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Sunday, 18 March 2012

On making boys into men

As a strong female with character, and growing up in a family and extended family of mostly boys, I have been around young men and older for years and years. I have taught all boy classes in the past at several schools and colleges. I like being with men, as I am a healthy woman, with a brain. However, at this point in history, many of my friends, who are single like I am, are asking, where are the men? What I am concerned about is that now we have in education boys teaching boys, rather than men teaching boys. What do I mean?

To be an adult human being who is male can be quite a challenge in the overly feminized Catholic Church and in a society which has systematically undermined the role of the father in marriage and the role of the masculine man in a culture of which eschews leadership.

The subject is much more complicated than what I can cover here in a short post, but I want to highlight a few points. As I have written on this before, especially in my previous blog, I can point to some of the same problems which were obvious in 2007.

That men are afraid to be men, as there is so much criticism about real men, I can understand. Many are put down by either females, who are feminists, for being too patriarchal, or for being less than "sensitive" or "vulnerable".  That men are hesitant to be like old-fashioned, strong men, is a given. How can we encourage those who naturally are leaders and want to be leaders in a family or relationship. These good men need to be encouraged.

From another point of view, men not only to be encouraged, but trained. How we train boys to be men is not obvious anymore. One way is to give young men responsibility at an early age, with rules, and let them do hard things. As one who has raised a boy to be a good and responsible young man, I can say that discipline and consistency are key. Boys are actually somewhat easy to raise if a parent is clear and fair; that is, if boundaries and rules are taught within a framework of Christianity.

On top of discipline and consequences, one must train a young man in practical skills, even if later on he chooses a profession, such as a doctor or lawyer. Learning to do basic things gives a young man confidence and a sense of self.  A parent must have a set of chores and set guidelines and consequences for the lack of fulfillment of such chores. Many mothers and even fathers over protect their children by not letting them do things, such as sailing, cooking, climbing, camping, fishing, and other skills in addition to sports. Sports are good training for leadership skills, but not the only ones. Boys learn from other boys. I think, for example, that the Boy Scouts in England and in France have proved to be excellent training grounds for young boys learning life-skills.

In the overly feminized world of academia, some of the relationships which occur and some of the courses which are offered now exclude men from serious consideration. The entire idea gender-studies has created a marginalization of men. In my previous faculty position, the vast majority of instructors were women. New appointments of young academics were most likely women. But, that is another question to consider in another post. The real point is that more girls are getting degrees than men, and the statistics show that more minority girls are getting exams than even white boys. This creates a leadership problem. The leaders are going to be the women who have higher education than the men.

Boys must be given opportunities for leadership skills to develop. The mixture of girls and boys on teams does not help, as we all know that boys take a back step to girls in those circumstances. One can see that the parishes with altar girls, which is the one of the worst decisions of the former Pope. Boys do not want to be in groups with girls at a certain age and should not be. To be continued..