Real Men Don't Write Blogs

Exploring love, marriage, and other difficulties.

Fighting For Our Sons

I wrote a novel some 10 years ago, and like most novels by unknowns (especially when they are academics), it was never published. The main theme concerned an issue that had troubled me for at least seven years: how boys and young men were falling behind girls and young women in school and in achievement, how so many of them seemed to lack direction, and how society hadn't seemed to notice. Read More

"Fighting for our Sons"

I am a single Mom. My son was effectively abandoned by his father from birth. The man died just over 2 years later. I was left raising a white son in a world increasingly hostile to males. I looked to find men who could be role models for my son - to teach him what I could not myself demonstrate. Could I find them on TV or in the movies? Nope - not unless the movies are really old. Men in most modern dramas are normally portrayed as being either (1) stupid dim wits (most of these being "dads" - e.g. BEETHOVEN); or (2) Rambo or 007 (most of these not being married, not being fathers, and frequently not being moral.) And then I look at work, where we have "Diversity" groups for every group under the sun EXCEPT males - yet there can be WOMEN'S groups - so why not a group for men? And what does this mean for the time that my son enters the workforce? Don't tell me that men do not need support groups also. And, another thought: How many single parent families are single parent families BECAUSE men do not learn to be men/husbands/fathers and are effectively told daily that it doesn't matter if they are?
Luckily, I have found men who are willing to mentor my fatherless son, and demonstrate through their own actions what it means to be a good husband and father and a gentleman -- but these role models are daily counteracted by the popular culture.
Not worried? You bet I'm worried. But where do I turn? What advocacy group can I join? Men, I think, get shot down if they so much as try (so I thank you for the courage it took to write your article.) I'm willing to state (at the risk of my job), "Hey - if you have a WOMEN'S Diversity Group, you MUST have one also for MEN." And I'm willing to say a GREAT DEAL MORE than that as well. So, where to I join? Is anyone else willing to join with me?

On the one hand it does seem

On the one hand it does seem like girls are getting more attention than boys, however I think it is unfair to say boys don't have male privilege. If you are looking for male role model's you can see them everywhere. You don't have to tell a boy he can be a doctor or president because they can see that other boys can achieve this, girls don't always get the ability to see women in positions of status. A good example of this is in the maths, sciences and engineering sectors. These are very well paid and desired fields and they are almost entirely male populated. Boys are encouraged regularly to work hard in these fields and they have many role models to look up. Women who go into these fields are subject to stereotype threat and tend to have few viable roles in these fields.

Julia, What a basic feminist

Julia,

What a basic feminist comeback which is all wet, only one person can be president at a time but how many men are unemployed, homeless or working for minimum wage. I am a pale male, but that didn't stop me from being raise with a parent on welfare. I did not get any special privileges when my ex wife cheated and now receives 1/3 of my pay while two of the three children live with me. I work at a University where we have black history month or her story month or domestic violence awareness month but we have no special month for men. Men are told to shut up and work the long days at the riskier jobs while women have the privilege of taking time off and then they complaint about the mythical wage gag.
I could go on but I have to get back to my privilege life at work so my ex can stay home and do nothing.

The issue is not about the

The issue is not about the one man who is president, it is about the little girl who knows there has never been a woman president. I understand you had a hard life, but I do think it is important to acknowledge that never seeing anyone like you in a position of power, or if you see them they are the clear minority, can be disheartening for young girls. I am not trying to discount any problems you personally had but socially it does affect young women.

And to address your comment about black history month, or her story month, there is a no month for male history because western culture just calls and teaches that as history.

Julia, 2 years ago a black

Julia,

2 years ago a black person had not been elected to the Presidency, but that didn't mean that they didn't want to be president, so I do not understand why girls can not dream to be president. Is there something in the Bill of rights or our constitution that claims women are excluded.

My point about herstory and black history or domestic violence is some of the accusations that come with these months about white male privilege. Please read the book by Warren Farrel call the Thy Myth of Male Power.

Boys (and Men) are people, too

Mark, I really appreciate your post- it reminds us that nurturing a culture is an on-going process, one that needs revision and renewal at regular intervals. How we talk and think affects our actions as a society- the mistake is when we stop talking and thinking, and act as if the status quo is an arrived at 'solution'.

