Feminism Shames Young Boys

March 18th, 2009 by Pelle Billing

Feminism is no longer considered to be just a theory. Most politicians in democratic countries around the world take feminist ideas to be facts, and have these ideas influence public policy in a very real way. In the US, UK and Sweden, feminist thinkers are advisors to the government and directly influence legislation and other decisions.

Feminism has even spread to schools, where boys now are shamed simply for being boys. Nobel prize winner and feminist Doris Lessing, described this phenomenon as early as 2001 in The Guardian:

“I was in a class of nine- and 10-year-olds, girls and boys, and this young woman was telling these kids that the reason for wars was the innately violent nature of men.

You could see the little girls, fat with complacency and conceit while the little boys sat there crumpled, apologising for their existence, thinking this was going to be the pattern of their lives.”

Feminist Christina Hoff Sommers has also written about the same tendency; in her book The War Against Boys she exposes how feminist ideas and sloppy research have attacked boys in US schools and turned boyhood into a disease.

Development Matters

So why is this such a big issue? Can’t boys see the wider picture here, and understand that the teacher is trying to correct past wrongs? No, this is exactly what children of a certain age are unable to do.

Children aren’t born with the cognitive capacities of your average adult, and before the age of 11, most children are simply unable to perform abstract reasoning or understand nuances when having a discussion. Instead, children below this age generally see things in either-or scenarios, and divide the world into dichotomies of “good or bad”, “wanted or unwanted”, etc.

The cognitive development of children was described by famous Swiss scientist Jean Piaget, and the fact that children and human beings develop in stages has later been verified by Harvard researchers such as Susanne Cook-Greuter and Robert Kegan, and Theo Dawson who did her research at Berkeley.

The effect of teachers bringing feminism into the classroom, whether they are feminists themselves or simply instructed to do so, is that young boys hear the message: “Girls are good, boys are bad.” Due to their cognitive development, this is the natural interpretation of feminism for young boys (and girls). This creates a sense of shame at a very deep level, and could quite conceivably affect the self-esteem and healthy development of these young boys.

I personally consider it an outrage that young boys are shamed in the name of feminism. First of all I consider feminist ideas to be a very unbalanced take on gender issues, and therefore I don’t even recommend them for adults. However, imposing these ideas on young boys who cognitively cannot help but be shamed and deflated is dangerously close to child abuse.

Let’s have a passionate gender debate amongst adults, but leave children alone, and stop telling them that there’s something wrong with them simply because they were born male.

Generation X, Y and Z

Those of us who are men and around 45 years old or younger, quite probably grew up (or are currently growing up) with feminism around us in one way or other, at least in The West. Being raised with feminist ideas floating around in society,  in our schools and possibly in our own families, means that we have all experienced the shaming I describe above.

As long as we are children who are cognitively immature, we simply don’t have the capacity to argue against feminism or put up any effective psychological defenses, and hence the shaming takes place.

As sad as these dynamics are, I also believe that Generation X and Y will be the generations that change the gender discourse forever. We’ve seen first-hand how destructive and imbalanced feminism can be, and aided by men from previous generations and by women who are sick and tired of feminism, the time has come to speak up and have our voices be heard.

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27 Responses to “Feminism Shames Young Boys”

  1. Danny Says:

    Invoking guilt is certainly a part of that unhealthy feminism you posted about a while back. There are those that will intentionally try to make boys and men ashamed of the being male under the guise of empowering women and girls. People like that are dangerous as they are obviously hurt males with guilt and shame and hurt females by giving them a false sense of empowerment.

    If feminism is about empowering girls and women why do they feel the need to tear down boys and men?

  2. Patrick Brown Says:

    Thing is, it’s not just feminism. How old is that song about little girls being made of “sugar and spice and all things nice” and little boys being made of “slugs and snails and puppy dogs’ tails”?

  3. Pelle Billing Says:

    @Danny: Yes, there are those who intentionally try to shame boys, which is horrible, but I’m primarily talking about feminists who are not trying to shame boys, but who do so unintentionally because they use feminist rhetorics with children. And below a certain age, children (boys) will make simplistic (either-or) interpretations, since they are not capable of anything more sophisticated. This means that even though the teacher/parent/adult had no bad intentions, the boy will learn that being a boy is bad and unwanted, while being a girl is good and wanted.

