Today, I published an article asking why we do not talk about love and intimacy with teenage boys. One survey I discuss in this article always elicits strong responses from my students, especially the men: it’s a survey that shows that boys in the US chose having a girlfriend and no sex over having sex and no girlfriend by two to one. Why is the majority response such a secret? And why does reading about it cause such a sense of revelation? Perhaps because as a society, we don’t acknowledge that it is normal for young men to value relationships. Read more here
Today the New York Times published my oped, entitled, “Caring, Romantic Boys”. Those of you following the themes I discuss in this blog won’t be surprised by the argument. I’ve been noticing in my research and that of others, as well as in interacting with audiences when I give public presentations, that the theme of boys and the need to have a more nuanced understanding of their motivations and experiences keeps coming back. There’s been some additional conversations about this going on at the Good Men Project. Let me know if you see others!
I’ve just finished the last of 5 March speaking events that took me across the country: The Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at Boston University, the CDC National STD Prevention Conference (in Minneapolis this year), the “Consider This” speaker’s series, hosted by Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernardino Counties, Friday’s at Newcomb at Tulane University, and finally a panel on “Sexual Socialization in the 21st Century” at the meetings of the Southern Sociological Society in New Orleans. I spoke before young people, parents, health policy makers, professionals, and researchers. Despite their differences, they raised many of the same issues: especially the question of how — as parents, educators, and providers — they can provide young people with an image of healthy sexual and emotional development, when so many forces work in the opposite direction. One theme that kept coming back was the importance of giving more attention and support to the emotional and relational development of boys and young men than we typically do in our scholarship, healthcare, and popular culture (see also earlier post on the “hearts of boys.”)
Today’s New York Times has a fantastic article about the research of New York University’s professor in developmental psychology, Niobe Way. Dr. Way writes about the significance of close friendships between boys, and the heartbreak that results when boys lose those friendships, as they often do when they enter their mid-teens. She urges us to create a cultural climate that allows boys to love their friends. In my own research, I find that US parents and teens tend to characterize boys as heartless, and just driven by hormones, in their pursuit of sex. But many US boys have a strong desire for romantic intimacy (see for example the young man featured in an earlier blog post). Dr. Way’s research gives us important insights into the hearts of boys and the damage that is done when we don’t nurture them.