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Apodaca: Let's understand why boys will be boys

January 17, 2014|By Patrice Apodaca

I grew up with two older brothers and a very old-school father, and I'm the mother of two young men, so I'm quite aware that males and females differ in many fundamental ways. I'm still mystified every time my sons resume the ongoing wrestling match they've waged since they were tykes.

Therefore, I find it intriguing that a new focus on understanding boys has emerged — a growing conversation among various experts and observers who are attempting to better appreciate exactly who boys are and what makes them tick.

In many ways, this recent wave of concern — brought to light in new books, articles and academic studies — can be seen as a reaction to decades of progress by women to garner equal rights. From Title IX to gains in the workplace and politics, women in our society have moved steadily forward. The majority of college students today are female. Women are also more likely to graduate and pursue post-graduate studies.

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To be sure, women still have a long way to go. The wage gap is closing, but women still don't earn as much as men for comparable work. They hold far fewer positions of power and have yet to penetrate many traditionally male-dominated fields. Unfair stereotypes persist and glass ceilings remain firmly installed in many professions.

However, concern seems to be mounting that our decades-long attempt to better acknowledge the talents and accomplishments of women, and to empower them, have left the other gender a bit adrift and, in many ways, misunderstood. Even some avowed feminists have been arguing lately that some women's rights advocates have gone too far in marginalizing or denigrating masculinity.

While suggestions by some that boys are now "in crisis" seem rather hysterical, calm voices have begun to ask thoughtful, reasonable questions about exactly what masculinity is, or should be. Rather than demonize men and boys based on another set of arguably unfair stereotypes, more attempts are being made to provide a clearer, more comprehensive picture of the complexities and challenges faced by males today.

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