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February 03, 2005



Yes Laura Bush' comments troubled me as well...it appears to be once again rewarding boys for 'breaking the rules' and ignoring girls because we are less like to do so...

People should be rewarded for following the rules, being an asset to your community, as opposed to a liability by acting out all the time...

So now we'll have four years of hearing about all this money being spent on youthful troublemakers, while girls studying in school and doing what they are told will be ignored...

All I can say is, it figures...

Hugo Schwyzer

Well, I'm not sure that's fair, NYMOM. Teenage boys don't just act out because they are "troublemakers". They act out in a context where they don't have sufficient social, cultural, and emotioanl support. (Of course, not all boys act out!)

Good youth work is never just about rewarding those who follow the rules. While those who work hard and behave should of course be rewarded, good youth work is about reaching out to the rebellious, the violent, the disengaged, the sullen, and the depressed. It's about loving those who are most difficult to love, not merely lavishing attention on those who are most dutiful and ambitious and seemingly worthy.

Again, let's get away from "either/or" language. We must see see this as a "both/and" issue.

Thunder Jones

Isn't this just another throw-away Republican program that lets them say, "See we spent money on the poor" while they freeze spending on everything save the military? $150 million is throw away money when $400 billion is the military budget, and that doesn't include war costs. Seems like another smokescreen to me...

Hugo Schwyzer

Perhaps, "thunder." But while I can loathe the president's military policies, I can still be grateful for even the smallest of sums to help those who are most in need. Do I wish it was more? Hell, yes. But I ain't lookin' this gift horse in the mouth.


You're right "shifting our gaze" isn't quite what it should be.

How about "let's take our blinders off."


"While those who work hard and behave should of course be rewarded, good youth work is about reaching out to the rebellious, the violent, the disengaged, the sullen, and the depressed. It's about loving those who are most difficult to love, not merely lavishing attention on those who are most dutiful and ambitious and seemingly worthy."

Well you are right as long as the 'dutiful' aren't totally ignored...that seems to be the biggest problem here, good girls being taken for granted...I don't really understand why the First Lady couldn't have just said 'children or teenagers' anyway which would have covered everybody...

She'll also direct a lot of others now to send their money in this direction since many follow her lead...so funding from other private sources could wither for girls' programs as well...

She should be more careful of saying things favoring one group over another...


"She should be more careful of saying things favoring one group over another..."



"You're right "shifting our gaze" isn't quite what it should be.

How about "let's take our blinders off."

You see this is the sort of thinking I'm talking about...what you just said...

Your groups are not entitled to more money because boys or men have been ignored in anyway...actually boys and men get more then their fair share of resources...she is just hopping on the politically correct bandwagon that MRAs have been pushing for the last decade or so probably just to shut up the whining...


Hugo, like you, I applaud this effort by Laura Bush.

I do see your point about the choice of words, and I understand what you're saying, but let's not make a mountain out of a molehill. I don't think there's anything to worry about with regards to reducing the attention girls get. Our society is totally focused on women and girls, and if it ever changes to anything else, it will be a focus on girls AND boys, certainly not JUST boys.


I didn't say we were entitled to more money, you did.

I just think that it's time to consider some alternatives to the politcally correct stuff that's been pushed down our throats so long now.

I'm not looking for more money. I'm looking for a chance for these men and boys so that when they decide to seek help -- like counseling -- and pay for it themselves that they actually get help.

....rather than someone who constantly shames them and denigrates all of their wants and needs as being somehow inferior or morally reprehensible....like you do.

Can I ask what you do for a living?


Brava, Mrs. Bush. Well done. I'm starting to like this administration more and more.

Hugo Schwyzer

Again, NYMOM, I disagree about "more than their fair share of resources." In the inner cities, if you're talking about funds for football teams, maybe. But you've got so many folks who work with youth who would rather work with girls because, frankly, they find young men (especially young men of color) to be too intimidating, too frightening.

Boys remain more likely to be incarcerated than girls, more likely to commit suicide, and more likely to be violent towards themselves and others. That is not a rationale for doing any less for young women. It's a reason to roll up our sleeves and get in there and work. NYMOM, as you know, I am a huge advocate for male responsibility. BUT YOU CAN'T TEACH YOUNG MEN RESPONSIBILITY UNTIL YOU FIRST GAIN THEIR TRUST AND CONVINCE THEM THAT THEY ARE LOVED. If youth work has taught me nothing else, it's that.

And I think the MRAs would be stunned to find that they have now become politically correct!


I think it can be confusing, because in middle-class and upper-class communities, as well as small communities where the different economic classes comingle, the majority of resources go to boys and not girls. And therefore it is easy for us to assume that in more poverty-stricken communities that the same thing is going on. But the scarcity of resources means that neither girls nor boys is getting the lion's share of anything--or that the lion's share of squat is still squat.



I'm not sure what you're referring to here in terms of the middle class communities. Do you mean things like football teams and sports?

If that's the case then yeah I guess I agree, but to me that's not really the important thing. I think that regardless of whether $150 million is a relatively large sum or not, it's not the money that's so important when it comes to our boys, but in the way we look at them -- which I'm assuming is what Hugo was saying.

To start looking at boys' emotional needs and to try begin understanding them in terms of some of their pain and rejecting the notions that because their challenges are different, they're somehow easier than those faced by girls is what's really needed. That shouldn't cost much at all.

It's kind of the way I view the dominant domestic violence paradigm. In discussions, I hear a lot that to include men in the paradigm will somehow detract funds from women who need it. That's not the problem. The problem is that men simply can't get any help anywhere because of a belief system not because of money. I mean the guy could be a millionaire and pay for everything himself, but that will not buy him compassion and understanding.


I figure this was the "Mars moment" for this year's SOTU -- a lovely idea which will never be heard again, much less actually funded or accomplished.


Ab_Normal: exactly. Before that we had a big increase in funds for fighting AIDS in Africa. Compassionate conservatism is for speeches, not actions.


I hope this initiative doesn't become lost in the shuffle. And I respect Hugo's position about reaching the hardest to reach, rather than reaching the most "attractive".

I would love to see the focus of this, or a similar program, be aimed at the bullied in school. Reaching the kids that have non-traditional talents. The ones that nobody pays much attention to. The ones that are not into football, soccer, or sports. The ones that are having a hard time adjusting socially.

Too many kids like that grow up and get into drugs, gangs, or otherwise, end up leading maladjusted lives. Boys and girls both. Tough problem to solve.


I would like to hear La Lubu weigh in on this. It was she who suggested that men get out and campaign for recognition of male gender-related issues in order to receive the attention they need, as women have. Here is an example of exactly that, and finally some action resulting. Will you celebrate this small victory with us?

I understand that there are women (and feminist men) who will feel outraged, or somehow threatened at the idea of our government concerning itself with any disadvantages faced by males. NYMOM has already declared herself to be in this camp (surprise!). Ampersand - what do you think?

Ever since Mary Pipher's unfortunate alarm was raised, focused attention has been paid to the problems faced by adolescent girls, with considerably more money being spent than the pittance in question here. Not that there is anything wrong with addressing the needs of adolescent girls, but it has been accepted as a given that girls were in need of the help and boys were not, and the resources have been allocated accordingly. The problem is that by almost any measure one cares to use, adolescent boys are faring worse than the girls. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new path. We need more Hugos out there ready to throw a rope to these boys!

And I am so delighted to see Hugo stand up for an MRA issue! Way to go, man!


"Can I ask what you do for a living?"

None of your business...

But let me say this...

I got in trouble at MY job last week for NOT calling security on a young man because I DID NOT want to mess up his whole academic career by an arrest...so I GOT in trouble...

So I'm just heading you off at the pass with your implications...unlike you and many of your friends (as I've read you all on other boards) I don't do rotten things to people just because they are of the opposite sex...

Like your famous motto: bros before hoes....

No I live my life by a different, more ethical code of conduct...

Hugo Schwyzer

Stanton, you and I are close to agreement here. I'm not prepared to say that "girls have it better", nor am I prepared to dismiss Pipher's crucial work as "unfortunate." But I am prepared to link arms with you and say "Let's get in there and reach out to our sons and our younger brothers and help them."

NYMOM, again, caution please. No one in this thread has said "bros before hoes". Please pick your words carefully.



But that is their motto on other blogs, so should we ignore it when they go to other places and try to pretend they are different?

It seems unfair that they can go about and find out things about others to use against them in other places; yet we are held to a different standard and can use nothing against them here...

As that motto shows hatred of women which they frequently accuse me of hatred of men, with far less proof then that...since I have never said anything like that here or anyplace else...

It appears to be a double standard that protects the MRAs here and makes them appear to be better men then they really are...


But as always, I will respect your site and try to live up to your high standards...in spite of the various provocations...

Hugo Schwyzer

Thanks, NYMOM. I'm convinced most of the MRAs are good men, just misguided. Call it my intense optimism about human nature, and my firm belief that we can all manage to be civil even in the face of great temptation to be otherwise.

La Lubu

stanton: I've had the flu, so haven't been reading or commenting much....these past couple of days have really been a bear!

But yeah, I think of this as a good start. I've got a couple of young male cousins who are in-and-out of juvenile detention, tryin' hard to live the "junior thug" life. Criminy. Their sister was in a few scrapes with the law too, but she was able to pull through and get her act in order---she's attending college this spring. The difference? She had strong female role models who could demonstrate paths through adversity. Her brothers don't have that---their father is in prison, and during the early years of their lives they didn't live close enough to any relatives who could take on a positive role and be an active influence in their lives.

I think there's a lot of young men being left behind. The images of masculinity that are being offered up by popular culture really suck. Images of femininity offered up by popular culture suck too, but women and girls have worked hard to create alternative images; I don't yet see that for boys.

But I also think there's a danger in thinking that these problems begin in the teen years, or that that's the prime time to address problems. It's not. We have to start earlier than that. The formative years are very important.


Call it my intense optimism about human nature, and my firm belief that we can all manage to be civil even in the face of great temptation to be otherwise.

You sound like my Dad, Hugo. He's always optimistic about everything where as I'm cynical most of the time. I should be the optimistic one because I'm young and he should be the cynical one because he's 55. Oh well.

I agree that Laura Bush could have used better words than "shifting our gaze" because that does have underlying, but I'm sure unintended hints towards paying less attention to girls.

There are problems unique to young men and there are problems unique to young women. Steps should be taken to lessen the negative impact of teen-related problems on both groups or else we'll get a generation of dysfunctional adults.

In the case of troubled young men, we'll get a generation of adult men who are prone to violence and crime if they're not properly mentored during their adolescence. I'm glad that there are men like you trying to help young men during the crappy teen years (mine certainly sucked).

Still, the choice of the First Lady's words in addressing this issue were a bit misleading to some of us.

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