Monday, November 06, 2006

The Secret Love Lives of Teenage Boys

I was going through a copy of Time today, and happened upon this article. Here's another link if that one doesn't work.
Social scientists who study young love are discovering that contrary to popular belief, male adolescents don't just want to have fun.

Evidently, the researchers are shocked to learn that men aren't "after one thing" as is so eloquently put in the media. In fact, it can often be the girl who is after "that thing"!
And here's something that surprised even Giordano: both boys and girls agreed that girls have the power in heterosexual relationships, including when it comes to sex. "She wanted to do it more than I did," said an 18-year-old male. "She said that I wasn't mature enough and, you know, all that stuff ... I was too young, I was scared, I didn't know what I was doing, I wasn't ready for it ... [But] she was my girlfriend, and that's what she wanted."

Can you imagine the same statement with the genders reversed? Everyone and anyone who reads it would be talking about how the girl was coerced, raped, taken advantage of, et cetera ad nauseam. The fact that girls have all the power in relationships comes as no surprise to a man who has courted a woman. Not only does the girl get to only drop hints if she is interested in a guy, but she also gets to vilify the guy as a stupid oaf if he doesn't get hints as vague as flipping her hair 6 times in 15 minutes as opposed to 4 times in 10 minutes when she is not dropping hints. Women have the right of first refusal, women have the right of physical abuse, the right of physical abuse, and the right to cheat on him and have feminists support her because she did it for "emotional reasons" and because she was "not getting the intimacy she needed."
There were exceptions, of course. Take "Donny," a boy who filled the classic role of the player. At 17, he estimated that he'd had 35 sexual partners, some of whose names he couldn't recall. He had cheated on his girlfriends. He confessed to some physical abuse of them. But the really notable thing about Donny was how few Donnys there were. Fewer than a quarter of the boys surveyed felt that other kids thought of them as players. "That number of [Donny types] is in fact smaller than everybody believes," Giordano says.

Here's the archetypical "bad boy," the one who gets the juices flowing and soaks the panties of his girls. Of course he admits to a little physical abuse, the girls adore him! I believe the 80/20 rules applies here - in high school and pretty much any stage before their biological clocks start ticking, 80% of the girls regularly sleep with 20% of the boys.
It seems as if popular culture is waking up to the reality of the emotionally responsive male. Willowy, sensitive actors like Tobey Maguire and Topher Grace are looming larger on marquees.

Oh, for Christ's sake. These gutterburglars are just replacing one stereotype with another. There are plenty of boys who are strong when they need to be and emotional when they want to be. Boys don't just fit into neatly defined feminist categories that are oh so conveniently defined by women. Boys are not just macho and stoic or wish-washy and emotional.

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