As “toxic masculinity” has become a new buzz phrase, many have suggested that there is an empathy gap between boy and girls, with boys on the short side of empathy. Some suggest an evolutionary/genetic basis, while others argue that empathy is learned. This is a complex debate, but it is important to remember that kids generally reflect back the behaviors that are directed towards them. If we treat boys with less empathy, it isn’t surprising that they reflect that behavior right back at us.
So what might be meant by empathy? Perhaps it starts with understanding needs. With respect to boys, there seems to be lots of understanding not happening. Much of it seems deliberate; as if punishment for boys not being what others think they should be.
So boys are pissed and confused, and act as such.
Of course, nothing described below meant to imply that girls don’t also suffer from any number of biases. Also, even the biases described below might harm girls as well as boys—double standards can harm both genders.
Well yes, the treatment of girls do have biases. Ones that are harmful, though they are not viewed that way. Marinating them in self-esteem is where it starts, totally feeding into the late teen and twenties when they are on top of the world (until they aren’t). This is a disaster for all.
Yet, if society is hoping to raise empathetic boys, it needs to treat boys with a lot more empathy.
I suppose that empathic boys is a laudable goal. Ones that can function, think and develop capabilities is probably more in line with what is needed.
Instead of dance, boys are pushed towards other sports. These sports, especially football, basketball and baseball, just happen to be the sports that have by far the highest injury rates. (Baseball has a significantly higher injury rate than softball.) It should be no surprise that when boys grow up they go on to be vastly overrepresented in virtually all the most dangerous and lethal jobs in America and are more than ten times more likely than women to be killed at work.
So here we have somebody who supposedly is trying to help ragging on sports. Fellas like sports. If I was not on the college prep track in high school, I would have selected gym class for all four years. It was required as a freshman, and it was the highlight of my day. So guys (most) like sports.
Compare that with the chicks. They really don’t like sports. It is more of social gathering thing. Unless it is really competitive, then it is lesbians. Anyway, no comparison.
As for the higher mortality rates on the job for men, well they are expected to work and they are expendable. It has been that way for a long time.
Society has too much trouble seeing harm to boys even when the harm is there for all to be seen. This pattern holds even in the context of sexual predation. The legal system appears to be significantly less willing to protect boys from sexual predation by adults than it is to protect girls. A study of a decade’s worth of cases in the New Jersey school system concluded that when teachers have sex with minor students, male teachers are more likely to go to jail for that transgression, and of those teachers who go to jail, male teachers are given longer sentences.
Yes, we all know about this. Part of it is because women are seen as morally pure and stuff; even when they are obviously the instigator. It also helps if they are pretty and act sweet and stuff before the judge.
Men on the other hand, must be responsible for what they did. It has been this way forever. Now there is extra emphasis on this because of the power it transfers to women.
If society wants less “toxic” boys who grow into good, empathetic men, perhaps, as the song says, society should try a little tenderness. Protect boys from sexual predation with the same zeal that we protect girls and don’t tell them that they are complicit in their own statutory rapes. Don’t push them into the most dangerous sports and jobs. Don’t punish them more harshly for their infractions than girls. And let them dance.
I will settle for moral competent men. There is a lot would go into doing this that is not being done now. But that is for other posts.
Short answer — pay attention to their needs, but them into positions where they can succeed and grow, reward them for doing so, then reap the benefits.