The Boy Crisis: A Sobering look at the State of our Boys | Warren Farrell Ph.D. | TEDxMarin

October 4, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs

Translator: Mohand Habchi
Reviewer: Queenie Lee Let me check with you first. Raise your hand, please, if you have a son,
a grandson or a nephew. Please raise your hand? All right. Keep your hand raised, please, if your son, grandson or nephew
is having problems either with motivation, grades, ADHD or addiction to video games? Keep your hands raised if one of your sons, grandsons
or nephews fits that category. Okay. About 30 percent
of the audience fits that category. So question one is why are we blind
to something that is so much around us that we would have to even ask
the question “Is there a boy crisis?” Second, is there a boy crisis? Number three that I’ll be
looking at tonight is some causes and a solution or two. So let me start with our blindness. Think about when we hear
of a police officer shooting a black boy. We rightly protest, “Black lives matter.” But no one even thinks
of saying, “Boys’ lives matter.” The boy in “black boy” we’re invisible to. The boy part of “black boy” doesn’t matter because historically, we’ve been dependent
upon boys dying in order for us to live. We bribe them by social bribes
calling them heroes, telling them they’ll have glory
if they die on our behalf. So, our first issue is if our very survival has been dependent
upon our sons’ willingness to die, being sensitive to their death
competes with our survival instinct. We can’t get anywhere, in terms of seeing
the evidence for the boy crisis, unless we take that curtain up first. If we would do that,
the type of evidence we’d be seeing is that for the first time
in U.S. history, our sons will have
less education than their dads. If we take this worldwide, the U.N. found this year
that boys have fallen behind girls in every single one
of the 70 developed nations. So what do developed nations
have in common? They have in common a much
greater propensity for divorce, leaving boys oftentimes
without their dads. So dad-deprived boys becomes
the number one cause of the boy crisis. When you have less father involvement, what happens is that the boy ends up –
and a girl, by the way – ends up having less likelihood
of being empathetic, assertive, being much more likely to do badly
in every single grade area in school, being more likely to be suicidal,
homicidal, to shoot up schools and being more likely to be in prison. When you look at prisons, prisons are basically centers
for dad-deprived boys. In California, since 1980,
we’ve built 18 new prisons, one new university. There’s been a 700 percent increase in the prison population
in the United States since 1972. That’s a 93 percent male population, mostly a dad-deprived boy population. Here is the most frequent pattern. The boy hears his parents in conflict,
soon the dad disappears. The boy becomes depressed. Anthony Sims, here in Oakland, his last Facebook post was,
“I wish I had a father.” Boys who hurt, hurt us. Anthony Sims soon became
the Oakland killer earlier this year. But other boys act out
not by killing singly like Anthony Sims, but act out by doing school shootings. Most people don’t know that there has been one school shooting
per week, on average, since Sandy Hook. And we often say school shootings
are the result of guns, they’re the result of family values,
the result of mental health problems. But girls live in the same families,
with the same family values, similar mental health problems,
the same violence on TV, but our daughters
are not doing the shootings. Our sons are. And so, here’s just a sense
of the location of those shootings in two years after Sandy Hook. (Gunfire) School shootings are mostly white boys’ method
of acting out their hopelessness and also the white boys’ method
of committing suicide. My perspective is I see suicide
as a reflection in boys of our inability to help track boys
in a constructive way toward manhood. And we see that in the data also. So for example, before age nine,
girls and boys committed suicide equally. Age 10 to 14, twice the amount for boys. 15 to 19, four times the amount for boys. Age 20 to 24, six times
the amount for boys. So if dad-deprived boys is
the number one cause of the boy crisis, the number two cause is very much related. Boys go from the dad deprivation at home
to a male-teacher deprivation in school. We didn’t use to know
the importance of that. We now know that boys do do better
with male teachers, on average. But we also have discovered this year, as a result of the U.N.
