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Life Is Harder for Boys

Updated on January 12, 2018

Unhappy at School

School programs are designed with girls in mind. Boys and girls have different developmental timelines.
School programs are designed with girls in mind. Boys and girls have different developmental timelines. | Source

Before and After

I was taking a writing course at DeVry in 2000. We were asked to write a few response essays to the articles chosen by our instructor, Tricia Morgan. One of the articles was rather interesting “Roll Back the Red Carpet for Boys” by Donna Laframboise. I love the fact that I save things and can come back to them so many years later. Back then I did not have a son. Now I do. Being a mother changes everything. Being a mother to a “double trouble” boy is a challenge. My seven year old son has a lot of difficulties, he lags behind in his development, and he hates school because it is harder for him than for most children. He lags in his speech development. My thoughts on the matter are slightly different now, but first I would present you with the original article that is quite worth reading and then with my response the way I wrote it in 2000. Come to think of it, how peculiar it is to find the original article still online eleven years later? Or rather thirteen years later since the time it was written?

Do we have to be the same? Do we have to outdo, outperform, outshine...?
Do we have to be the same? Do we have to outdo, outperform, outshine...? | Source

In Her Article

In her article “Roll Back the Red Carpet for Boys”, Donna Laframboise points out that feminism has caused a significant warp in the societal perception of which sex is being more discriminated against the other. The facts tell us that males, especially in their early ages, face more troubles than females. Yet, society remains blind and deaf to these facts and with persistence worth better application continues focusing on girls’ problems. The author calls for openness, consistency and fairness towards both sexes in order to stop practicing blind favouritism. I agree with the fact that males have problems and I support the idea of fairness, but I disagree with the author’s interpretation of the mentioned facts.

A special request

October 25, 2012.

When I published this article a year ago, I managed to find the original article by Donna Laframboise "Roll Back the Red Carpet for Boys" and I was amazed by the fact that the article was still accessible.

The link, however, no longer valid. I ask you, my reader, if you by any chance know where to find it, please let me know!

According to Donna Laframboise

According to Donna Laframboise, males commit suicide more often than females, and they are more prone to alcoholism, addictions, unemployment, homelessness and criminal activity. Males even do not live as long as females. The author tries to track males’ misfortunes back to school ages, when they are being outnumbered and outperformed by females. As to what are the reasons for this disparity, the author adduces some contributing factors. Firstly, boys suffer from learning disabilities more often than girls. Secondly, boys are the objects of more frequent and harsher punishment by dominating female teachers and their own parents. Thirdly, boys are confused by incompatible goals, such as masculinity and intellectualism, and they more often decide on masculinity in order to attract girls. On the other hand, the societal lack of attention to boys’ problems led to the situation when boys themselves accept this “status quo” without much complaint. Underlying this phenomenon is our inertia in thinking, when we readily apply double standards towards boys and girls. For girls’ failures we blame society, but there is nobody to be blamed for boys’ troubles but boys themselves.

My Opinion in 2000

I agree with the author that males have a lot of problems that deserve our fair attention, but I do not think that these troubles have anything to do with feminism. The shorter lifespan of males is a result of biological wiring and is absolutely irrelevant to feminist activity. The higher suicide, alcoholism, crime involvement rates also have to be ascribed to the biological and psychological differences between males and females. But following the author’s reasoning, let’s take a closer look at school ages. In my opinion, the dominance of female teachers in school might be somewhat unpleasant for boys, but not to such extent as to lead to five times higher suicidal rates in young males.

If we agree that boys prefer to be masculine rather than intellectual, then where are those Apollos, gods of sports? In fact, we see that boys choose neither masculinity expressed in body development nor intellectualism shown by high achievement at school. My engagement in sports never hindered my intellectual growth. On the contrary, it was complementary to my academic achievements, because it helped in developing such valuable skills as self-discipline, time management skills and will-power.

Therefore, to me, Laframboise’s argument about a boy culture is not very authoritative. In my school years in Russia, I witnessed a similar situation when girls outnumbered and outperformed boys. There was no strong societal message for boys to excel in masculinity, and they did not. On the other hand, our boys could not care less about their academic performance either.

