Friday, September 07, 2007

Many of you have emailed me with one particular story. I haven't posted on it yet because when I saw the title at Slate, I thought it was a parody: "Snips, Snails, and Puppy Dog Tails: There's finally proof that boys do ruin schools for girls."

Girls' schools are clinging on tenaciously in the public sector here in Britain: More girls go to single-sex schools than boys. In inner London, parental preferences for girls' schools are particularly pronounced. The Guardian has reported that more than half of inner-London girls attend girls' schools, and just over a quarter of boys attend boys' schools. The result, of course, is that the mixed schools contain a disproportionate number of boys.

Parents make these choices because of a widely held belief that girls thrive in single-sex environments. But is that true? And what are the implications for the girls left surrounded by emotionally retarded adolescent males? (my emphasis added).

Boys pollute the educational system, it seems, for a number of unmysterious reasons: They wear down teachers, disrupt classes, and ruin the atmosphere for everyone. And more boys are worse than fewer boys, not because they egg each other on but simply because more of them can cause more trouble in total.

It is all rather troubling, especially for the parents of little angels like my daughters. Evidently, it is impossible to satisfy the—apparently justified—parental demand to educate girls in single-sex schools and boys in mixed classes. (Not for the first time in my life, I conclude that the world doesn't have enough girls in it.)

...A social planner might thus conclude that all education should be single-sex. The difficulty is to combine this perspective with the principle of parental choice. I have the answer: a congestion-charge-style tax on parents who insist on polluting girls' education with their testosterone-fuelled little monsters. The money could go toward hiring extra teachers—and riot police.

I simply think that if a man wrote this--it has to be a parody and if it's not, we need to bring back tar and feathering.

Shrink Liberally

I was reading the National Journal today and found this little tidbit by Neil Munro entitled "Shrink Liberally:"

Everybody knows that the media and academia lean left. But these elites are bipartisan wafflers when compared with psychologists who donate roughly 21 times as much to Democratic candidates and political action committees than Republican ones. According to, psychologists gave 526 donations worth $499,982 to Democratic causes and candidates in the '04 and '06 cycles and the '08 cycles to date. In contrast, the shrinks opened their wallets to Republicans only 43 times, and gave just $22,255. Maybe that explains why some conservatives prefer prayer to psychotherapy.

When the APA wonders why more people don't take advantage of all that psychology has to offer, maybe they should understand that the conservative half of America doesn't trust them to be fair or objective. Diversity is a good thing, so maybe psychology needs more political diversity. It could hardly have less.

Too Masculine or not Masculine Enough?

There is a new journal article out in Professional Psychology: Research and Practice entitled, "Boys and violence: A gender-informed analysis"(Hat tip: Steven Erickson). The abstract reads as follows:

This article discusses the phenomenon of youth violence from a psychology of gender perspective. Although other factors are discussed--including gun availability, violence-related media influence, family and caretaker factors, and effects of teasing and bullying--the intention is to highlight new thinking on the potential relationship between boys' traditional masculine socialization experiences and violence. In this new perspective, traditional masculine socialization estranges and isolates many boys from their genuine inner lives and vital connections to others, which is theorized to heighten their risk of engaging in acts of violence. The authors identify school and community programs that may be helpful in counteracting damaging socialization experiences and supporting boys' healthier emotional and psychological development. Finally, the article discusses approaches that psychologists and other mental health professionals can use to help address this vital issue.

I read the whole article and what I can gather is that boys who "suffer" from the horrors of traditional masculine socialization are more likely to be violent--especially at schools, as in the article the authors mention various school killings. If the authors' theory is correct--that traditional masculine socialization leads to violence--then why was it that in years past, when we had more traditional masculine socialization, fewer guys were shooting up schools?

