Category Archives: Teenage boys

Of Course, It’s the Bare Shoulders! (Facepalm)

The past year has been enlivened and simultaneously made awful by report after report of girls’ clothing criticized, banned, and all but torn off them by school officials eager to note that nearby boys – and some male teachers – are critically distracted by a bare shoulder or the glimpse of a leg.

 

It’s sad. It’s ridiculous, It’s also terribly ignorant and naïve.

 

While these people — possibly well-intentioned on some level . . . the 19th century one — go after the local girls, to what must be the amazement and confusion of their male classmates, what in heaven’s name do they, the officials, imagine the boys have been watching the night before? Perhaps, in the case of early risers, that very morning before classes began?

 

Do they believe the male-owned phones and laptops were turned to Election 2016 news with its dueling speeches, lies, bravado? How about national tragedies like cyclones and floods?

 

Sports! Perhaps the boys were watching sports and reviewing how unlikely the Leicester City English Premiership victory really was – at 5000-to-1 odds, a bona fide miracle – or counting down the days until North American ice hockey’s Stanley Cup.

 

Think so?

 

Get real. Chances are good that an unhealthy proportion of middle-school and high-school boys are watching internet porn in their off hours. There, the featured bodies wear nothing at all.

 

If teenage guys are getting stiffies (haven’t they always?), it’s much more to do with their imaginations and what they watched on their iPads at midnight than what the girl in algebra class is wearing.

 

I offer for evidence a segment of J. K. Rowling’s highly praised The Casual Vacancy — in this section, the two high-school boys, Andrew and Fats, live in a charming small town in the west of England. One has teachers for parents; the other, a nurse and a printing plant manager:

 

“Andrew knew what naked women looked like, because there were no parental controls on the computer in Fats’ conversion bedroom. Together they had explored as much online porn as they could access for free: shaven vulvas; pink labia pulled wide to show darkly gaping slits; spread buttocks revealing the puckered buttons of anuses; thickly lipsticked mouths, dripping semen . . . Andrew was unsure whether he was more excited or repulsed (whips and saddles, harnesses, ropes, hoses; and once, at which even Fats had not managed to laugh, close-ups of metal-bolted contraptions, and needles protruding from soft flesh, and women’s face frozen, screaming) . . ..”

 

Who in their right mind would believe a classmate’s shoulder blade or lower thigh could distract after that?

 

Recall, too, that images once seen remain in the brain forever, especially images of horror or seduction.

 

In fact, it makes more sense to protect girls from the corrupting influence of boys and male administrators (the latter no doubt enjoying their own favorite online images) than the reverse. As witness, the rise in male adolescents’ requests for unusual sexual behaviors; the pressure on girls to audibly perform like porn stars; and the increase in labiaplasties, even in teenagers.

 

To those teachers and administrators who are all too willing to enforce what are sometimes ridiculous, humiliating dress codes that focus more on girls than on boys – shame on you! Take the log from your own eye before you object to the mote in another person’s. Recognize that, in the 21st century, what you object to has nothing to do with distraction – as if a knee could compete with “pink labia pulled wide to show darkly gaping slits” – and everything to do with blame and control.

 

Honi soit qui mal y pense: Shamed be the person who thinks evil exists where it does not.

 

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Filed under Teenage boys, Teenage girls, Uncategorized

More Money Than Sense

Just another bloke who threw away US citizenship

 

Eduardo Saverin is in the news.

Who in the world is Eduardo Saverin? He’s a 31-year-old who was at Harvard with Mark Zuckerberg. He worked with Zuckerberg to create what was then called “The Facebook”, and the team made stacks of money when it launched back in 2004. Since then, Saverin, as CFO, has seen his influence and shares diminish after arguments with Zuckerberg, but he still owns a nice hunk of the social networking site.

Now, with the contemporary, ever-more-powerful Facebook about to go public with an IPO, its shares to be traded on stock exchanges, the two men stand to cash in even more bigtime. Billions of dollars will land in their bank accounts. That’s billions with a B.

Knowing this, Saverin decided months ago to move permanently to Singapore and renounce his American citizenship. Which means that the US will not be able to tax him on his gains, and the country where he and Zuckerberg were able to design the privacy-breaking Facebook will not be able to profit from Saverin’s use of its university, its schools, even its haven.

Because, as much of a jerk as Saverin might be as a cradle-US’er, turning his financial back on his own land, it turns out he was sheltered by the US at a time when he most needed it.

Eduardo Saverin was born in São Paulo to an influential Brazilian family, and grew up speaking Brazil’s native Portuguese. When he was 13 years old, his father, an industrialist, discovered that Eduardo’s name was on a list of potential victims of a gang specializing in kidnapping for profit. Of course, the family worried.

