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Boys are Growing Frustrated by Living in a Feminized Society… and That’s Showing Up in Their Friendships

3 min

I burst out laughing the other day while reading a friend’s Facebook status. He explained that he and his two grade school sons were watching Anne of Green Gables when they came to the part where Anne and Diana have a conversation while standing on a cliff overlooking the sea. The youngest son suddenly blurted out, “Anne better watch out, Diana might push her off the cliff.”

In amazement, my friend looked at his son and asked if he thought girl friendships were the same as the physical, often rough-and-tumble one which existed between him and his brother. The conversation ended in hysterical laughter as all three of them recognized just how different male interactions are from female ones.

I thought of this story when I came across a piece by Heidi Stevens in the Chicago Tribune. Stevens, the mother of a nine-year-old boy, recently noticed how intense and troubled her son’s friendships are with other little boys. Curious, she reached out to psychologist Wendy Mogel to find out if her son was an anomaly. Mogel assured her he was not and that many other little boys wrestle with “existential questions,” including:

“How can I be myself without getting into trouble?”

“Does anyone consider me a hero?” and

“What do I contribute to this family that someone else doesn’t already contribute better?”

Boys, like the sons of my friend mentioned above, are naturally known for relationships which involve rough play and high adventures. Although energetic and overactive to female perspectives like my own, they often fuse strong friendships which are helpful in forming bonds of manhood.

But as Mogel implies, these rough, but good, friendships seem to be disappearing, particularly as boys wrestle with the above questions. Instead, boys have friendships infused with more drama and trouble. Mogel believes this change stems from the way we expect boys to behave these days:

“Boys, Mogel contends, bristle at expectations that they quiet their bodies and minds and mouths and follow the rules of a traditional school day, particularly a modern school day with its increased reliance on standardized testing and decreased gym and recess time. They long to ‘skylark,’ a word she stumbled upon in ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.’

‘They’re these darling little elves who are kind of on lockdown at school and at home,’ she said. ‘Even on teams, there’s a coach and there are rules. All day long they’re figuring out how to talk to their teachers and talk to their buddies and fit in the cool crowd, and they’re hungry and they’re frustrated and they’re tired.’”

Rules are great and necessary, but the fact is, we’re disallowing boys to be boys. We’ve taken away toys like guns and swords because they’re “dangerous.” We’ve medicated little boys because their movements and noise are too much for us to take. We’ve tried to make sure girls are equal and included, and thus removed the institutions where boys don’t have to compete against those of the opposite sex.

Let’s face it: Little boys are different from little girls and adults. And unless we allow them to have outlets for natural boy play and ideas, we should not be surprised when they seem frustrated and can’t succeed in modern society.

Is it time to stop treating the traditional, rough-and-tumble boy like a dangerous creature who must be toned down to suit feminized society?

[Image Credit: Max Pixel]

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist

Annie Holmquist is the editor of Intellectual Takeout. When not writing or editing, she enjoys reading, gardening, and time with family and friends.

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Gavin Skeen
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Several of the strongest friendships I made as a boy started with a fight. Fighting was a way of sizing each other up. That's how boys work out their social dynamics. And then there were the crazy stunts. Doing dangerous things is how boys learn to be careful. The kids who bottled everything up in order to comply with the rules, often ended up being the one's who exploded later on. Repressed boys are not an asset to a lawful society.
 
 

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bkbaird
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i note this article ens in a question. Is that a serious or a rhetorical question. Of course it is time. We have one or two generations of these hamstrung boys and men. Just stop already!
 
 

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Irishapples
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I raised two boys and I taught 7-12th grade. In school I often told my boys I think you need to go to the restroom and take a walk, as well as incorporating movement into my classroom so the kids were able to get up and move at different times. I said those who fidget a lot on the outer isles or in the back of the room so they had space where they could move if they needed to. Too many teachers today expect the kids to sit down and shut up and do their work. I expected them to be quiet when I was teaching but I gave them the freedom for some movement. Put them in the back of the class so they can get up in pace if they need to do without disrupting their classmates. I believe the boys will be boys and don’t give me any of that New Age garbage that we’re not supposed to say that anymore. Boys being boys means they need to move and they need to roughhouse. I also think it’s perfectly fine if they wanna play cowboys and Indians or cops and robbers and pretend they have guns or have a play toy water pistol or whatever kind of a gun and yell bang bang. We do a disservice to our boys when we allow them to sit and play video games for hours on end or we expect them to sit quietly and not move for six hours a day at school. I honestly think that before a kid should be moved to middle school we need to evaluate them and see if maybe a second year of sixth grade because of their maturity level and their need for recess he’s going to have a negative impact on them as they continue through school. Just because your X years old or you’ve been in school for X number of years does not mean you automatically need to be moved up to the next grade. I’m of the same philosophy that if you can’t read then don’t promote them. Social promotion does no good.
 
 

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My4Kids
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Rough and tumble play is vital for boys AND girls. I am the mother of 3 boys and 1 girl. Females just happen to be more agreeable by nature than males (see Jordan Peterson, PhD). So they will submit to authorities more readily than boys will. All children suffer in rigid structure. Girls just hide it better than boys. The problem isn't "feminism". The problem is rigidity. Schools, churches, and any other organized group impose rigid behavioral constraints on ALL children. While girls may acquiesce more quietly than boys do, ALL children are harmed by rigid controls at very young ages. The focus should be on delaying structure while encouraging all forms of play for all children, as long as possible.
 
 

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srannemarie
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I don’t believe this is a feminized society. Women too are not encouraged to be who they are as women. So they sterilize themselves, kill their babies and everything womanly about them, and try to be what they think makes them equal to men. What an insidious agenda that promotes de-masculinization of boys and de-feminization of girls. No wonder we have gender issues! It’s not one over the other. It’s both. Read the article in that light.
 
 

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