Raising boys during a “Crisis of Masculinity”: a feminist view

I’ll always remember the day my first son was born. “It’s a boy,” said the midwife. “Urgh, take it away,” said I. “I’m a feminist. I don’t do boys.” The fact is, like all card-carrying feminists, I’m contractually obliged not to give a shit about the welfare of non-women. As far as they’re concerned, I’m all out for revenge.

Of course, that’s the theory, but in practice things are more difficult. When it’s your own children who’ve failed (as yet) to identify as female you end up making compromises. Truth is, I’ve found that I love my sons very much. It’s just everyone else’s sons who can sod off. It’s not as though a social structure which discriminates against them will have any impact on my kids, or on the genuinely important ones (aka girls). So let’s crack on with creating a world in which everything is weighted in favour of the latter.

This, more or less, is what all feminist mothers of boys must be thinking, at least according to a spate of panic-mongering Crisis Of Masculinity™ pieces in the Telegraph. For instance, five days ago, Fraser Nelson was arguing that “sexual inequality has reversed in Britain”, hot on the heels of Glen Poole claiming that the government is giving “unequal priority to our daughters, to the exclusion of our sons”. And then there’s James Delingpole informing us “our culture has lost the ability to channel the boisterousness of young men”. To hear all this you’d think we’d won already. Sure, we may be being led by a bunch of white, upper-class males, and there’s the pay gap, and domestic violence, and sexual objectification, and slut-shaming, and the shocking under-representation of women in all areas of public life, and women being judged on their looks even when they’re winning sodding Wimbledon, but remember – the Apprentice final is an all-female affair and we’ve got Loose Women. Job done!

But before we get too excited, it’s important to remember one thing — like it or not, boys are people too. It’s annoying, I know – and if it wasn’t for the likes of Fraser Nelson, I’d have forgotten it completely and left my boys at the local animal rescue – but facts are facts. And <serious voice> ladies, we’ve been so busy feminising everything, we’ve made some of these people, these male people, sad.

Now I don’t mean to take the piss. I’m well aware that there are specific challenges my sons will face because they are male. I worry about the high male suicide rate. I worry about the pressure to “be a man”, whatever that means. I worry about the mockery and bullying faced by those who don’t conform to Delingpolesque standards of masculinity. I worry about the confusion and disappointment my sons might experience when, having grown up seeing men or boys as the hero in every cartoon, the politician in every interview, the millionaire sportsperson in every newspaper, they discover the real world only gives you a free pass if you’re the kind of male Fraser Nelson is. I worry that, having seen women only as sidekick, carer, teacher or sexualised image, they will begrudge sharing the same space as them. I worry that, the next time richer, more privileged men want to screw the likes of my sons over, they’ll use women, all women, to deflect the justified rage, and I worry that if I’m not careful, my sons will buy it. After all, as Delingpole writes, these are “feminised, sanitised times”, and it takes an editor of the Spectator such as Nelson to tell us that “the market value of testosterone has never been lower” (thanks, chaps! Got any actual ideas for helping men less well-off than you? Thought not).

I don’t want the world to be like this for my sons or anyone else’s. Moreover, what I find truly disturbing is the way in which women – both those who identify as feminist and those who don’t – now stand accused for all these inequalities heaped on the shoulders of men, on the entirely spurious basis that if one man is losing, one woman, somewhere, must be winning. Yet this just isn’t true. It’s not how inequality works. If there are winners, today’s are the top 1% of earners, growing ever richer, people for whom the Telegraph has nothing but excuses. Instead they wish to cause dissent amongst the rest of us, presenting women as interlopers, stealing ground that shouldn’t be theirs. Of course the facts for this don’t exactly add up. We’re not all on the Apprentice or Loose Women, are we, sisters? And yet this doesn’t matter. Even when a woman performs a more traditional role – even if she’s Mrs 1950s – in Telegraph-land she’s still crushing the menfolk around her.

And this is the thing that really makes me cross. Proportionally, women devote a greater amount of time and effort than men to the care and education of all children, including boys. Indeed, all this time spent caring is routinely offered up as some bizarre justification for our lower social, economic and political status — and yet we don’t get any thanks for it. On the contrary, just by being there — just by making up the majority of the world’s arse-wipers, tantrum referees, toy fixers, play leaders, bedtime routine managers — we’re apparently screwing over the whole male sex by not letting them have “role models”. It’s not that those who complain are seriously suggesting that they’ll take our places (since that wouldn’t be very manly, would it, James?). They just want to point the finger. It’s like having someone sit on their arse while you clean the house from top to bottom, only to have them say “that’s not how I’d have done it. And you missed a bit. I wish we had a cleaner who was more like me. But not me, obviously”.

