When Boys Become Boys

Development, relationships, and masculinity

Boys Will Be Boys?

We are often quick to conclude that "Boys will be boys," especially when they behave in ways that confirm masculine stereotypes. However, there is more to boys than merely being "boys," and ultimately it is these qualities, which tend to be overlooked and undervalued, that will be crucial to their happiness and success. Read More

Are you ready for some...ballet?

I recently had a conversation with my niece about her dance classes. My curiousity could not be suppressed, so I had to ask my niece how her dance classes are structured, taught, perform and mimic. I wanted to hear in her own words, so calmly and attentive, she explains. Then she says, "Yeah and a guy..." That's when I stop her. I said, "There's a guy in your dance class?" She replies, "Yeah. The only one". I say, "How many girls are in your class? She says, "Eight". I say, "So he's the only guy? Is he, you know, different?" She says, "Tio(spanish for uncle)! I don't think so." We bouth laugh.

I think we have come a long way when feminine activities were predominantly enjoyed by girls or women. Take dancing for instant. Dance has attracted boys as well in todays generation, so my cment may have been ignorant and disconnected. However, due to my socializations, I made the assumption that he must be different. After all, if you are the only guy from a room full of girls, something must be going. Or you are very clever and want to meet girls. I doubt is the latter. So I ask: Is it fair for me to judge? I doubt it.

I previously stated before on a PsychToday post about how proving you are athletic can get you attention. My intelligence, for example, didn't get attention like my muscles. My quietness got me more attention before I went Batman doing pushups. And I heard it everyday. "Why are you quiet?", "Why don't you talk?", and "Why are you shy?" The shy question was a favorite. In many ways, I didn't prove my masculinity at school, because I didn't act like how a boy was supposed to act. You know. Talk to girls, be funny, be tough, etc. Even though I was intelligent, my own unique skills didn't get me the girls. I was quiet. I was, without a doubt, the quiet man.

Things happen without you even realizing it. I truly believe as a child, even to some extend today, that God has a plan. I believe I was such a good person that I needed a good girl. An honest girl. In my eyes, God owed me. I was on my good behavior, but unfortunately, I never got the girl I wanted. Not even til this day. While guys are "kicking it" with their girls, I'm over here wanting one who is equally smart and comely as myself, though I never really thought I was a good looking guy. Even when one of the girls at school comfort me and told me that girls in the school made a list of the hottest guys, and was in the top three(maybe that's why they wonder why I was shy, lol), I didn't believe it. Because I didn't get my girl, or at the very least, someone I like. And God bless my sisters. They were only trying to give me good advice, and not let their baby brother feel down. But pro-tip: their advice never worked. Lol

So I can speak on experience. I've seen it all, then it all changed after just doing a couple of pushups. Amazing how pushups can change your life. Everything changed. In my eyes, I was already a man, because men workout. So I thought I proved it because many of my friends were in foitball or basketball, and would workout at home. But unfortunately, perception is reality. Sometimes the only thing you need to prove is how honest you are with yourself, and that is something all men will eventually learn, especially when they least expected. That is something I can agree with.

Is this progress?

What you are saying is all well and good, but society today is on a pendulum swing to elevate girls and push and keep down boys - regardless of the boys' behavior.

A stereotypical boy who is active and rambunctious is time and again being diagnosed with a mental health disorder such as ADHD and/or placed in special education classes. They are considered dead last in college admission and job placement decisions. This is a crisis situation. Consider books like "Raising Cain" and "The Way of Boys" and others.

Also, a non-stereotypical boy who is sensitive and gentle with traditional "girly" interests is labeled as defective and bullied by others.

Girls meanwhile are increasingly being praised as today's action heros in books and movies and given passes for many things which boys are not. Girls are also the recipients of many new programs, scholarships, and one-gender awards not also offered to boys. Some in society see all the pro-girl and anti-boy developments as "payback" for the past. Is that fair? Is this what feminism is all about? Is this the vision society should support?

If this is the kind of punitive world you are advocating, I am sad for the world and its future. How can society show positive progress at the expense of half of its community? I am female, by the way, and have worked all my life in a professional field which traditionally was primarily male.

Do some people truly believe that there is no intrinsic biological difference between girls and boys? Why the need to squelch genetics and aim towards a homogenous society of boy clones?

Progress comes through the embracing of diversity. Should we not instead praise each individual's growth?

Communicating with Boys

I have a different take on the use of, "boys will be boys". Sometimes it's not that parents think their boys should conform to male stereotypes. Sometimes it's that they've tried to steer their boys away from stereotypical male behaviours in the past, but can never get the message across. Some boys just seem to enjoy rough-housing and no matter how often you tell them not to do so or no matter how often you punish them, they just continue to do it.

At some point, parents just get really tired of it, and just resolve to saying, "what can you do about it? Boys will be boys." Perhaps the issue is not so much that parents want their boys to conform to stereotypes as it is that it's simply hard to communicate with boys.

Great Points, Well Made

Wow, I was surprised by these comments. I didn't take this to be a put-down of boys or a commentary on the number of action heroes or scholarships available, but the importance of encouraging boys to be boys in all the ways that make them authentically human - tough, thoughtful, rough-and-tumble, caring, etc. A reminder to treat boys - and girls - as authentic individuals with different strengths that vary by person.

