We must all hang together,
 or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.

– Benjamin Franklin, 1776

 


Boys and the Boy Crisis
July 13-14, 2007 in Washington, DC

 

Pre-Conference Schedule

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Pre-Conference Friday July 13th (requires separate registration)
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9:00-11:30 a.m. -- Glenn Sacks -- Anti-Male Bias in the Media

Anti-male bias runs throughout the mainstream media and also, to a lesser extent, the conservative alternative media. The media provides a terribly stilted view of issues such as divorce and child support, domestic violence, child abuse, and men's and women's contributions to their families. Prominent examples include: media coverage of the Clara Harris 'Murder by Mercedes' Case; numerous child support enforcement publicity campaigns against so-called "deadbeat dads"; and the "lazy husband" myth currently being used to explain the decline of marriage. Discuss what you can do to combat anti-male media bias with Glenn.

(requires separate registration)

12:30-3:00 p.m. -- Warren Farrell -- Our Sons, Our Schools, Our Future: The Crisis Beneath the Boy Crisis—and How to Solve It

What is the underlying issue when we perceive our daughters’ problems as the schools’ fault and our sons’ problems as our sons’ fault? If our sons and daughters’ brains are different, what do we do with that info? What needs to be changed about the male-female dance to improve both our sons and daughters’ lives? Which men’s issues are the most crucial boys’ issues? Is our sons’ genetic heritage in conflict with their genetic future? A new approach to teaching communication and sports that can vastly improve our sons’ and daughters’ lives.

(requires separate registration)

3:30-6:00 -- Matt O'Connor -- THE FATHERS REVOLUTION

Founding father of campaign group Fathers 4 Justice, Matt O’Connor exports his no nonsense vision of non-violent direct action to the United States for the first time and spells out the strategies and structures that can turn a campaign in crisis into a campaign in the national headlines. Expect strong arguments and strong language.

(requires separate registration)

 

 

Conference Schedule

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(The times listed may change a bit as we solidify the schedule.)

 
 
Friday Evening, July 13th
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7:30-9:00Warren Farrell -- Conference Presentation -- The Boys’ Crisis: the Danger; the Opportunity

When we explain men's issues, women, men, liberals and conservatives could care less. Yet when we explain boys’ issues, women, men, liberals and conservatives care. Why? Protecting boys calls upon women’s instinct to protect; but protecting men wreaks havoc on women’s instinct to expect protection from us. Similarly, men, whether liberal or conservative, recoil if we fail to protect. Understanding boys’ issues therefore has a dual benefit: it helps us communicate our issues to others; and it helps us to know ourselves. Thus, just as the Chinese symbol for crisis incorporates both the danger and opportunity, we will discover both the depth of the crisis for boys and the depth of the opportunity for us all.

9:00- Say hello
An informal time to get to know the other attendees and meet our speakers. Books will be on sale.
 
Saturday July 14, 2007
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9:00 am Glenn Sacks -- Can boys (and girls) be raised without men? The drive to diminish the importance of fathers

Call it the backlash against the backlash. Over the past decade, Americans have increasingly understood that the divorce revolution, fatherlessness and single parent households are harming our children. Now those who view the traditional family as disadvantageous to women are firing back, defending women who choose single motherhood and depicting fathers as superfluous.

Last fall Stanford University Gender Scholar Peggy Drexler penned the highly-publicized book Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men. This month Oxford Press released Wellesley College Women's Studies Professor Rosanna Hertz’s Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women Are Choosing Parenthood Without Marriage and Creating the New American Family.

Certainly one can sympathize with those single mothers whose husbands or lovers abandoned or mistreated them, and who soldiered on in the raising of their children without the father those children should have had. However, Drexler and Hertz go well beyond this, openly advocating single motherhood as a lifestyle choice.

9:30 Paul Nathanson and Katherine Young -- Coming of Age as a Villain: What Young Men Need to Know in a Misandric World

We will begin by discussing coming-of-age as a cultural process that in other times and places fostered the transformation of boys into men. What happens in a society that provides not only fails to acknowledge the entry into manhood but also—and this is even more important—refuses to provide an acceptable view of manhood in the first place? The social-scientific evidence looks very grim, most obviously (but not only) the statistics on suicide and dropping out of school. What’s going on? These are symptoms, we suggest, of a much deeper problem. By and large, people are either unaware of this problem or unwilling to do something about it. In that sense, it is analogous to what Betty Friedan called women’s “disease with no name.” But it has a name now: misandry.

As we define it, misandry is the direct or indirect teaching of contempt for men as such, which makes misandry not only a form of hatred (as distinct from anger) in general but also of sexism and even racism in particular (because men are a biologically defined class). We have found pervasive evidence of misandry not only in pop culture (negative stereotypes, double standards, double messages) but also in academic works (based on the conspiracy theory of history and often indulging in what we call “statistics abuse”); and ultimately in legislation (overt and covert forms of discrimination against men). The institutions of our society care almost exclusively about the needs and problems of women, an official victim class. Parents and teachers, therefore, find themselves in the position of having to prepare boys for a world that is either indifferent to boys and men (assuming that they “have all the power” and therefore cannot have problems) or hostile to them (assuming that they cause every problem and therefore deserve no attention), a world that sees men as inadequate women or honorary women at best and evil beings at worst. If a healthy identity must involve at least one distinctive, publicly valued, and necessary contribution to society (which, we suggest, it must), and if women can do everything that men can do as well or better (which is what many women claim, although they acknowledge that there is at least one thing that only women can do)—or if the only things that make men distinctive are evil—then it is clearly impossible for boys to develop healthy identities specifically as male human beings. No amount of amelioration by psychologists and teachers working with individual boys or men, and no amount of amelioration by other social scientists working with institutions, will solve this underlying problem by themselves. Society as a whole must do so by acknowledging yet another form of deeply rooted prejudice—or, to put it another way, by taking seriously the full humanity of men and therefore the claims of those who advocate human rights.