    @Patrick: Yes, I agree. The thing is, before feminism grew strong, little boys could still be proud of being boys and future men, even if they were not made of “sugar and spice”, since men were respected and appreciated for the role they filled. Each sex was respected for its gender role, however, in a postfeminist world the male gender role and men in general aren’t respected any more, and you’re not expected to be proud of being a man.

  4. Danny Says:

    Pelle do you think this may have something to do with feminist attempts at redefining what it is to be a man to their own liking? Notice how “a real man…”, “men are/aren’t supposed to…”, “if he were a real man…” come up pretty often (but don’t you dare make statements about a real women, that would be sexist).

    Do you think they are so blinded by their efforts to influence future generations of men they are causing this shame and guilt without realizing it?

    Then I will reword this:
    If feminism is about empowering girls and women why do they feel the need to tear down boys and men?
    into this:
    If feminism is about equality you would think they would be more care to about not harming one gender when trying to empower the other wouldn’t you?

    Sadly I think the answer to that question would be that we are trying to make feminism about males instead of females (“what about teh boiz?” would become a catchphrase) while at the same time claiming that harming boys is not their intent.

  5. Pelle Billing Says:

    “Do you think they are so blinded by their efforts to influence future generations of men they are causing this shame and guilt without realizing it?”

    Yes, I think this is exactly it. In their eagerness to use feminism to change the world, they forget that they are dealing with young boys who don’t have the capacity to think about gender issues in that way.

    “If feminism is about equality you would think they would be more care to about not harming one gender when trying to empower the other wouldn’t you?”

    Yes!
    Feminism has this very strange image of men as being powerful and omnipotent and unable to be shamed or hurt. This belief gives feminists the needed rationale to attack men time and again, and once that process has started they forget that little boys are defenseless and very easily shamed.

    Grown men are certainly not omnipotent in the way that feminism would have us believe, but at least we can fight back, and cognitively construct arguments as to why feminism is incomplete and sometimes plain incorrect.

    “Sadly I think the answer to that question would be that we are trying to make feminism about males instead of females”

    Yeah, feminism can only survive as long as the plight of men is ignored. The whole feminist movement depends on men’s issues being suppressed, and that is why many feminists will attack any man or woman who tries to include both genders equally in the gender discourse.

  6. Jim Says:

    Thing is, it’s not just feminism. ”

    The thing is that you can’t distinguish betwen this kind of feminism and traditionalism. They play off all the same assumptions.

    ““Do you think they are so blinded by their efforts to influence future generations of men they are causing this shame and guilt without realizing it?”
    Yes, I think this is exactly it.”

    This is exactly it. They are so mezmerized by their own righteousnness that little boys are just collateral damage in their crusade – not that they ever really gave a shit iabout what harm they might be doing in the frst place, sinece it was boys.

    If they cared about boys, why wouyd these same people be so adamant in denying boys help in schools and in doing something about incarcerartion rates?

  7. unomi Says:

    It would be helpful with a few more examples of how feminists are “shaming” young boys. I’m not sure if what one 81-year old feminist told a newspaper eight years ago is enough to get me worked up. The book sounds as if it might be better but the link to Amazon doesn’t really add anything.

  8. Lövet Says:

    Jim, you are on to something: I think it’s the mark of all academic “isms” that they concern themselves – with and only with – the overall ideological end according their personal world view. True to their theories all “disturbing details”, such as individuals crushed by their practice, are ignored.

    Because if those “details” were accounted for in their reasoning, their teories would fail.

    You could apply this on just about any “ism”. When it gets theoretized and ends up as a faculty in university – thats when the remaining “ism” humanism dies and individuals become ideological (political/religious) pawns.

  9. Lövet Says:

    unomi: A quick internet search (10 min) would have given you the same results as mine:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-390319/Boys-failed-schools.html
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=1545271

    Results of a Swedish search gave among other stuff:

    http://web.telia.com/~u18411153/NycanderSLUTVERSION_2006-11-17.pdf
    http://www.skolverket.se/content/1/c6/01/25/91/webb%20inlagan.pdf
    http://www.lararnastidning.se/LT_Output_2005.asp?CategoryID=3612&ArticleID=404568&ArticleOutputTemplateID=92&ArticleStateID=2

    I guess you hadn’t the time to look for yourself, but as you see the data is out there. Basically the summary of everything above is – that while the female struggles in the 50:ies and 60:ies where due to the patriarcical structure of education – the current mal failure are the boy’s own fault.

