Where the Boys Are

By Michael

Last week, I attended a bris, the 3,500+ year-old rite of circumcision that connects every newborn Jewish male to hundreds of generations that preceded him. It’s a bit unnatural to see a friend’s kitchen transformed into an operating room, but there’s also great comfort in considering the unbroken line of families that have shared in this ritual since the time of Abraham.

Outside of the act itself, everything about the gathering is relaxed, from the reconnection with friends to the foods to the classic comedy. (Why are Jewish men the world’s biggest optimists? Why are mohels always poor? A man is in a strange town and finds his watch has stopped running….) All classics of comedy. You can pick up quite a collection of humor over 3,500 years.

Watching my friends become grandparents, I was reminded of the two most important words in all of parenting: Don’t blink.

I was also reminded of how the world is so different for this newborn in comparison to the newborns we brought home just, um, a few years ago. Little Adam might never remember having a land line in his home or recall a time when television screens and computer screens were two different devices. So much has changed in so little time.

One change that should concern us is the relative risk of being born a boy these days. When our girls were born, I worried about sexism and glass ceilings and how they’d need to have inner strength to overcome various biases ingrained in culture. Today, I wouldn’t have those worries with daughters, but I would with sons. In many ways, the biases have simply moved from one gender to another.

Guys are kinda complacent about this stuff, but we die younger and we’re outnumbered in college enrollment and soon we’ll be a minority in both the work force and medical school. The only places men lead by a big margin are the unemployment line and prison.

When the girls were young, we worried about media messages that females were toys. Now the prevailing message is that men are idiots. It’s great for gender politics, but not necessarily so good for our children. The idea was to get rid of sexism, not to trade one form for another.

I wouldn’t give up the opportunity and cultural change that has benefited my daughters and all the daughters of the last generation. I’m just wondering if we haven’t been asleep at the switch as our sons started falling behind.


Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

9 Responses to Where the Boys Are
  1. jenna
    April 13, 2010 | 12:24 am

    well said, Michael. I couldn’t agree more. Feminism has knocked men flat on their butts so they can’t do anything anymore.. and I do mean anything – they can’t open doors, they can’t pay for a date.. but they Can play with dolls. What?

  2. Kelly
    April 15, 2010 | 12:05 am

    I think you’re spot on, Michael. I don’t regret the advances for girls. But it’s a shame it seems to have come at the expense of our boys. It’s crazy how quickly the landscape has changed.

  3. Jennifer
    April 15, 2010 | 7:39 pm

    Now it seems we shun boys who express emotions while we encourage girls to be bold and speak out about theirs.

  4. kristenkj
    April 17, 2010 | 10:02 am

    I think what we are doing to boys–the feminization–is just plain wrong. The most beautiful things about boys are their “boyish” things…how dirty they get. How much they need to move. How they need to destroy and build and be loud and chaotic.

    What is beautiful about boys is that they are BOYS. What is beautiful about girls is that they are GIRLS. Why do we want them to be the same? They are not the same. They should not be the same. Why can we not celebrate the beautiful things about each sex, and not feel like we are slighting the other? FRUSTRATING!!!

    You are spot on with this.

  5. Michael
    April 17, 2010 | 10:30 am

    Thanks. When I’m elected king, I’ll solve all these issues for us. Until then, we just have to teach them, one at a time, that being proud of who you are isn’t the same as looking down on someone else.

  6. Miche
    April 19, 2010 | 10:15 am

    I have two boys and do actually worry about this “issue” we seem to be facing-with the advancement of “equality” our boys have suddenly lost what it is to be a boy-and instead men have become the butt of dumb jokes.

    Even us moms are prone to it-many of the women in my playgroups sigh over how stupid their husbands are, how the husbands can’t care for the kids as well as the moms do, etc-and that attitude cant be helping our sons. I feel it is just as detrimental to our boys to see women have those attitudes and options of their men, as it is for girls to see men making woman’s outer beauty the most important.

    We need to instead embrace all the differences -actually treat each other with respect and not raise our girls up by putting our men down.

  7. Miche
    April 19, 2010 | 10:17 am

    And I wanted to say I LOVE reading your thoughts and point of views on all our parenting stuff-it is so awesome to have a father’s point of view

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