BOYS HAVE FEELINGS TOO: Growing Up Male for Boys by Dale Carlson

BOYS HAVE FEELINGS TOO: Growing Up Male for Boys

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Yes, sex-role stereotyping is bad for both sexes. Boys and men feel pressure to perform and are inhibited from admitting weakness or expressing feelings. From this generally agreed on thesis, Carlson elaborates with exaggeration, simplistic generalization, and much repetition. Her prose is colloquial and wordy (""but the thing of it is""; ""this is the biggy""), with phrases such as ""thank heaven"" and ""horrible"" thrown in for emphasis. What's more, much of this is in the second person, sure to annoy readers whose situation does not fit Carlson's stereotypical ones. And stereotypes abound, despite her horror of the wrong kind; her favorite is the driven, achieving, emotionally repressed male who, if one believes her frequent references to this type, will surely go ""mad"" in middle age. Some interesting statistics and studies are cited, but instead of exploring their implications Carlson jumps to conclusions. Thus the fact that elementary school boys get worse marks than girls is blamed solely on societal pressure to act out ""boyish misbehavior,"" though we know too that boys are slower to develop competence. Similarly, the preponderance of men over women in mental institutions is noted here as the ""end"" result of broken marriages, from which men suffer more than women. (In this case one feels that Carlson has linked the two ""facts"" less from conviction than for a smooth stylistic transition.) It's probably true that a lot of boys out there still need the book's message, but Carlson's tirade is neither a disarming argument nor a fair representation of female rationality.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum