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We need to get over the fact boys are boys

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POSTED January 7, 2014 10:40 p.m.

I was born male.

I make no apology for it.

At the same time, if you were born female the more power to you.

What I don’t get is the effort of a growing number of people to modify the behavior of boys. I’m not talking about cultural or societal behavior or pecking order. If a woman can quarterback an NFL team, no problem. At the same time if a man wants to take on the primary role of raising children and running  a household, that doesn’t make them any less of a man.

There is something wrong though with trying to neuter boys when it comes to predominate natural behaviors for their gender. Most boys tend to be aggressive, impulsive, full of energy/rambunctious/hyperactive, and curious. It’s called testosterone. But instead of trying to channel what are essentially natural behaviors for the gender there has been a movement afoot for years  to “fix” them.

Perhaps that is the reason more than 10 percent of boys in high school by some surveys have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or are considered candidates for such a diagnosis. That is not to say ADHD isn’t a legitimate disorder. Its just that we have made boys acting like boys a disorder in itself.

Studies have pointed to ADHD being heredity. But if that is the case, maybe the degree of ADHD is controlled by DNA while the “symptoms” of  being ADHD has a biological root in the male gender.

The burgeoning industry to find a cure for boys’ natural behavior is fueled by the school of thought that disputes that such behavior is gender ingrained.

Physical energy isn’t a curse. Nor is daydreaming or endless curiosity.

But being inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive can get boys into trouble whether they are diagnosed with ADHD or not. Too often modern society views inattentiveness, hyperactive and impulsiveness as bad things – especially for boys – that must be curtailed or punished.

Go back 50 years and there wasn’t a cottage industry based on boys being boys. Nor was there a big push to wrap – and therefore contain – boys in cocoons.

We used to not fear letting kids wander neighborhoods playing hide and seek, riding bicycles or playing pick up ball games. Skinning your knee wasn’t earth shattering. Climbing trees was allowed. You could even ride bicycles without helmets.

In summer, you could pack a lunch at dawn and join buddies to head into the countryside to explore streams, create forts in the middle of nowhere and do whatever your imagination and curiosity could muster before you had to return home to dinner.

Urbanization has made some of that impossible and safety fears amplified by constant media bombardment has made many parents overly protective to the point of putting boys on shorter leashes.

So is it little wonder that boys in particular get wrapped up in video games?

Camille Paglia has written volumes on the subject. She argues society in many ways – starting with school – can be toxic to boys who naturally have more energy, curiosity, and impulsiveness.

As a renowned feminist she notes, “If civilization  had been left in female hands we’d still be living in grass huts.”

Paglia also bemoans the fact Americans no longer value manual labor, that schools neuter boys, and that opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women.

She’s got a point.

Today we treasure the civilized effect that women have had on society but we view everything that men have done as destructive. Such a dim view wouldn’t have been taken just 150 years ago as it took brawn to both feed a family and build a nation plus restlessness and daydreaming to create what we know today as America with an endless repertoire of high tech advances.

Women played just as key of role in all of that. In fact, without the nurturing side of females that is  natural to their gender we would not be where we are today.

Man and woman built civilization. But now because we equate equal opportunity and all people being created as being absolutely equal we run the risk of pounding down generations of boys. The end result will bode no better for civilization and its advancement as the misdirected sentiment of centuries that more often than not viewed women as somehow second class.

The genders as a whole aren’t created equal. Men don’t have the plumbing to give birth and women don’t have the DNA building blocks to set the overall deadlift record. Yet men can nurture and raise children and women can compete in the same sports as men.

The worst thing we can do is not recognize basic differences between the genders. Pounding all natural behavior into submission regardless of gender is wrong.

Boys will be boys.

Girls will be girls.

We can’t change that.

But we can embrace our gender differences to move civilization to the next level.



This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or (209) 249-3519.

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