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Subject: Boys and Guns

Julie Wilson
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Date Posted: 13:05:45 07/01/16 Fri

Boys and guns: Here is an article I wrote 20 years ago and it is still relevant:

Recent months have seen a series of incidents in which children have opened fire on other children, killing or wounding them. Although academic specialists who study youth violence have noted this, the press in this country generally has paid little attention to the fact that all these violent children have been boys. None has been a girl

Historically, boys have always had an interest in soldiering, guns, bombs, fires, says Delbert Elliott, who teaches at the University of Colorado. That fascination, along with a tendency toward more aggressive behavior, often results in violence. According to Elliott, the only new element is the severity of injury inflicted.

The end used to come after fists caused bloody noses and bruises -- now it's not the end until someone is shot dead, he says. Boys' fascination with weapons and violence is part of their genetic inheritance from their prehistoric ancestors. During the Upper Paleolithic, man was the hunter and warrior, and it is this genetic endowment boys have today. Males are well adapted to the demands of life in a technologically primitive tribe, but they are not so well adapted to the complexities of modern society. This is why violence is mainly a guy thing. Psychologist David T. Lykken, in his 1995 book The Antisocial Personalities, writes that the most effective way to reduce crime would be to put all able-bodied males between the ages of 12 and 28 into cryogenic sleep.

All societies have to deal, one way or another, with male violence. This is what anthropologist Margaret Mead, in her book Male and Female, called "the recurrent problem of civilization." And now it is young boys who are picking up guns. "We need ongoing prevention strategies" observes Larry Cohen of The Prevention Institute in Berkeley, California, "but people only get worked up after a crisis."

That crisis is now. Everyone should now realize male violence has gone too far. But what to do? Myriam Miedzian, author of Boys Will Be Boys, concludes: "If there is a biological predisposition that boys are drawn to guns and aggressive behavior -- and there is evidence that there is -- then we need to deal with the fact that boys are at risk already and design a society that discourages boys from becoming violent. It's like keeping sugar away from a diabetic." What is the sugar of violence that must be kept away from the male diabetic? It is masculinity. The masculine virtues are the military virtues. They are the virtues of the prehistoric warrior who fought for his tribe. Today, however, when we no longer live in small tribes and when our weaponry is such that it can destroy our civilization, there is no longer any place for the warrior.

Males grow up alienated from their genetic essence: They are programmed to be warriors, but our society tells them that they cannot find fulfillment that way because it is too dangerous. The problem is that our society fails to give males an alternative model, an alternative to the old masculine ideal.

There is an alternative model for males. It is one that already exists and needs no social philosopher to invent it. It's femininity. On one hand, our male supremacist society tells boys they must not be feminine, but on the other, it condemns them for following the old masculine ideal. This condemnation is unavoidable; masculinity is too dangerous to be tolerated any longer. But the male supremacists who control our society have nothing to put in its place.

There is an interesting essay on the Internet that touches on this dilemma. It is "My Son the Cross-Dresser" by Lisen Stromberg. Stromberg's son is only three-and-a-half-years old, and he likes to dress in girls' lacy panties and frilly dresses and play with dolls. She has gotten a lot of criticism from other adults for letting him dress as he likes, but she has a relevant point: "It's not just in my house that the days of 'boys will be boys' are over. A few months ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article that claimed prescriptions for Ritalin are at an all-time high, and increasingly, boys are expected to be less rambunctious and more docile (that is, more girl-like). A guest commentator on an NPR program about youth violence expressed concern that the rise in the births of boys would result in a coming 'deluge of testosterone-laden young men' creating havoc in our society. "My mind reels: Is the conclusion that a three-and-a-half-year-old should be more like a boy but a 12-year-old should be more like a girl?"

Stromberg has put her finger on the dilemma of the male supremacist: Male supremacists do not want boys to be feminized, but it is too dangerous for them not to be. Dr. Lykken's admittedly humorous proposal to put all young males from 12 to 28 in cryogenic sleep was not meant to be a practical proposal. But the feminization of young males is eminently practical. Put them in panties, ladies before it is too late!

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Re: Boys and GunsJune18:31:44 07/01/16 Fri

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