Of course, we’re scared.
Those of us who are raising boys talked about what they are facing at a high school presentation about teens, alcohol and drugs.
“What you do in high school stays with you for many, many years,” the facilitator said to the nervous shuffling of a Washington crowd.
It came up at hockey practice as pucks slammed into the boards.
“I just worry so much about how he’s going to navigate all of this,” one of my favorite hockey moms said.
This week, as the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh gripped the nation, Donald Trump Jr. gave a telling interview to DailyMailTV.
“I’ve got boys and I’ve got girls,” he told the British tabloid, “and when I see what’s going on right now, it’s scary.”
Asked whether he was more worried about his sons or daughters, he said, “Right now, I’d say my sons.”
His father echoed that sentiment at a political rally most notable for the way he mocked Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a Maryland party when they were teens.
“It is a very scary time for young men in America,” said our president, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least a dozen women and branded all of them liars.
Yes, a lot of the moms I know are scared. But not that our sons will be falsely accused, judged without due process and broken on a whim.
That’s what Steve Biddulph — the boy whisperer — calls them.
Biddulph, an Australian child psychologist who wrote the best-selling book “Raising Boys" as a response to the 1990s rise in girl power and the growing struggles of boys, told me he “defines men like Trump and Kavanaugh as Babymen” because they have “failed in their development, as evidenced so clearly in Kavanaugh’s pouty whining and fuming in his testimony, and in Trump’s perpetually infantile style.”
None of us raising boys want to spawn hatesack, broseph Babymen.
That’s one of the reasons I bought Biddulph’s book as soon as doctors told me that the Etch-a-Sketch image on their sonogram machine indicated I was incubating a Y chromosome.
A boy? What do I do with a boy? Now I have two of them, and I am working hard to raise them right.
Fake sexual assault claims? Sure they happen. Who can forget the fabulist at the University of Virginia who duped Rolling Stone magazine with a bogus story of gang rape at a fraternity. Or the false charges against the lacrosse team that rocked the entire Duke University campus.
But these cases are rare. Most studies examining sexual assault and rape reports conclude that out about 2 to 8 percent of police reports made about a sexual assault turn out to be false, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
A look at FBI statistics in the Journal of Forensic Psychology last year indicated about 5,000 rape cases a year are determined to be false or “baseless’’ — about 5 percent.
Far more common are the women who never report rape or sexual assault because they believe no one will help them.
It’s true that #MeToo is making a difference. It’s true that in the era of Girl Power and the Future is Female, it can sometimes feel like girls are becoming dominant and boys are being marginalized. In many places, girls graduate from high school at far higher rates than boys — a 25 percent gap right here in the nation’s capital. More young women go to college and get scholarships, and they’ve been earning more bachelor’s and master’s degrees than male classmates since the early 1980s. Heck, white males are now considered affirmative action admissions at many colleges where the student body is overwhelmingly female.
“Thirty years ago, it was girls everyone was worried about,” Biddulph wrote. “Across the world, a huge and spirited effort was mounted to raise the horizons of girls, to give them confidence that they could do anything they wanted with their lives, and to demolish the barriers to their achievement.”
Statistics show it’s working. “Boys, in comparison, often don’t have a clue,” he said.
Even worse, we’re not teaching our sons how to cope with a new world order that is inching — ever so slowly — toward equality. Rather than teach boys how to be equals among women, the Babyman crowd is choosing the primal scream route.
Stop. Biddulph said that lessons in consent and respect begin very early on, when you begin defining manhood for your son, telling him: “You care for others, you are not the center of the universe, you are not some soft kid. You know that sometimes stuff is hard, but it’s worth it.”
The psychologist said he totally understands why the Trumps would call this world scary.
“It’s a scary time for Babymen in the U.S., for sure,” he said. “But caring, sensible, responsible boys or men need have no fears at all.”