I think the reasons have to be found somewhere else. For example, boys tend to be immature longer than girls, sometimes as long as they live. Why boys do not seem to care is because they are sure that when they grow up they will make up the time in the workplace, which has not yet failed to be male-dominated. That is partly the answer to the question why feminists and society does not call off their concern about females. In workplace, females are left in the rearguard with all their academic achievements while males “skim the cream”. Females have to try twice as hard to get half of what males have got without much effort. That explains females’ stronger motivation for academic performance in school.

It is about time

I am far from underestimating boys’ troubles; the only thing I want to accentuate is that we have to look at the situation in its broader context. Feminism cannot be blamed for boys’ misfortunes, because feminism is not trying to achieve its goals at the expense of males. Rather we have to be aware of problems of both sexes at the different stages at their lives and treat them accordingly. Most importantly, we have to discard our idea of reducing both sexes to the common unisex denominator, but instead open our eyes and minds to the biological, psychological and gender differences of females and males. I agree with the author of the article, that it is about time to do so with all fairness.

I want boys to be happy

To be yourself is not so easy when you are not accepted
To be yourself is not so easy when you are not accepted

My Thoughts Now

Donna Laframboise mentioned that girls don’t do so well in math and sciences. It is not true. I graduated from one of the most difficult engineering schools in Moscow. I was not a genius, nor were my female classmates and we all made it. The question is why though? I never liked engineering to begin with and I doubt that anybody in my class did, neither boys nor girls, it is my bloody aptitude that made it possible. I have more inclination towards humanities, dancing, linguistics, and psychology. It is my submissiveness, whether it is a female characteristic or not, that kept me a prisoner of other people’s opinions. I was always “a good girl”. Even back then I hated when they called me “a good girl”, I thought to myself “You know nothing about me, how could you possibly call me a good girl?” It is not so far from “Good Dog!”, Obedience Training Part I, conditioning into good behaviour.

But for my son I do not wish conformity, I do not wish my bumpy journey, I want him to know who he is, what he is, what he is good at and that at any rate he can succeed. I do believe that every child is creative, talented, capable and unique. All our children need for blooming are the right conditions, love and patience.

What do you think?

Do you agree that life is harder for boys?

See results

No One Knows How to Be a Real Man

© 2011 kallini2010


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    • kallini2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you, aethelthryth, for your comment. I agree with you, maybe women going into traditionally men's professions is not as simple as it might seem on the surface.

      I remember my math teacher/professor at the first year of the University who said to our class that had 50/50 ration of boys and girls "I don't understand why girls come to study engineering if more often than not they end up being tied up with children and cooking for their families anyways?"

      I think he was right. For the time when he said it was right. A choice of a profession should be an informed choice, a suitable choice and justified one.

      If a woman can and wants to have a masculine profession, that is fine. But to go into career that is not psychologically suitable, sometimes it is like a suicide.

      I don't think we should strive for equality, because we are not equal biologically, I think the emphasis should be on the best fit of what one can, of what one wants and on what one does best.

      Is this too much to hope for?

    • aethelthryth profile image


      6 years ago from American Southwest

      Interesting article, and I think boys do have things harder in today's world.

      I also have a degree in the "hard" sciences, because I was told it was a good thing to do. It has been useful, but it was not my own idea, and still is not what I like. I get annoyed with feminists who say that more women should go into math and science, yet they themselves study "fun" subjects. Supposedly the discussion is about women having the freedom to do what they want, yet I know few women who actually want to study math or science.

      I do know many women who say they want jobs instead of raising their children, but from their actions and where their attention is, it looks to me like another instance of women doing what they are told they want, rather than what they actually want.

    • Darkproxy profile image


      6 years ago from Ohio

      Proof feminism is not about equality, many of these issues are mocked on Ms. Magazines blog. It sickens me to know this hell it won't be long till China over takes the US at this rate.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      want more opinion

    • kallini2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you, Pikachusif, for your comment.

      This article was written long time ago. We learn every day, some more, some less...

      I will tell you my opinion as of today - I welcome challenges now. It is because of our challenges that we learn not because we all had it easy.

