Friday, October 21, 2011

Jayson Gaddis - The Boy Code

Jayson Gaddis has posted a section from his master's thesis on the boy code - on how men are trained to be emotionally shut down and disconnected from themselves. We are socialized that way from an early age, so it begins with parents, and it must include the schools to which we send our kids and the culture in which we raise our kids.

The Boy Code

Fri, Oct 21, 2011
My son finding a bug
My son finding a bug
I often have women come see me who consistently report that the men in their lives are stuck, unhappy, and unwilling to do anything about it. The only time I see those types of men is when their lives and relationships start to fall apart
Why is this?
Are men just lame? Clueless? Just guys? Do we really only care about sports, boobs, gadgets and cars? Or is there more to the story?
Men are falling dramatically behind women (here’s a study backing this up, and some other data here). And boys are falling dramatically behind girls in education (Somewhat conflicting info here with some reports saying it’s still a level playing field, and others saying the way schools are set up is more suited to girl learning styles and not really suited to handle the way boys learn).
Despite what these studies show, my own experience says this: Generally speaking, men are limping along while women are kicking ass.
Most of the research out there points to schooling. That boys simply learn differently than girls and that schools, by in large, support learning styles and environments that favor girls.
This is all great and I can get behind a lot of it. However, the “experts” are missing a critical element that starts from birth onward.
My theory?
The boy code:  Boys are trained out of their natural essence and expected to adhere to what William Pollack describes as the boy code. Michael Kimmel takes the idea further in his book Guyland and speaks about how men remain boys stuck in “guyland.”
Our entire culture supports boys to abandon themselves and their true essence.
We men have been conditioned to be the way we currently are. We were conditioned out of our intuition, emotions, felt sense, and our relational capacity. Believe it or not, men are as sensitive as women and as capable relationally.
Yet because of our culture and the stifling boy code, we have been trained not to be this way. I also understand part of this conversation is about nature (biology) and that men are VERY different from women in endless ways (which I celebrate), but I’m not going to talk about nature. Nurture is something I can do something about so that’s where my attention is.
My attention is on how men are trained to be emotionally shut down and disconnected from themselves.
Here is my master’s paper on the subject from 2005. This excerpt begins on page seven of my 40 page paper. (you might also want to read my post “Why many men are still boys and what can be done about it).
Read the whole post - Jayson looks at a variety of issues, including: 
  • Infancy, the beginning of disconnection
  • The Boy Code and further disconnection
  • The “Gender Straightjacket”
  • Relationship with Mother
  • Relationship with Father
  • Male Friendships and Homophobia
  • Toward Manhood
  • The need for initiation into Manhood

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