Did the Saverins hire more bodyguards and protectors? They did not. Did they move to Portugal? Again, no. Instead, they upped stakes for . . . America.

They moved to Miami, enrolled Eduardo in a private school which he attended through 12th grade (thence to Harvard, the beneficiary of US monetary support, and the educated minds of people who have been though US schools), and took full advantage of the excellent police force and stable environment of Dade County, Florida. Eduardo grew up in a comparatively sheltered place, thanks to American generosity and the fact that the police force was uncorrupted and thus the streets were moderately safe.

At that time, he and his family called the US a haven.

When Saverin was on the outs with Zuckerberg, when they argued over influence (and therefore money), who did Saverin call on for help? Ghostbusters?

No, he hired US-trained attorneys and made formal complaint through the US-supported court system, which awarded him Facebook shares.

The haven that sheltered the young Eduardo, prevented him from being kidnapped and possibly murdered, the place where he encountered excellent schools and helpful faculty, the nation he relied on to hear his claim in its impartial court system, is not good enough for him now, though . . . because like most Western democracies, the US attains its stability partly through taxation. The taxes that Eduardo Saverin, the erstwhile waif about to make billions, does not want to pay.

Pundits on left and right are weighing in on Saverin’s jettisoning of his US passport. Is what he’s doing legal?  Absolutely. Is it ethical? Not quite.

Is it grateful? Puh-leez.

In a piece with the ballsy title “Why Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin is a schmuck”, writer David Gewirtz deems Saverin an “ungrateful S.O.B.” and says, “One of the first things they teach you in B-school is to pay the least amount of taxes you can within the bounds of the law, and even the IRS accepts this as a reasonable strategy. But going so far as to renounce the incredible gift of citizenship we gave to this man, and by doing so, saved him from kidnap gangs in his native country — that’s below reprehensible. . ..”

“Below reprehensible” is right.

After describing the brutal penal system of Singapore, Gewirtz goes on: “By not paying his fair share of taxes in the United States, [Savarin is] essentially stealing from all of the rest of us taxpayers who supported his education and his business venture . . . I have this simple message for Eduardo Saverin: you better walk the straight and narrow very carefully and follow every single law to the letter. Because if you don’t, and there’s any justice in this world, you will be subject to Singapore’s justice system.”

Exactly. Given Savarin’s penchant for champagne, it wouldn’t take much for someone akin to the college-age Eduardo, some opportunistic entrepreneur, to design a situation where Savarin would find himself in hot legal water.

I have another message for Savarin, though, and that is: look north. Way north. Past the nations of Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos. See that gigantic country taking up much of East Asia?

China, yes. You know what’s happening in China? Lots of little boys are being born, more every year, as gendercide of female fetuses continues and expands. In some areas of China, the sex ratio at birth has dramatically skewed from its normal 100 girls/106 boys to 100 girls/158 boys.

Right now, those tykes aren’t much threat. But give them and their little-boy neighbors twelve or fifteen years, and suddenly, testosterone kicks in, aggression ramps up. Too many males means more violence, more bloodshed, more risks being taken. China, with its aging population, will have neither the will nor the cash nor the ability to rein in its destabilizing cohort of young males (by 2034, 32 million excess young men). No nation can afford such huge armed forces, police force, or prison population.

But it can attempt to focus its young men and teenage boys in other directions. East toward the Koreas and Japan. West toward the former Soviet Socialist Republics. And, of course, south. In the coming years, millions of male Chinese will start to pour through the soft southern nations amid extraordinary carnage and aiming right for the prize of Singapore.

If he’s still there, Savarin will need a haven. It’s unlikely to be the United States.

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Filed under China, David Gewirtz, Eduardo Saverin, Facebook, Gendercide, One-child policy, Schmuck, Singapore, Teenage boys, US citizenship

“Beautiful Boy”

Michael Sheen as Bill, Maria Bello as Kate

 

Yesterday, I watched this 2010 movie, a film so quietly brutal and ferociously tender in its portrayal of a couple launched into turmoil that it still stuns me, twenty-four hours later.

If you have no children, no link to children, this movie may not make sense. It may call from you dismissive, even arrogant, reactions. But if you’re a parent, especially if your children are adolescents or grown (and you remember their adolescence), you’ll feel all the pulls and punches this film slaps at you.

All the more because the two leads are powerful. Maria Bello, an actress I’ll watch in almost anything. Michael Sheen, an exceptional actor even when he’s not playing Tony Blair, and here using an American accent that by my count slipped only once.