I suspect that many of the school shooters were looking for some way to prove themselves as men because they did not grow up with any type of "male socialization," not because they did. We do not allow young men to grow up, to engage in masculine behavior without punishment, or to learn the boundaries of violence; in fact, we just generalize and tell them never to be violent at all. Add to this confusion that there is no ritual or passage of manhood anymore and we leave many of our boys to find their own way in the world, without guidance and sometimes, they act out their desperate need for the manhood they are missing in the most horrible of ways. These school shooters are geeky boys trying to find their masculinity, not strong, silent types.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Is There Anything Good About Men?

Roy F. Baumeister, a psychology professor gave the 2007 invited address at the American Psychological Association entitled, "Is There Anything Good About Men?" (Hat tip: Bruce Charlton). Some highlights from the talk:

In an important sense, men really are better AND worse than women.

There are more males than females with really low IQs. Indeed, the pattern with mental retardation is the same as with genius, namely that as you go from mild to medium to extreme, the preponderance of males gets bigger.

My guess is that the greater proportion of men at both extremes of the IQ distribution is part of the same pattern. Nature rolls the dice with men more than women. Men go to extremes more than women. It’s true not just with IQ but also with other things, even height: The male distribution of height is flatter, with more really tall and really short men.

Maybe the differences between the genders are more about motivation than ability.

I don't agree with some of what he says, but it is an interesting talk and not terribly anti-male--uhh, except maybe for the title, imagine the reverse, "Is There Anything Good About Women?" My main disagreements are with how he views women as more socially connected and interested in babies rather than in achievement since men in society have to achieve something to get status and a woman has a baby to adore her. I think that women are interested in achievement for itself and not all of us are fullfilled by a baby "adoring" us!

Go read the whole thing and form your own opinion.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ask Dr. Helen

My PJM column is up:

Older men and much-younger women is a hot topic on which everyone seems to have an opinion…just ask Fred Thompson. PJM advice columnist Dr. Helen Smith offers her take on the subject, along with her opinion on a reader’s very different, very loaded definition of mixed marriage.

Go read about older men and younger women and let me know here or there what you think.

Monday, September 03, 2007

GM's Corner has a tour of the Psych bloggers. Take a look if you want to see what the mental health bloggers are up to.

Rock Star Foreplay

So far this Labor Day Weekend, I haven't done much except read and hang out in various restaurants and outside. While sitting in the sunshine, I read a recent copy of the Star which I couldn't resist since it had the "best and worst beach bodies," but that's something that I won't bore you with at this time. I couldn't help but notice another story about soul diva Amy Winehouse with a picture of her bleeding husband that I recognized from this post at about women who enjoy beating up men. The accompanying gossip in the Star was that Winehouse is living a wild life that is spiraling out of control with drugs, rehab and rowdy fights between the couple being the norm. The picture you see here is Winehouse's husband Blake after Winehouse apparently cut him in a hotel room. The two were photographed while coming out of a London hotel dripping with blood after a "tumultuous predawn brawl."

I thought this couple was an interesting example of the type of reciprocal violence that was discussed in this post on the dangers of both partners getting involved in fights. Often the man is the one who is injured more severely in these cases but you would never know it when you hear about domestic violence. Even the women themselves say that they initiate violence with their mates but apparently no one is listening. Wikipedia (take this for what it's worth, its Wikipedia afterall) reports that Winehouse admits that she is often the instigator of violence with her husband:

In a series of texts between the singer and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, the singer said "I was cutting myself after he found me in our room about to do drugs with a call girl and rightly said I wasn't good enough for him. I lost it and he saved my life."[44] [The Star adds here that Winehouse says, "He saved my life again and again and got cut badly for his troubles"]. In a June 2007 interview with World Entertainment News Network she was quoted as saying "I'll beat up Blake when I'm drunk. I don't think I have ever bruised him, but I do have my way. If he says one thing I don't like then I'll chin him."[45]

Okay, so neither of these two is a paragon of decency but my point here is that reciprocal violence can end in injury to both parties. I certainly think people should be able to fight like this if that is the sick (or fun) type of relationship they are looking for. However, once the law is given the authority to intervene, the police and other law enforcement should not be prejudiced enough to think that only women are victims and men the perpetrators because clearly, this is not always the case.