These accusations have to stop. They’re not fair and they’re not true. Right now, those who are fighting hardest for boys are the people who are there for them, those who are willing to challenge the pressures boys are under and to suffer low status and constant criticism because of what they do (female primary teachers and single mothers, I salute you). Those who fight hardest for boys are not those writing snippy articles about how a feminised culture won’t let them climb trees or be “boisterous” or go out shooting on the country estate. Those who fight hardest for boys want them to have genuine, not illusory, control over their own lives. If you believe in a fair world – and not simply in pitching one oppressed group against another while you sit smugly above it all – you should want this, too.

POSTSCRIPT: Having had a look at the comments on this post (to which I realise several people have been directed via an MRA site) I’ve now indulged in a little blocking. Apologies to those who’ve already had to deal with some very unpleasant ad hominem attacks. Also, I’m sorry for making some very carefully worded comments now seem out of context (but they remain no less valuable).

45 thoughts on “Raising boys during a “Crisis of Masculinity”: a feminist view

      1. Yeah, don’t waste your breath on Justice for Men and Boys. A bunch of traditional MRA types who claim to be about civil rights, but haven’t heard of the Southern Poverty Law Center (or the fact that the SPLC classified the US site they launched their campaign on as a hate group)

        1. For starters miss manhater, the SPLC was lacking in actual evidence of our so called “hate”, which is shown when they are forced to cite a guy named “manboobz” as their “source”

          ALSO, something you feminists are conveniently forgetting when you are constantly crying about the SPLC (Which is known for going after groups it disagrees with and labeling them “hate” in attempts to destroy them – like it did with the conservative family research center) article on mens rights is that they said the following:

          Intelligence Report Article Provokes Fury Among Men’s Rights Activists:

          From article: “It should be mentioned that the SPLC DID NOT LABEL MRAS AS MEMBERS OF A HATE MOVEMENT; nor did our article claim that the grievances they air on their websites – false rape accusations, ruinous divorce settlements and the like – are all without merit. But we did call out specific examples of misogyny and the threat, overt or implicit, of violence.”

          Any questions? Keep spewing your lies, but here is an excellent list of feminists hate that the SPLC, of course, won’t address:

          http://www.cultural-misandry.com/feminism-the-hate-group-2/

        2. For starters miss manhater, the SPLC was lacking in actual evidence of our so called “hate”, which is shown when they are forced to cite a guy named “manboobz” as their “source”

          ALSO, something you feminists are conveniently forgetting when you are constantly crying about the SPLC (Which is known for going after groups it disagrees with and labeling them “hate” in attempts to destroy them – like it did with the conservative family research center) article on mens rights is that they said the following:

          Intelligence Report Article Provokes Fury Among Men’s Rights Activists:

          From article: “It should be mentioned that the SPLC DID NOT LABEL MRAS AS MEMBERS OF A HATE MOVEMENT; nor did our article claim that the grievances they air on their websites – false rape accusations, ruinous divorce settlements and the like – are all without merit. But we did call out specific examples of misogyny and the threat, overt or implicit, of violence.”

          Don’t let facts get in the way of your lies.

  1. I thought your piece was pretty funny, but the comments are even funnier.

    Well said, and in an amusing way. I’m always baffled by the “feminists are letting our boys down” arguments. Eh? For exactly none of Western history did anybody care that girls were underperforming in school – not surprising, really, given they weren’t allowed in school – and yet as soon as they start showing what they’re capable of, it’s panic time! And all those wretched female teachers, who keep the doors locked so that all the men queuing up to be teachers outside can’t get in. Not to mention those hard-faced exclusionists known as childcare workers.

    The real crisis in masculinity is a society that’s been economically hollowed out so that boys who aren’t good at essays and sums have no meaningful work to look forward to, other than stacking shelves at Tescos. As you say, divide and conquer…

    1. „For exactly none of Western history did anybody care that girls were underperforming in school“

      What has this even to do with people living today? Is this some sort of inherited debt? If so – then name it. Being german i know this concept very well.

  2. Thing is, there are an alarming amount of feminists who really do want to kill little boys. Tumblr is full of articles with things like instructions on how to lure little boys away to secluded areas so you can quietly castrate or kill them—thereby saving your future daughters from potential rape. The simple fact is, so long as Valerie Solanas and her ilk are considered an acceptable part of the feminist movement, I can’t in good conscience call myself one.

      1. Body crimes – I had to laugh.

        Fidesphilio the thing is whoever is saying that is not a feminist. They are a crazy. Feminism is just wanting women to be treated equally and with dignity and respect. This involves saying guys can do non-traditional roles too and in fact it supports the view not all men are not idiotic rapists. You must know this so please don’t suggest some crazies have anything to do with the theology. Educate others too – don’t minimize such a beneficial movement just because of them.

