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Thread: Boys suffer in a culture without challenges

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Boys suffer in a culture without challenges

    I could swear there was a thread/discussion on the problems of teaching boys. When i came across this article this morning I immediately thought of this forum.

    Boys suffer in a culture without challenges
    Becoming a man in our society is becoming increasingly difficult because of a lack of healthy competition.
    ROB NEAL

    December 27, 2009

    YARMOUTH — Boys need challenging and intense competition to become men.

    Two 10-year-old boys show up for their first soccer tryouts. Both feel nervous but excited. The parent of one says, "give it your best shot and have fun." The other parent says, "you don't have to do this if you don't want to. It can feel scary."

    Which of these statements is best for the boys?

    An increasing number of boys are doing poorly in school and failing to mature in a positive way. More men are losing self-confidence and their passion for competing and achieving.

    While the top-performing 10 percent to 20 percent of boys and men are doing just fine, the growing number of underachieving males forces schools, businesses, the military and others to lower their standards and expectations. What happened?

    Political correctness and new age wishful thinking have all contributed to the effort in our schools, families, and communities to take away intense competition from boys. Even in sports, only a small number of top athletes ever get to experience challenging competition.

    Some believe that competition turns boys into bad, mean or violent people. The opposite is true. The proving ground of competition done well creates confident boys and competent men!

    Tens of thousands of years of human development cannot be swept aside to fit the "anti-competition" PC agenda. It's a mushy, idealistic approach to child development and education that seems disconnected from reality. Today boys learn more about fairness and fun than how to compete successfully.

    Yes, fairness and fun are important lessons in life, but can be taught very well during intense competition. Plus nearly every aspect of life involves some degree of competition with other people, communities, teams, governments, or businesses and will never go away.

    All of the politically correct worries about fairness, over-the-top fears about scuffing up knees or hurting someone's feelings frustrate boys and do them a disservice by lowering standards of achieving. We're taking away the proving grounds for learning how to be strong men. Our global business competitors and terrorist enemies are licking their chops.

    Growing up I had many opportunities to compete in the classroom, playing sports or music, and having adventures with my friends and family. I learned from my successes and my failures.

    Once, at age 11, I was about to bat for my Little League team in the last inning with two outs. The adrenalin came rushing in, my mind focused and I felt nervous but ready. The game ended suddenly, however, because the batter before me stuck out.

    I was stunned seeing my chance to be the hero lost. I wanted to smack something to release my frustration. That's how many boys and men feel today even if they don't know why.

    Luckily, I had a coach who kept providing opportunities to prove myself under pressure. When boys and men don't get these competitive chances, we tend to take our disappointment, anger and shame out on others. As a result, far too many of us become bullies, abusers, gangbangers, criminals, corrupt politicians or greedy corporate clones. Others become slackers, underachievers, indecisive, increasingly numb to life and focused on video games and fantasy sports. [SNIP]
    http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/st...&ac=PHedi&pg=1


    I happen to agree with the general thrust of the article. The feminization of our culture (am I going to get smacked for that? ) has really marginalized boys from achieving. Just look at the college graduating statistics and you'll see a incredible shift from thirty years ago. Boys aren't making it into college, not graduating, and resorting to manual labor type jobs that are disappearing with ever increasing technology. Now I'm sure the situation is more complex than this article presents, and just by allowing competition is not the complete solution by far. But the heart of this is I think true: boys need to compete, bump elbows, push each other, maybe even fight as a process toward manhood. That doesn't mean they don't get disciplined for it. The cycle of competing, fighting, disciplining is all part of the process. Boys are not little girls and they don't want to be made to feel like pansies. There needs to be an outlet for their inner boy to blosoom out into a man.

    Sure, girls in the past were probably not taught to suceede in school and the real world. And hopefully we've adjusted for it today. But it's now time to adjust our teaching strategies for educating boys.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    That's the basic premise of Fight Club.
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    Registered User Lumiere's Avatar
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    Interesting topic. I think your on to something here. (It is, however, slightly frustrating to me as a female that our transition from girl to woman is generally not regarded with as much significance as the transition from boy to man, but that's a separate subject entirely). I certainly don't think it would hurt to see more encouragement in the area of competition for boys. They seem to thrive on it rather than be deterred by it. I think boys would breed competition on their own naturally if it were not so frowned upon today. I'm not sure how one would apply this idea practically. It seems it would be more of an attitude shift in the school system.

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFifthElement View Post
    That's the basic premise of Fight Club.
    I'm not familiar with that. Is that a novel, movie?
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Internal nebulae TheFifthElement's Avatar
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    It's both. The movie is pretty well known: Edward Norton and Brad Pitt star in it.

    I do think competition is important, both for boys and girls. There's such a fear, though, that competition results in discrimination that schools seem to shy away from it now. My son's primary school doesn't seem to encourage competition or academic achievement, but they get medals if they're well behaved! Needless to say, my son thinks school is a total waste of time, and he's only 9. I just hope that secondary school will turn that around.
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    seasonably mediocre Il Penseroso's Avatar
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    Hmmm, I've worked with child athletic programs (local YMCA) for several years now and I think parents pushing kids to compete to an exorbitant degree is still very much alive and well, at least around here. I've had to referee flag football games where coaches and parents scream and yell and antagonize me and other refs because they think that their third grader's talent is being marginalized by rules in place for safety reasons and to allow every player more equal opportunities. I think this type of behavior does more serious damage by far.
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  7. #7
    Hmm, I can't say that I think much of that article Virgil, for me it presents a far too simplistic and narrow-minded view of things and shows the personal agitations of the writer, rather than the reality. I did notice that you conceded to its simplistic view, but for me this is just one of those throwaway articles like you get in the Daily Mail or something.

    I know that it is not meant to be anything more than a light opinion piece, which is fine, but he seems to jump to some rather strict knee-jerk conclusions. It might be true that on occasions "health and safety" goes a little too far at times, but this guy seems to want to blame all the wrongs of soceity on this to a ridiculous degree. It is also full of quite ridiculous loaded terminology and extreme hyperbole - I mean "our global business competitors and terrorist enemies are licking their chops" just made me laugh out loud, but you could also include:

    Tens of thousands of years of human development cannot be swept aside to fit the "anti-competition" PC agenda.
    You don't say? The "anti-competition PC agenda" just sounds like something straight out of Monty Python, you cannot take that line serious to any degree. I'm sure that "tens of thousands of years of human development" is perfectly safe from them.

    An increasing number of boys are doing poorly in school and failing to mature in a positive way. More men are losing self-confidence and their passion for competing and achieving.
    Are they, is he so sure of that? Where are the facts, how the hell can you quantify that, and if there are facts that point to the losses how can you determine that it has arisen due to a lack of competition?

    While the top-performing 10 percent to 20 percent of boys and men are doing just fine, the growing number of underachieving males forces schools, businesses, the military and others to lower their standards and expectations. What happened?
    What happened? Surely it must be the "anti-competition PC agenda"? How does this guy know that schools, businesses and the military (and others) are lowering their standards? This is certainly not true in the UK with University places anyway, and I doubt it is true of the US, but surely it is impossible to say unless you are a high government official with a finger in every pie.

    Political correctness and new age wishful thinking have all contributed to the effort in our schools, families, and communities to take away intense competition from boys.
    New age wishful thinking? In what context, Who? Druids and tree huggers? Quite ridiculous.

    That's how many boys and men feel today even if they don't know why.
    How the hell does he know what “many” boys and men feel?

    I could go on but you get the picture.

    I have also got a problem with simplifying men and women, girls and boys, into neat little pigeon-holes of femininity and masculinity. All of these things are simply cultural constructs of reality. I feel a little uneasy with these sorts of labels, I don't like reducing complex, very very complex human beings and the world into neat little cultural constructions such as these. As I say I know that you are just talking about the gist of this article and its overall message, and that you know such things are far more complex, but even so I just can't think that this fruitloop has much of a case at all, even if we cut through the nature of his amusing use of language.

    So yes, and I'm going to get my mum to smack you regarding your "feminization of our culture" I just don't by that to any degree. Like I have said, occasionally "health and safety" and the "PC brigade" do restrict things a little, but you can bet that the whole thing is often blown up out of all proportion in silly little articles like these, reducing very complex issues to extremely simplified and highly exaggerated conclusions, while reinforcing old cultural stereotypes into the bargain! Rubbish.

