The Negative Perception and Treatment of Sensitive Boys in This Society
Boy, You Are Too &*!@#% Soft- Okay! I'm Going To Make A Man Out Of You Or Die Trying!
There have been changes in the perception of males within the last three decades due to the loosening of strict sex role dichotomies. Boys and men have discovered softer and more sensitive aspects of their personalities while girls and women have discovered tougher and more aggressive aspects of their personalities. In other words, males and females are granted more varied and wider gender role identification at this period of history than in the past.
However, there is an underlying expectation that boys are to be tough, hard, and able to take what it dished out. They are constantly brainwashed from the time of early childhood not to show their weakness. If they dare to show weakness and/or vulnerability, they are often derided and/or worse. They are often called derogatory and/or very pejorative names.
Boys are rewarded for being harsh and tough. This means that they are totally worth their salt. They are instructed to keep their feelings and innermost thoughts to themselves. They are told that no one likes a whiny child, let alone a whiny boy. If there is a problem, boys are usually taught to solve it themselves, endure it, and/or move on.
Boys oftentimes are treated more harshly by their relatives, especially by male relatives. They are indcotrinated to be in charge and aggressive from an early age. They are often motivated to go into rough sports and games during their childhood. This is to prepare them to be men.
Some boys characteristically thrive on such roles. Their innate personality is tough and aggressive. They see nothing better than to exhibit their inner assertive and prowess. However, there are some boys who are more sensitive by nature. They do not thrive in the sports environment. They often prefer pursuits which traditionally would be classified as more laid back and/or feminine.
However, sensitive boys are often viewed as a pariah in this society. They are viewed as being abnormal and as unmasculine. Oftentimes, they are not supported for their unique and individual personalities. They are ostracized and often forced to conform to the more acceptable so-called masculine type.
Sensitive boys are often the bane of their fathers, particularly if the father is more of a traditional masculine type. This father often view his more sensitive son as an object of embarrassment. Many fathers view their sons as a reflection of them. Fathers are often happy, proud, and elated when their sons have the same masculine persona and characteristics. Nothing makes a father proud for a son to have the same and/or similar interests that he has. The father feels that he has done right by his son.
However, if a strongly traditionally masculine father has a son that is nontraditionally masculine and more sensitive, the father tends to be somewhat dismissive and ashamed of his son. Many fathers, particularly if they are more traditionally masculine, feel that they have done something wrong because they believe that their son is less than masculine and/or downright effeminate in their eyes. Many of these fathers often treat their sensitive sons harshly and insensitively with the hope of making their sons "real men."
I remember a neighbor of mine who had an extremely sensitive son. The son was not into sports and other typical boyish roughhousing. He was attuned to more artistic and intellectual pursuits. The father did not like at it all. He considered his son to be somewhat effeminate because his son did not care for sports. So one day there was a football recital at the son's junior high school and he elected not to participate in the recital which was fine by his mother.
However, when the father was notified of this, he become totally enraged and went ballistic. He called his son all sorts of pejorative names. He even physically chastised his son to beat "the sissy" out of him! He asserted that his son was going to be a man or he would die trying to do so! He further maintained that his son was no longer going to be a disgrace to him as a father!
Sensitive boys stand out in the rough and tumble world of boyhood. They are often ostracized and are the targets of school bullies and more aggressive boys because of their nonconformist nature. Sensitive boys are often nonassertive and are unlikely to fight back when attacked by school bullies and less sensitive boys.
Elementary and junior high boy culture is tough enough for the sensitive boy to handle. He somewhat manages to survive this boy culture! However, in high school, it is a different arena entirely, High school boy culture is full of masculine gameplaying and upmanship. Roughhousing in high school is elevated to another, more testosterone induced level. The name of the game is who is the most masculine and strongest and no so-called sissies and other unmasculine types need apply.
Boys at the high school level particularly want to prove that they are men by any means necessary. There is often a written and unwritten pecking order among high school boys. Boys who are considered the most macho, manly, and tough are often at the top of the pecking order while boys who are considered the least macho, unmanly i.e. effeminate, and soft are at the extreme bottom. The latter are often called punk, b$%^#h, p$%^#y, wussy, homo, and other pejorative names.
High school boy culture with its strict code of masculinity is often an infernal time for the sensitive boy. He is often viewed as the odd boy out on the high school scene. High school boy culture is often adrenaline packed with rough sports such as football, basketball, and other similar sports. Oftentimes the hypermasculine jock is idolized in high school boy culture while the more sensitive creative artist and intellectual is derided.
Bullying is advanced to a more extreme and "sophisticated" level in high school boy culture. Many sensitive boys at the high school experience bullying by more traditionally masculine and aggressive boys regularly. To some high school boys, nothing demonstrates their so-called masculine fitness than to ostracize and single out a boy who they consider to be weaker and easy pickings.
There are many cases which more sensitive boys who are so harassed and bullied that they commit suicide because they believe that no one would support and defend them. Oftentimes when boys are bullied, they are told to be a man and fight back. The saying is that real men do not cry when picked up, they kick ass! Well, there are some boys who are not psychologically equipped to fight back. Teachers at the high school stage are usually not quick to intervene when bullying occurs, especially among boys, because it is reasoned that boys should know how to take care of themselves!
The sensitive boy's typology is either ignored or not appreciated. They are often forced to conform to the societal masculine stereotype of being tough, hard as nails, and macho. Because of this, the gifts of sensitive boys often go unvalued and/or unnoticed. This is sad because sensitive boys, if appreciated and nurtured, have plenty to contribute to society. Sensitive boys are highly artistic, creative, and empathetic. If such masculine qualities were encouraged to blossom, the world would be an infinitely better place to live!
In summation, sensitive boys are often viewed as atypical boys. Even though there are variations to masculine roles, there is still an underlying concept that boys are to be tough and hard as steel. Boys are still inundated not to show weakness but to be always in control 24/7.
To be rough is to be strong. If a boy is sensitive, he is considered to be a wimp, wussy, and other pejorative adjective which describe a boy who does not conform to the typical traditional masculine archetype. Fathers particularly want and train their sons to be masculine. If a boy exhibits characteristics which is considered unmasculine, his father, if he is more traditionally masculine, is often embarrassed by his son. This father often goes through any length to make his son a man!
Boy culture is often cruel and unsupportive to sensitive boys. Sensitive boys are considered the odd boy out. They are often targets of stronger boys and school boys because of their uniqueness and nonconformity to the masculine idea. High school boy culture with its code of testorone driven masculinity is infernally perilous for the sensitive boy. In spite of everything, the sensitive boy has gifts of empathy and creativity. The world would be a better place if sensitive boys were wholly appreciated and allowed to use their innate gifts!
Books Related to the Subject
The Sensitive Boy
Were you considered a sensitive boy?
© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams