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Just a Guy Wanting His Sons to be Men

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Does anyone remember when men were men -- when boys looked up to their fathers and other men and wanted to be just like them in their "manly ways"?

father with his two sons

Bruce Sallan: Now, with elementary education completely hijacked by women, there's been a systematic change in how boys are educated and raised. When is the last time you saw a male teacher in elementary school? Do you really think the self-esteem movement has done anything but diminish any real accomplishments?

Why are boys dropping out of high school at a much greater rate than girls? Why is the percentage of young men entering college now substantially less than young women? Why are boys in elementary school made to read books about subjects that are clearly of a female nature or subject vs. the books they would organically choose to read?

I heard a very wise woman, Alison Armstrong, on a talk show explain that men weren't being feminized as much as they were being emasculated. And, in other ways, women were being taught not to use their feminine skills and assets, but to be more masculine. Both sexes lose with this approach.

Our differences should be celebrated, not changed. Shame, for both genders, was an established societal tool that helped determine behavior, as the risk of being shamed was deemed undesirable. Shame no longer exists. I think both sexes are weakened by these changes. I worry for my boys. But, what do I know? After all, I'm just a guy.

next: Are Jon Gosselin and Hailey Glassman Over?
50 comments so far | Post a comment now
boy should be boys October 31, 2009, 6:26 AM

I so agree with you. The books/stories that my son had to read in elementary school were always some stupid “girly fairtale” theme and he hated language arts for that reason. He’s now in high school and I can’t get him to read a book for anything!

Rachel October 31, 2009, 7:03 AM

Great post. I couldn’t agree more!

Wendi October 31, 2009, 8:46 AM

Great post, my son was lucky to have a male teacher in the 5th grade and I could not thank that man enough. Being in his class changed my son for the better. He learned to like reading and just going to school and having a cool teacher into the same things and understand him being just a boy. My son in middle school now has a couple of male teachers and really likes them as well. I am very fortunate that he is being blessed by these wonderful men.

Bruce Sallan October 31, 2009, 9:00 AM

Wow. Thanks ladies for the quick and positive comments. I wasn’t sure how the reaction would be to this blog. It’s definitely not “PC” but I don’t think “PC,” don’t like “PC,” and think “PC” hurts us all. I do try to avoid politics in my blogs as I get too heated on that subject and just won’t write objectively. But, on male-female issues, I will write the truth, whether you like it or not and clearly you did and I thank you very much. Let’s see what other comments this receives and hopefully get a nice debate going!

michelle October 31, 2009, 9:02 AM

Mr Sallan, we have engaged productively on other topics, but unfortunately this piece is a disappointing collection of entirely unsupported assertions. These are the canards we’ve seen from the Concerned Women for America and Christina Hoff Sommers. For example, how has education has been “hijacked” by women? Hasn’t the proportion of female teachers barely budged since the turn of the last century? Similarly, how exactly are both sexes “losing”? In what sense? Relative to what measure? Are men helpless victims of a feminist conspiracy to change who they are? I can’t discern what argument you’re trying to make, and in the absence of a real argument, I think you really just feel threatened. Maybe you believe that “feminists” are to blame for ills that are either completely imaginary or are more economic and class-based in nature.

Bruce Sallan October 31, 2009, 9:40 AM

Michelle - In the short space allowed in my blogs here, it is impossible to fully support my assertions. That is the nature of blogging, in many places. However, I stand my by assertions, though I acknowledge I did use some provocative words such as “hijacked” which, frankly, I believe. I don’t have the statistics, but I’ll bet you there are many more women teaching and in the administration of elementary education than when you and I were in grade school. Also, the policies of elementary education have indeed been hijacked as boys are truly not allowed to be boys. The first sign of anything resembling aggressive behavior, even on the playground or between 1st graders is met with absurd punishments and over-reactions. What our children are taught, at these tender ages, is also hugely changed and often, for many parents, inappropriate for schools to address as we feel it is our province to discuss politics, sex, religion, and the use of condoms to our 6-year-olds (if at all, at that age, which is my point). So, Michelle, let’s debate this further. It’s interesting that the first three comments were clearly in agreement. I take that as the likelihood that this is a worthy subject to engage! Thanks for your thoughtful post.

Just a commentator  October 31, 2009, 10:51 AM

This is a case in education of the pendulum swinging to far the other way. In order to compensate for the historic inequality of women programs were put into schools to help girls achieve equality in college admissions, etc. As these programs have become entrenched and historic, it has done so at the expense of boys and we are seeing the results now. It is always tough for our society to see males as the discriminated gender, but here we are. We need to establish educational policies that celebrate and reward the differences between the genders and not just the similarities. The time has come for a “masculinism movement”.

Loren October 31, 2009, 10:55 AM

I have to agree with Bruce. Thinking back to when I went through elementary ad highschool male and female teachers were more in balance. Not to take away anything from female teachers today, but I believe that both boys and girls would greatly benefit from a male perspective at school. It’s just like a family, and again I’m not taking anything away from single parents (Lord knows they have their work cut out for them), but children need that male influence just as much as the female. Men just bring something different to the table and it’s just as important as what the female offers.

Meg October 31, 2009, 11:18 AM

To Just A Commentator: For a “masculine movement?” Do you live in the U.S.A.? This country has always been run on a “masculine movement”. It’s called patriarchy and the second that patriarchal ideology is threatened men flip out. No worries, we are not cutting off your parts and handing them to you. We are trying to raise our son’s so they DON’T have the belief that women are of the lesser. That doesn’t make them less masculine, it makes them MORE masculine because they, unlike you, will not have this deep rooted belief that men are better. It’s called equality.

chris October 31, 2009, 11:47 AM

In my children’s elementary school there are only 3 male teachers and this isn’t a small school (4 teachers per grade prek - 5). My son was so thrilled when he got his 1st male teacher in 4th grade and so was I. Male teachers have a better understanding of boy students then female teachers. I personally think that boys have a harder time of sitting and being still than girls do. Does it mean that all boys are bad and have add or adhd? NO! they just learn and behave differently than girls. I have both a boy and girl so I’m not just trying to defend boys plus I sub in their schools and see not just my children in action but all children in the class I’m working in. I would LOVE to see more male teachers.

Susan October 31, 2009, 12:17 PM

First of all, elementary education has not been hijacked by women, as much as it has abandoned by men. I teach in an elementary school, and can assure you that we would all love to have male colleagues, but men just aren’t entering the profession. And I believe that the cause of boys dropping out of school is rooted in the absence of male role models, and not because they had to read “Island of the Blue Dolphins” in school. Bruce, you make many pronouncements in your blog that you do not back up, and you make connections that don’t seem valid to me. You cannot just assert and run. Arguments are like babies, they come out all deformed when they don’t have the time to develop properly. I know you don’t have time to do the plodding, scholarly work to flesh out your arguments in a blog, and that is what is wrong with blogs. Lastly, you seem to long for the good old days when boys were allowed to be boys and — what — wrestle each other on the playground, act like bullies and generally harass those who are weaker. Well, all I can say is: It’s obvious you don’t have a daughter. And if you did, you’d be wondering why she has to dumb down in class so that she can look cool, and why she is forced to read “The Red Badge of Courage”.

Bruce Sallan October 31, 2009, 12:35 PM

Susan - You express yourself so well. It’s not simple. But, it is real. The issues are complicated. I think as with all revolutions, the pendulum tends to swing too far before it settles to the middle. BTW, the facts about boys’ performance in school are everywhere and the facts that girls are a bigger percentage of each new college freshman class is not a question or debate. So, some of these changes have clearly aversely affected boys and not for the good. No, I don’t have a daughter and, frankly, I’m relieved as much as I always wanted one (or more children altogether, had it worked out). I believe girls today, teen girls in particular, have every opportunity in the world and yet popular culture demeans them and hurts both genders. Boy, can I go on and on about this. Other ML readers, please weigh in! Also, feel free to “friend me” on Facebook and join my “A Dad’s Point-of-View” group there for further discussion and debate. Thanks again Susan. And, thanks for giving what you give to our kids as a teacher (male or female, THAT is appreciated).

samantha October 31, 2009, 1:27 PM

I completely agree with this article. My husband and I discussed this issue recently. Our son’s teachers have always been female and he hates school. I do feel that female teachers don’t understand the psyche of a young boy. We are considering a boys only private school for our son. We want to embrace his masculinity not stiffle it. I also have a daughter and the current education system works great for her so Im not bashing public schools. Great Post- I think moms of boys will understand where you are coming from!

Barry October 31, 2009, 1:36 PM

Great post Bruce.

When my kids were in elementary school, there was only one male teacher in the entire school (5th grade). When I attended the same school as a kid, I had at least 2 male teachers on my floor alone!

Would be interesting to investigate all reasons behind this.

Enjoy your posts. Always thought provoking and “real”.

Barry October 31, 2009, 1:37 PM

Great post Bruce.

When my kids were in elementary school, there was only one male teacher in the entire school (5th grade). When I attended the same school as a kid, I had at least 2 male teachers on my floor alone!

Would be interesting to investigate all reasons behind this.

Enjoy your posts. Always thought provoking and “real”.

Susan October 31, 2009, 2:06 PM

Bruce, I m not challenging your statistics, but rather the conclusions you draw from them. One can always find a statistic to match their point of view anyway. If I accept as fact that fewer men are teaching in elementary schools, it really does not explain why more boys are dropping out of school and not going to college. It seem to me that the teaching profession always been largely female, and that here has always been only a handful of male teachers at the elementary level. At any rate, Bruce, you really have the responsibility of developing your idea, and that is what all my English teachers, male and female, have taught me. Finally, I want to point out that you have clearly benefitted from the role reversals that have taken place in our society. You are currently at home, raising your boys, and your wife is working. What are you complaining about?

Jeff October 31, 2009, 3:15 PM

As an active dad, I couldn’t agree more with Bruce that elementary education has been hijacked. I volunteer at my sons’ elementary school and I see it in every facet of their schooling. I don’t care how much dads are encouraged to participate, the school is still run by the moms and the female teachers and administrators. Being a boy is not allowed at our school. If a 7-year-old boy looks at a 7-year-old girl sideways, he’s suspended. Got forbid he touches her or wants to hold her hand. No, it’s gone WAY TOO FAR and it’s not good for boys or girls.

Bruce Sallan October 31, 2009, 5:26 PM

Susan - My wife and I are laughing. Her career is important to her and her contributions as a step-mom are invaluable. However, I’m home because I was a single dad for years, 24-7, and was able to do so because I had had a successful career which gave me the good fortune to survive on savings. Those investments have supported my new career and continue to support my present family. BTW, I’m not complaining; only stating a reality that I’ve read enough detailed articles to know what I’ve written in this short blog is largely true. Just look at the majority of the comments posted here, INCLUDING one from my wife (aka Loren). This is a blog, not an academic paper. Nor is it English class. All I’m saying is boys AND girls need both genders in their lives, as parents and teachers…this is the ideal, though we as a society often fall short. I think striving for the ideal is our goal. Of course we won’t always hit it. Right now, too many boys are being left behind and that doesn’t do the girls any good.

Anonymous October 31, 2009, 5:47 PM

boys are basically raised as sissies now.

nance October 31, 2009, 7:51 PM

OK, I get that you are not a “facts” person and seem to be mostly looking for validation from the ladies. But how do outcomes bear out your assertions? Tell us what bad things have happened to men because of their supposed sissification. Are they paid less than women? Are they saddled with more housework? Oops, no to both. And ask yourself, why do women dominate teaching (and, yes, they always have, BTW — unlike some people I actually consulted labor statistics)? Because it is a low paid, stressful job that men don’t want — because they have better options. And ask yourself, why do more women have college degrees, and yet will go their entire careers paid on average only about as much as men with high school educations?

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