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Il Penseroso View Post
    Hmmm, I've worked with child athletic programs (local YMCA) for several years now and I think parents pushing kids to compete to an exorbitant degree is still very much alive and well, at least around here. I've had to referee flag football games where coaches and parents scream and yell and antagonize me and other refs because they think that their third grader's talent is being marginalized by rules in place for safety reasons and to allow every player more equal opportunities. I think this type of behavior does more serious damage by far.
    I think some boys do ok. I think the article refers to the bottom 20%. Serious damage from competition? What do you classify as serious damage? While I have heard of parents going too far in pushing their kids to play in sports, I know of no serious damage.

    I think the gist of what the author was saying was that we should look at bringing the nature of sporting competitions into the classroom to get boys engaged more. The nature of competition seems to captivate and draw boys into a subject, and hopefully into learning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Hmm, I can't say that I think much of that article Virgil, for me it presents a far too simplistic and narrow-minded view of things and shows the personal agitations of the writer, rather than the reality. I did notice that you conceded to its simplistic view, but for me this is just one of those throwaway articles like you get in the Daily Mail or something.
    I have no idea what the Daily Mail is, but this seems to be an opinion piece in a Maine Newspaper. It's not a scholarly article. Nor do I think scholarly articles are all that important when it comes to real life issues. It is simplistic to drive a point.

    I know that it is not meant to be anything more than a light opinion piece, which is fine, but he seems to jump to some rather strict knee-jerk conclusions. It might be true that on occasions "health and safety" goes a little too far at times, but this guy seems to want to blame all the wrongs of soceity on this to a ridiculous degree.
    I don't see anything where he's talking about the wrongs of soiciety. He's talking about a single issue, "the growing number of underachieving males."

    It is also full of quite ridiculous loaded terminology and extreme hyperbole - I mean "our global business competitors and terrorist enemies are licking their chops" just made me laugh out loud, but you could also include:
    What's so outrageous about that? He makes a claim that certain ways of bringing up boys has been going on for ten thousand years. Whether that's exactly accurate or not, I hardly find it extreme or hyperbolic. It's a legitamate claim.


    You don't say? The "anti-competition PC agenda" just sounds like something straight out of Monty Python, you cannot take that line serious to any degree. I'm sure that "tens of thousands of years of human development" is perfectly safe from them.
    Yeah, there is a strain of that in contemporary universities and school systems, at least here in the US. I remember a lit net member of a Euroipean country telling me about how she goes to a school without grades. There is an "anti-competition agenda" in certain quarters.

    Are they, is he so sure of that? Where are the facts, how the hell can you quantify that, and if there are facts that point to the losses how can you determine that it has arisen due to a lack of competition?
    Well obviously you're not aware of it. There is an exploding gender gap in college graduates. Here from just a quick cursory google: http://www.bsos.umd.edu/socy/vannema...psgradsex.html
    and http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-363985.html
    and http://www.usatoday.com/news/educati...ge-cover_x.htm. And the gap is also specific to top fields such as lawyers and doctors.

    What happened? Surely it must be the "anti-competition PC agenda"? How does this guy know that schools, businesses and the military (and others) are lowering their standards? This is certainly not true in the UK with University places anyway, and I doubt it is true of the US, but surely it is impossible to say unless you are a high government official with a finger in every pie.
    I think the lowering of standards is fairly well documented. It was clear to me when I went to college in the early 80's that tests and grades were way stricter for those that went to college 20 years before me. I think it's probably gotten worse even since I went to school. Part of the reason is the openning up of college education to the masses.

    I have also got a problem with simplifying men and women, girls and boys, into neat little pigeon-holes of femininity and masculinity. All of these things are simply cultural constructs of reality.
    Frankly, to use your word, that's rubbish. To say there are no biological differences beteen men and women is absurd. All you have to do is look at the muscular differences and the size differences and you will see the difference, and the reason for those differences are hormones, and to say that hormones don't affect personality is ridiculous. Look at any nature show and you will see differences in behavior between males and females. Look at the behavioral difference of male and female lions. That's innate, not learned, and they're from hormonal differences.

