Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

Men in College, Lack of Research About Fathers, etc.

Some how I made the incredible discovery that Instapundit's wife is a psychologist and a blogger. She covers issues regarding males quite well.

In a post, Monday, October 25, DrHelen brings up an American Psychologist (the Journal of the American Psychological Association) article from 1992 named "Where's Poppa? The Relative Lack of Attention to the Role of Fathers in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology." DrHelen points out this as the emphasis of the article:
When dissertations were reviewed, it was found that fathers were neglected significantly in research that focused on developmental psychology and developmental psychopathology. Sixty percent of the dissertations explored mothers only, 30% studied "parents," and 10% explored fathers only.
As a psychologist DrHelen feels this is important "Because the role of fathers in the development of their children is crucial in understanding adolescent pathology..."

Her final message is - "We need men in higher education, though, for the same reasons that gender-diversity advocates have said we need women -- because we miss out on an important perspective without them."

It is no surprise that there is so little research regarding fathers. Go to the APA website and you'll find program areas covering

• Aging Issues
• AIDS Issues
• Children, Youth, and Family Issues
• Disability Issues
• Ethnic Minority Issues
• Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Concerns
• Public Interest Initiatives
• Public Interest Policy Issues
• Urban Initiatives
• Women's Issues

but nothing specific to men, boys or fathering.

DrHelen regarding:
The shortage of men in college
Men, Depression and Suicide
Boys and Low Self-Esteem

Observation: I have had much luck finding women promoting men's issues. There are men's and fathers' rights sites on the net but, outside of Cathy Young, I have found no other bloggers that seem deeply interested in the challenges facing males in our current society. Where are you guys?

Comments:
In my humble opinion, the lack of "Men's Studies" can be attributed mostly to the behavior of men in today's society.

Look at the portrayal of men in popular culture, for one. Almost every one of the heroes in movies is some sort of anti-establishment, anti-education bad (but good) guy. Vin Diesel is the prime example in movies like Pitch Black, The Chronicles of Riddick & XXX. Wolverine is the most popular male in the X-Men, while Dr. X is a cripple and Cyclops is a nerd. Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom look dashing as pirates in Pirates of the Carribean while the Lords and Commodore apprear goofish and incompetent. Colin Ferrel and Samuel L. Jackson portray cops "fighting the establishment" in SWAT. Will Smith and Martin do the same thing in Bad Boys 1 & 2.

This also affects television: in the Sheild an FX police drama, the bad 'good' guy is Vick, a cop who plays dirty while wearing a leather jacket, and the smartest man in the squad, Detective Dutch, is so nerdy he is laughed at the whole season, and never gets the girl. This theme is reiterated in another FX drama Rescue Me where its Dennis Leary as a New York fireman, and his squad, pretty much lionizing men behaving badly.

The smartest people on TV seem to occupy the staff of The West Wing which has appeal (I've found) among fellas left and right, just because they want to watch some show where the smart boys 'win.'

Look even at commercials, where men are portrayed (in commercials designed for guys) as oafish, jolly and overweight, with a pretty low IQ. If you listen only to these commercials, real men are solely a beer swilling, truck driving, dirty rock listening group, and all the office types and execs and students are portrayed as clueless and out of touch. Computer folks are all portrayed as geeky coke-bottle glasses and poket protectors geeks.

What happened to science being a man's profession? Noone would call Oppenheimer a geek, but all shots of Albert Einstein are the ones of him making faces and goofy hair.

All of our African-American men are portrayed as overly hip hop, all our real white men are portrayed as hairy and gross and 'street smart.' Go watch "Blue Collar Comedy" and you'll see (and hear) exactly what I'm talking about. Watch some WWE and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Not that this stuff is all bad. Every example I've just given are shows that I adore. I swill beer and play dirty rock. Some times I'll go several days without shaving or washing my hair with soap. I paint my face for football games.

But in school I was ostracized, mainly by white kids (boys) in my same socio-economic background, for being a 'geek' and a 'nerd.' Why? Because I was a reader and I made good grades and I raised my hand in class. So I ended up hanging out with other 'geeks' and 'nerds.'

I've thought pretty much since I went to college that the thing is a racket, and my parents made me stay there (thank God) because I felt I had better things to be doing with my time. Some of the smartest guys I know never finished college, and are now going back or happily employed elsewhere.

But this is a men's issue, and it comes down to the fact that women can tell us we're evil all they want to, or let us get away with whatever we want to or anywhere in between. If men want to really fulfill their potential, they've got to step up and earn it. We've got to start showing smart men winning and lionizing men behaving well along with men behaving badly.

Basically, we've got to get parents to stop placing their kids into the Jock/Geek categories and letting them stay there for 20 years. We need some Renaissance Men who are interested in many things, primarily learning, to show up in some of these programs our young men are watching.

We've got to stop excoriating academia and laughing at the smart kids while expecting guys to be interested in school and college.

We've also got to understand that a degree isn't for everybody, because when everybody has one, it makes it worth that much less.

There's a lot of work to do, but I'm glad you're bringing up the question. However, we've got to be careful of going the way of the Feminist movement and blaming everything else. Guys have to look at ourselves as a group first and start expecting more of ourselves we've got to step up and start acting right if we want to make things better.

That's where I'm at, anyway.
 
I like your insight. Interestingly, I've never watched more that 5 minutes of any of the show you mentioned except the Blue Collar Comedy which, for beter or worse, reminds me of where I grew up in East Tennessee.

You are so right about the TV commercials.

Helping your kids have the right "identity" is tough. I like my kids playing sports because I believe sports can help you learn discipline, perseverence and mental toughness. I also emphasis that they perform well academically because they have a better chance of being a brain surgeon than a professional athlete.

The jock/geek thing is a negative dichotomy. In college, I had a couple of professors express surprise that I was intelligent and performed so well academically because I looked like and was a "jock." (Not varsity, just small time.)

There does seem to be a growing emphasis on boys performing well academically as well as atheletically. In my kids' schools they check grades weekly and if they aren't good enough the kid doesn't play.
 
I like your insight. Interestingly, I've never watched more that 5 minutes of any of the show you mentioned except the Blue Collar Comedy which, for beter or worse, reminds me of where I grew up in East Tennessee.

You are so right about the TV commercials.

Helping your kids have the right "identity" is tough. I like my kids playing sports because I believe sports can help you learn discipline, perseverence and mental toughness. I also emphasis that they perform well academically because they have a better chance of being a brain surgeon than a professional athlete.

The jock/geek thing is a negative dichotomy. In college, I had a couple of professors express surprise that I was intelligent and performed so well academically because I looked like and was a "jock." (Not varsity, just small time.)

There does seem to be a growing emphasis on boys performing well academically as well as atheletically. In my kids' schools they check grades weekly and if they aren't good enough the kid doesn't play.
 
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