      I never had it easy. Maybe I had. I could have had it much worse. Now I want my son to overcome adversity - my role is to guide, to help only when I know he cannot do it. And I will be changing my strategy.

      Inequality? Discrimination? Those are all opportunities. By playing favouritism towards girls we are not helping either girls or boys. It is simply a fact of life.

      Now, I need a good solution, a good foundation.

      I will build it.

      And if you are interested in what and how, then please come back. There is nothing more important in my life than my son. I am not going TO FIGHT for boys - they must learn how to do it on their own.

      So, first things first - let's learn how to use "the system" to our advantage. Not by breaking the rules, but BY FOLLOWING them.

      For this project you will need:

      1. Your brain.

      - That's it?

      - Yes, that's it. It is more than enough.

      Best regards,

      P.S. My son loves pokemons. That might be a hub. Daniel & Mom

    • Pikachusif profile image


      6 years ago from Castelia City, Unova

      Well, as a male myself, I must say that I have endured some hardships that females of my age group have not even thought about, nevertheless endured them. Females were always pampered at my school, and boys were treated like janitors (no offense Mr. Tommy.)I think that it is unjust for such discrimination to be occurring, but I have a good feeling that someday, humankind's idiotic ways will be reverted into a state of global peace. And not just for girls.

      -Forever understanding, Pikachusif

    • kallini2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you, RavenBiker, for reading my article. I published it long time ago (well, maybe six months ago) and it did not get much attention.

      I have only one son and my "knowledge" is very limited. He struggles at school and I struggle with him because I have no strategy. He is a late bloomer which is not unusual for boys. He is eight and as it was predicted by a psychologist that we saw that by that age, school had done its damage - the boy hates school already - which makes "a fertile ground for learning". He believes he is stupid, worthless ... As far as I know, Albert Einstein did not do that well in school either.

      I, frankly, find the whole idea of competition very damaging. If let's say 100 people compete for the first place (boys or girls), there is only one place for the winner. So, the result of the competition is only one winner and ninety-nine losers. Why am I saying it? My son cannot take losing. He cannot play any game without throwing hysterical tantrums if he does not win. But what kind of lesson will I teach him if I will "let him win all the time"?

      Boys do not cry. Of course, they cry. There are two men in my life who cried quite easily. They still do, my son does as well. Why? I don't know, I find it irresistible - maybe I am not the "right" woman.

      Yes, I think schooling nowadays is completely off. The whole society has its priorities screwed up. Competition...

      What about empathy and co-operation? "I am a winner!" Are you happy? Now, ninety-nine people hate you for that. Enjoy your solitude and hatred and envy of others.

      I think schools traumatized every generation. Boys, girls, different countries...

      I ended up hating it as well.

    • RavenBiker profile image


      7 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA.

      Good Golly! Someone agrees with me!

      Where girls have excelled professionally and socially, boys remain stagnant. Feminism is not the cause, I agree, but biys are not taught to accept feminism which means it keeps their social-sexual roles a bit more blurred.

      Boys don't cry. Really? They have no feelings or tear ducts?

      Boys re suppose to participate in sports. Really? Are all boys physically equal at any age?

      Boys are suppose to be career minded. Really? Why?

      Boys cannot compliment other boys. Really? ---don't get me started.

      I agree wholehearted with you. I believe public schools should be single-sexed before puberty. I believe it will be beneficial for both genders. And while we're at it, public schools ought to have "uniforms".

    • kallini2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you, Ian. I agree with you that it goes both ways - you teach children and children teach you. I have only one son, but it is enough to realize that we learn from children a lot.

      They don't come with the manual, as I like to say. They are all different.

      I quite believe you that you were a good teacher and I almost envy you that you are still connected with people you taught.

      I think teachers is the second circle for us (after parents and family) and it is impossible to forget whether they were "good, bad or ugly". I remember most of my teachers. Your comment unleashed the whole ocean of memories and I am thinking of writing a little bit (maybe a few hubs) on my schooling.