    I feel a little uneasy with these sorts of labels, I don't like reducing complex, very very complex human beings and the world into neat little cultural constructions such as these.
    Actually by you claiming that there are no differences between men and women is the most simplistic reduction of complexity. You are the one reducing the comnplex to the ridiculously simple.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    Serious business Taliesin's Avatar
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    I think the lowering of standards is fairly well documented. It was clear to me when I went to college in the early 80's that tests and grades were way stricter for those that went to college 20 years before me. I think it's probably gotten worse even since I went to school. Part of the reason is the openning up of college education to the masses.
    I do not know how it is in the US, but from my experience in a French university, I can wholeheartedly say that higher education for the masses does probably not mean low standards - the system in France seems to be: anyone can enter an university, the trick is staying in.
    Seriously, it is bloody difficult.
    I wouldn't equal public higher education with lower standards.
    I would comment on the topic, but I'll go and study for the exams that I am going to fail anyhow.
    If you believe even a half of this post, you are severely mistaken.

  10. #10
    Firstly, I’ll just clear up what I am getting at with the cultural construction of gender. There are obviously biological differences between men and women – which is the “sex” of the individual, but the “gender” of a person could be seen as the social construct – so in this case what it means to be “masculine” and “feminine” is determined from outside the self. So from this perspective nothing outside of the “sex” of the individual is natural. However, even the simple terms of “male” and “female” – the basic binaries – don’t even fit. What about cross-gendered individuals, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, “othered” groups who for some, such simple labels of “male” and “female” don’t seem to fit their own experience of the world? But let’s just move on from there.

    So, if our present culture, at this time sees ideals as to what constitutes “feminine” and “masculine” the argument is that which society deems the values of these terms -, but these values are transient being different from culture to culture, and from time to time. Anyway, Judith Butler (a feminist critic) argues that we learn what it means to be “feminine” and “masculine” through our culture, and not through any inherent “reality”. So the little boy soon learns that “big boys don’t cry” and represses or conforms to that particular masculine ideal – to the point that such behaviour becomes “natural” – but it is not natural that boys don’t cry, it is the present cultural ideal of masculine behaviour. With this as an example we all learn what we believe is “natural” for our gender and for the most conform to that ideal.

    My four year old girl basically refuses to wear anything that is not pink – she certainly won’t wear blue because “blue is a boys colour”. She has already started to learn the signposts for her desired gender from our culture which pigeon-holes gender into neat compartments, idealising what it means to be male and female, boy and girl, masculine and feminine. One of the problems arising from this, if you will let me sidetrack a little here, is the abuse of power from one sex to the other, the dominant and the passive ideal of male and female roles. I mean even the very nature of our language is loaded with terminology which favours one over the other, taking the male masculine as “naturally” dominant over the other. So a woman (wo-man, womb man, with man being the original default) is “naturally” seen as secondary because our language is rooted in old stereotypes, for example with the male taking natural default in such terms as “chairman” “manhole” etc, but anyway...

    Going back to Butler she says that such gender construction acts as a “straitjacket” whereby the costs are high for both individuals who fit into neat gender categories, and for those who don’t. She says: “the construction ‘compels’ our belief in its necessity and naturalness. The historical possibilities materialized through various corporeal styles are nothing other than those punitively regulated cultural fictions alternately embodied and deflected under duress” (Butler, Gender Trouble). The “cultural fictions” are the narratives which we take as “naturally” occurring, blue is for boys, pink is for girls – which is ridiculous because they are just colours, they don’t have any inherent sexuality, it is all culturally determined, cultural fiction.

    So, the article you posted for me was quite laughable on many grounds, but one of them being that widespread problems are occurring due to the “"anti-competition" PC agenda” which is “taking away the proving grounds for learning how to be strong men” from which “global business competitors and terrorist enemies are licking their chops”. When I say “widespread problems” you seemed to have misunderstood what I meant before when you said that he is not talking about widespread problems but a single issue that of “the growing number of underachieving males.” In the article he is seemingly making the point that the PC brigade is the root cause of underachieving males by taking away (supposedly taking away, see above poster) competition from our (your) schools, which is having the knocking on effect of weakening “schools, businesses, the military and others” by forcing them” to lower their standards and expectations” of individual. Notwithstanding the international threat to business and the terrorists who are now “licking their chops” because of the national weakening of male expectations due to the sole reason of the PC agenda with its “mushy, idealistic approach to child development.” Therein lies the hyperbole that you seem to think is a “legitimate claim”.

    So anyway, there is a “gender gap” between male and female college graduates based on that graph you provided, so what exactly does that mean and what does it really show? Firstly, I put “gender gap” in speech marks because that phrase is automatically loaded, it suggests a problem, a gap that needs bridging. In actual fact it shows that the gender difference (though we really mean sex difference not gender) of college graduates is about 6% more for female, than it is for male population. We can also see that in the past, from about 1950, which is the date the graph goes back to, to about 1990 it was always males that came out on top in the graduate stakes. From here we can interpret this graph however we like.

    We could write an article showing that these statistics prove that the problems facing women attending further education are being eradicated, meaning that a great deal of progress is being made for the equalities of the sexes. So in actual fact we could argue that this graph shows a great deal of progress in American institutions and society for greater equal opportunities. We could ask therefore what were holding women back in the past from progressing in education and come up with answers along the lines of the cultural expectations of female roles, getting married earlier etc. This is just one position you could argue, which would probably be my position, but with the realisation that this would be one point, based on one graph, which would naturally be generalised.

    However, I wouldn’t say the stats show a problem for male education at college level at all. In fact it shows that since 1950 there has been a greater increase in male graduates from 1950 to the present, from just under 10 percent of the population in 1950 with a degree to about 27 percent of the population today. From here you could make a case for increasing standards of education across the both sexes over time. In fact you can make many, many points and counter argue them for days or years.

    What the guy in the article seems to have done however, is to look at the 6 percent difference in male and female degrees, panic, and to blame this “problem” on the PC agenda and lack of competition in schools amongst boys! One thing just doesn’t follow on from the other at all. It is an opinion which is not built upon fact which only goes to show the weakness and prejudice of the author in question. It is an article which is possibly even intended to provoke an angry response from the readership, siding with their ill judged views on the “problems” of society and to seek an easy scapegoat (such as the political correctness) for them. It is not built upon any solid foundation at all, it is misguided, it is poorly written and it is possibly even a little sexist into the bargain – its appeal is there, I suspect to make a little easy money from an unsuspecting public. Like I said it is like a Daily Mail article, which is a paper that plays on the fears of the individual, usually misguided ones, and blows them up out of all proportion in order to sell papers and make money. The article you posted could have just have easily praised American standards of education for both the male and female population, but would that have sold as many papers or got as many hits?

    This is just one of the reasons why I don’t read newspapers or other mass media forms because they often reduce very complex issues to ridiculous binaries, or they play off the fears and desires of an unsuspecting public that isn’t even built upon “reality” whatever “reality” is, where it is not culturally determined. Life and society is more complicated than that.

  11. #11
    solid motherhubbard's Avatar
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    I think that competition is good for boys and for girls alike. Most people will perform better than they think they can when the pressure is on. But, I don't think that a lack of competitive sports is inhibiting manhood. I think a more likely culprit is the lack of strong male role models-- fathers. There is much more to being a man than fighting your way through a scrimmage line. Maybe boys are becoming bullies because they are not taught how to manage their emotions or any kind of self-control. This article almost suggest that a man is someone who has proven himself against his peers. I disagree. A man is someone who takes care of his responsibilities.

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    in angulo cum libro Petrarch's Love's Avatar
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    I happen to agree with the general thrust of the article. The feminization of our culture (am I going to get smacked for that? ) has really marginalized boys from achieving. Just look at the college graduating statistics and you'll see a incredible shift from thirty years ago. Boys aren't making it into college, not graduating, and resorting to manual labor type jobs that are disappearing with ever increasing technology.
    Poor babies. I guess they just can't take the competition.

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    We should also acknowledge other possible explanations for the lower levels of male admission to higher education. The fact is that decently paying manual labour still exists as a means of income for men. Women who want to have any sort of appreciable income must have higher education. While it is much easier, and socially acceptable, for a man to enter a trade like carpentry or plumbing. My father made a very good living as a plumber for 45 years, and these jobs are still very much dominated by males.

    This isn't to depreciate the importance of competitive sports. I played hockey from childhood to my mid-teens and loved every moment of it. However, I don't think I'd go so far as to credit it with me graduating top of my high school class and going on to receive a university degree. Moreover, competition doesn't mysteriously disappear without institutionalized forms like soccer. Teens compete for popularity, friends, lovers, and academic standing.

