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.