One of my daughters is very physical and likes to wrestle, etc. - other kids and even adults sometimes say that she "acts like a boy." She is who she is and to me she's pretty darn awesome in both her stereotypically gender-appropriate and gender-defying behavior. It doesn't seem relevant to define her behavior according to gender any more than it seems appropriate to categorize boys "as boys" for any specific behavior, which (to me) was this author's point. Well taken!

A humble opinion and story

I will give just a humble opinion.
I had three sisters and no brothers, my sisters normally forced me to play with their dolls with the condition that they will play with me and my race cars which they normally ended up destroying and I got punished about it. I always found the dolls boring. For me they were a piece of dull plastic with dull mechanic movements. I found no purpose to fondle and talk to a piece of plastic. It served no purpose.
I always wanted a puppy or a dog, which would be something real to take care of. I never got one. I adopted a very strange kitten probably abandoned by the mother. It had some genetic defects with very strange rounded ears and a short tail. My mother found about it in the second day, and I was able to keep it with the condition that I will take care of it, but one of my neighbor daughter found about it, I didn’t want her to play with it, she wanted to treat it like a doll; but my mother forced me into letting her play. The next day after school I found the kitten dead and shocked with M&Ms in the mouth. Thank God the girl admitted to give it the M&Ms, otherwise I would not be telling the story. Aka I would have been dead. Also, my sisters were able to back up the story that I just arrived from school.
I think nature (or God) created both genders with our own idiosyncrasies in order to prosper. There are a lot of other methods to teach boys about empathy and compassion than force them to use dolls with the easy and destroyable short reward mechanism that all female and feminist are trying to push.
I think equal rights for women and diversity is the way to go. However, I do agree with some other comments. Feminist are overdoing it.
First they constantly reward girls for standing still in a classroom, with the short reward method, they grow into older age and professionals that requires constant good girl you did it right. I am one of many husbands that getting tired from my own work I have to hear all about the laments about my wife work. The worst is when I have to hear how the slut coworker dressed with the lowest cut.
She earns more money for less work at the same company and less responsibilities and I have no complaints about it. One of my best buddies is her boss and normally gives her the best ratings. And believe me I do not want to be on his shoes, he is normally dragged into HR because most of the women think that the best performance rating is given to one of the guys there. I have a woman for boss which I am grateful. But hearing about other coworkers and not thinking about them when they pass by, it is very big task not to have a bad image about them. After all, you can see my wife talking like if they were the best friends with those same girls.
There is one thing I had learned. A woman can tell a girl jump into the hole and she will obediently do it. A boy will dig the hole and jump into it without telling him to do it. That makes you think more and ahead in order to prevent the boy from falling into the hole. The same applies in schools, teachers are lazy to place dynamics for boys or even the ratio of teachers to children is not right. But again any suggestion like this will be an attack like a hyena or a black widow from the feminist movements.
These organizations (With big salaries to their members) get more aggressive to men when their income start going down. They need the swarm of bees to follow them and convince everyone that they are the victims of everything. In the old days no one had it easy, no electricity, no water, no internet, no television, no cars, no tractors etc. Only hard labor made you prosper, but they have only short memory. Most of the new generations should have equal rights but they still act like they are in the medieval age with oppressors from imaginary ghosts.
I guess women require constant validations, boys require only one validation from boys to men and society (feminist) does not tolerate this simple issue. If boys need one time validation then girls have to be the same. And by the way sweet 16 is a validation for girls but they still want more.
Meanwhile, society is getting more violent. How many television shows validate a woman slapping a man in the face for things that were not even in his control? Of course an idiot character that can’t articulate himself. But that is what feminist want as society.

I have witness much of the

I have witness much of the unfairness that you have.

Women were cut a lot of slack in the old days because they had no rights, so it was kind of a consolation prize.
But, today, women have rights, but they still have the unaccountability .

Its time for men to pull back our support for women's advancement until we see some protection for our boys.

The contribution of women has fallen far short of the promise of liberation. Women are producing nothing of real value. They have failed to significantly contribute to the technical, scientific and political advancement of humankind.

We witness plenty of tokenism based advancement, but little real accomplishment.

Unfortunately, they are hellbent on conforming boys into some vague, feminist ideal that will inevitably result in rendering boys ineffective in the sorts of things that they should excel in.

Elementary schools are failing our boys

I don't quite agree with the article. I think the bigger problem is that boys are often judged by standards designed for girls. It's unfortunate, but I think the highly feminized school system has so few adult male role models that the "norm" expected is that which applies to girls. Yes, girls can sit quietly, but the fact is, boys are not designed to sit through long and boring situations. They have to get up and run around. They need to be boys, but the "system" doesn't let them. There is a lot research to support what I am saying. Below are some sources that I present to your readers.

"War on Boys"

"Elementary Schools are Failing our Boys"

"Boys are allowed to fight sometimes"

"Roughhousing is healthy for your children"

Your child will model many

Your child will model many influences - the strongest of which will be the men in their lives. If you, as a boy's guardian, have a progressive outlook then they will have the tools to stand-up to peer pressure to "man-up" and a wide range of other cultural pressures of self-identity. You either have these conversations & back them up with your own behaviour - or you don't. You can't blame peer pressure for your kids behaviour.

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Judy Y. Chu, Ed.D. is an Affiliated Faculty member of the Program in Human Biology at Stanford University.


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