doing a study worldwide, that the feminization of education
is a contributing factor to boys’ problems. When the United Nations
did a study worldwide, they found that boys all over the world are one-third more likely
to be graded higher on a reading test when the teacher does not know that the person who took
the test is a boy. This leads to cause three:
lack of purpose. When I was a boy, we basically
had two senses of purpose. You were either a warrior
or you were a sole breadwinner. But as divorces occurred,
male-female relationships got shook up, and the feminist movement came in
and they did a wonderful thing, which was they expanded
girls sense of purpose from the old raise children only,
to being able to raise children, raise money or do some
combination of both. But no one stepped in and helped
to expand boys’ sense of purpose in an equivalent way. Instead, boys were told
to earn money, earn money, earn money or, alternatively, be a loser. The women’s movement and the society
helped create affirmative action to introduce women to professions
they hadn’t been comfortable with, such as STEM professions: science,
technology, engineering and math. But no one introduced boys
to the caring professions. So one possible solution
to the purpose void is to expand boys’ sense of purpose, to consider the option
of being a full-time dad, an elementary school teacher,
a social worker, a nurse. We even have to say words
like “male nurse.” Or we can look at, more broadly, the creation of a larger
White House Council on boys and men, in the way that we already have
a White House Council on women and girls, to address the 10 plus
causes of the boy crisis. A question that somebody once asked me was, “Well, will boys
not consider themselves losers when they become full-time involved
in the caring professions, and there is pressure at them?” But I saw back as early as 1976 a clear example of why boys
will not consider themselves losers when they get more involved
with their sons. I was at a party in 76, and a guy comes up to me
and says, “Are you Warren Farrell?” And I go, “Yes.” And he goes, “You formed
a men’s group that I joined, and the group had more impact
of my life than any other thing.” And I said, “Well, what created that?” He goes, “The most important
question the group asked me was an exercise in which we were asked,
‘What is the biggest hole in your heart?’ And I didn’t know the answer, but I blurted out,
without thinking about it, that it’s actually I was
so involved in my career – I told the group, Warren – that I ended up
neglecting my son, neglecting my wife, and that’s the biggest hole in my heart. And it’s really a deeper hole now because I got divorced, I got remarried. And the men’s group knew at the time
that my wife was pregnant with a boy. And the group said to me, ‘Well, what would you like to do
if you could do anything you wanted?’ And I said, ‘Well, actually,
it would be to take five years off and raise my son full time.’ And the group encouraged me –
and I should say pressured me – to ask my wife and talk to her about that. And my wife said, ‘Go for it, John.’ And so, I went for it,
and it’s now been two years.” I said to him, “Good decision?” “No, the best decision of my life. Up until I took care of my son, all of my life was
about me, me, me, me, me. Suddenly, it was about my son, my son. Every move I made, I considered precious. Every day, I wanted
to wake up and support him. I certainly learned to love and be loved.” As he said that, somebody came up
to the table that we were sitting at. I had just come back from my first
book tour, been on a TV a great deal, and this guy says to me,
“Can I have your autograph?” And I go, “Sure,” generous me. And the other guy, the fellow
asking for the autograph, says, “Actually, I meant the other guy.” (Laughter) I was dying of embarrassment,
self-righteousness caught up with me, and I said, “I guess you’re famous.
So what’s your last name, John? I haven’t had a TV for about eight years.” And John goes, “Lennon.” (Laughter) And I go, “Let’s see” –
proud of myself mind you – “you’re a member
of a singing group. Aren’t you?” (Laughter) He goes, “Yeah.” And I go, “What’s the name of that group?” He goes, “The Beatles.” And I go, “Oh” – that ignorant I was not. What I got from that experience with John was that John Lennon
had basically told me that he had discovered
another John Lennon. A John Lennon who was not dependent on getting love by earning money
as a human doing, but a John Lennon who could
get love by being loved. I think he pointed a way to us
for an evolutionary shift of us being able to get love
by being loved. I think no one suggested
that we imagine that better than John when he said, “All you need is love.” Thank you. (Applause)