Where are the Boys?

Last week when I attended the graduation ceremonies for a local high school, ironically designated as a "National School of Excellence,"  I noted a distressing fact: the ceremony was dominated by females. In a significant omission, the male student body president, a senior, was not identified in the program, nor did he have a role in the ceremony.  Instead, six senior girls were prominently listed in the program, marched in with the school dignitaries and participated in the ceremony.  

The two faculty class sponsors were both female and all four student class officers were female.  All the class officers had roles in the graduation ceremony with several handling more than one responsibility. The class president both welcomed everyone and had remarks. The class vice-president introduced the musical selections. The class secretary introduced the speakers and the treasurer introduced the platform guests. A girl - whose name appeared 5 times in the official program -- gave the major student address as the "representative class speaker" an opportunity traditionally granted to the student body president, but apparently not if a guy has that responsibility.  Significantly, the principal was the only male participant in the ceremony.

One graduation ceremony is hardly enough to indict a whole society for being anti-male, but the trend against boys and men has become so widespread that numerous books and articles are documenting today's  "sexual disequilibrium" and the harm it is causing boys and men; indeed, the trend harms all of society. Dr. Helen Smith, in her latest book, Men on Strike, declares that "American society has become anti-male" and as a  result, boys and men are dropping out of "participation in a system that seems to be increasingly stacked against them."  Smith's findings, said one analyst, are not "simply about [men's] feelings," instead, she documents the problems and injustices faced by boys and men to prove that there is a solid "political, legal and material basis" for the cultural revolution that not only allows but encourages "laws and actions against the male sex that would never be allowed against the female one."

Certainly, as I sat at that graduation ceremony, I was very aware that, had the situation been reversed and every role in the ceremony been given to a male, there would have been a hue and cry from every direction. Well, actually, there is no way that would have been allowed to happen; someone would have stepped in to "balance" out the gender representation.  Instead, a well-informed source reported that the school administration told the faculty that the male student body president had "received enough recognition during high school" therefore he shouldn't be given any senior honors or recognition in the graduation ceremony. Ironically, there didn't seem to be a problem that one of the senior girls was recognized 5 times in the printed program and also gave the major address.

Frankly, numerous authors have stepped forward to try to recalibrate the balance between the sexes. Some blame the men for immaturity and avoidance of responsibility; others dig deeper to explore the societal forces that are producing disparities between the sexes. Kay Hymowitz wrote, Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys, Hanna Rosin wrote, The End of Men and the Rise of Women, and Kathleen Parker wrote, Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care.  In addition, some men are courageously addressing the issue.  Michael Kimmel wrote, Guyland, Leonard Sax wrote, Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men,  Warren Farrell wrote, The Myth of Male Power, and Richard Whitmire wrote, Why Boys Fail.

Feminist Christina Hoff Sommers, author of The War Against Boys, in an interview with Helen Smith, tried to describe the ultimate outcome of the anti-boy attitudes in public schools and throughout society.  She said, "My guess is that vast numbers [of boys] will just stop trying and withdraw. It would not be an organized strike -- it would just happen. It is happening."  I can imagine how the boys of the class of 2013 felt at being so totally excluded from their graduation celebration. If any ran for class officer, they lost.  Three male members of that class were National Merit Finalists, but one of the girls was chosen to be recognized publicly. Numerous boys graduated with distinction, but one of the girls was chosen for recognition in the ceremony.

In many of the nation's colleges and universities today, women make up 58-60 percent of the student body. The National Center for Education documented the drop in male college students with these statistics:

Since 1988, the number of females in postbaccalaureate programs have exceeded the number of males. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of male full-time postbaccalaureate students increased by 38 percent, compared with a 62 percent increase in the number of females."

Some analysts believe that the feminist agenda of "socializing away from conventional maleness" is putting boys at risk; Sommers says, "schools today tend to be run by women for girls. Classrooms can be hostile environments for boys". . . .Boys are square pegs being forced into round holes."

Clearly the culture against boys and men is getting worse; there are more and more instances, like the graduation ceremony that I attended, where the discrimination against boys is blatant. Those of us who grew up with wonderful fathers, married great guys and have terrific sons and grandsons recognize the importance of allowing boys to be boys. After all, those boys eventually become men. Moreover, we fully  understand that those women who gain at the expense of boys and men will, in the long run, ultimately lose. Society as a whole loses, too, when the culture becomes a bitter feuding ground between the sexes and an increasingly inhospitable environment for friendship and collegiality -- and, inevitably, marriage and family formation.

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., a former Presidential Speech Writer for President George H. W. Bush, is now Senior Fellow for Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute.

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