    Well that was unexpected, eh…

  10. Jim Says:

    unomi is right. This is old information. But the question remains – is anyone still imputing war to the Patriarchy, is anyone still treaching that ullshit to young boys? If so, Patrairchy” as a term is a feminist jargon, and using it makes one at least a temporary feminst or a feminst sympathysizer. Using it on a captive audience of vulnerable children is shaming and a form of abuse.

    Officious old matrons shaming litle boys is nothing new. It’s not necessarily feminist. However people who use terms drawn from feminism, or base their comments on aspects of feminist gender theory, such as “men cause wars”, “”women are the natural nurturers” etc. then those people are feminists.

  11. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Its happening all the time. Not a single day goes by that without yet another example off negatvie value-judgments of males and masculinty. Mainly from feministic writers. (swedish newspapers have alot of those). The problem is that male-bashing is norm, and as such hard to see. You are used to it.

    But heres an example of feminist male-bashing; Irene Wachenfeld, an infamous feminist in sweden claims that the sole reason the kid in germany shot people at his school was because he was a man. The thread is full of feminists that defend her position against upset men.

    http://newsmill.se/artikel/2008/09/25/han-dodade-att-han-ar-man

  12. Pelle Billing Says:

    unomi:

    “It would be helpful with a few more examples of how feminists are “shaming” young boys.”

    Well, feminism itself shames young boys when they are exposed to it, and it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to feminist ideas. There must be something very wrong with men for feminism to exist, no? At least that’s how a young child would interpret it, who still divides the world into good and bad without nuances.

    Grown men are shamed by feminism too, but at least grown men can fight back intellectually, and develop alternative, more accurate ways of describing reality.

  13. Pelle Billing Says:

    Jim and Lövet,

    I agree that ideology can be a dangerous thing, and ideologies such as feminism rarely pause to think about the effects its teachings might have.

    I’m not talking about pragmatic equity feminists of course, and other feminists who try to take the perspective of both sexes.

  14. Pelle Billing Says:

    Bj0rnborg:

    “The problem is that male-bashing is norm, and as such hard to see. You are used to it.”

    Yeah, it’s become the norm step by step. Here’s a book that deals with male-bashing in the media.

  15. Jim Says:

    A very valid quibble here is that is unfair blame all feminists for the actions of a few, and that is what Pelle points out when he mentions equity feminists. This is the probelem – feminism is all over the map; feminists contradict each other and declare each other non-feminst or anti-feminist left and right to the point where the term has become meaningless as a descriptor.

    And very often when you call them on it, you get some variation on that tired old shit about how women are entitled to be “mysterious”.

  16. Bj0rnborg Says:

    Unomi:

    SInce you asked, I decided to write down a few examples of blame and shame-tactics vs men from the last month. The newspaper Ive used is METRO, but im quite confident that this exact result occur wichever swedish newspaper I had used. I will only list some of the most obvious examples.

    http://www.metro.se/2009/03/11/82320/systerskapet-gloms-bort-resten-av-are/
    Claims:
    -Men (not patriarchy or gendersociety, wich still would have been a sexist statement btw) have actively tried to stop female salary-advances and right to their own sexuality.

    http://www.metro.se/2009/03/04/65991/jag-vill-aterfodas-som-vit-medelalder/
    Claims, among other sexist things:
    -Successful men have made career through exploiting their wives good will. They also dont give a crap about their children and are lazy.

    http://www.metro.se/2009/02/23/5857/darfor-ar-sverige-inte-alls-jamstallt/
    Perpetuates lies about male violence long debunkted, such as that everyother (50%) of women above the age of 15 have been subjected to male violence. (this from a infamous rapport called Slagen Dam, or Captured Queen) aswell as the wagegap. Not to mention how she perpetuates the female victim-mentality through describing casual happenings as norm.

    http://www.metro.se/se/article/2009/02/17/10/3603-45/
    Claims:
    -The nuclear family is a way for men to exploit women. Demeans her own husband and ridicules him and his chances to organize their kids 6-year birthday.

    http://www.metro.se/se/article/2009/02/16/11/0120-45/
    Claims:
    Racism is something that especially MEN do.

    This list could truly go on forever. But a more interesting discusion than “do male-bashing really exist” would be “How come women participate in male-bashing and dont even see it?”.

  17. unomi Says:

    @Lovet

    Yes, I know how to Google but that wasn’t really my point. If you read a newspaper article or a blog post you expect the writer to provide you with all the information, and not to leave it up to the reader to find the most relevant pieces of information. Also, you seem to have misunderstood the post. The ABC and Daily Mail articles are about today’s curriculum being optimised for girls and thereby failing boys (“male brains”), not about feminists “shaming” boys by telling them how horrible men are.