When tragedy strikes a family, not only does it not move on little cat feet, it also takes no notice of the emotional temperature of parents. The parents may be together and happy, apart and happy, apart and sad, or, as here, losing the orbit of each other a little more every day. There’s a slippage. With that slippage comes a determined focus on it, then off it, then on it again, like a blinking light in the shadows. People lose focus on other things, inconsequential things like paying the power bill on time. They also lose focus on things of great moment, like the sound of a son’s voice and the words he’s not saying.

What did we miss? What could we have heard? Why didn’t he tell us? How could I have acted differently? Why did he do what he did?

And: how are we going to make it? Together or apart?

The research on grief in the past twenty years has been vast and welcome. Everyone grieves differently, we’re told. Give each other space. Be kind. Try not to add to the thousands of parents who break up after the death of a child. But when a child has brought the gift of pain to others, when you each feel responsible and want to run from accountability, when there’s enough blame and guilt floating in the air around you to fill a medieval dungeon, how can two parents make any progress at all?

Foundering, gasping to stay on top of the floodwaters, the couple here (Kate and Bill – their son is Sam) leave their house to paparazzi and stay first at the home of her brother and sister-in-law and their young son.  A detail person (she’s a freelance copyeditor), Kate subsumes her breaking heart in an orgy of cooking, cleaning, and looking after the boy, even singing him to sleep. The song she chooses is her own son’s favorite, and the wonder is that she manages to even whisper it. Bill paces, drinks, and pounds tennis balls into a wall. Soon, they move on to a motel, and it’s here that the rubber-banding, the back-and-forth dance of a long-married couple begins to show its bones.

We understand the pain, the terror, the guilt. It could have been our child. At the same time, we wonder at their obtuseness, at the ignored clues, the sense of disconnectedness that infected every relationship: Bill and Kate, Sam and Bill, Sam and Kate. Could that happen to us? Maybe it’s only fate or God’s grace that has kept us from similar tragedy, from a “just checking in” casualness too sheer to catch hold of meaning. The line between “normal” and “mentally ill” seems more blurred and fuzzy than ever.

“Beautiful Boy” isn’t an easy movie, but it is, finally, about understanding. It’s about finding and making peace. It’s about nurture. Repairing what has shattered.

In classic Japanese decorative arts, when a plate shatters and is glued together, the repair is highlighted by a thin strip of gold paint. Nothing in life is perfect, says the shiny paint, not this plate, not your life nor mine. Accept it, celebrate it, and trudge on. Sorrow stretches out space in the heart, for joy.

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Filed under Family, Movies, Teenage boys, Violence

Rape Is Torture

Supporting the victims of torturers

 

The recent allegations of years of horrifying events and sexual assaults on the campus and within the renowned football program of Pennsylvania State University (see the grand jury’s report here) have stunned most Americans. That anyone could witness the rape of a child, turn on his heel and leave without knocking the perpetrator to the ground is appalling. That McQueary then went to his father for guidance, and that neither contacted the police, and that famed football coach Joe Paterno (grandfather to seventeen children), when informed of the attack the next day also did not think it was his moral duty, even his Christian duty, to pick up the phone and press 911 – that, too, is beyond belief. No wonder death threats against McQueary forced him to stay away from the Penn State/Nebraska game on 12 November, the last game on Penn State’s schedule.

And chances are, Sandusky has child abuse images on his computers, too — I hope the FBI has those computers in its possession — and is part of an internet ring with other men.

There are many discussions of why coaches and officials at Penn State circled the wagons rather than report Jerry Sandusky’s horrific behavior, and many of them have to do with money and reputation and power, just like in the Catholic Church. There’s also the “good ol’ boys” culture, where men who’ve worked together regard reporting each other as somehow breaking a sacred bond. It might also be dangerous to one’s job. Putting work success over a child’s welfare demonstrates a shocking lack of ethics.

There was a lack of ethics throughout. There was also a dearth of Christian ethics. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you? Out the window . . . with regard to the victims. It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones (Luke 17:2)? Totally ignored. It’s as if the men involved had never even listened while in the churches they attended.

I think, though, there was another aspect working here: certainly Sandusky, and the men covering for him, did not regard rape as torture. It was somehow a lesser offense. Yet rape is torture. Unwanted entry by an erect penis (or other hard implement), torture.

Let’s look at the definition of the word torture (I’m working with www.dictionary.com):

Torture:
1. the act of inflicting excruciating pain, as punishment or revenge, as a means of getting a confession or information, or for sheer cruelty.

2. a method of inflicting such pain.