    I also agree with Neely that gender is largely a social construct and when we push specific roles onto individuals who just can't fit that role we can cause real harm.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taliesin View Post
    I do not know how it is in the US, but from my experience in a French university, I can wholeheartedly say that higher education for the masses does probably not mean low standards - the system in France seems to be: anyone can enter an university, the trick is staying in.
    Seriously, it is bloody difficult.
    I wouldn't equal public higher education with lower standards.
    I would comment on the topic, but I'll go and study for the exams that I am going to fail anyhow.
    I can't speak for France. How do you know what the standards were in the past? You can read about grade inflation over the years here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_inflation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    Firstly, I’ll just clear up what I am getting at with the cultural construction of gender. There are obviously biological differences between men and women – which is the “sex” of the individual, but the “gender” of a person could be seen as the social construct – so in this case what it means to be “masculine” and “feminine” is determined from outside the self.
    So you want me to believe that hormonal differences cause all sorts of physical differences between the sexes but they have no effect on personality? The feminists whine about about male patriarchy but can they name a single culture in the history of humanity where there wasn't male and female disticntions? Is it a coincidence that over the thousands of cultures we know of that no matriarchy as ever existed and that they all had male/female distinctions? Just a coincidence? Thousands of cultures with all having a similar social construct? How ridiculous. Again look at the animal world and you will see male and female traits. They weren't learned.

    So from this perspective nothing outside of the “sex” of the individual is natural. However, even the simple terms of “male” and “female” – the basic binaries – don’t even fit. What about cross-gendered individuals, transsexuals, hermaphrodites, “othered” groups who for some, such simple labels of “male” and “female” don’t seem to fit their own experience of the world? But let’s just move on from there.
    Have you ever heard of dysfunctionality from the norm? Have you ever heard of people having biological problems? Just today I came across dwarfism in the paper, a hormonal malfunction:
    Extreme shortness in humans with proportional body parts usually has a hormonal cause, such as growth hormone deficiency, once known as "pituitary dwarfism".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarfism


    So, if our present culture, at this time sees ideals as to what constitutes “feminine” and “masculine” the argument is that which society deems the values of these terms -, but these values are transient being different from culture to culture, and from time to time. Anyway, Judith Butler (a feminist critic) argues that we learn what it means to be “feminine” and “masculine” through our culture...
    And what scientific degree does this Judith butler have? What medical education does she have? What biological experimentation has she performed to reach thgese conclusions? I bet she doesn't have any scientific background. I bet she's a liberal arts major of some sort. That's where this non-scientific rubbish originates from.

    and not through any inherent “reality”. So the little boy soon learns that “big boys don’t cry” and represses or conforms to that particular masculine ideal – to the point that such behaviour becomes “natural” – but it is not natural that boys don’t cry, it is the present cultural ideal of masculine behaviour. With this as an example we all learn what we believe is “natural” for our gender and for the most conform to that ideal.

    My four year old girl basically refuses to wear anything that is not pink – she certainly won’t wear blue because “blue is a boys colour”. She has already started to learn the signposts for her desired gender from our culture which pigeon-holes gender into neat compartments, idealising what it means to be male and female, boy and girl, masculine and feminine. One of the problems arising from this, if you will let me sidetrack a little here, is the abuse of power from one sex to the other, the dominant and the passive ideal of male and female roles. I mean even the very nature of our language is loaded with terminology which favours one over the other, taking the male masculine as “naturally” dominant over the other. So a woman (wo-man, womb man, with man being the original default) is “naturally” seen as secondary because our language is rooted in old stereotypes, for example with the male taking natural default in such terms as “chairman” “manhole” etc, but anyway...
    Because the word woman originates from womb man a social construct has been formulated to minimize women? Frankly Neely this is so ridiculous. It defies common sense, let alone biology.


    So, the article you posted for me was quite laughable on many grounds, but one of them being that widespread problems are occurring due to the “"anti-competition" PC agenda” which is “taking away the proving grounds for learning how to be strong men” from which “global business competitors and terrorist enemies are licking their chops”. When I say “widespread problems” you seemed to have misunderstood what I meant before when you said that he is not talking about widespread problems but a single issue that of “the growing number of underachieving males.” In the article he is seemingly making the point that the PC brigade is the root cause of underachieving males
    No, he didn't say root cause, he contributed.

    by taking away (supposedly taking away, see above poster) competition from our (your) schools, which is having the knocking on effect of weakening “schools, businesses, the military and others” by forcing them” to lower their standards and expectations” of individual. Notwithstanding the international threat to business and the terrorists who are now “licking their chops” because of the national weakening of male expectations due to the sole reason of the PC agenda with its “mushy, idealistic approach to child development.” Therein lies the hyperbole that you seem to think is a “legitimate claim”.
    He said it effects the lower 20%, he didn't say everyone. You are projecting a lot more into his claims that are in the article.

