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How do we stop boys from failing?

March 15, 2010 | NeW Staff

Our nation has made great progress since the fight for women’s suffrage at the turn of the twentieth century.  Women not only have gained the right to vote, but they now have equal employment opportunities and represent the majority at America’s universities.  Today, many are still fighting for greater equality in the name of women’s rights, but how far do we go before we realize we need to come to a screeching halt?  In the battle for women’s rights and gender equality, the male sex, particularly this generation, has suffered and continues to do so.


In a Pope Center for Higher Education commentary titled, “Another Reason Why Boys Fail,” Temple Professor Stephen Zelnick argues that a lack of “noble purpose” instilled in young men over the last several decades had led to the decline of male performance.  Zelnick writes,

So many of the young men I see in my classes have mentally and emotionally quit, given up. They are not supported by inspiring ideals that help organize and focus their energies…They seem prematurely weary, defeated by obstacles they haven’t met yet, bored and restless and merely going through the motions. Some have adopted the cool pose of indifference, and, indeed, they really don’t care.

This is such a stark description.  “Young men have given up”?  Do you find it true on your campuses?  If so, how have we let half of the population suffer so willingly?  Zelnick goes onto explain how women, particularly young women, have contributed to the male decline:

Women have been coached to take the lead and to think they need men “about as much as fish need bicycles.” They no longer seem to seek male protection and support. Our films and books and TV stories counsel the foolishness of depending on those expectations.

Women have learned they don’t need men, and as a result, young men have suffered.  The college campus is a microcosm of this reality.  This is precisely why the Gentlemen’s Showcase exists.  It is a way to promote mutual respect between the sexes.  We recognize the unnecessary tension that is present between the sexes as well as the opportunity that young women have to challenge cultural norms.  The decline in male ambition and performance really hurts us both men and women.  Articles like Zelnick’s should serve to inspire us all to make a difference.
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