Archive for Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Your turn: Males, females can succeed together

March 18, 2014


In the article written by Wes Crenshaw and Kendra Schwartz (“Why a generation of boys is failing in school and life,” J-W, March 11), I noticed a somewhat saddening sentiment expressed in Schwartz’s reply to the topic. In her own words, “As a self-proclaimed feminist, I see no harm in girls outperforming boys …” I wanted to address this statement in order to both provide the perspective of a young man and elucidate a school of thought among some feminists that I believe may prove harmful in allowing both genders to flourish.

To preface my writing; I am a male, 22-year-old college graduate who has earned a degree in chemical engineering. I cannot claim to speak for the entirety of my gender, but I believe that my words might offer some perspective.

As Crenshaw stated, girls my age are “granddaughters of feminism.” I would extend this idea and call men my age “grandsons of feminism.” For men my age, the idea of being equals to women does not disturb us. I don’t feel slighted if I am required to report to a female superior. I have worked side by side with women many times as peers and I do not find that equitable relationship strange. I am not the men of centuries past. I do not cling to an arcane philosophy where women must be subjugated to preserve the “natural order of things.” I believe that men of my generation share this sentiment and desire for both genders to move forward as equals.

Despite these feelings, I feel that the goals of my gender are viewed as different from the goals of feminism. I feel that this sentiment is very clearly expressed in Schwartz’s statement in that she sees no harm if young men fail. However, I understand why this feeling exists. Feminism emerged as a response to horrible abuses of women by men. I can understand why feminist could view their goal as independent of men and almost view men as adversaries. They could see this failing of boys as a concern that does not hamper their goals.

However, I would ask any feminist one thing: Will you let crimes of the past skew how you view this new generation of men? There is a danger that you may allow the sins of past men to poison your perspective. You may be tempted to see boys of this young generation as separate from you and their failures as not your own. However, I believe that would be a mistake.

Our genders are wrapped together in a way that will never allow us to truly be independent from one another. I would humorously suggest that our method of reproduction will most certainly never allow us to live apart. The struggles of both genders affect the other. Our world loses something whenever a young girl can’t achieve her fullest potential. We’ll never know how many brilliant female scientists, writers and politicians our world loses every year.

My question, then, is will we allow our society to err in the other direction? If this generation of boys flounders, how many Faulkners, Hawkings and Obamas will fade into obscurity, rather than developing their full potential? We may lose the man who develops a cure for breast cancer. We may lose the man who champions sexual assault prevention. Both the female and male gender loses when boys fail.

Additionally, I believe if feminists chose to not address the struggles of boys, they miss the opportunity to do something great. Imagine what could be accomplished if you stood next to me as an ally. You could help me raise a generation of men who unanimously view rape as a vile transgression that should never be treated with triviality. You could help me raise a generation of men who love their female romantic partners as companions who they value for their minds and souls. You could help me raise a generation of men who will invest themselves completely in both their daughters and their sons.

How far could our nation go if men and women banded together to ensure the success of both genders? Could we raise a generation where sexism is remembered as a strange, nonsensical belief of the past? We can only achieve this together.

— Spencer Chestnut is a 2010 Free State High School graduate. He has recently completed a degree in chemical engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., and will be starting a career at Eli Lilly and Company as an engineer this summer.


Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 8 months ago

From the bottom of my heart I thank you for writing this, because I am a sixty-eight year old woman and I agree with you one hundred percent. I think it is time to do away with the label feminist as it seems to lead a lot of women both young and old away from what I see as the goal which is to see people as people regardless of age or gender.

Abdu Omar 3 years, 8 months ago

Like many people, I suppose, I was raised to believe that men and women are equal but not the same. Men and women have different roles in reproduction and that is the only difference. When the wife is pregnant, isn't the husband also? When a woman is harmed, shouldn't the man help her regain herself and vice versa? Why do we allow one gender to out rank the other? You cannot say you were taught to act that way, can you? And if you were, can't you see the truth of it?

What is hampering boys and some girls today is the lack of discipline and respect for their elders. They think that because they can use a computer, or drive a car, or get a girl pregnant they are mature enough to call a 70 year old by their first name. Is that the right way to reward those who taught you, sweated for you, paid for your schooling, your clothing, your food on the table, etc? I am not sure it isn't our own fault. I mean we give trophies to children who don't win as a way to say thanks for participating. Then what does the trophy mean when you win? We don't let them out in the cold wintery day because we are afraid they will catch a cold, and then they are sick every time the wind blows. We need disciplined young men and women in this country who are ready and able to face the problems of the world without shrinking from them. Let them learn to face adversity with compunction and skill.

Rod Van Mechelen 3 years, 8 months ago

Excellent observations, Spencer. Unfortunately, a lot of men just like you have been making the very same observations and asking the same questions for almost 50 years. The answers, I think, can be found in Eric Hoffer's seminal book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. Between the fanatics and the pragmatic profiteers, there is no reasoning with them.

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