    So anyway, there is a “gender gap” between male and female college graduates based on that graph you provided, so what exactly does that mean and what does it really show? Firstly, I put “gender gap” in speech marks because that phrase is automatically loaded, it suggests a problem, a gap that needs bridging. In actual fact it shows that the gender difference (though we really mean sex difference not gender) of college graduates is about 6% more for female, than it is for male population. We can also see that in the past, from about 1950, which is the date the graph goes back to, to about 1990 it was always males that came out on top in the graduate stakes. From here we can interpret this graph however we like.
    I think the significance is in the slope of the curve and the acceleration of the trend. There are legitamate claims that the education system is failing boys. I alluded to other articles that we have discussed here, let alone in the public domain.

    We could write an article showing that these statistics prove that the problems facing women attending further education are being eradicated, meaning that a great deal of progress is being made for the equalities of the sexes. So in actual fact we could argue that this graph shows a great deal of progress in American institutions and society for greater equal opportunities. We could ask therefore what were holding women back in the past from progressing in education and come up with answers along the lines of the cultural expectations of female roles, getting married earlier etc. This is just one position you could argue, which would probably be my position, but with the realisation that this would be one point, based on one graph, which would naturally be generalised.
    Actually a number of strategies were incorporated for the last 25 years to help women achieve, and obviously they have worked. The point that the article brings up is that we now need strategies directed at boys.

    However, I wouldn’t say the stats show a problem for male education at college level at all. In fact it shows that since 1950 there has been a greater increase in male graduates from 1950 to the present, from just under 10 percent of the population in 1950 with a degree to about 27 percent of the population today. From here you could make a case for increasing standards of education across the both sexes over time. In fact you can make many, many points and counter argue them for days or years.
    Again it's the slope of the curve and the acceleration of the trend.

    This is just one of the reasons why I don’t read newspapers or other mass media forms because they often reduce very complex issues to ridiculous binaries, or they play off the fears and desires of an unsuspecting public that isn’t even built upon “reality” whatever “reality” is, where it is not culturally determined. Life and society is more complicated than that.
    Well, with all due respect, that explains it. You're an academic and you're unaware of real life issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanPip View Post
    We should also acknowledge other possible explanations for the lower levels of male admission to higher education. The fact is that decently paying manual labour still exists as a means of income for men. Women who want to have any sort of appreciable income must have higher education. While it is much easier, and socially acceptable, for a man to enter a trade like carpentry or plumbing. My father made a very good living as a plumber for 45 years, and these jobs are still very much dominated by males.
    There may be something to that, but I believe the drop out rates have a significant gender gap as well. Also, most of those lower 20% boys are relatively unambitious and get themselves into trouble. They aren't thinking about manual labor jobs. They aren't thinking period.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    seasonably mediocre Il Penseroso's Avatar
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    I construe it to be "serious damage" if children grow up with the expectation that obliviousness toward others is acceptable. The original quotes the author of that article uses are laughable themselves; the parents saying "give it your best shot and have fun" are the progressives, in reality, and at one extreme you have parents who force their children into the view that winning is an object in itself without regard for their treatment of others (the other side) and in defiance of referees or other authority figures (potentially teachers). I see it as potentially damaging for players to learn from role models (their parents) who emphasize success in sports as the numerical ratio of wins to losses over relationships and fun. That is the hazard of a too competitive approach to eduction; students lose sight of the rewards of an education and see grades and such as the determining factor over what they get from classes.

    Virgil,
    What are you advocating here? If you acknowledge differences in the mentality of boys vs. girls, do you think it is appropriate to segregate the sexes in early grades? Give them different educations? How do you see reports like that above impacting actual education procedures?
    and somehow a dog
    has taken itself & its tail considerably away
    into the mountains or sea or sky, leaving
    behind: me, wag.
    - John Berryman

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