The Wonder of Boys
Yes, boys and girls are different, says Washington state family therapist Gurian(Mothers, Sons and Lovers), urging that society learn how to deal creatively with gender-specific needs. In considering the cultural effects of heightened gender consciousness,Gurian warns of the dangers of "enmeshing male development with a female culture in transition." Outlining biological differences, he explains that boys are "hard-wired" to possess certain traits. Because of male brain chemistry and the hormone testosterone, boys are apt, for example, to relish risk-taking and to be physically aggressive and competitive (violence, he claims is not hard-wired, but learned through culture). What Gurian adds to this generally recognized background material is a persuasive summons to society, specifically parents, educators and communities, to unite to channel these traits in positive directions. Sports, for instance, allow competition but also teach responsibility. Work, nature study, music and spiritual pursuits are other positive channels. Gurian, who has also lived in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, suggests that we in the U.S. have grown away from beneficial rites of passage and toward "isolated, tremulous, family systems." In this shift, he contends, boys have been abandoned, and he urges that society reclaim responsibility for the moral and spiritual upbringing of young males, with guidance offered by elder mentors and support coming from extended family or community. Writing in a calm, compassionate voice, Guriandelivers a compelling call to action.