[BOYSED] Arguments

AnneM (AnneM@edc.org)
Wed, 13 May 1998 09:55:01 -0400

Forwarded from BOYSED
Subject: [BOYSED] Arguments
From: boysed@pnc.com.au at Internet
Date: 5/13/98 17:55

hello again.

I am interested in the debate that has flooded my pc today and see it
as representative of a wider issue which really needs addressing.
Call me naive but is the taking of "sides" really helpful? Who are we
trying to help and protect and for what end.... please let me

Originally I am a school counsellor from New Zealand (one of the
youngest), I have taught health education for a few years and have
been widely involved in health promotion and youth health issues.

For three years (on and off) I have counselled boys and girls at the
same Christchurch High School and have to call it one of my life's
most rewarding experiences. Now I am doing my Dr.P.H: "a post
structural analysis of health risk taking behaviour in young men".

I have enjoyed much of the material that has come out of Australia on
Boys education. I particularly like the Book "Boys in Schools"
(thankyou to all the authors) it was inspirational to see people
constructing boys in a different and positive way that goes beyond
traditional masculine and feminine moulds.

In this current debate though I am alarmed by the possibility for us
to chuck the baby out with the bath water and harm our young men
by keeping this debate political and not pragmatic. and who does
this serve?

Talking about the feminisation of English and how bad that is
for boys, for example, is the tip a political Iceberg that
needs some cool headed research and debate.e.g. What aspects of
feminism benefits boys (and girls) and what other things are needed
to compliment it (masculinism? boyism? humanism? ismism?) to
*further* benefit boys and girls.

Two of my most powerful memories of working as a counsellor were
with young boys. One a young man, very depressed - not that anyone
would know cos he hid it so well (up till now he knew no different) -
sitting in my office, beaming from ear to ear, with tears of
happiness (?) in the corners of his eyes as I read out a short report
comment from his (female) Phys Ed teacher that said some thing along
the lines of "I do hope that there is nothing wrong with ****, he is
such a joy to teach and great member of class."

My other experience was with a group of very "troublesome" guys who
regularly crashed my office and loved to talk about their girlfriends
and families and their feelings about this. Occasionally I'd see one
by himself as he didn't want to share in front of his mates - but
eventually he'd bring it out in front of them later.... when I left
to come to Australia these same "troublesome" guys, with no hint of
shame, told me that they'd really miss me and our talks.

The point of sharing this with the list is not to say how great I am,
as I could spent longer talking about clients I didn't help nearly as
well (wouldn't be as good a read though). Rather it is to illustrate
that these guys really wanted to talk about their feelings and things
that others debunk as overtly feminist. Sure guys are different (at
least the current generation) but what I thought many of the writers
in "boys in schools" and other similar publications were saying was
that boys can benefit from some things deemed feminine in a kind of
hybrid/boyish way!

I would say, what harms boys are the arguments which cause people to
take sides and loose cooperation. And this issue is much wider than
todays debate. This affects the research and policys under current
construction and does nothing to help our young men.

One of the things that has struck my colleagues and I is that in
NZ (at least) the last people to be consulted about adolescent health
issues is often the adolescents. What do the young men in question
*really* want? Before debunking current curricula, in their
entirety, as feminist take over ploys, and chucking the
baby out with the bath water, shouldn't we ask the young men and
women? I a recent study into Adolescent Mental Health and Wellbeing,
Robyn Moore (then of Crown Public Health) found that one of the big
stressors that adolescents reported was adults. Further to this she
also found a strange absence of proper consultation with young people
around their health. At the 1996 Alcohol and Liquor Advisory
Council (ALAC - NZ) conference entitled "young people and alcohol:
perspectives for change", Family Court Chief Judge Mick Brown was
quick to point out that the biggest problem that young people faced
(in his opinion: and doesn't he see enough families) is adults....
and their hypocrisy.

It's going to be a long time before academia answers these questions
completely for us and by then our young men will have changed as the
youth culture moves on... And in the mean time, as in
most ethical debates, we are left on various sides of a playing field
rather than collaboratively trying to help our young men. So far,
this is obviously my opinion, but from an emphirical point of view
we can't afford to waste much more time.

yours sincerely

Vaughan Connolly.

> From: "Michael HART" <mhart@terrigal.net.au>
> To: <boysed@pnc.com.au>
> Subject: Re: [BOYSED] Respecting boyness can get boys back to books
> Date: Wed, 13 May 1998 14:58:58 +1000
> Reply-to: boysed@pnc.com.au

> Sorry Michael (Flood), I must have missed all your critique of women and/or
> feminists. Perhaps you could post some and provide me references to your
> published material.

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