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family structure matters
Why Are Boys Falling Behind?

The fact that men are overrepresented at the very highest echelons of American society—the U.S. Congress, Fortune 500 executive suites, faculty lounges at major universities—often obscures the fact that boys at the middle and bottom of the economic ladder are falling further and further behind girls in educational attainment. In recent years, however, a growing number of scholars and commentators have started to pay attention to the particular challenges facing boys. Hannah Rosin, for example, has speculated that girls are inherently better suited to the types of skills required in a post-industrial society, and Christina Hoff Sommers has highlighted the ways the K-12 education system fails to cater to boys’ interests and needs.

An important new study from leading economists, led by MIT’s David Autor, has added a new dimension to this discussion: the way that changes in family structure—in particular, the rise of fatherlessness homes—has done particular damage to boys’ prospects. The New York Times reports:

New research from social scientists offers one explanation [for the gender gap]: Boys are more sensitive than girls to disadvantage. Any disadvantage, like growing up in poverty, in a bad neighborhood or without a father, takes more of a toll on boys than on their sisters. […]

“Boys particularly seem to benefit more from being in a married household or committed household — with the time, attention and income that brings,” Mr. Autor said.

The researchers compared families based on whether the parents were single or coupled, and also looked at the education level of the mother, the income of the neighborhood and the quality of the school. They said they could not isolate which variable mattered most, probably because they are all intertwined.

But they said there were clues to why boys are extra sensitive to disadvantage. A big one is that impoverished households are more likely to be led by single mothers, and boys suffer from a lack of male role models.

“It’s quite possible that daughters are drawing the lesson that I’m going be the sole provider and the head of the family and take care of everything,” Mr. Autor said. “Sons could be drawing the lesson that the men I see around me are not working or committed fathers. They’re doing other stuff.”

The finding that inequality and social decay hit boys hardest poses challenges to policymakers on both sides of the aisle—to thinkers on the right who downplay the obstacles that poverty poses to mobility, and to thinkers on the left who ignore the importance of family structure and assert that the genders are essentially interchangeable.

There is clearly no silver bullet policy solution to this problem; helping low-income boys achieve their potential would probably require a range of reforms, to our educational system, to our economic policies, and to our norms and expectations surrounding gender and family. But it’s important that we start thinking about how to address this problem, not least because, as we’ve highlighted before, male underachievement can create a vicious cycle: If boys who grow up without fathers are less likely to succeed—less likely to get a high school degree, less likely to stay out of the criminal justice system—then they are also less likely to get married and be stable role models for their own children. The cycle then repeats itself, and America keeps coming apart.

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  • Jim__L

    We’re on one leg of an unstable feedback loop, because the results of corrective programs lag the programs themselves on a decades-long timescale, and because there’s so much force behind efforts to “equalize” the genders in favor of women. .

    Picture the feedback loop this way: You’re in a shower with one knob that controls the temperature. It’s a little bit too cold. So, you turn the knob to warm (a little too much, but you don’t know that yet.) The water gradually shoots past the temperature you want, and gets uncomfortably hot. You turn the knob back towards cold (again, a little too much) and gradually the water cools back down again until it’s freezing. Turn the knob again, too much, and you’re going to end up scalded.

    This is what happens when you apply controls that attempt to hit an equilibrium too quickly. They shoot right past where you want to go.

    The only way to avoid this sort of problem is to *fight the pace of change*. There’s a technical term for this — it’s called “damping”. It’s the only way to make a stable system, and avoid violent overshoot and backlash.

    Damping means fighting back against policies that benefit women over men in early life (all the way up through college). By the time changes percolate through the system and into boardrooms, whole generation of men is going to be severely hurt, and primed for a backlash.

    Without damping today, that backlash could be very ugly indeed, just like the feminism of today is an ugly backlash against patriarchal abuses.

    • FriendlyGoat

      Who the heck was “damping” during the earth’s entire history of “patriarchal abuses” before the 20th century?

      • Jim__L

        Damping fights the *pace* of change. if the rate of change is zero, there’s nothing to damp.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damping

        • FriendlyGoat

          Oh. I thought it was an attempt at sophisticated malarkey about why we dare not advance girls and women for fear of the shower getting too hot——or some such disconnect.

          • seattleoutcast

            The feminists and their coterie of lackeys probably enjoy seeing boys fall behind. For many of them it is a zero-sum game and the failure of boys means a win for girls. It is social justice socialism; rather than help girls, they must destroy boys. Thank goodness most of these redistributive types are edging to the grave, their cackles never to be heard again (for at least another Howe-Strauss saeculum.) Good riddance boomers and your pseudo justice notions of equality.

          • FriendlyGoat

            This boomer is not dead yet, but thanks for your “kindest sympathies”.

          • seattleoutcast

            Since your generation is too narcissistic and arrogant to see the mess you’ve left behind, it’s no wonder you can’t even understand the levels of absurdity your social justice issues have become. You refuse to see that the problem has become worse since your generation took over in the nineties. So yes, kindest sympathies.

          • FriendlyGoat

            There is no such thing as a generation being narcissistic and arrogant. Those are adjectives which can only be logically applied to individual people—-not tens of millions in a lump. Half of the boomers and their living ancestors are conservatives, like you, and have been all their lives. Those oldsters are the ONLY thing even holding your Republican Party halfway together. If you had even a lick of sense, as my grandfather used to say, you would know that and stop speaking such utter nonsense.

          • Albert8184

            Oh… don’t get too confident about that. The universities belong to the Left, and the newer generations of Lefties coming out of them are ever-increasingly radical.

          • Jim__L

            At some point, everyone will wake up to the fact that the interests of these radicals are so far from the interests of everyone else, that to get anything done in this country a serious housecleaning will be needed.

            At this point, the best thing that sane people can do is make sure they’re holding the broom when the housecleaning comes.

          • Jim__L

            Look at the actual male vs. female numbers for college attendance. We’ve overshot already.

          • CapitalHawk

            Yes, Jim is correct. FG – you should go look at the college enrollment numbers. They are not even close to equal.

            Just a couple of facts to get you started. Women have been awarded more Masters Degrees than men in every year since 1986 (i.e. the last 29 years). In 2010, about 250,000 men earned a Masters and over 400,000 women did. Women have been awarded more Bachelors Degrees than men in every year since 1981 (i.e. the last 34 years). In 2010, women earned nearly 58% of all Bachelors Degrees granted. The statistics are extremely lopsided.

          • Angainor

            All Degrees are not equal. The vast majority of the Degrees that women get are in worthless fields. A woman with a liberal arts degree should not be considered educated.

          • FriendlyGoat

            And that is because too many boys are getting lost from realistic dreams about becoming realistic men. In crazy Islamic places, too many go off to ISIL, Taliban, Boko Haram and other testosterone-laced-with-religion nonsense. Here, we lose them to the streets or to poor culture on the Internet.

            We do not need to “damp” the girls. We need to save the boys,

          • Jim__L

            … Saving the boys means pushing back not only the pace of change, but at this point, pushing back the changes themselves.

            No-fault divorce, Murphy Brown moms, uncompetitive games in schools, affirmative action — it needs to be swept away.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’d prefer to roll back porn, gambling, WWE gorilla-ism, cage fighting, binge drinking, tattoo culture, gangsta rap, drugs, guns in the ghettos and high-end tax cuts—-among other things. Murphy Brown, uncompetitive games, women able to get a divorce from bum husbands, and affirmative action are not on my list of “the problems for boys”, but these differences are why you are a conservative and I’m not.
            We have completely different mental filters with respect to “cause and effect”.

          • CapitalHawk

            I don’t want to “damp” girls either. The problem, as I see it, is that there has been way too much “damping” of boys.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Okay. Jim__L has said something like that too and suggested we need to “sweep away” no-fault divorce, Murphy Brown moms, uncompetitive games in schools and affirmative action. Do you think those changes would “undamp” the boys?

          • FriendlyGoat

            We haven’t overshot with women. We have undershot with men, and I as I told you below, I believe it is because too many boys are “blowing themselves up like Wile E. Coyote.