        1. Bodycrimes, full marks for making a joke about the genital mutilation and killing of little boys. I’ve seldom come across such an appalling example of misandry masquerading as humour. How would you feel if a MHRA wrote in similar terms about luring away little girls before subjecting them to genital mutilation or murder? Would you find THAT a laughing matter?

          The late Valerie Solanas was, of course, the woman who shot and almost killed Andy Warhol, and was the author of ‘The SCUM Manifesto’ (1967). SCUM stands for ‘Society for Cutting up Men’. The Wiki entry on the book:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_SCUM_manifesto

          As you’ll see from the above, the book is FAR from being a source of inspiration for only ‘crazies’. It’s been translated into 13 languages, is on at least its 10th reprint, and is available to buy on Amazon and elsewhere:

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/SCUM-Manifesto-Valerie-Solanas/dp/1859845533/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1374157369&sr=1-1&keywords=valerie+solanas

          Are you seriously suggesting only ‘crazies’ have been buying the book over the past 46 years, and continue to do so? If so, there’s a huge number of ‘crazies’ out there… can anyone point to a similarly hate-driven book written by a men’s rights advocate, which has enjoyed any equivalent success?

          Mike Buchanan

          JUSTICE FOR MEN & BOYS
          (and the women who love them)

          http://j4mb.org.uk

        2. Mike, there is not one person here who genuinely wants to harm boys or girls. Back in the real world, if you compare the stats for men murdering women vs women murdering men, I think you’ll find Valerie Solanas has not had quite the influence you imply. Not that it is a competition. The vast majority of us love our children – I suspect even those who create organizations with divisive names that suggest that women who want equality don’t love boys and men.

        3. Glosswitch, thank you. I take your point, of course, but am I really alone in thinking that making ‘jokes’ about genital mutilation and murder of little boys is simply beyond the pale? If I made such ‘jokes’ with respect to little girls you and other feminists would rightly call me on it, plaster the matter over blogs etc. But I find the idea of ‘joking’ about the murder or genital mutilation of either little girls or little boys (or women or men, for that matter) equally and DEEPLY offensive. I’m reminded of the people who say the most awful things then cheerily say, when people are upset, ‘I was only joking!’

          Sorry, I don’t know what you mean by ‘I suspect even those who create organizations with divisive names that suggest that women who want equality don’t love boys and men.’ Are you referring to ‘Justice for men and boys (and the women who love them)’ If so, how does the name ‘suggest that women who want equality don’t love boys and men’?

          I invite any feminist who wants equality to let me know which of the many privileges British women enjoy, they’re prepared to forego to achieve that equality. The state advantages women over men in many areas, and advantages men over women in none. Maybe feminists’ denial of this easily demonstrable reality may explain why no feminist in the world has ever been prepared to provide detailed feedback on our public consultation document:

          http://j4mb.wordpress.com/a-challenge-to-all-feminists-everywhere/

      2. I’m not sure how ‘good’ you’d consider them but it’s mostly just suggesting you say that ‘mommy sent me to pick you up’—-and being a lady, you’re not considered automatically suspicious so he should come quietly. Also, I can definately link you the male murder pic though—but it’s of a full-grown man, not a little boy; dunno how you feel about that. And there’s not as much blood as you’d likely prefer. Mostly from his head, not his throat.

      3. I’ve never heard of the book or heard of any feminists saying I should read it. I still stand by the fact you have to be a bit of a crazy to write it and I think your disingenuous in relating this book to the main feminism movement.

        Who is reading it? I think your suggesting sales mean people were accepting what this person wrote but I disagree. I imagine it sold so much as it appears to have been related to Warhol – a very famous man. With it being so utterly outrageous of course with media hype it would sell. That is human nature. To take the understanding further not every person who reads Mein Kampf is a Nazi. They go looking at history, alternative theory to explore different views so they can talk about them eloquently on an informed basis and wonder how the hell it happened.

        I genuinely care for equal rights for men too and I don’t think it’s some kind of competition as your implying. I do know however that recently there was a feminist campaign to get facebook to stop allowing people to support violence against women and children on their site. They did not even recognize hateful images against these groups even though hate towards all other sections was moderated and dealt with.The images were absolutely disgusting that people were posting. That’s modern day culture. Not some book that was written in 1968. People laughing at beating the crap out of women, raping them, kidnapping them and people thinking it was ok. It took targeting the advertisers and media to get facebook to do anything as they really didn’t care. So what I’m saying is we’re living it. It’s not like anyone needs to write the book or a book would a threat. It would kinda be late to the party.

    1. If you seriously want to get into a competition regarding images of men killing women vs images of women killing men in popular culture, I wouldn’t bother. Nobody here wants to kill anyone, besides which any crime novel, episode of CSI or visit to the average 100% killing free feminist website shows you you’d lose.

  3. As for boys I think they are better off not being raised by a feminist and raised by someone who actually believes in equality. Raising boys and teaching them they’re bad is exactly why so many boys are problematic. Girls are not taught that they are violent, abusive rapists etc… they are taught “women wouldn’t do this” and that they are soft and caring, so clearly this means they wont turn out like that. It’s basically socialisation. When you raise a child like they’re bad, they are more likely to be bad. So in actual fact, feminism constantly reminding boys how bad they are, or how they are just flawed in the classroom increases the chance of them doing bad things and as it was women teaching them they are bad its only logical their anger will be directed at women.

    I also believe (re boys’ education) boys should not be left behind in school as punishment for when girls were not helped in school. Because that is punishing a group of children for something they did not construct. Unless of course feminism enjoys child-abuse as well as being hypocritical regarding the ‘importance of education’ when it’s boys…

    1. Oh you poor sod. My brothers were raised by a feminist, which is obviously why they think they’re lesser beings who will never rise above working as —

      Oh wait. Actually they’re starting college, one with nearly a full ride in engineering. Feminism is every bit as much for my brothers as it is for me.

    2. Look, I’m just as much against the wholly imaginary “boys are evil” part of the KS2 national curriculum as you are. But claiming “boys are problematic”, as you do, seems pretty damning to me. Socialising boys to behave in an aggressive manner because that’s “masculine” is exactly what men such as Delingpole are recommending. I, on the other hand, don’t believe a word of it. And I know I’m biased but my boys are bloody brilliant🙂

  4. Lordy, the comments really ARE funnier than the original piece. And people keep saying feminists have no humour… they should read comments to feminist pieces.

    1. Feminists seem to have a “sense of humor” when it comes to writing up pieces fantasizing about male genital mutilation or male genocide. They would be crying up a storm if anyone dared to write an article with genders reversed.

      Says a lot about you fems doesnt it? Naw, feminists are all for “equality” as long as it benefits them.

  5. Stonking work, Glosswitch. Articulates exactly what’s ridiculous and dangerous about bleating on about “reverse discrimination” and “feminized society”.

    1. “Solanas has been treated as some sort of embarrassing bag-lady offshoot of ‘respectable’ feminism.”

      I cannot go back in time and tell you how the book was received through personal experience, but this quote, by the author you reference, says it was not taken seriously. You must know that. It wasn’t taken seriously by the vast majority of people.

      You also know feminism is about improving equality not treating men as lesser beings. I don’t think her view point is a feminist one based on that.

  6. Just for the record – no, I don’t go round mocking mutilation and murder. I take them pretty seriously.

    Wild exaggeration, hyperbole and stupid claims of all kinds, especially used to advance a ridiculous position, however, I can and do laugh at on a regular basis.

    Appalling, I know.

  7. Thanks so much for this, glosswitch! And for all the articulate responses to it. The anti-feminist anger surfacing through some of these, reinforces the feminist standpoint: how scared of losing an ideological position of unequal power do you have to be, to express your opposition with such furious vitality?

  8. the government is giving “unequal priority to our daughters, to the exclusion of our sons”

    In other words, “they took rr jrrbs!”

  9. I can’t say I totally understand this article, because I genuinely don’t (on some parts I tried really hard to tell if you were joking or not and the comments didn’t make it that much easier). But the only thing I’m going to take vocal issue with is one of the stereotypes written within, be it a joke or not. The line where it says; “female primary teachers and single mothers”. It makes the assumption that single fathers and male primary teachers (if they still exist) aren’t fighting for boys at all. I know this to be untrue because I have personally spoken with single fathers who are fighting for their sons. This statement just kind of rubs me the wrong way and sort of implies a falsehood that I think is worthy of acknowledgment. But besides that (and what I was able to understand) good job…

  10. Kudos for recognizing some of the issues boys face. But still – your list of the standard feminist complaints is longer than the list of concerns for your boys. How about difficulties in education, higher unemployment rate, victimization to sexual assault and violence of all sorts at the hands of both men and women, workplace deaths and injuries, high death rate of all causes and short life spans, much lower societal investment in male health care, high rate of male homelessness, etc. Don’t you worry that one or more of these fates may befall your sons? Don’t you care?

    Because that is the main problem facing men today – no one cares. It is still true that men are privileged to power in our society, but women monopolize access to care. We don’t view men or even boys as worthy of care, of being protected, of being given provision and shelter, of needing emotional and social support. Those at the top of the social hierarchy are still men, but to the extent that they care about anyone other than themselves, it’s women they care for, not all the disempowered men.

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