10:30 BREAK
10:45 Tom Golden - How and Why Boys and Girls Differ in Processing Emotion and Stress

There are major differences in boys and girls in the ways they handle stress and emotions. Very little is known about the masculine side since most people including mental health professionals assume that the default mode of talking and open emoting is the sole path in dealing with stress and emotions. This short talk will give you the basics of the masculine side of healing.

11:15 Matt O'Connor -- Father Figure

Fathers 4 Justice leader Matt O’Connor explains how fatherlessness in the first world is creating a social catastrophe for young boys who are growing up without any kind of father figure. O’Connor sets out how his work with young offenders in the United Kingdom has brought home to him the how the vicious social cycle young boys and teenagers find themselves in has led to an explosion in young offending and the creation of an increasingly dysfunctional society.

12:00 LUNCH
1:00 pm Boys Issues Panel -- Malia Blom, Boys and Schools -- Gordon Finley, Higher Education -- J. Steven Svoboda, Circumcision
Malia Blom Strategies for Success: A Toolbox for helping Boys in School

Strategies, methods, and ideas for helping boys do better in school and become more engaged in their studies. A toolkit for parents, teachers, or anyone interested in helping boys achieve.

Gordon Finely -- The New Gender Divide in Higher Education: Long-Term Social and Occupational Implications

A 40% male attendance, graduation, and advanced degree rate hardly represent equality for men -- and indeed represent a reversal of historic proportion. The occupational implications are relatively straightforward. Far more murky -- but linked to the occupational and income implications -- are the future social worlds of men, women, children, and matters of sex, reproductive rights and responsibilities, and family forms such as single, cohabiting, married, and divorced.

Looking through the glass darkly, the brick floor may well turn out to be far more important than the glass ceiling.

J. Steven Svoboda -- Moving into the 21st Century with Joy: Protecting Boys from Circumcision

The fact that infant circumcision still happens today is astounding. It is a violent procedure that has been searching for a rationale since Victorian times, when medicalized circumcision began. Circumcised boys feel pain more than intact children. The procedure also causes a broad range of documented problems. Societies tend to be blind to the horrors they create themselves. And so are we regarding male circumcision.

American beliefs that circumcision destroys little tissue, and that the tissue lost is of no particular value, are contradicted by medical research, which recently proved the serious impacts on male sexuality. Circumcision as a medical (as opposed to religious) procedure was born in this country in the nineteenth century as a technique aimed at stopping young boys from masturbating by reducing their ability to feel genital pleasure. The pain of the procedure was explicitly cited by doctors as a “positive” byproduct of the operation. Many doctors also recommended circumcision of girls for similar reasons.

As time went on, whenever any new disease would become a subject of social concern, circumcision would be proposed as a panacea. Circumcision was claimed to cure sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer in women, and urinary tract infections. Currently, the procedure is being promoted as a near-magical preventive measure to stop AIDS. We seem to have learned little from history. Under standard medical practice, amputation is the treatment of last resort.

Cross-cultural studies demonstrate that the earlier and more violently the circumcision ritual occurs, the more violent is the society. Human rights treaties forbid female genital mutilation (FGM) and male circumcision alike. Yet somehow we have entered the 21st century but not yet learned from the errors of 19th Century Victorians. Let’s bring ourselves up to date and give our boys the same joyful birthright that we ardently safeguard in girls: safe, intact bodies.

2:15 Stephen Baskerville -- Boys: The Next Fathers

The fatherhood crisis, though comparatively new, is not limited to one generation. For the African-American community, we were warned about it at least as far back as the Moynihan report in 1965. That’s almost two generations, just since the warning. It is very likely that males have been gradually relinquishing their hold on fatherhood for at least a century, without fully realizing they were doing it, and that the rise in crime rates, incarceration, and substance abuse reflected this long before we became aware of a "fatherhood" crisis.

The main ways boys learn to be fathers is from their own fathers. How many of us do things the way our fathers do, even when we are not quite sure that is the right way? Or at least when we do things differently, we are usually consciously aware of the fact. When boys don’t have fathers, how do they learn to be fathers? At best, these days they may learn from a variety of new psychotherapeutically-designed, government-sponsored, and feminist-influenced "responsible fatherhood" programs. I am not certain that is much better than learning nothing.

Today the state has become the de facto father to large numbers of children. The head of the household has shifted from the father not to so much to the mother but to the government. What are the consequences of boys growing up with the authoritarian state as their principal role model?

3:00 BREAK
3:15 Christina Hoff Sommers -- The War Against Boys: Has it Ended?

Christina Hoff Sommers will talk about the growing public awareness of the special academic and social needs of boys and young men. She will also discuss how hard-line feminists continue to thwart efforts to help them.

4:00-5:00 Panel - Where do we go from here?
Warren Farrell, Matt O'Connor, Christina Hoff Sommers, Glenn Sacks, Paul Nathanson, Katherine Young with Audience fedback
 

 

 

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