Sunday, May 20, 2018

The War On Boys

Blowing off the dust and clearing the cobwebs here so I can put up a new post. Geez...it's been a while.

There's been another school shooting, which means it's time for another toxic "debate" on gun laws. I use scare quotes there because, as we all know, there's no real debate, just meaningless posturing and moral preening from the gun grabbers and repeated denials that they don't really want to take away your guns when we know that's just not true.

But as always with these incidents, our shitty politics drives everyone into a pointless argument over the tool used by the latest unhinged high school kid while we all studiously ignore the more important point: Why in the hell are so many boys opening fire on their classmates? If over the last 20 years there'd been a rising trend of boys stabbing their classmates to death, what would we all be talking about? Surely not "common sense" knife control. Instead, we'd be having a more useful debate over what's causing boys to act out in such a horrifying way. It's time to separate the debate over why school shooters do what they do from the debate over the tools that they use.

I hate to break out the "back in my day" shtick, but when I was a kid in elementary school, boys were allowed to be boys. We played tag (sometimes aggressively), we played dodgeball (very often aggressively), and we got into fist fights. By the time we were in high school, we'd more or less sorted our shit out. Not that we were all perfectly well-adjusted young adults or anything like that, but we weren't complete and total assholes, either.

But something happened starting in the 1980s or thereabouts, and boys were no longer allowed to be boys. Boys became something to be feared and despised and, ultimately, controlled. In the process, boys' natural tendency towards aggressive play became something to be suppressed and stigmatized. These observations are nothing new. Christina Hoff Sommers wrote on this topic 18 years ago.

But it's not just what's happening in schools. In media and pop culture, one of the few remaining acceptable objects of ridicule is the American male. Just watch TV for a while, and watch the non-stop parade of male inferiority. Here's just one example of it in an Allstate commercial currently airing pretty regularly. The open contempt for males is palpable.

It's time we had an honest discussion about the "war on boys" and its links to school shootings.

No comments: