by Rosalind Wiseman, author of Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World (Harmony, September 2013)
Boys are so much easier than girls. There’s no drama.
Boys just punch it out and it’s over.
Eleven years ago when I published Queen Bees & Wannabes, a huge amount of attention was placed on girls and their social dynamics. But in all the years I’ve worked with boys and girls, I knew that boys struggled with many of the same challenges girls did—we were just having a really hard time seeing it. As the years passed I grew increasingly concerned, as I saw many boys adopt an appearance of detachment from their most meaningful relationships, their future academic or professional success, and any desire to make the world a better place. In the words of Will, age 20:
In my AP classes, I was always one of five guys. The same five guys in a classroom of girls. I had plenty of guy friends who could have taken those classes but they didn’t want to do it. They’d rather be the best among the mediocre. Really my friends would rather look stupid.
Two years ago, I decided to pull back the curtain on Boy World—a place I knew was much more complex than most people believe.
The first step was to recruit hundreds of boys to serve as editors. Together, we created a new language and analytical framework to understand the power of boys’ social hierarchies and how they influence their decision-making and emotional well-being.
The result of our work is Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World. In sharp contrast to the stereotype of boys not liking to read or share their personal lives, boys diligently worked with me to show you what’s behind the Boy World curtain and to give you the insight you need to have the best relationship possible with the boys in your life.
No longer can we assume boys are easy because they keep quiet. As a mom of two boys, I know how hard it can be to break through the wall of a boy’s silence. I know how easy it is to misunderstand what’s going on in their lives, draw the wrong conclusions, and push boys away. We owe it to our boys to do better. We owe it to the girls who are growing up with our boys to do better. Masterminds & Wingmen is a call to action to change the way we talk to and about boys so that we can help them navigate adolescence to become the men they want to be, and men we can be proud of.
Rosalind Wiseman is an internationally recognized expert on children, parenting, bullying, social justice, and ethical leadership, and the New York Times bestselling author of Queen Bees and Wannabes and Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads.
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