Young people need support, and disadvantages are disadvantages. I think what is important is that we stay aware of biases, and maintain on-going efforts to prevent stereotypes from pushing any group down or to the edges.

I particularly like your suggestion that an under-educated, under-employed, under-valued man facing socially sanctioned limitations will experience the same frustrations, depressions and anxieties that women did (or do) in the same circumstances, and the implications for loving partnerships are not hopeful. We need to look at the values we are expressing in our culture, about maleness, fathering, and male relationships to each other and with women.

The trick will be to avoid an either/or mentality, and to keep a boy positive conversation out of the realm of political backwardness, nostalgia or return-to-oppression discourse.

The Big Picture

As someone who teaches at a large research university, I am happy to report that I have just as many talented male students as female. The ranks of the slackers are also evenly distributed by gender. Likewise the sense of entitlement, which is frankly out of control among my mostly-suburban, middle class students. But I digress. I can predict how well a student will perform based on one thing: does this person like to read?
I'd also like to point out that the entire history of Western Civilization has been "Take Your Son to (whatever) Day." One need only look around to see that men dominate in just about every aspect of life and profession. Also consider that women *still* make less money for the same work. So yes, the reins of power are still pretty much in the hands of men. And if parents are disturbed by what they see happening to their boys, then they need to step up and do something about it. The first step, in terms of success, would be to impress upon them the importance of reading. I don't buy the excuses I hear about why most boys don't like to read, especially since I could fill a football stadium with the number of men I've met who like to read. If you don't raise your child in an environment where reading is valued and treated as something entertaining (not just a necessity), then your child is going to struggle in school. It's that simple. So, parents, do what you must to figure out how to get your child engaged, model the same behaviors you want to see in him, and talk to him about the myths and stereotypes our culture loves to perpetuate.

Reading

Hi Sabine, I think you are right on.

Academic success isn't possible without becoming
a good reader, and becoming a good reader just doesn't
happen without learning to love reading. This is true
for both boys and girls, men and women.

Here are some tips on how parents can encourage
reading for pleasure:

http://www.creativeteachingsite.com/read1.htm

http://childrensbooks.about.com/od/forparents/a/resolutions.htm

"Elley found the availability of books is a key
factor in reading achievement. He studied the reading
achievement of children in 32 countries and found that
factors which consistently differentiated high-scoring
and low-scoring countries were large school libraries,
large classroom libraries, regular book borrowing,
frequent silent reading in class, and frequent story
reading aloud by teachers. The highest scoring countries
typically provide their students with greater access to
books in the home, in nearby community libraries and book
stores, and in the school."

http://www.edresearch.info/access.asp

Regarding the fact that some males are lagging their
female counterparts, I think the fact that girls
generally like to read more than boys does help
explain the discrepancy.

Also dyslexia is more common in boys than girls.
Here's a story about comic books being used to
overcome dyslexia:

http://www.rd.com/your-america-inspiring-people-and-stories/from-dyslexi...

-----

Reply to Terry S.

Terry S said

*Regarding the fact that some males are lagging their
female counterparts, I think the fact that girls
generally like to read more than boys does help
explain the discrepancy.*

Can everyone imagine the deafening protests of sexism if a man said "Concerning the fact that some females lag males in math, I think the fact that boys generally like math better than girls explains the difference."

Any honest observer knows what would happen...just look at how Larry Summers was kicked around for a much milder comment. Women get away with such outrageous actions owing to FEMALE PRIVILEGE.

Missing the point

Anonymous,
you're intentionally being obtuse in order to twist that comment into a different claim. Saying that more girls than boys enjoy reading is NOT the same as saying boys are predisposed to be better at math, which is what Summers said and why he deservedly got "kicked around."
I can tell you enjoy being a troll, so I'll say no more.

Reply to Terry S.

Terry S said

*Regarding the fact that some males are lagging their
female counterparts, I think the fact that girls
generally like to read more than boys does help
explain the discrepancy.*

Can everyone imagine the deafening protests of sexism if a man said "Concerning the fact that some females lag males in math, I think the fact that boys generally like math better than girls explains the difference."

Any honest observer knows what would happen...just look at how Larry Summers was kicked around for a much milder comment. Women get away with such outrageous actions owing to FEMALE PRIVILEGE.