3. Often, tortures. the pain or suffering caused or undergone.

4. extreme anguish of body or mind; agony.

5. a cause of severe pain or anguish.

c.1495 from Middle French torture: “infliction of great pain, great pain, agony,” from Late Latin torture: “a twisting, writhing, torture, torment,” from stem of Latin torquere: “to twist, turn, wind, wring, distort”.. The verb is 1588, from the noun.

 

I’d say what any victim of rape experiences – twisting and turning to get away from the pain — comports with at least definitions #3, 4, and 5. And as for sheer cruelty (definition #1), that’s surely what happens when a man sexually attacks a child, whose body (even if female) is in no way developed enough for healthy sex, even if the child were old enough to legally give consent.

Rape is abuse? Yes. We all know that.

Torture? Yes, that’s what it was. That’s what all rape is. Torture.

It’s past time for us to acknowledge that torture includes rape, any rape, of anyone.

Considering that child molesters are the bottom of the heap in prison, and that nearly 30% of male prisoners are survivors of sexual abuse, Sandusky – if he’s not sequestered for the rest of his life – will get to experience the terror and pain he willing inflicted on his victims. I would be very much surprised if he didn’t regard rape as torture.

No knives, no water, no electricity needed. Just an erect penis used with cruelty, to enter a body cavity without regard for the other person.

Rape is just another form of torture.

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Filed under Health, Paterno, Penn State, Rape, Rape is torture, Sandusky, Teenage boys, Violence

No More Women, No More Prostitution? Ha!

Asian men -- too many for society's health

 

It sometimes happens that the book or person or title we knew was out there in cyberspace somewhere, plops into our lap unexpectedly, no search necessary. That happened today. I recalled reading an article about young boys being sexually abused by Afghan men (even married ones, whose mantra is apparently, “Women are for babies, boys are for pleasure”) who keep them, give the boys gifts, but daily cause them enormous pain, and refuse to regard themselves as homosexual “because we are not in love with the boys”.

 

I’d been intending to search for the article, and bam – it fell as manna from the sky. Here it is.

 

Why was I about to search for this article? Because, in designing the nonfiction book about Asian gendercide (and its effect on the West) which I’m writing, it occurred to me that I needed to detail what would happen in India and China when women of childbearing age become rare.

 

No longer will female prostitutes be pimped out to 30 men per day, as happens in the slums of Mumbai and Kolkata. Nearly all of these girls and women suffer from depression (so would you, if your body was repeatedly invaded by strangers forcing themselves into you), which means the “johns” are taking advantage of mentally ill people. In addition, many of them have been sold, primarily in Nepal with its tradition of getting rid of excess daughters to slavers who bring them to India, so they are unwilling prostitutes who would rather rejoin their families in the mountains.

 

Over the next twenty years, with sex-selective abortion continuing to rise in India and China (the practice is now also spreading throughout Southeast Asia and west into the former Soviet Socialist Republics), women will become too valuable as child-bearers to be rented out in prostitution. They will be secluded, even hidden, in order to prevent abduction, and perhaps shared between two brothers or cousins or friends. They will likely rarely see another woman, unless they need medical care or midwifery, and healthcare professionals and aides will make house-calls in order to treat women who are rarely allowed to leave their homes.

 

But since the indulged boys of India and China will have grown into entitled, need-to-be-indulged young men, some will want sex outside marriage, and many who have no wife at all will want sex with anyone. With women unavailable, whose bodies will they use, who will they enslave?

 

Boys, of course.

 

There will be no dearth of boys. Already, the skewing of sex ratios at birth rises each year. The husbands who insist on sons, the prospective grandparents who pressure their daughters-in-law to abort female fetuses again and again, hoping for an eventual boy to show up on the ultrasound screen – they have no idea what they’re doing. Because in addition to the chaos that will ensue when too many people commit testosterone-fueled aggression and violence, boys will also be victimized.

 

Boys from poor families, retarded boys, boys with congenital defects, blind boys – these will be at special risk.

 

Since there will be few women allowed out and about, who will protect them? Who will reveal the harm and rescue them? Who will act?

 

No one.

 

At a conference on water earlier this year, an Indian official noted that, “The day is not far off when there will be no girls to marry and we’ll all become gays.” Setting aside questions of sexuality (is it immutable or labile?), the question is not whether men will have sex with men (some will, some won’t), the issue is that of victimization of children.

 

That should concern everyone in the West who thinks the fallout from Asian gendercide will stay on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.