      I don't see myself as a teacher, even though it has been suggested too many times and it is not too late to get a degree for a math and science teacher (given my engineering background), but I don't really want to come back to mathematics. Some people ask me for help with learning English and writing, but I am not qualified - I don't have enough patience. I repeat things three times and I am done.

      The funny thing, though -- when I ask people to guess my profession, the answers are either a teacher or a psychologist. Go figure.

      But I share my knowledge as I go free of charge, always. I see nothing wrong with not knowing. You cannot possibly know everything. Learning is a lifelong process.

      I love children. And when I was doing the career exploration workshop in 2007, I was asked what was my ideal (dream) job. I did not have one, but having thought about it (what? for a day?) I came up with "Running an orphanage for children that are rejected". Those ones that people don't adopt. You'd be surprised at the number of children in Canada growing in orphanages.

      But I have no qualifications. How is that for a dream? I guess it comes from a book that I read in my childhood by Anton Makarenko "Pedagogical Poem".

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Here comes a bit of vanity. I taught at primary level; usually 9 - 11. I taught for almost the whole of my teaching career in one school in which I started when I first came to London. I was apparently strict but fair, I respected the children as much as I expected to respect me... in other words, if I wasn't worthy of respect, I didn't expect it. Of the 119 friends on facebook, probably only about twenty are people who have not been pupils. I was the teacher that children used to come back to when they forgot the other teachers in the school.

      I count ex pupils as my dearest friends... on several of my hubs a girl I used to teach in 1967 has made comments. On another, a girl from the same class has made lovely comments also. I taught her and her two daughters, and when one of them gave birth, I was one of the first she told and brought the child to see.

      Nearly every single child who has contacted me, and there are many, has said I was the best teacher they ever had. And honestly, I think I learned something new every day of my teaching career.

      Does that answer your question, if only in a roundabout way?

      Talking of teachers, Svetlana, I have learned something new today. I have learned the name of Procrustes... I knew the legend, but have only just learned the name.

      Thank you.

    • kallini2010 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you, Ian, for your comment and your support in general. Don't worry, my point of view is rarely understood either despite my feelings that I am far from any extreme in any sense.

      I value balance and harmony, maybe because I fail to achieve either.

      I feel strongly about many subjects and maybe my passion is a turn-off for the majority. I feel strongly about education as well and I disagree with "systems" when "one size fits all". Boys and girls are different. Not better or worse, just different. They need different approach in order to bloom. Just like plants. You put a plant that requires a lot of sunlight in a shade, it dies. You put a plant that cannot be exposed to light in the scorching heat, it dies. You forget to water plants, they die. You overwater them, they die. Children are the same, only they tolerate our cruelty. If a mechanism cannot function, you would not lecture it that it had no right, that it would better get it together, you don't threaten it or manipulate. It won't function, end of story. But people? We solve our problems at the expense of others. Children have to conform to the school system. So do parents.

      I always think about the Greek myth about Procrustes.

      "In Greek mythology, Procrustes was a robber who lived near the city of Eleusis. He invited travelers to spend the night, offering them his hospitality.

      However, as soon as the travelers were in his house, Procrustes would tie them to an iron bed. If they were shorter than the bed, he would stretch them on a rack until they were as long as the bed. If the guests were taller than the bed, Procrustes would cut off their legs until they fit. In either case, his victims died. Procrustes met his end at the hands of the Greek hero Theseus*, who killed him the same way that the robber took care of his victims. Today the term Procrustean bed means a standard or set of conditions, determined arbitrarily, to which everyone is forced to conform." (Myth Encyclopedia - mythology, Greek, hero)

      The education system is Procrustes, it invites unsuspecting travelers and seduces with the alleged benefits, but in the end - it cripples most of its graduates.

      I remember I could not wait to finish school (being a A,B student) and I swore to God in which I did not believe that the last thing on earth I would be seen doing was being a teacher in a school. Talk about the damage...

      I hope your career as a teacher, though, was rewarding. What did you teach and what age category?

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      Brilliant hub, Svetlana, as usual. I have very strong ideas about education, as I was a teacher... Many of my ideas have been poo pooed, but to read this hub made me think again, and feel that our attitude towards boys and girls AND CHILDREN, generally must change.


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