Boys will be Boys-not
I can honestly say I never liked the expression, “boys will be boys”. It always bothered me and in the current climate, it is a very unpopular expression- with good reason. But I am perplexed about the trend of boys. I have witnessed a dramatic change in how young males perceive themselves and how the cultural expectation has shifted. Maybe that’s because girls have entered ‘their’ world, so to speak and it has thrown them off course. I have had numerous conversations with friends about this topic and it has puzzled me for some time.
I am the youngest child in my family. I have 2 older brothers and I’m the only girl. We are very close in age. My mother had 3 children within 3 years, 2 months and 2 days to be exact. Yes my brothers are older than me, but not by much, so it’s not as if I had these big-older brothers looking out for me. I had to fend for myself. I was always in competition to be their equal. Although I loved to play with my dolls and all the traditionally girl toys, I was also wanted to play with the boys. Sometimes they allowed me to join in their play. When they played “army”, I was the nurse. If we played “Cowboy’s and Indian’s”, I’m not sure what role I had, but it probably was tending to the injured. But the truth be known, I was totally okay with these roles. I wanted to play the “girl” role but in the boys world. I didn’t want to be the soldier when we played “army”, I wanted to be the nurse, and I actually became a nurse in real life. We played from morning to night. We would ride our bikes, play kickball, spud, softball/baseball, football, basketball, ride mini bikes and dirt bikes and all kinds of activities that kids did while growing up in the 70’s. Everyday was an adventure and it was absolutely amazing.
As a mentioned, I always tried to infiltrate the boys world. There definitely were more boys than girls in my neighborhood, and the girls were younger so we didn’t have as much leverage, but we did all we could to participate. We weren’t always invited into their circle, unless they needed us for numbers, but when they did we were happy and had a lot to prove. At the time, it was okay. Now looking back, if we applied today’s standards to back then, the female population, and even my own daughters might be taken back by these words and think that this was totally unfair. I disagree. On the flip side, my brothers and their friends never wanted to play “house” or Barbies with me and my friends, so actually I feel I had the best of both worlds. I played with dolls and such but I also was able to interject myself into the world of boys.
As I think, ponder and write I am wondering if this post might cause controversy, which is not my intent. These are my thoughts based on who I was born in the 1960’s, growing up in the 70’s to early 80’s. Our roles were starting to crossover and yet we were fine with having roles-I know I was. I never felt I was held back and if I did, it stemmed from my own insecurities not from any outside influences, or at least none that I am aware of other than the social structure of the time.
So what about young men and women. I still think we are different and I am fine with that. At the same time, I am super excited that girls have migrated into traditional male roles because we certainly are capable of achieving whatever it is we set out to achieve. It has taken us a long while to get there and I’m glad we have a chance in the spotlight. We still have a long way to go but we are on the right course. My concern is as the female population is rising to the top, the male population, in my opinion, is struggling a little to figure out their role and how they fit in to this changing tide. By no means am I saying women need to slow down so young men can figure it out. Women have had barriers, and men, not so much. I would like to see both, equally reach their potential, whatever that may be. It isn’t about rising to the top as much as becoming their best self.
I’m so happy that my girls have opportunities I never had, (even though I didn’t even realize that I didn’t have them, interesting thought) but at the same time, with opportunities comes challenges. Yes, barriers need to drop and opportunities need to be equal, but I also think it’s okay to have specific roles, as long as whomever is involved is in agreement. The roles don’t need to be defined as either one or the other, his or hers. In my house, my husband has certain tasks and I have mine, but it’s not to say he won’t make a meal or iron a shirt if he has to and I will mow the lawn, take out the trash or change the innards of a toilet if I have to. Mutual respect is what is required. The tasks may be different, and that’s okay, but as long as the efforts are reciprocated, I think we all can get along.
So where am I going? What’s my point? I’m concerned with how the younger generation of males seems to be struggling. I am uncertain whether or not the upward progression of females has anything to do with it, but I have been witness to a shift in the role of young adult males. It is true that many if not most college enrollment have a higher percentages of females then males. Young adult males are living at home way into their late 20’s. When we were in our 20’s we were desperate to be independent and be out on our own. We couldn’t wait to move out or our parent’s house. It almost seems as if they can’t seem to figure out life. There appears to be a male insecurity that did not exist when I was growing up and I find it somewhat of a concern. Perhaps we have spoiled and coddled them to the point of hindering their ability to function to their optimal ability. Perhaps we are to blame because we, the last of the baby-boomers, wanted to do it all and that meant doing more for our kids than the prior generations. Maybe I’m onto something, maybe I’m not. Maybe you think I’m totally off the mark, but I can clearly see the deep insecurity lingering in young men and I hope it is a trend that starts to change as we become more aware of it being in existence.
Now I know I can’t make sweeping generalizations. There are plenty of guys that are succeeding in the world. And don’t get me wrong, I am glad to see the success of women in the workforce. However, I don’t want us to lose a generation of young men that have their own ability, skill-set and perspective that might be under utilized, to their detriment and to our loss of not seeing them for all their worth.
There is so much more I could say. I feel I could go on and on about this topic. But, the one thing I don’t think this is about is success and money. I think it is deeper and more internal than economics. The role of both male and female has shifted. Females are figuring it out, maybe it’s because we really are stronger ;) and boys appear to be lagging a bit. Maybe it’s because the boys will be boys mentality is coming to an end and boys are taking their time adjusting to the societal changes of the female population.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, at least I think I would like to hear your thoughts. :) I know this could be a touchy conversation, but as happy as I am for the success of girls in society, I am a bit worried about the trend towards apathy that I see in the personal, educational and employment level of young men.
Awhile back, my daughter shared with me a blog that is worth reading. Please take a look....