Doug Tracht born August 1, is an American radio, television, and movie personality. He is nicknamed "The Greaseman".
When I asked whom he talked to during that time, he shrugged. Or, as with Rob, an inability to acknowledge any human frailty that was so poignant, it made me want to, well, cry. Loyalty is paramount, and masculinity is habitually established through misogynist language and homophobia.
The afternoon of our first interview, I was running late. The only person with whom he had been able to drop his guard was his girlfriend, but that was no longer an option.
Read: How boys teach each other to be boys. They recalled their early days on the playing field with almost romantic warmth. I never really thought about that.
While my interview subjects struggled when I asked what they liked about being a boy, the most frequent response was sports. When asked what traits society values most in boys, only 2 percent of male respondents in the PerryUndem survey said honesty and morality, and only 8 percent said leadership skills—traits that are, of course, admirable in anyone but have traditionally been considered masculine.
That was a huge shift from what you might have seen 50, 40, maybe even 20 years ago. During World War I, women proved that they could keep the economy humming on their own, and soon afterward they secured the vote. For most, it was a rare and humiliating event—a dangerous crack in a carefully constructed edifice. Then, during the second half of the 20th century, traditional paths to manhood—early marriage, breadwinning—began to close, along with the positive traits associated with them.
He relished being part of a unit, a band of brothers. Feminism may have provided girls with a powerful alternative to conventional femininity, and a language with which to express the myriad problems-that-have-no-name, but there have been no credible equivalents for boys. We do need fats and salts and carbs that we get from meat. A Big Ten football player I interviewed bandied about the term toxic masculinity. His father was another matter. They could also easily reel off the excesses of masculinity.
All the teenagers I spoke with are identified by pseudonyms. Quite the contrary: The definition of masculinity seems to be in some respects contracting. They stopped listening to him, too. When I asked my subjects, as I always did, what they liked about being a boy, most of them drew a blank. So he quit the team; not only that, he transferred.
Then, a few weeks into freshman year, Rob heard from a friend that she was cheating on him. He grinned when I pointed that out.
Cole and a friend of his, another sophomore, told him to knock it off. And we call each other pussies, bitches. But another reason they all thought it was stupid is because being vegans would make us pussies. He was staring impassively ahead, both feet planted on the floor, hands resting loosely on his thighs.
That worked. Cole spoke of his mom with unbridled love and respect. It was totally unfair, a scarlet letter of personal bias. As a senior in high school, Cole was made captain of the crew team. Today many parents are unsure of how to raise a boy, what sort of masculinity to encourage in their sons.
Updated at p. In fact, the Boy Scouts, whose creed urges its members to be loyal, friendly, courteous, and kind, was founded in in part to counter that dehumanizing trend. When he had a choice, he would team up with girls on school projects, to avoid the possibility of appearing subordinate to another guy. They considered their female classmates to be smart and competent, entitled to their place on the athletic field and in school leadership, deserving of their admission to college and of professional opportunities.
For Cole, as for many boys, this stunted masculinity is a yardstick against which all choices, even those seemingly irrelevant to male identity, are measured. During his junior year, he briefly suggested to his crew teammates that they go vegan for a while, just to show that athletes could.
His neck was so thick that it seemed to merge into his jawline, and he was planning to enter a military academy for college the following fall. Boys routinely confided that they felt denied—by male peers, girlfriends, the media, teachers, coaches, and especially their fathers—the full spectrum of human expression.
They are also less happy than other guys, with higher depression rates and fewer friends in whom they can confide. I paid close attention when boys mentioned crying—doing it, not doing it, wanting to do it, not being able to do it.
Girlfriends, mothers, and in some cases sisters were the most common confidants of the boys I met.
From May The war against boys. Only after multiple interviews did I realize that when boys confided in me about crying—or, even more so, when they teared up right in front of me—they were taking a risk, trusting me with something private and precious: evidence of vulnerability, or a desire for it. But Cole surprised me.
At 18, he stood more than 6 feet tall, with broad shoulders and short-clipped hair. You sort of train yourself not to feel. As I rushed down a hallway at the school, I noticed a boy sitting outside the library, waiting—it had to be him.
Cole, for instance, spent most of his childhood with his mother, grandmother, and sister—his parents split up when he was 10 and his dad, who was in the military, was often away. Perhaps the most extreme example was Ethan, a kid from the Bay Area who had been recruited by a small liberal-arts college in New England to play lacrosse.
ET on December 20, I knew nothing about Cole before meeting him; he was just a name on a list of boys at a private school outside Boston who had volunteered to talk with me or perhaps had had their arm twisted a bit by a counselor.
According to Andrew Smiler, a psychologist who has studied the history of Western masculinity, the ideal lateth-century man was compassionate, a caretaker, but such qualities lost favor as paid labor moved from homes to factories during industrialization. That question always made these young men squirm.
Sports and adolescent sexual risk
Yet, from the get-go, boys are relegated to an impoverished emotional landscape. When he raced, he imagined pulling each stroke for the guy in front of him, for the guy behind him—never for himself alone. They all had female friends; most had gay male friends as well.
We learn to confide in nobody. Mothers of young children have repeatedly been found to talk more to their girls and to employ a broader, richer emotional vocabulary with them; with their sons, again, they tend to linger on anger.
Cole cut his eyes to the side, shifted in his seat, and sighed deeply.
A hesitation to talk about … anything, really. Despite that, according to Judy Y. Chu, a human-biology lecturer at Stanford who conducted a study of boys from pre-K through first grade, little boys have a keen understanding of emotions and a desire for close relationships.
Other boys also pointed to their fathers as the chief of the gender police, though in a less obvious way.
From March Caitlin Flanagan on the dark power of fraternities. You hear a lot more about what is wrong with guys. The thing with my girlfriend.
But not everyone could muster such higher purpose. Nearly every guy I interviewed held relatively egalitarian views about girls, at least their role in the public sphere.
Read: Psychology has a new approach to building healthier men. My conversations bore this out. Among other things, that dependence can leave men unable to identify or express their own emotions, and ill-equipped to form caring, lasting adult relationships. While following the conventional script may still bring social and professional rewards to boys and men, research shows that those who rigidly adhere to certain masculine norms are not only more likely to harass and bully others but to themselves be victims of verbal or physical violence.
I asked him about how his teammates talked in the locker room. But being around guys was different.
But as I learned from talking with boys themselves, the culture of adolescence, which fuses hyperrationality with domination, sexual conquest, and a glorification of male violence, fills the void.