Ever read Matt Walsh? I see him linked a lot. Some of his articles I agree with -- like when he talks about education and points out you can succeed without college. Others infuriate me -- usually the gender stuff. He seems to be softpedaling the strict gender roles ideology by only talking about the less-controversial parts .... but one wonders just how far he really would go with it, if you asked him.
If you need an example, we can talk about his latest, An open letter to liberal feminists: girls don't have it any worse than boys. He lists many problems boys are dealing with today, such as higher rates of ADHD, delinquency, crime, and suicide.
As far as that goes, he's entirely right, and it's scary stuff for someone with two sons to read. He even missed a few: higher rates of autism spring to mind, as well as young men's lower achievement in college.
But then he concludes that feminists, by championing women's rights, are part of the problem and hurting boys. He never offers any proof for this. There's no evidence anywhere in his article that feminism is somehow sending boys to prison or giving them ADHD.
Let's take a few of the problems and talk about what does cause them.
Boys are more sensitive to ADHD because of differing brain chemistry. Now I will agree that school is not an environment that helps kids who might be prone to attention problems; there have been anecdotal studies showing that ADHD symptoms decrease when a child switches to homeschooling. But is this a "boy" problem or a problem with the educational system? I don't believe that anyone benefits from being made to sit in a desk all day. Perhaps boys will show more obvious disciplinary problems, but that doesn't mean the girls are paying attention either. They may be staring out the window daydreaming (that was me) or anxiously trying to avoid getting called on, but quietness doesn't mean they're learning.
There is one point often raised that is quite true: there are very few male teachers in the elementary grades. Some speculate that this causes boys to consider learning a "girl thing" and not be motivated to succeed. This may be true. But is feminism to blame for that? Traditional gender roles dictate that women should be teachers and other nurturing roles. Feminists would like more female CEO's -- but that implies that men will be stepping up to do some of the nurturing jobs once in awhile too.
Meanwhile, is there anything that can be done about the problem of gender contamination? This is the phenomenon, known to anthropologists and marketing professionals, of men refusing to have anything to do with things they consider "women's things." Where are boys learning this? Is this innate, or do they learn it from us, when we tell them, "You can't play with that, wear that, do that, because that's for girls"? Women don't experience this, and it's believed that it's because men have higher social status, so it is a step up rather than a step down to drive a "manly" car, drink a "manly" drink, or wear pants. Again, perhaps feminism could help here.
Boys and men have always been more likely to commit crimes than women, so you can't really blame feminism for that. It's probably due to increased aggression caused by higher testosterone, though there's something to be said for stronger muscles making it easier to commit crimes in the first place. It seems to me that teaching boys other ways of managing problems besides aggression is definitely a good place to start. Despite what Matt Walsh says, I don't really see how allowing toy guns in school will keep boys out of prison. I do agree that excessive penalties for toy guns are stupid; but I never heard that feminists were the ones behind these stupid rules.
Suicide is a big one: why do men commit suicide much more often? The difference appears everywhere, from progressive nations to patriarchal ones, and that in itself makes it hard to blame feminism. But what are the causes? One cause is that men are much less likely to seek help for depression, in part due to a cultural perception that psychiatric care is for the weak. This is more the fault of machismo than of feminism. Another reason is that men are less connected to supportive social networks than women are. To some extent, that might be natural to men, but modern men are particularly estranged. Why don't men make more close friendships? Again, machismo is a major suspect.
Does this all have to be a zero-sum game -- for every gain women make, men have to lose? I don't think so. I think that when we tell people, male and female alike, "You don't have to follow a gender script -- you can choose to be what you want to be," everyone wins. It seems to me that strict gender roles have winners and losers. The winners are those who naturally fall into their chosen box: women like me, who want to stay home and raise kids, and men like my dad who never cry and are fulfilled through work. The losers are those who don't: my girl friend whose dream was to be a Marine, my guy friend who hates sports and wonders why his male friends never hug him. But I don't see what is taken away from anyone by broadening our vision of what a man can do or what a woman can do.
I've had people tell me they were sure I'd "ruin" my sons with my feminist ways. I just don't think so. I will teach them (like I would teach a daughter) that we use our words instead of pushing and hitting; that bossing our friends around is rude; that everyone cries sometimes and it doesn't mean you're not strong; that they can grow up to find something they love to do, and their dad and I will be cheering them on no matter whether they're hairdressers or football stars. I'll also show them (like I would show a daughter) to take commitments seriously; to put up with their friends (and later spouses) even when they drive them nuts; to make sacrifices for others; to rock a baby; to fix a toilet.
I think that's pretty feminist -- and I also think it will help them grow up into great men.