Props to Junior Ganymede for posting about this article titled What Mothers Cannot Give to Their Sons.
It’s a brief read and worth your time. While it doesn’t mention the Boy Scouts of America or their latest move to allow girls to join, the information in this article can be used to make the case that boys are the losers in this new system. That may sound like strong language but keep reading.
“The boy does not simply grow into manhood, for manhood is a cultural reality built on a biological foundation. Womanhood, by contrast, is a biological reality with cultural expression.
I must insist upon the distinction here. Saint Jose Maria de Escriva could understandably say to each of his male followers, Esto vir! Be a man, and we know what the exhortation implies. Even feminists know, and tremble. It implies that at any moment of a man’s life, his manhood is subject to trial, to be won, again and again, to be confirmed or to be canceled. A man can lose forever his right to stand beside other men. He can fall to being no man at all.”
G. over at Junior Ganymede disagreed with this last point of being no man at all, citing the atonement and ability to change. That said, I think the author’s point still stands, at least on the level of how a man is perceived by others and his culture rather than what he actually is in the eyes of God. It is striking to ponder that manhood is not the biological reality that womanhood is.
There is an actual biological change that makes a girl a woman, but when is a man a man? Entering puberty doesn’t make you man and neither does facial hair, it seems to be more rooted in how you act. Nobody tells you when you have become a man, but your manhood can indeed be challenged, even if you are 80! Presently, I have discovered my own standards of what constitutes being a man.
“Be a man! An analogous command would strike a woman as otiose; a woman may call another woman a bad woman, but her womanhood itself is not in question, not in the public arena to be tested to see if it is real or counterfeit.
That means that a boy will naturally shy away from girls during his longer period of sexual latency and his more delayed and more protracted period of puberty. He has the work of man-making to do, though he may be only fitfully conscious of it. It is foolish and insensitive to charge him with hating girls. The truth is just the opposite. He and his friends like girls, and are powerfully attracted to them. That is why they have to keep them at arm’s length, because otherwise the things they must do as boys will not get done at all. Boys in the company of girls do not form the strong bonds of male friendship, because they are too busy competing for the attention of the girls; they do not invent football, map out the forest, tinker with combustion engines, or bring down their first stag. So it appears that for the sake of both married love and the masculine camaraderie that is so dynamic in its cultural possibilities, we ought to pay attention to the boy’s needs and strengths and arrange social and educational opportunities accordingly.”
I completely agree with this. I had three sisters growing up and although we had some good times, I had to get away and hang out with my cousins because I had no brothers. I loved hanging out with those guys and doing the things that we did; we didn’t want the girls around. Nobody applied a social construct to us, we wanted to play in the sewer, hunt for snakes and lizards, build robots, play video games, and set booby traps in the alley.
That’s just what we did, some boys choose to do different things but they like spending key time doing them with other boys. Certainly, there are many girls that would like that stuff too (like my own daughters), but that isn’t the point.
The point is that we did those things away from the girls, where we could spit loogies, pee on a tree, fart, tell gross stories, and bond in a uniquely male way without having to check ourselves because a girl was around. Again, nothing wrong with girls, we liked them and we still do. I married one and have four daughters, so yeah, I’m a huge fan. But, I needed that time as a kid to be one of the guys and I think girls need the same kind of thing.
What a terrible thing it is to break up those spaces and opportunities for the youth. The BSA can do whatever it wants, but I think the organization is destroying the fundamental thing that defined what it is: Boy Scouts (a nod to Shapiro).
This final paragraph hits it home.
“For the sake of boys and the families they must eventually lead, we must open our hearts and quit attempting to thrust upon them an unnatural and uninspiring commitment to sexual indifference. What they need, they need. Their needs are grounded in ages upon ages of human development, both physical and intellectual. They are attested to by every culture known to man, and by common observation. There is only one word for those who, for the sake of an ideology, whatever it may be, would consciously deny to either boys or girls what they need to be healthy members of their sex. That word is wicked.”
Amen. Seriously, go read the whole thing.
I agree that boys definitely need to spend time with other boys, but I’m curious if this need continues after one has “become a man.” It seems to me like we dads just become more isolated from other men the older we get. Unlike moms, we don’t get together for play dates or anything. This is kind of a loaded subject: I’m hoping someone will say it’s OK for me to go hang out with the guys sometimes!
I do think that it is a good thing. I’m more of an introvert in that I can be by myself all day long with no contact from anyone and be just fine. But my wife has taught me that I should build friendships with others because I “have a lot to offer.” I’ve learned that she’s right so I get together with some guys to do game nights and meetups for lunch with a group.
It’s kind of a backwards thing from what you usually hear. Many wives complain that their husbands are never around and spend too much time with the guys. I work from home so I’m around all the time and so the complaint is that I DON’T go out with the guys. She’s looking out for my well-being and I’m sure talks with the other wives who are likewise concerned that their husbands don’t get out and have good friendships.
I would agree that this need does continue. Men need to stand with and strengthen each other. Men are supposed to be strong but the vast majority of suicides are men, and there are many other concerns where we need male associates to lean on.
I’m trying to do better with this.