Misandry Sampler

93% of all workplace deaths are MEN (while women and some men pretend women do equal work).

Women dominate lots of professions, but feminists try to pretend that it does not give women POWER.

For example, women DOMINATE the field of child care and early child education. Women control the minds of boys and girls in their most formative years (feminism has arrived in schools earlier and earlier).

Boys start hearing how bad men are from an early age and girls begin to be indoctrinated in misandry from an early age.

Women are in the best position to brainwash our children (they dominate child care).

Children are taught about the wage gap mythology very early in life (they are taught that women do equal work - which they dont - equal work is equally dangerous)......The Bureau of Labor Stats declares that women work shorter hours (not equal), closer to home (less travel), mostly indoors (unlike men who mostly work outdoors).

In the police, the military, and the firefighters, while so many make up a mythology of women doing equal work, they have special entrance requirement for the job which are always less than that for the men.

Men have to do thirty push ups while women have to do only 20 push ups and we can all hold hands and pretend that that is somehow equal.

Sabine, I hope you are not

Sabine,

I hope you are not that obnoxious guy from F&F, please read the Warren Farrell book about the myth of the wage gap.

I am who I say I am. Who are

I am who I say I am. Who are you, Anonymous?

The Grass is Greener on the Other Side

Mr.Sherman,
I see the major picture on how boys are truly lagging behind girls in the academic world. As a 17 year old girl though I see a whole different side to your story. You talk about how girls have an advancement, but I have to disagree. Girls do not have an advantage. In the world we live in today no one takes girl's sports seriously. Look at the difference in the crowds; it is as plain as day. Most boys joke about girl sports! Also, I have never found one guy who dreamed of having lots of girls. I can respectively say almost most of the United States males want lots of boys to play with, but when you ask them about daughters they don't care if they have one. Girls are also known to be full of drama and rude, while there are just as many boys who like to gossip and start fights between others. Girls may have an advantage in the academic wold, but boys are preferred and idealized compared to girls in general. Girls are not taken seriously.

Thank you for this. Although

Thank you for this. Although I still disagree that women have the edge in academics when there is a clear gender bias in the science and math fields.

If there is "male privilege",

If there is "male privilege", why are the vast majority of suicides male?

Why are 85% of the homeless male? 95% of workplace fatalities.

Why are women allowed to commit child molestation and domestic violence against boys and men without commensurate legal punishment?

Why are women allowed to levy accusations of sexual crimes against men without punishment for false accusations?

Why isn't there a "Violence Against People Act"?

Why are men denied custody of their children in the vast majority of divorces even though women are responsible for the majority of child abuse?

Just because a catchphrase from decades of shoddy feminist scholarship and pseudoscientific "social sciences" has been uttered again and again doesn't make it real.

A 17 year old girl's objections to poor attendance at women's sports events and anecdotes from the middle tier social "scientists" are the main evidence in the comments section for so-called "male privilege".

Scholarly journals hardly do any better.

No wonder so many men and boys are disengaged, and avoiding the financial and legal slavery of marriage.

Perhaps it is just a rational response to their environment.

To male privilege

I see where you are "upset" with my opinion. I will respect your's, but men in general look down on women. It was purely immature of you to call marriage a "legal slavery". Obviously you have not experienced a copious amount of like and gratitude towards someone. Women can not be blamed for the way you fee about marriage; that is your own problem.

I don't know if this kind of

I don't know if this kind of gender based approach is appropriate. Many of our children, boys and girls are doing very well. Some are doing spectacularly well. Others have a few problems. Some have very serious problems. Some of these problems are specifically linked to their gender, but many are not; poverty, physical or emotional neglect, substance abuse etc,

Given that resources to support our youth are limited, broad based,gender specific, programs inevitably direct a portion of the available resources where they are NOT needed. How about we identify kids with problems and just target them?

The responses

Many of the responses exemplify why the issue doesn't receive the necessary traction. The knee jerk response to trot out the routine canards about male privilege, wage disparity and social and professional position are tired tactics which are veiled attempts to hijack the conversation and blur the issue. What is clear to me is this ongoing dialogue, as reflected here is, one, women somehow have appointed ourselves as the sole experts on gender, even the male gender, and we dismiss through a lens of misandry our (flawed) assumptions about the male experience, and two, that somehow we have to bring the discussion back around to making sure we are the focal point of any gender issue, particularly in education. What we seem incapable of doing is accepting the views, voices and input of boys and men. Perhaps instead of asserting our assumptions we need to listen and accept as valid, their notions and experiences and be willing to share in the spotlight of gender discussions. The responses here smack of denial, obfuscation of the issue and an almost infantile response to cry louder. The numbers and studies are glaring and as the current stewards of society failure to address this issue with honesty, respect and intellectual integrity is irresponsible.

