When I was growing up, the fastest way to get boys engaged in learning was to make it a competition between them and the girls. The girls usually won, but at least the boys competed.
Not anymore, apparently.
According to the book “The Demise of Guys: Why Boys are Struggling and What We Can Do About It” by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan, “Girls now outperform boys at every level, from elementary school through graduate school. … Boys are 30 percent more likely than girls to drop out of both high school and college … (and) it is predicted that women will earn 60 percent of bachelors, 63 percent of masters, and 54 percent of doctorate degrees by 2016.”
That boys are losing their competitive drive is due in part, I believe, to the systematic emasculation of young males that has been going on in our schools for two decades. Teachers, administrators, and bureaucrats, all mostly female, have decided that boys should “stifle their aggression,” “get in touch with their feelings,” and generally act like girls.
The results have been disastrous: our system now produces thousands of boys who grow up with no idea how to be men.
But boys also bear some responsibility for taking themselves out of the game. Assuming the population is roughly half male, and women aren’t inherently smarter or more capable (an assumption daily called into question at my house), the only explanation for the discrepancy Zimbardo and Duncan describe is general sorry-ness. Apparently boys are becoming more like girls in every way except the ones that matter.
It’s true that the women’s movement has empowered more girls to seek higher education and encouraged them to perform well in school. That’s a good thing — but it shouldn’t have to mean that boys fall behind. If they had any self-respect — if they knew how to behave like men — they’d be striving mightily to keep up.
The irony is that so many empowered, highly educated young women are desperately seeking men to be equal partners. As Kay Hymowitz points out in her book “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys,” “The conventional wisdom — not borne out by research, by the way — may have it that marriage is a raw deal for women. But college-educated women don’t seem to believe it. They are the most likely of any group to think that ‘married people are generally happier than unmarried people.’”
Obviously, guys, you have a lot of work to do to make yourselves even moderately attractive marriage material. You might want to stop fooling around in school and start trying to make something of yourself. Put down the video game controller. Move out of Mom and Dad’s basement. Go back to school. Get a job.
Otherwise, you’ll never be man. You’ll be at best a sperm donor —and maybe not even that.
Rob Jenkins is a local freelance writer and author of “Family Man: The Art of Surviving Domestic Tranquility,” available at Books for Less in Buford and on Amazon. E-mail Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit familymanthebook.com.