    @Pelle

    Well, feminism itself shames young boys when they are exposed to it, and it’s almost impossible to avoid exposure to feminist ideas.

    That’s hardly what Lessing was telling the Guardian. Again, some sort of proof that boys really are being “shamed” would be nice, before accusing feminsm of bringing down the entire education system.

  18. Pelle Billing Says:

    Unomi:

    I haven’t accused feminism of bringing down the entire education system. Could you please tell me where I wrote that?

    What Lessing was telling the Guardian *is* that feminism is shaming young boys. Did you read the quote, and the article?

    If you want more research quotes, then start by checking out the book The War Against Boys. I may post a few sources myself later.

  19. Pelle Billing Says:

    Unomi,

    Check out this material, supported by the US Department of Education.

    This “antiharassment guide” suggests that teachers explain to students that “We need to understand how boys and men are learning to equate violent behavior with ‘manhood’ in order to de-link the concepts”.

    There are several lesson designed to render boys aware of the ways males systematically inflict suffering on females. For example the following exercise: “Ask the students to close their eyes… Once they’ve closed their yees, say ‘Imagine that the woman you care about the most (your mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend) is being raped, battered or sexually abused… Give them at least 30 seconds to think abou the scenario before asking them to open their eyes”.

    IMO, these kinds of exercises are appropriate for convicted sex criminals, but not for young boys who’ve come to school to be educated. Boys are deeply shamed by having such exercises be part of the curriculum.

    The thing is, you pretty much need a whole book (or at least a couple of chapters) to “prove” how boys are shamed in schools, and it is beyond the scope of this blog post to provide all the background information. I’ve linked to the book that contains all the sources; beyond that, it’s up to you to verify the sources if you doubt them.

  20. Jim Says:

    On top of which the bias is obvious in those questions – the same little boys will almost certainly have either witnessed and/or experienced plenty of female-on-male violence – emotional violence, physical violence. In the US the majority fo child abuse is committed by miothers, with the next largest category being abuse committed by mothers and boyfriends.

  21. Men’s Reactions Towards Feminism Says:

    [...] Experiencing guilt and shame. It’s easy to become overwhelmed when we are told that men are bad, men oppress women, men cause wars, men are violent and all men are potential rapists. Who wants to be an alleged oppressor? As a result many men experience conscious or unconscious guilt and shame whenever feminism or gender issues are talked about. Feminist shaming is especially toxic for boys growing up with feminism. [...]

  22. Lövet Says:

    unomi: You wrote: “If you read a newspaper article or a blog post you expect the writer to provide you with all the information”

    Well I for one have lost all illusions about media (“traditional” or “new”) being “fair and unbiased”.

    In fact there are numerous accounts were media consiously omitts important info, just to set an agenda. I dare say that gender politics is one such area, where this is more common than others.

    The typical Swedish media has reported:

    - “More girls ar failing math” (meaning “more girls than last year” (while “forgetting to mention” that still more boys than girls are failing)

    - “Suicide attempts among girls is increasing” (not mentioning that still much more boys are commiting suicide)

    - “Old male culture behind boy’s failures” (stating a “there seems to be” a culture of contempt against schoolwork among boys, and other unsupported claims on the “It’s the boys own fault” account)

    …I have learned that to find ut more I need to search for more information. Neither “old media” nor the bloggs gives a full picture and they don’t even aspire to try.

  23. Pelle Billing Says:

    Lövet,

    Personally I try to combine a few different methods for getting accurate information:

    1. To actually see the source myself (such as a research paper) or to at least have the person making the claim refer to the source or quote from the source.

    2. To check whether the claim actually makes sense, when you relate it to well known facts in various scientific disciplines.

    3. Exposing hidden assumptions in people’s line of reasoning, such as when feminists claim that men are responsible for their own problems, but women are not. If you make such an assumption then the burden of proof rests squarely on you. This is actually one of the main problems with feminism; they make lots of assumptions and then they expect anyone who disagrees to prove that they are right.

  24. Eivind F S Says:

    This is an incredibly important topic you bring up here, Pelle. I don’t know much about what goes on in schools today, I have to admit, but I’d have to be blind to not see how men are linked with most of the dirt in society and how women are linked with that which is pure and innocent.

