Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

The material I post on this blog represents my views and mine alone. The material you post on this blog represents your views and yours alone.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

CROSSROADS COMMENT -- Isn't the "War Against Boys" a Civil War?

This was posted by Bill Lama at palosverdeblog:

Dennis Prager talked about the
The War Against Boys, a recent book by Christina Hoff Sommers. He believes, and I believe, that manliness is being squished out of little boys in schools and in society. Sommers is appalled at the educational establishment's efforts to moderate boys' aggressiveness and other elements of their masculine nature. Dennis tells of his little boy tackling his friends when they came into the Prager house. Hi Jimmy, tumble, rumble…. gotcha ….give up? My John did the same thing, it’s what boys do. But grammar school teachers will have none of it. No dodge-ball either. . . .

Manly men in their assertiveness raise issues, bring them to the fore, and make them public and political, they prefer times of war, conflict, and risk, and bring change or restores order at crucial moments.
Manly men are needed in times of danger and at times of business. Let’s be careful not to stomp out manliness.

What do these hard wired boys Prager comments on do after they tire of tumbling and rolling about? (Hmmm! Isn’t that how my daughter behaved at that age? And can’t I hear her dower Aunt Mary telling her, “Now that’s no way for a young lady to act.”) But I digress. Back to the “boys will be boys and it’s written in concrete” scenario.

After practicing being Manly Men on the floor with each other (Be careful there boys, not too intimate with those bear hugs and scissors grips. The heteros-rule police are always watching.) these scions of maleness are likely to go looking for danger and ways to assert their budding MANLINESS. Right. It’s off to the TV for sports spectating with the mature male role models in the household. This, rather than the actual playing of a sport that isn’t totally controlled by adults, a pick-up game of touch football, basketball or, heaven forbid, a piggy-move-up baseball game with only five to seven players and no fancy uniforms. But let's slam those darn school marms for cutting off the life-line of dodge-ball in the schools.

And let’s stop a second at this crucial “no dodge-ball” point. Conservatives would want us to believe that boys are being shoved down some kind of pink hole in schools because of serious cuts in physical education programs. But wait! Don’t these programs cost money? You know, money from tax dollars. Tax dollars that social overhead tightwads are always complaining about.

And, even more importantly, PE programs require time in the school curriculum. Where is this time out of the school day to come from? Crushing the life and flexibility out of the schools today is something soothingly, but erroneously, called “No Child Left Behind.” Tests and more tests along with unending souless drills in preparation for tests are considered to be the answer to every problem on the educational horizon. Leaving aside how this testing regimen stifles the intellectual imagination and curiosity of teachers and their students alike, let me say that we can be certain “Left Behind” leaves many children with obese behinds.

But it’s not all sports on TV for these so deprived, so ignored, stifled proto-manly men. And as Bill puts it, “Manly men are needed in times of danger and at times of business.” So isn’t it a good thing when the tumbling boys move away from the great gray eye and pick up their pricey X-Box or whatever and pop in their real training manual, “Grand Theft Auto”?

Happily for all of us many young women in our society have more to interest them then watching behemoths endlessly giving and taking “hits” on the football field and pituitary cases talking trash with their limited vocabularies on hardwood courts. Studies indicate girls choose not to choke themselves within the deadening routines of video games. Their choice, not hard wired, just a smart choice given support rather than criticism, is to curl up with a good, mind-expanding, empathy producing, brain and soul enriching book. Should we wonder if this helps girls in school?

Bill, Dennis Prager and Christina Hoff Sommers are concerned with something they call “The War Against Boys”? Give me a break. Boys are put at war against themselves and each other and adults are regularly supplying them with the arms (gender stereotypes) to continue this self-destructive war.


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