I am blessed with both a girl and a boy, and to suggest that the educational culture is free of severe problems with how it treats and educates boys is nothing short of absurd. Boys are discriminated against in education on a daily basis, and it is both sad and enlightening to actually listen to them. Maybe some of the female posters who assert their views as experts on the male experience should spend more time opening their minds versus using the opportunity to foolishly talk over and dismiss it and redirect the forum to focus on girls and women.

A wonderful blog post, and while there have been so many similar writings in the last decade, it appears that we are slow to react. What is sad is that were the genders reversed this would not be the case. Perhaps this is because those involved in education are primarily female, and it is threatening to consider sharing the mantle of gender issues and acceding female entitlement and privileges.

thank you

Thank you, Arianne.
The fact that you have both a son and a daughter makes your comments all the more significant.

There's a problem social psychologists refer to as "groupthink," and it occurs when the ideas of outsiders are not welcomed. This often occurs in any political movement, and I don't think that modern-day feminism has been an exception.
It's voices like yours -- with your experience watching both a daughter and a son -- that can really help put things on a more equitable and productive path.

Best,

Mark S.

The responses

Many of the responses exemplify why the issue doesn't receive the necessary traction. The knee jerk response to trot out the routine canards about male privilege, wage disparity and social and professional position are tired tactics which are veiled attempts to hijack the conversation and blur the issue. What is clear to me is this ongoing dialogue, as reflected here is, one, women somehow have appointed ourselves as the sole experts on gender, even the male gender, and we dismiss through a lens of misandry our (flawed) assumptions about the male experience, and two, that somehow we have to bring the discussion back around to making sure we are the focal point of any gender issue, particularly in education. What we seem incapable of doing is accepting the views, voices and input of boys and men. Perhaps instead of asserting our assumptions we need to listen and accept as valid, their notions and experiences and be willing to share in the spotlight of gender discussions. The responses here smack of denial, obfuscation of the issue and an almost infantile response to cry louder. The numbers and studies are glaring and as the current stewards of society failure to address this issue with honesty, respect and intellectual integrity is irresponsible.

I am blessed with both a girl and a boy, and to suggest that the educational culture is free of severe problems with how it treats and educates boys is nothing short of absurd. Boys are discriminated against in education on a daily basis, and it is both sad and enlightening to actually listen to them. Maybe some of the female posters who assert their views as experts on the male experience should spend more time opening their minds versus using the opportunity to foolishly talk over and dismiss it and redirect the forum to focus on girls and women.

A wonderful blog post, and while there have been so many similar writings in the last decade, it appears that we are slow to react. What is sad is that were the genders reversed this would not be the case. Perhaps this is because those involved in education are primarily female, and it is threatening to consider sharing the mantle of gender issues and acceding female entitlement and privileges.

My Feminist Mother

When I was around four years old, I overheard my mother saying, "I never new men could need love until I had my son. He taught me that boys are fragile, too."

