long as it is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation" - Adolf Hitler.

    I am female and grew up with Tourette's Syndrome. If I wouldn't have dealt with that as a kid, and to learn how to stand up for myself - I'm sure wouldn't have made it in the adult world. If I would have been coddled & labeled "special", I would be living with my parents or in an institution. The rest of this story is pretty successful.

    Wonder how the pansy kids will fair if the draft ever rolls around again…

    1. Thanks for commenting, and thanks for reading! Glad to meet another overcomer :)