Boys Are In Trouble (And We’re All Paying the Price)

Men appear to be the cause of most of the world’s problems. Is there something inherently wrong with the male of the species? A closer look suggests otherwise — and that it’s time for some changes.

by Christopher Kent

Recently, I looked over the daily news reports on several of my favorite Internet news sites. Men belonging to one ethnic group in an African nation were murdering people who belonged to a different group, raping their women, burning their homes and driving tens of thousands of them into neighboring countries. In Iraq, young Americans — mostly men — were killing people and being killed. Members of Congress were voting in new laws that gave bigger tax breaks to wealthy corporations and rolling back restraints on dumping toxic chemicals into our air and water. A serial murderer was finally captured.

What’s the one factor almost all of this bad behavior seems to have in common? Men. Men commit most of the crimes and seem to cause most of the violence we hear about. The people in governments around the world who use their power to enrich themselves at the expense of everyone else are almost entirely men. The people starting wars, fighting in wars, and dying in wars are mostly men. And when it comes to interacting with women, it almost always seems to be men who are responsible for abuse, rape, and other forms of mistreatment.

A casual observer might well conclude that there is something fundamentally bad about men. Clearly there is a problem, and it’s a problem that now threatens the very future of our planet, thanks to our growing ability to easily kill huge numbers of people and despoil the environment at an astounding rate. Many people believe that the source of this problem is something ingrained in men — perhaps a genetic or hormonal condition that can’t be altered.

In reality, this conclusion about the source of the problem is the result of casual observation, not careful thought. And unfortunately, if you buy into this belief, you are unwittingly helping to perpetuate it.

Just for a moment, let’s assume that a tendency to violence and crime is not the “natural state” of a man. Assume that there is nothing innately wrong with men (or, for that matter, human beings). Think of it this way: Plenty of men in the world do not kill others, or rape or mistreat women, or commit crimes. In fact, most of the people who have fought — even given their lives — for peace and justice have also been men. If violence, crime and hatred were ingrained and unchangeable, there wouldn’t be any sensitive, non-violent, respectful men walking around.

If you can suspend, just for a few minutes, the idea that men are inevitably going to produce violence, crime and war, you’ll discover a world of evidence that men are involved in these behaviors for reasons that have very little to do with genetics or hormones — reasons that can be altered or eliminated.

But they can only be altered or eliminated if people see them for what they are.

Cause and Effect
For centuries the “acceptable” behavior and attitudes of both sexes have been largely dictated by time-honored stereotypes — “rules” about how men and women are supposed to behave. These stereotypes tend to remain unquestioned, and challenging them has often been seen as grounds for punishment or exclusion from society.