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Filed under China, Domestic terrorism, Family, Gendercide, Health, India, Misogyny, News, One-child policy, Rape, Teenage boys

Growing Up Too Soon

Teen boys -- like their sisters -- are growing up much earlier than their ancestors

Apologies to my readers – I cannot believe August has swum by with only a few posts here. I could blame it on my getting my youngest ready for university, and that was true. There were loads of list cross-outs and discussions of what/where/how, and multiple trips to Bed Bath & Beyond. Logistics and acquisition of materièl take time. But really, regarding the past few weeks with hindsight’s 20/20, I think what was happening was mourning in advance. As a new empty-nester, I believe grief grabbed the scruff of my neck and wouldn’t let go, even if the cause of grief – the college transition – hadn’t yet happened.

It has. We’ve talked, Skyped, e-mailed. We’ll both be fine, eventually. So, onward.

It’s been many years since pediatricians began reporting that menarche (the start of menstrual periods) was occurring in increasingly younger patients, in girls as young as 10. The search for a reason led to improved nutrition and more time in the sun. The lack of sunlight in 19th century girls’ lives has been blamed for later maturation as well as rickets, the deficiency disease caused by a lack of Vitamin D – girls were routinely kept inside to work at textile manufacture, cooking, and the care of younger children.

Growth hormones given to meat animals such as cows and pigs may also influence girls’ early development, it’s been thought.

Until recently, however, research focused solely on female children – since menarche is a startling and definitive sign of change. Could it be, however, that boys’ bodies are maturing earlier, as well?

As it turns out, they are, and that spells potential bad news for them, their neighbors and the rest of us. And it may have nothing to do with growth hormones in their Big Macs.

A recent article in the journal PLoS ONE (reported in a UK newspaper) described studies carried out at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Because there is no “bright line” definition for male maturity analogous to menarche, researchers struggled to find out whether the same early maturation documented for girls was also true for their brothers. They found proof that it was in the “accident hump”. This hump is a surge in deaths that occurs when boys reach sexual maturity. With the concurrent rise in testosterone, boys take extra chances, and some of those risks result in their own deaths. The death records of several countries in Europe showed that the average age at which deaths spiked – the accident hump – has fallen steadily since the 18th century, in a consistent decline of approximately 2.5 months of age per 10 years of history.

Although there must be a bottoming effect, the research shows what has been demonstrated through anecdotal evidence. We’ve known for years that “great girls” – that is, girls who were 17 or 18 years old but had not yet reached physical maturity – were not unusual in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, of course, the parents would bring them to a physician before that age. What about boys?

One type of evidence linked to maturity in boys has been well-documented: the age at which their voices break and reach deeper registers. Choir directors have long recorded the change, since a boys’ choir would lose sopranos and altos each year. In the mid-18th century, in a choir led by Johann Sebastian Bach, the average age to lose a chorister because of a voice break was 18. By now, the average age is 14.

Earlier maturation puts boys at risk of testosterone-fueled recklessness and chance-taking – which can affect their fellow students, parents and neighbors, as well – at a time when their mental and emotional maturity lags far behind. The prefrontal cortex, the decision-making part of the brain, does not fully mature until age 25. If a boy reaches sexual maturity at age 14, he is far less able to cope with urges toward violence, sex and risk-taking than his 18th-century ancestor. Even though contemporary 14-year-olds take longer to achieve the social markers of maturity (completing schooling, beginning careers, marrying, becoming fathers), their bodies and brains are flooded with more testosterone than their 18th-century counterparts, with far fewer ways in which to channel their energy and aggression. Gone are many family farms and ranches, which absorbed hours of work. Gone, too, apprentice programs in army, navy and the trades, where boys learned while working hard under the supervision of men. Few boys even walk to school these days, and school athletics are more rigidly structured, allowing only the most-skilled to participate in many schools.

Meanwhile, their prefrontal cortexes cannot keep up with their physical growth.

The causes? Probably the same ones affecting their sisters: better nutrition and medicine, more sunlight, and improved living standards.

No one wants to return to a time of famine and rickets. Yet boys who in no way are accountable for their own early development must be guided toward responsible behavior, for their own health and safety, and for that of the people around them.

This will be of increasing importance in both China and India, where — due to sex-specific abortion of female fetuses — boys already outnumber girls in some regions. The trend toward boys has not abated. In fact, it’s increased, and has spread outside these two nations (influencing Southeast Asian nations and former Soviet Socialist Republics). With such an excess of males, and the knowledge that physical/sexual maturity precedes mental/emotional maturity by up to 12 years, these countries need to put in place now policies to preserve them from what will be a source of widespread and lasting societal rebellion and risk-taking.

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Filed under China, Family, Health, India, Nature, Science, Teenage boys