Are boys and girls the same? The evidence tells us not. This post is all about the consequences of this question.
In part I of this series, we examined how sensitive men are to external culture and so to external identity and status. We see that when external culture threatens men's identity and status, they are disabled. In Part II we see how traditional cultures always use external male cultural processes to help men find their natural place in a society. We see then that women complete this process once the man has been initiated in manhood by older men.
Today in Part III we will see how, for the best of reasons, we have unconcsiously set up external cultural processes that take men's identity and status away and so, I think, set men up in conflict with what all of society needs from them.
I see two fallacies at the heart of all of this.
The first fallacy is that men and women, boys and girls are the same. All that is different between us are a few body parts.
The second is that the only part of society that counts is the external workplace.
Today I want to talk about the first new fallacy - that boys and girls, men and women are the same and that the only differences are the result of culture.
The dogma that guides many "Child Experts" and certainly most public schools is that boys and girls are the same.
The opposite is the reality. The more that boys are raised as boys should be - invested in their innate nature as males, the better men will be and the better it will be for women.
We start in the crib.
In the crib, baby boys are attracted to things and baby girls to faces. Males are pulled to the external world and females to the world of personal intimacy. These are the 'Initial Conditions" that govern male and female human development.
This is the essential clue.
Boys tend to be kinetic and face outward. They are attracted to things that have kinetic power such as tractors! It is not because they are stupid. It is the core of being a male.
It is why I can drive into a village in Botswana that had never seen a truck before and have all the boys racing along side screaming with joy, while their sisters look up with disdain at how crazy their brothers are.
It is why Alfie will shove his toy animals off the table while Sophia will sort them all out in order and give them voices.
It is why boys and men don't like to look into each other's eyes. Males prefer shoulder to shoulder. It is why men prefer to do things with each other and not talk. Especially not talk about personal things. They are not shut down. It is just something that does not work for men.
This picture is of men who like each other and who are having fun!
Men are innately tribal. They want to belong to a tribe of men who share a mission with them. Men who follow teams are not mindless thugs, but men who desire to belong to a real tribe but who can only find a fake one in the sad world we live in today.
Men will die for each other - provided they are in the right kind of tribe. Men desire to be given this respsonsibility.
For, one of the deepest needs for men is their need to belong to a group of like minded men. This does not preclude their family and the women in their lives. But it is not a desire to be sneered at. And when men have such a healthy tribal life, all the rest of their life is good too.
So, to fit into the world, boys need to have their place in the world of men. In particular boys have to have a "Tribe".
Finding your tribe starts with the most important man a boy will ever meet, his father.
Just as we all need a mother (Maybe another series) Every boy needs a man in his life who loves him and who he can look up to. For the kind of man the boy will become will be related to the model that he knows best. For good or for bad. If there is no man, then the boy is lost. He needs a model. Boys learn to be a man by interacting with and copying an adult man who is important for them.
It does not have to be his natural father. Just as the mother does not have to be the natural mother.
Boys need to do things with this man.
Everything that follows stems from this. Doing with others is how a boy/man develops relationships.
Boys need to interact physically.
Boys love rough play. Here they learn not to be rough but how to control their strength. This is how dogs socialize too. What looks like a fight is a vital part of learning control. It is how all male social animals learn this. When a boy play fights with an older boy or a man, he also learns to trust that older person. He experiences directly that the stronger one is being careful with him. The result is love and trust. He also learns that he too must take care.
Men show their love to each other kinetically.
In adulthood men can rarely tell another man how much they love him. Instead they use ritual violence such as verbal abuse or arm punches. When you hear a man in a bar tell another that he is an asshole and the other laughs and punches the abuser on the the arm - this is a show of affection!
Men settle conflct in teams very quickly. But it usually requires a blowup.
Boys and men settle hierarchy issues quickly and usually with violence, real or symbolic. Once the issue is settled, both sides accept the result and in many cases friendship is the outcome. This may seem odd but any man knows this and most have experienced this. It is the way of all social primates.
For the males in a baboon troop or a chimp tribe, cannot sustain long standing grievances between adult males. The males have to be able to work together. This is how evolution has given social groupings the edge. Men have to get on in close groups.
If girls need to have a best friend, then boys and men need to have a real tribe.
This is not war play. It is tribal play. It is what all boys for millions of years have done. It is what lion cubs do. They are playing at being a tribe of men who will provide for their tribe and defend it if they have to. They are playing at being a band of brothers.
The point is not to learn how to use a gun or to an expert in martial arts. It is to play at being men in a tribal group who are on a mission together. The weapons are symbolic. You are not teaching your son to be a mass murderer if he plays with a gun.
What is much more risky is to allow him to be isolated and inside.
Boys need to be in nature.
Of all the external environments that affect boys the best, nature is the winner.
For millions of years, men have had to learn the ways of nature. They are good at this. They innately long for this. It is why many men love hunting. They don't love killing. They love the hunt. They love being immersed in nature. It's why men will fish all day in the rain and maybe catch nothing. It's the flow of being in nature with all your senses alive. But being in nature does not mean that men have to hunt. It means that the outside world speaks to them. The more they are outside as boys, the more they develop correctly. Conversely, the more that they are inside, the worse it is for them.