offensive and not helpful to our boys

I do believe how males are being treated in society and portrayed in the media is alarming; I also consider myself a feminist. I am astounded that Mark Sherman suggests that these two views are incompatible. I find it hard to believe that any sincere feminist, whether male or female, would abandon the title just because another feminist publishes something that is offensive. But what is even more pathetic is that Sherman assumes that the "derogatory" term "Pale Male" is a direct attack on his own children! Frankly, I feel the New York Times did Sherman a favor by not publishing his article, it would just be too incendiary. Sure, boys are lagging behind girls in academics, in considerable proportions, but that is no excuse to abandon the fact that the western world is dominated by the decisions of caucasian males. Look at our government, corporations, an American history book... just take a stroll down a wealthy neighborhood in America and you will be enlightened into how much control white men posses. OF COURSE there are exceptions, and being a white male does not automatically mean that you will turn out to be a millionaire, a CEO or contribute to the extensive legacy of our forefathers. But more often than not, I feel this minority group simply does not realize just how privileged they are. I regret to say that Mark Sherman has just made it onto this list in my book. He just has the vice of his own children to hide behind, which is a totally independent matter. Maybe Sherman is just ahead of the times, fixated on a future America where blacks, latinos, native americans, asians and the overindulged female rule the world and white men will have to resort to writing articles in highly acclaimed newspapers to promote their cause. Sherman seems to propose that females have an unfair advantage because of the women's movement, which was a huge fight and sacrifice that our mothers and grandmothers endured just to have basic rights, but what disturbs me the most is that Sherman finds it somehow unfair that women are finally surpassing men in our schools and universities. That it is somehow a man's right to be superior to a woman in every measure possible. If Sherman was a TRUE feminist and TRULY concerned about young males in this country, despite ethnicity, it seems he would emphasize equality between the genders, instead of composing crass and general articles about how "Pale Males" are being targeted. That is an insinuation that would lead me to quit my love of men entirely.

I advocate support for all our children

Thank you, Gwynne, for taking the time to write with such intelligence and thoroughness, even though you take issue with my views.
Your saying that had my piece been published in the New York Times (and keep in mind that this was 17 years ago), it would have been incendiary really does help ease the pain of not having had my work appear in that prestigious venue. And I mean that. My intention was not to ruffle feathers.
My concern is about boys and young men – not men in power. And I’m not simply concerned about young white males. As I said in my post, I think the support given only to girls in the early 1990s and for years after didn’t do anything to help African-American males. Further, I am certainly not advocating inequality whether in regard to gender, race or ethnicity. I am simply saying that the ignoring the problems of young males – of all colors and ethnicities -- doesn’t offer a promising future for males or females.
Finally, I’d be lying to say I don’t want my own children and grandchildren to realize their full potential. I think that should strongly motivate any parent and grandparent, regardless of the gender, race, or ethnicity of their child or grandchild.

To Arianne (and everyone else)

Maybe the problem isn't that we entitle women to be more informed about gender issues (the interest arising from the result of having their gender being a signifcant issue in their lives), but that our gender norms oppress males, but especially boys and teenagers, into the 'alpa male' role which usually entails emotional insensitivity, homophobia, physical athleticism... the list goes on. The onset of self awareness is usually at the age of two, but then peaks during the duration of puberty, the beginnings of sexual awareness. This is the time when ads portraying the idealized, stereotypical man (like Axe's body spray, Gatorade and Hardee's) are influential to the male's developing self. The female equivalent to these ad's would be like seventeen magazine advertising razors, bikinis, perfumes etc. while simultaneously suggesting that women must be thin, physically attractive, whatever. The main difference, I believe, is that males feel less inclined to report the damaging affects of the media on their psyche, which ironically, is what the ads, televisions shows, professional sports, imply they should do. Just bottle it up inside. Girls, in contrast, are taught to share their emotions, that sincere communication is acceptable and rewarded. This is probably why more and more girls are abandoning the stereotypical mores and are focusing more on school... or perhaps females are just more intelligent. But what is more disconcerting to me, are the skyrocketing divorce rates and households with single mothers'. When boys do not have a proper father figure or solid male role model in their lives, they may feel insecure, misunderstood and alone. They may never develop a schema for what the role of a man is or how a respectable man behaves. Studies show that this affects females too, but not to the same degree. It's even more destructive when the father is deceased, incarcerated, remarried or unknown. This is especially pronounced in lower income, minority communities. How exactly, do you propose, the average male would express this in his academic environment? It probably wouldn't be so easy. I do not believe the problem is that our males are being questioned, silenced or disregarded in the classroom, but rather, that their unfortunate circumstances, whether they be devoid of a father, pressured to conform to their male peers or tempted to appear more sexually appealing to females. Females learn to balance social standards and academics at an earlier, less vulnerable age (due to the earlier onset of puberty) have more tolerant friends and almost definitely have a mother or female figure to emulate in their lives. It seems to me the concept of gender, more specially, the designation of acceptable ways in which to express your gender (which encompasses MANY characteristics), not necessarily the actions of individuals, teachers or the educational system at large, is what makes the discrepancies between male and female in the academic environment such a broad, complex and problematic issue.

Simply horrible feminist

Simply horrible feminist statements here. Stay away from our boys. You've done so much damage. Boys don't get to have rights/attention/program until you get all of yours? HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE FEMINIST!!!

Female Privelege - The Form of Privelege Feminists Igore

Female Privilege List
Privileges I have as a woman, that "others" - mostly men - don't have.

1. I’m under less pressure than others to engage in risky, dangerous and unhealthy behaviors - one of the reasons I get to live longer than others do.
2. I can choose professions that are less lucrative, and not be called a loser.
3. If I don’t rise to the top of my profession, it’s OK – people won’t judge me the less for it.
4. I’m entitled to the benefits of a safe, orderly society, but no one expects me to risk my personal safety to maintain it.
5. I have the right to have the overwhelming majority of personal risk suffered in defense of my country handled by others.
6. I’m allowed to avoid violence, and even run from it, without the risk I’ll be laughed at.
7. If I see someone else in danger, I’m allowed to stop and think carefully about my personal risk before saving them, without my courage being called into question.
8. I have the right to avoid risky, dangerous challenges, and not be called a coward.
9. I’m allowed to cry as a child and tell my parents I’m scared of something - my parents won't be disappointed with me.
10. I have the right to have most of the really dangerous professions handled by others.
11. If I commit a crime, I get less jail time than others would get for the exact same crime.
12. When I find myself with others in a terrifying, life-threatening situation, I have the right to be evacuated first, once the children are safe. Others can wait.
13. If I get slaughtered as part of some atrocity, people will be especially outraged and will call particular attention to the fact I was slaughtered. When others are slaughtered, it isn't quite as upsetting.
14. I have the right to give my child up for adoption, and thus totally repudiate any personal and financial responsibilities I might otherwise have.
15. I can choose whether I want to be a parent or not, knowing that society will compel the other parent to meet their financial responsibilities - whether they want to or not.
16. If I am personally attacked, I expect otherwise safe, otherwise uninvolved people to come to my defense.
17. If I see someone else being attacked, I’m not expected to risk my own safety to defend them. It's OK for me to wait for others to intervene, and it’s also OK for me to criticize others if they don’t.
18. In any dispute involving custody, I’m granted the presumption that I am the better, safer parent.
19. I have the right to interact with children not my own, and not have people look at me suspiciously.
20. If I choose to become a parent, people understand if I want to focus entirely on the personal, day-to-day care and nurturing of my children. Society expects my spouse to make enough money to make this choice possible.
21. I can get real nasty when someone makes me mad, and call them ugly, a loser, a nerd, a geek, a disgusting creep, a revolting little worm, a worthless piece of garbage, a scum bag, a wimp, a pervert, a jerk-off, an old fart, or a fat slob. After all, I have the right not to be treated meanly at work, and the right not to hear harsh things that might make me uncomfortable. I have legal recourse if that right is not respected, and I have the right to make this perfectly clear on my job interview.
22. I’m allowed to embrace and cultivate my spiritual qualities, and adopt a more elevated and more refined view of life - because other people handle all the "dirty work" like: yard work, garbage hauling, construction, fishing, mining, sewage disposal, street cleaning, long distance trucking, baggage handling, painting, sandblasting, and cement work.
23. If I fail at something, I can go to college and study the historical forces and social constructs that make it harder for people like me. If others fail, it’s because they just don’t have what it takes.
24. If I fail at almost everything, I can always teach college courses that explain why people like me fail a lot.

Please acknowledge http://sweatingthroughfog.blogspot.com/ when forwarding or copying this list

Something tells me...

This might not actually be a woman... :)

Seriously Anon, I don't know what your problem is but many of these little points on your list seem to scream "women are capable of less and therefore held to lower standards, and make all of us big, strong, competent men do everything for them! Stupid, whiny, ungrateful losers!"

Can everyone PLEASE just realize we are all people, we are all in this life together, and we are all leaving it together. No one's THAT superior, and no one's THAT inferior. Get over it, everyone's equal in the end.

*And to everyone arguing about which gender suffers more injustices: everything's a double-edged sword. To discern whether it's "better or worse" to be male or female would be pretty difficult.

Anonymous

I find it amusing that this ill-informed windbag prefers to go nameless.

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Mark Sherman, Ph.D., is a psychologist and humor writer.

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