    Just to zoom out a little and take a wider view of things: I think there’s some validity to a claim that violence is inherent in the masculine makeup. That’s evolutionarily determined. But this violence – or perhaps anger is a better word – is only destructive in its immature form.

    What we see now, as women turn increasingly masculine, is that some of them access the archetypes of boy psychology (sometimes also man psychology), which has them channel their hurt in aggressive and destructive ways.

    And since boys – and men – have been shamed, we don’t dare to access the mature anger – man psychology anger – inherent in the masculine makeup. We don’t dare access it, because we are afraid to be vilified. We have essentially been castrated, free only to access the feminine and the passive sides of boy psychology.

    The end result is that women are free to express masculine anger in the name of girl power, whereas men are not free to do much anything to defend themselves and stand up to the barrage, lest they be shamed and brandished violent brutes.

    Of course, the strongest men find freedom within these social constraints as well (and feminists find them incredibly sexy of course), but there aren’t many of them. Most guys’ masculinity (in Scandinavia) barely survive, and they are hardly even aware of the cultural ruins of a manhood that was once praised for all its benevolent qualities, but that was sacrificed on the altar of political correctness.

    Are you all cool with that?

    Eivind

  25. Pelle Billing Says:

    Eivind,

    Yes, men who grow up with feminism need to reclaim their power, since male power is always linked to a negative phenomenon in the feminist discourse (male violence, patriarchal power structures, etc).

    We need to reintroduce male pride, as strange as that might sound to a postmodern feminist.

    Teaching men that there’s something wrong with them, simply because they are men, is a horrible thing to do, but that is exactly what feminism has done.

    Pelle

  26. Lövet Says:

    Pelle Billing: I agree with all three methods. I do however lean towards actually suspecting media, that is newspapers, radio and TV mostly for actually always over simplifying. In my experience it’s a matter of fact that the more you new about a subject the more errors (omissions, misinterpretations etc) you find in the media reportings. Generalising those experiences to areas which I don’t now so well, makes me doubt those reports also.

    However: With regards to Swedish gender politics, the biased reporting is so common that you rarely see a unbiased article, let alone one that is biased pro men (except in the sports pages).

  27. Andrew Says:

    I grew up with the women’s movement. My mother was really passionate about it. From my perspective the ideas came out like a blast out of cannon. The reality of most women in the 1960′s and 1970′s was pretty dismal economically and socially. The philosophy was meant to empower women and give them tool to look at their situation with new eyes. Unfortunately that came with allot of anger. It came with allot of blame and shame and like most people learning something new their not good teachers of it or good teachers at all. I mean as a boy or youth you really don’t know enough about the world or what masculinity is you’re a kid concepts of masculinity and femininity are abstract as is domination, patriarchy, gender roles and subjugation. The Redstockings really heated it up with no sex with men till equality was achieved and worse. The value of history as dead white guys really took away from the and me any good man in history. They essentially assassinated all male role models – fathers, coaches, military men politicians, sports, firemen, policeman, priests, whole intuitions as aggressive, demeaning, prejudiced, and brutal – feminists left nothing untouched -even the type of sex. Men had to be changed to something new – the sensitive guy was the answer. The poet the artist but only the good ones not Hemingway or Not Burkwoski or few others known for drinking and having affairs As boy that pretty much flattens you. You have no role models and the sensitive guy they wanted in the 1970’s he was crushed 99 out of 100 times. I mean the world of men in a capitalist society is football game. You can go out onto the field all you want with notions of love and connection but you’re going to get blasted. Male society does not relate well to men or young men without influence.
    But here is what I knew feminism was up against. In the 1970’s and beyond a man could beat his wife up or ex-wife and not even get a ticket. He could hold out on child support. There was no law to garnish his wages – he paid pretty much what he wanted to. Even if the woman wanted to get a lawyer she didn’t have the money! She pretty much was sent into a deep poverty. I mean deep. If she wanted to go to work she had to get in line behind men usually with a high school diploma – even if she had a college degree she did not have resume. If she got a job- there was no sexual harassment law and many employers did not like hiring mothers. They liked hiring young single women. Women could not join the army, the police, the fire department and politically there were no women –zip anywhere in government – nowhere in upper management. I saw this

    So when feminist spoke about a change in men and society – yeah men as group need to change – people need to change. I Still think that in may ways early feminism as today really lacks teaching skills as it is with boys. The concepts and ideas don’t ground them nor do they have the conceptual frame work at certain ages to handle the feminist ideology.


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