I have an adolescent friend who is suffering because of a girl who is doing emotional blackmail to him. They broke their friendship and my friend is trying to ask forgiveness since forever, only to receive cold replies. I once said that maybe it’s better that way, specially because it was her who broke the friendship, she is keeping distance and she doesn’t seem to be suffering as much. However, he continues to suffer because he misses her. I asked if she could be doing that for revenge, since she doesn’t even think about giving mercy, despite seeing his current emotional state, as if she was enjoying it. Even if he accepts what I’m saying, it will take him a time to recover, which is only natral. Then he asked me something pretty interesting: “why do girls crush boys?”.
That’s an interesting question because it’s extremely broad. It’s not “why is she crushing me”, “why do girls crush me” or “why is she crushing boys”. His question reflects the perception of a behavior that he seems as normative in the tract between biological sexes. I also used to ask that to myself when I was younger and I only got my answers early this year, after twenty years living down with that problem.
At least in my experience, that’s a problem of self-esteem. My thoughts were like this: being a man is part of my self-concept. I like being a man, yes, so my problem doesn’t come up when dealing wiht other men. But I feel like being a man puts me in disadvantage when dealing with women. So, my problem only comes up when dealing with women. That problem comes from the perception of interpersonal advantages that women have and the improved development of their capacities, which they develop quicker. Girls, I thought, have better self-esteem, are less inhibited and so on. So, I, as a boy, am inferior to them. That’s how I used to think. I used to feel inferior for being a man and I didn’t see a solution for that problem until april 2017. The solution is so obvious, that the only reason to not notice it was because that insecurity made me ill. I felt depressed because of that. I remember that I would avoid socialization when I was feeling specially bad, because even the female voice made me feel miserable. I had plenty of suicidal ideation, but lacked courage to kill myself.
Inferior and superior aren’t a matter of gender, but of personal merit, I realized. Solving my problem required me to increase my value as person. I had to be the best person possible. But the solution that I found could not work well for my friend, because it was enough for me to increase my personal value, but he may need to increase his value as boy.
I don’t know how that problem came to be in our society. Some schoolars speak about a “boy crysis“, for example, a concept according to which our society is indirectly making our boys develop poorly, by paying excessive attention to girls’ needs and by depriving boys of positive male role models. Society is currently neglecting boys, even in an education sphere: boys are lagging behind in reading skills and no one is coming up with a reading problem aimed at them. In terms of education, girls are receiving a lot of support, sometimes even unfairly: there are teachers who were caught giving higher grades to girls even if the girls’ performance is the same as the boy who took the same test. The idea is beautiful: gender equality. But how can you promote gender equality thinking about only one gender?
That’s aggravated by the fact of marriage becoming less attractive. Men are divorcing, causing an inflation in the number of single mothers. Someone wrote that masculinity can only be taught by a man. Why? Because of identification: it’s easier to learn from someone you see as being “like you”. It’s harder for a boy to learn from a woman because he doesn’t identify with her as much as he could identify with a man, but men are no longer home. In addition, men are marrying less and aren’t as interested in having children as before. Some schoolars see in that a response to the advancing policies aimed at women, while nothing is being prepared for men, as well to biases when judges apply laws when the law was supposed to promote equality. For example: if my wife decides to beat me and I report her, I’ll likely be laughed off. Remember what happened in India. Plus, with the increase of sexual harassment reports and the demonization of once innocent acts, such as a hug, non-intimate touch or invitation (which could be refused), any serious relationship starts including an inhumane amount of risk. Many of those reports could very well be false, but there are women who went as far as saying that the ruining of innocent men along with the ones who are actually guilty is a “price to pay” for ending patriarchy. So, the boy not only becomes clueless about what to do with his male identity, but also clueless about what to do with his sexuality. It’s natural for any boy who sees things that way to feel inferior. That becomes even worse when media tends to portray men as dumb, incapable or meaningless, when not villains, while reserving beter roles for female characters. That’s a specially bad stereotype when propagated by children cartoons. Someone may argue that it was the treatment that women received for centuries, but I always thought that feminism was about gender equality, not the inversion of the oppression pole.
Now, the solution to the problem that my friend sees. This is how I see things, so don’t take this as absolute. I may very well be wrong. So, as said before, inferior and superior isn’t a matter of gender, but personal merit. But, if what you want is to increase your value as male, you need to understand what being male is. Men’s existence as gender is only justified thanks to the differences between genders. If men and women were the same thing, gender identity would never be an important element in self-concept. So, before knowing what to do with your male identity, you need to know what are the differences between men and women. Social and even mental differences are always very controversial and may vary according to culture. The differences you need to pay attention to are the biological ones. Beyond obvious differences, there are differences also in hormonal configuration and brain wiring. Your best bet is learning online. Those differences justify men’s existence as gender.
Secondly, it’s clear that some of those differences may be seen as flaws. For example, testosterone is a hormone that is produced in higher quantity in men. That enables men to build muscle mass with less effort, but also makes men tend more to aggression, they say. But aggression is a moral flaw. Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics, argues that moral flaws are unmoderated virtues. By moderating a tendency to aggression, you attain assertiveness, which isn’t a flaw at all. When someone points out that men have a bigger tendency to some behavior that is considered negative, the moderation of such tendency, if we give credit to Aristotle, can enable the construtive use even of those traits that are often seen as negative. If what justifies the existence of men as gender are the differences between genders, then the revitalization of male value includes the use of those differences for self-improvement and for a greater good of everyone, not only men.
Of course, those differences aren’t there to say that men are all the same. Each case is special in it’s own regard. While some people say that men tend to have better mathematical processing, while having a less complex language processing, that really isn’t my case. It’s the opposite for me. But that doesn’t make me less of a man, as I have other differences that count. In fact, having that perk increases my value as person in another sense. So, men won’t be all the same in mental or even hormonal ground. A tendency isn’t a rule, specially if we take ambient in consideration (that’s why I only touch the subject of biological differences, because attitude and gender roles are extremely volatile, with biology being the most stable resource for a discussion like this).
Lastly, the problem will continue to affect boys and men for as long as there’s not enough sociopolitical engagement to counterpoint the hostility. Men need to take part in society, be it politically, artistically or whatever form they please. Think about what you are good at, in your talents (my friend, for example, learned computer programming by himself), and spend time honing them to achieve self-improvement and to improve the lives of other men or even all people your work can reach, no matter the gender. Showing your value can grant you appreciation. At first, they will see you as an exception. But if others take the same position, the exception will become rule.
I believe, now that I see things more clearly, that this is a rational thought that any man could have concluded if they have common sense: you are more than the gender you indentify as. But a person who was in a situation like mine isn’t capable of full common sense. That’s why I’m writing this: to help people who are going through the same thing that my friend is going through and that I went through.
In short, boys should:
- Learn about biological differences between men and women, take note of what differences he notices in himself and invest in those.
- Verify which of those differences are undesired and seek constructive ways to deal with them, turning them into positive traits if possible.
- Use those differences for self-improvement and to improve the lives of others, by discovering and honing your talents, which increases your value as individual.
So, answering the question that my friend asked, girls crush boys because boys’ self-esteem is currently low. If you felt more secure of yourself, you wouldn’t feel like you depend on someone who doesn’t love you and likely enjoys your suffering. I hope this answers my friend’s question and helps other boys who see things this way. Hopefully, I didn’t sound offensive. Apologies in advance.