October 4, 2007

Be Very Afraid of Men!

In a recent post I profiled a September 6th, Wall Street Journal article titled Avoiding Kids: How Men Cope With Being Cast as Predators, written by Jeff Zaslow. In another article by Jeff, with the same theme, his title asks, Are We Teaching Our Kids To Be Fearful Of Men?

The article opens with this, When children get lost in a mall, they're supposed to find a "low-risk adult" to help them. Guidelines issued by police departments and child-safety groups often encourage them to look for "a pregnant woman," "a mother pushing a stroller" or "a grandmother." The implied message: Men, even dads pushing strollers, are "high-risk." Are we teaching children that men are out to hurt them? The answer, on many fronts, is yes. I really encourage you to read this article. As you’ll discover, Zaslow is naming a very dangerous trend.

The core message of the article is embedded in a quote from Peter Stearns, a George Mason University professor who studies fear and anxiety. Sterns says kids end up viewing every male stranger as a potential evildoer, and as a byproduct, there's an overconfidence in female virtues.

As a result of reading the piece I wrote to Jeff at the WSJ and thanked him for again identifying this alarming tendency to demonize men. I also asked, and challenged him, to use his position of influence to offer a counter point article. I suggested he profile just a few of the many good men who have overcome these formidable barriers and who are heroically committed to helping adolescent males step out on a positive journey toward manhood. We’ll see if he takes up that banner. But even if he doesn't, you can.

I challenge all my male readers to find something you can do, today, from your position of influence, to have a positive impact in the life of a young male? Will you overcome your own resistance, take a risk, make a difference, and buck the trend that is trying to cast all men as dangerous or uncaring?

The Man-Making book is full of suggestions for what you might do to get involved. I like to say that from the suggestions and examples offered up in the book, every man will find something he can do, regardless of his current level of commitment to this work. Just because I'm so worked up about this article I'm offering the Man-Making book to my blog subscribers at half-price. Here's the special link. Let's build an movement that fights this destructive notion about men and masculinity. Or how about just helping the boys. They are waiting.

5 comments:

  1. Steve B.5:08 PM

    Thanks for that blog post. I read the article. Sick shit. I've had conversations with my wife around playing with kids, and she, a psychiatrist says, I have to be more careful in my play.

    So, how do I play more carefully, probably humanity's most spontaneous activities - stop and think about where I am placing myself in juxtaposition to the other person(s) with whom I am playing? And if I am a *tree* that the kids are climbing? Or how do I wrestle with a kid without *touching* him/her? So, what do I do? I play. If someone takes offense or calls the cops, it's a chance I take. My wild man is out of the cage - always has been for kids, and I play hard and often.

    What do I get out of it? I get to see kids laugh wildly - and that makes me do the same. And laughing *feels* good. And it let's my boy play! For everyone, it's healthy.

    The biggest wound I see in our society is the father wound. If we are to heal, we must be able to touch/play with each other in safe, intimate ways. And intimate does *not* mean sexual. For those who have been wounded, or who are just simply paranoid or overly-sensitized, they cannot see that relationship and connection is not always cerebral, and that men are not beasts and animals of prey.

    Free Men to Play!

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  2. Anonymous8:59 PM

    Earl,
    What I get from all of this, is that men are not trusted with children in the same way women are, at least in our culture.

    A more balanced view would be that some women cannot be trusted with children; and some men can.

    We are all human, some women fail as mothers...and some men succeed as fathers....and then there is the gray area in-between that the majority of our population falls into.

    We are not all bad...and we are not all good. Children can inspire our best and our worst...these are choices that we make consciously and unconsciously as parents.

    When men stand up, and define themselves...and do not allow women or society to define them...They will become more respected members of our culture...their opinions will matter more...and they will be trusted more with children.

    In my opinion, men have a perception problem...as leaders...as fathers...as someone who cares about others.

    That perception will only change one man at a time, as each man owns his power...steps into himself...shares his truth...and his fears.

    Then real men will model greatness to our culture...then real men will be trusted.

    Bright Blessings,
    LightBear

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  3. Brad D.7:47 AM

    I've been following what you are doing since I first heard of it over a year ago. THANKS!!! We need all the help we can get in this challenge and the things you are saying are all Right On!!!

    I have been working on hot rods and custom cars all my life and I remember how the older guys in the neighborhood would let me hang out with them and even let me get a tool for them!! It meant a world to me when I was 7 and 8 and vastly increased my knowledge of car stuff as I grew older, eventually learning more about cars than they knew!

    Now I make sure the neighbor kids know they are welcome to come and hangout while I am working and I have been able to forge many friendships that have carried on over the years - some a as many as 30 years and more!

    I try to get them involved in whatever I am working on, and then we often work on their bikes or whatever other projects they may have, and of course life issues come up frequently and we discuss "Right and Wrong" and why we pick up trash, or cross at the corner, or ???

    I also firmly believe that one of the reasons there are so many break-ins in neighborhoods is because kids think they are anonymous - nobody talks to them, so they believe nobody sees them - and, sadly, it;'s probably true. I make a point of greeting everyone I walk by, especially kids, regardless of where I am, and if possible, maybe comment on what they may be doing - if they are carrying a basketball, talking about hoops or etc.

    One man CAN make a difference - Jesus did!!!

    Thanks, Brad

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  4. Anonymous6:54 PM

    I think ppl forget that while most "predators" are men, most men are not predators.

    It's a frustrating paradox to be chastised for not being involved enough with one's children or hear ppl lament the lack of males in education and than to be presumed to be a predator only because of gender.

    This has happened to me on several occasions. I take precautions to keep myself safe from paranoid suspicion (I stay visible when around strange children, i.e.) but I don't let it keep from being involved. I have something to offer that kids need and who am I to deny them that.

    Bruce

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  5. I love these stories of men standing strong in their masculinity. It's good for young people and the world needs more of you.

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