Nature fascinates boys. I was so lucky that I was allowed to run wild as a boy. I played in the local bomb site in London. I ran all over Accra in Ghana as a boy - killing snakes - making forts - eating food with the local boys - my sister and I were the only white kids in our part of town. I spent a year working and living in the Kalahari desert in my late teens.
I was not unusual. Most parents gave their boys this liberty then. They did not all go to Africa, but they had this liberty to be outside and not to be supervised. We did not all die. We were not all abducted. I know of not one boy who got off worse than a few broken bones.
But this is not the world that boys grow up in today. Today we sneer at all of this.
At home, we want boys to be nice and be like, well girls. Don't play roughly. Be quiet. Don't get dirty. Don't climb trees. My son doesn't need a father. It's ok that they spend all day in their room on their mobile. Don't settle your differences. Don't play with guns or bows and arrows. Why can't you play nicely like your sister?
And above all, don't do anything without adult supervision.
And what about school today?
Nothing could be worse for boys than how we organize most schools today. School is all about sitting still and being obedient to someone who sounds like your mother on a bad hair day. Her primary task is control. It has to be because the entire social design is wrong.
And when boys don't like this, we medicate them! We think that there is something wrong with a boy who cannot sit still for 6 hours a day and listen obediently to a woman droning on and being "right". God forbid the boy or girl who asks a real question!
There are better alternatives. This is not how Montessori works. Here children are in a space that is designed for them to do things. It is in the doing that the children learn. What they do is up to them. There is usually a woman in charge but she acts here like a true mother. Her role is to maintain the safe space. She is not a know it all nag.
Here the older kids routinely help the younger ones. Here older kids have authority. It's a TRIBE!
Key is that the "class" is a social setting that includes children of a wide age range. It is their tribe.
There are no formal social structures in badly designed schools. There are no official tribes. And so there is role role for any of the older boys. It's a jungle.
This is what happens in prisons. Instead of tribes there are cliques and gangs. There the winners and the losers. The weak are prey.
Here we see the fatal flaw of most schools and of most work organizations. All is functional and the truly social is squeezed out.
We put only the same ages in the class. This is not tribal. There is no older boy to look up to. Only teachers have any authority. So all the children are infantalized.
It is easy at this point to throw our hands up and give up. How can we change this?
But it only takes us to see the issue.
What is stopping you from treating your son like a boy at home? Your obedience to a dogma that hurts him and you. You can allow him to be a boy or not. All of that is in your control.
But what can I do about the school you ask?
Here the issue is design and your choice.
Schools that are designed properly are all about us. I mentioned Montessori. Most private schools in the UK are designed around stable social settings of "Houses". Here is a link to how my old school Harrow works. This structure has nothing to do with money. This is all about design. Any school can do this.
It's up to parents to demand what is best for their kids. How schools are designed today is wrong. You can organize to change them.
Is your school designed to affect the students so that they acquire
- Social responsibility
- Ability to connect well across the ages and with adults
- Excellence - where the definition of excellence is high but you can find status in whatever interests you
- Bullying is non existent
- The staff and the pupils really care for each other
I bet it isn't. Instead it is designed to do the opposite.
Push the school to find answers. These things don't happen by accident. They don't happen because you would like them to happen.
The easiest thing to do is to insert a social system. Look to Hogwarts! Have Tribes/Houses. Open up the classes to at least 3 years of age. The one room school did K - 12! Give authority to the older kids. Bring in as many inter house/tribe competitions as you can.
Get the kids outside. Give the kids time for unstructured play outside.
Give the kids unstructured time.
Seek out male teachers for boys betwen 12- 18.
And separate the boys from the girls at 12. Yes have single sex school/
Boys don't do well when they are with girls from 12 - 18. See Part I. Boys need to be with older men to become men themselves and so ready to interact with women. I am not sure that girls get much out of being with boys at that age either. All traditional societies separate teen age boys and girls. What do we know that should change this?
We know this. Boys are socialized by men. When they are ready to be men, then women finish the job.
Women are the final frontier for male development. It is a woman that completes a man and helps make him the best he can be. Not a 15 year old girl who is herself uncertain about herself.
There is the best time for this reconnection of the sexes and it is not aged 16. It is in his twenties when he will have reached as full a development as he can in the world of men. It is also when the girl is a woman who knows who she is and what she needs. It is when a man meets a woman not a boy meets a girl.
Our modern culture has been captured by a number of really dangerous ideas that work against us as a species. They seem to be a product of our bureaucratic and non human industrial time. Boy and girls are the same is the one we have talked about. It does not matter what you eat is another.
In the next part, I will talk about the worst idea. That is that the real world is the economic world. That this is where there is opportunity or not. That this is where there is equality or not. That ending up with lots of stuff is the aim of a life.
This is the tragic idea of the modern era. And this is where men and women have got truly lost.
Finding out what life is really about will bring both sexes back into their historic role. For ask yourself this. In what other species are the roles of the sexes confused? In what other species are males such a threat or problem?