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Monday, August 10, 2020

The Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about ItThe Boy Crisis: Why Our Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about It by Warren Farrell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I cannot overemphasize the importance of this conversation.

And because this topic often becomes a target of both ridicule and dehumanization, I must reiterate:
This is an important and real conversation we must make.

Boys, and men, are suffering. I can take and use statistics from outside of the context of this book, but even this book spells a lot of it out.

There are no free consultations for men's health or mental health despite the fact that 4 times as many boys between 15-20 commit suicide as compared to girls. That rate increases to 6 times between 20-25.

Our culture tells us we must self-sacrifice for everything we do.

Example: if we have a medical problem, we don't go to get it fixed either because we are less likely to be covered with medical insurance. It might also have something to do with a little voice in us saying that we just need to "push-through" despite winding up with stupidly aggravated conditions.

Self-sacrifice is pervasive. We are told that we must sacrifice ourselves for our country, for our family, for EVERYTHING. As a man, I can attest to this. I also rebelled against it. And in rebelling, for years, I discovered that there was no sense of purpose to replace it.

In the past, it was cynically transactional. Men bring home the bacon while women rule the home. Most of these roles have either been overturned or are widely ridiculed for more than 40 years now. Kids who grew up in feminist-idealized schools are now middle-aged. Boys grew up learning that their natural biological drives are nasty and brutish and dehumanizing to women. I know I did.

Every man was a potential rapist if he isn't a source of income to support women.

Be honest. Whether you are a man or a woman. How would you feel if you were only seen as either a servant or a threat?

Of course, all the old roles are overturned. Women are super unhappy and it may have something to do with their having to work as hard as men ever had to. They also generally reject the idea that working more than 70-hour work-weeks, (a general prerequisite for higher positions,) in favor of their families.

In the meantime, men have not received any attention to altering their own roles.

Think about that. To attract mates we must be Alpha Males. But Alpha Males are not the type of men that are allowed to thrive in schools. Male teachers make up only 17% of the workforce. They are generally driven out despite real cause, or because they teach in ways that don't align with the political environment. After all, let's face it: all men are fundamentally evil and the patriarchy rules everything.

The same thing is true for the field of psychology. When I was getting my degree, only 1/10 students were men and there was a very heavy focus on women's health. There was no focus on men. At all.

I am absolutely certain that the list can go on and on. Let's ignore the top 1% of any field for just a moment. Exceptions are not rules. Look at any profession you care to. Do you see the current roster of jobs being particularly welcoming to men? How about becoming a nurse? (Most are women.) An agent? (Most are women.) A teacher? (Most are women.)

Dangerous jobs that have a regular loss of life or a sharp decrease in quality of life is still open to men. Garbage collectors. (Most are men.) Military. (Most are men.) Truck drivers. (Most are men.)

I'm just spitting a few of the more obvious ones out.

But none of these explain the increase in the rate of suicides in the past 40 years. It may hint at it.

It also hints at the huge drop in academic achievement and the widespread loss of opportunities or support systems.

Because we are told it is a man's world, none of us look at the reality of the world.
It does not follow. Divorced men are 10 times as likely to commit suicide than women.

There are tons of studies that say, outright, that men want to be a part of their children's lives. That their one regret was in working so much to make ends meet, that they would have given it all up in order to have that one purpose in their lives.

We can all look at the popular stories these days to see the deeper issues. Courts systematically rule in favor of women in custody hearings. Public opinion always automatically sides for women because, obviously, men are evil. Even when confronted with facts to the contrary, public opinion keeps piping up with massive assumptions that always ends with, "It's a man's world."

I postulate that abuse swings like a pendulum.

One-time victims will become victimizers. Just look at the dehumanization aspects.

Are men appreciated for what they do? Soldiers commit suicide once every 65 minutes. Older men commit suicide because they've come to the conclusion that their death-insurance will mean more to their family than their own life.

Men no longer have purpose. Few are actually able to follow their bliss. They are expected to make money. Period.

Before, in the bad old-times, they relied on a purpose of supporting their family. Showing love by self-sacrifice while suppressing any other kind of sensitive emotion because it just doesn't FIT with the purpose of self-sacrifice. Now, women are independent. Unhappy, but independent. Divorces strip away a man's purpose, just turning him into a paycheck that must put up with cultural abuse such as being called a deadbeat dad, or being emotionally stunted, an idiot, or just plain malicious.

I'm being general here. But damn if I don't see JUST THIS THING everywhere I look.

Assume, just for a moment, that most men are decent people.

If we consider the fact that both men and women are abusers at the same rate, while only one sex has the social support system to speak up about it, the imbalance is very real. Are children the patriarchy?

Evolutionary psychology is also real. Boys and girls CAN learn the skills of the others, but one comes naturally, and the other does not. Teaching boys to express themselves is useless when they know their concerns will not be heard. Competition is not patriarchy. Neither is roughhousing. It is a major point of learning in emotional intelligence. Getting a thick skin is ADAPTIVE. Girls can do it, even if, on the whole, they generally don't prefer it. That doesn't mean it isn't true for boys. And yet, this is what even *I* was taught in the '80s. Remember the statistic on men being teachers?

Corrective assumptions have made the pendulum swing way too far in the opposite direction.

Great progress had been made, but reform turned into retaliation. Punitive measures.

Here's a little thought experiment: 87% of the prison population is men. Black men are 4 times as likely to be incarcerated, true, but they are all still men. If men still had a purpose, their aggression could have been channeled into something positive. Don't we say the same thing about boys?

Then ask yourself: if the total situation is still getting worse and worse, where men feel hopeless and cast adrift in their own lives, then WHY AREN'T WE HAVING THIS DISCUSSION?

Fact: if men and women keep alienating each other like this, we are all going to suffer. The grand majority of man and womankind still wants healthy heterosexual relationships. Oddly enough, this isn't a reactionary backlash statement designed to antagonize the LGBTQ+ community, either. Nor is it designed to antagonize radical feminists who would like to see total segregation of the sexes.

I'm merely saying that people still want healthy relationships and MOST of them happen to be hetero.

By dehumanizing one half of the population, we have an epidemic of depression and suicide. Of existential crisis. Of PURPOSE. And it only gets worse when we all get defensive.

Strangely enough, one of the things that men do very well is in providing a safe space for children to roughhouse and have teachable moments. It also teaches children to have expanded empathy with those who they fight with. Evolutionary psychology does NOT favor this behavior with women. And yet, it is still essential for learning how to cope and adapt to any kind of antagonistic situation.

So I can also postulate that these last 40 years spent dehumanizing men have also created an environment of people unable to cope with any kind of antagonistic situation. Cancel culture IS real.

I may not agree with every point this book makes, especially when it derails at the end with highlights on the ADHD phenomenon, but Farrell obviously cares a lot about our well-being and he is trying to be as all-inclusive as he can be.

I think he does a fairly good job of illustrating a lot of the other points. Men's health, both physical and mental, are almost completely neglected. Try looking up any programs to help out men who are suffering and you might just find Alcoholics Anonymous.

Women will have pages and pages and pages of free support systems.

What would YOU feel if you happened to be male? Neglected? Ridiculed? Unappreciated? Belittled?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to make anyone wonder why there is so much anger and resentment. What I'm really surprised about is why there isn't MORE resentment.

Maybe it's because most men are good people. Maybe it's because they genuinely care about their wives and children. They may be in a bad position and they are told they will not hold any more power, but most keep on trying.

This is a two-way street. At least acknowledge that there is a problem. Purposeless kills, and it's hitting our boys the most. They see how hopeless it is. Give them credit. They may not be able to voice these concerns, but they sure as hell see the problem.

Addictions, whether drugs or video games, risky behaviors of all kinds including extreme sports, apathy, failure-to-launch, obesity, and anxiety are just a handful of the warning signs.

If you hear, "What's the point?" then know it is being said EVERYWHERE. Every western country and it is growing everywhere else. It is not isolated to America. Not by a long shot.

Have these conversations with your loved ones.

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