Boys Adrift
Leonard Sax
Boys Adrift website
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There are lots of books out there about why American men across all socio-economic categories seem to be losing motivation to live productive and fulfilling lives.  From the types of guys seen in the movie Failure to Launch to the sky-rocketing male prison population, there are lots of men out there who are not living up to their potential.  In his book, Sax identifies 5 key areas that he feels contribute to the disengagement of men from regular life:

  1. Video Games.
  2. Teaching Methods.
  3. Prescription Drugs.
  4. Endocrine Disruptors.
  5. Devaluation of Masculinity.  (He does not mean this in a sexist way, merely that traditional male traits are no longer valued in the same manner.  For instance, fathers are now portrayed as incompetent morons as opposed to Father Knows Best.)

I’m not going to discuss the points in detail since Sax does it much better than I could in a single post. However, I will say that each point brings up valid arguments and some thought-provoking ideas.  Whether or not you think their are sex differences in the male/female brain or that our society does (or should) have differing gender roles, there are still many interesting concepts brought up and out in this book.  And if you have a son that is struggling at all, there may be some concrete things parents can do to help their boys out.

As a mother of a son and a feminist, I found this book to be both useful and balanced.  After all, Sax does point out the danger of sexism that can creep up when gender roles are too tightly drawn and enforced.  But thinking of my son as a “boy” instead of just an androgynous “child” has been very useful for me and my husband.  Since our boy also has special needs issues it can be nice to remember that some behaviors that differ from my memories of childhood are just because he’s a little boy, and I remember being a little girl.