Boy crisis debunked. Again

Two journalists put the "boy crisis" in context.

Topics: Broadsheet, Love and Sex,

Last weekend, I was a panelist at the WAM! (Women, Action, & the Media) conference, put together by the Center for New Words. One of the best things about the weekend was the Saturday keynote address, given by B.U. journalism professor and media critic Caryl Rivers, about media myths about gender relations. So I was especially excited to see her Washington Post piece with Rosalind Chait Barnett on Sunday, which dealt with the “boy crisis” that has recently gotten so much ink.

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Rivers and Barnett begin by noting that in the early 20th century, “monthly magazines, ladies’ journals and books [published] urgent polemics … warning that young men were spending too much time in school with female teachers and that the constant interaction with women was robbing them of their manhood.” Sound familiar? “What boys needed, the experts said, was time outdoors, rubbing elbows with one another and learning from male role models. That’s what led — at least in part — to the founding of the Boy Scouts in 1910.”

“Obsessing about a boy crisis or thinking that American teachers are waging a war on boys won’t help kids,” write Rivers and Barnett. “What will is recognizing that students are individuals, with many different skills and abilities. And that goes for both girls and boys.”

Is it possible that this can kick off another one of Broadsheet’s spirited discussions?

Rebecca Traister

Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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