  • Fat_Man

    It’s all cis-hetero-normative now. With the lunatics in our media, our universities and sitting on our law courts, we haven’t got a prayer. Hell will be 6 feet above ground before breakfast.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    It is welfare that is responsible for fatherless homes. You get more of what you pay for, and America has been paying for mothers with dependent children since Johnson’s “Great Society”. Guess it’s not so “Great”. Men from fatherless homes are 10 times more likely to serve time in prison. So not only are we paying for ever more fatherless families, we are paying for more crime and convicts doing time.

    • Jim__L

      It’s not just welfare. It’s the Leftist war on commitment over absolute, follow-your-whim freedom, coupled with laws that make divorce more sacred than marriage.

  • FriendlyGoat

    We could also list off that boys are more likely to be lured away to the distractions of fighting, alcohol, drugs, gangs, interactive video games, porn and worship of contact sports. We may want to ask ourselves whether young testosterone needs to be more sensibly managed by society in ways which go beyond the Mom and Dad model. In the past, churches, scouts, YMCA, Boys Club were examples of mitigating factors. Are they working now as well as at other times? Are we asking all the questions we should be asking?

    • Jim__L

      Hush, next you’re going to be telling us there are actual biological differences between men and women!

      • FriendlyGoat

        I thought there were such differences. It’s not a matter of holding girls back to let prevent them from exceeding the capabilities of boys, as was done for centuries. It is now a matter of trying to help the boys not prematurely blow themselves up like Wile E. Coyote—-as seems to be the modern trend.

    • Boritz

      …distractions of ………………………………………………………………………….worship of contact sports.

      I was in agreement until this last item which is completely normal. If the Super Bowl was played on Election Day that would be the only conversation in the elevator on Wednesday.

      • FriendlyGoat

        There is nothing “normal” about either grown men or young boys believing the Super Bowl is more important than the political direction of the country they live in. This is precisely the “worship” problem I am claiming. Sports can be a greater distraction to anything important than they deserve to be in any sensible place.

        • Jim__L

          World Cup is used in Europe specifically to burn off nationalist sentiment in a more or less innocuous way.

          • FriendlyGoat

            American teams battling inside one country for the NFL championship is not quite the same thing as a vent for the nationalist sentiment of which you speak. And American football is not the same thing as soccer . Our boys mostly think the World Cup is not much of a “big deal” and boys from all over the rest of the world think we’re a little nuts for mostly not caring about the futbol Cup that actually is a world-sized sporting event.

          • Jim__L

            … And we have a swipe at Americans from a position of cosmopolitan presumption, instead of an engagement with the analogy. Par for the course.

            An analogy that is “quite the same” is known as a tautology. There are more forms of aggression than nationalist militarism, and what is good for sublimating nationalist militarism (a sports contest, global or national) can also be good for sublimating the sort of emotions that gangsta rap is known for expressing — not to mention the sorts of emotions that make boys so disruptive in the classroom. (The ones that result from the hormones you mention.)

            Boys are falling behind because this culture (in an effort to eliminate both any hint of advantage for men or boys, and to advantage women or girls in every way possible) has become far more slanted towards women than men. We can see this in our schools especially.

            There is a War on Boys going on right now, and the Left is fighting it with everything they’ve got.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Jim, I am not swiping at America or even at our football. I know that 2.18 million high school boys play it, that the NFL is exciting, that many of the players are simply PHENOMENAL in what they can do. I replied to Boritz here who claimed that the Super Bowl would top our national election as a topic of conversation if both events were held on a single day. He may be right and if he is right, WE are a tad nuts.

            As for a War on Boys, your side is copycatting again, after you heard the Left mention a War on Women years ago. Please don’t try to believe we do not know upside down from right side up. I’ve already heard that inequality in America doesn’t matter because there are poorer people somewhere else in the world. I’ve already heard that your folks believe that more tax cuts are needed to fix the damage from tax cuts already done. I’ve already heard that the nationwide push by conservatives in statehouses to knock out the votes of poor people is to counter (non-existent) fraud. I’ve already heard that “All lives matter” so that “Black lives matter” can be shunted to the side.

    • seattleoutcast

      Gosh, since the left has done nothing but destroy those institutions that help boys, are you surprised?

      Boy Scouts bad–it’s based on Christianity and hates homosexuals. Too bad it teaches boys to be leaders and good citizens. You know, trustworthy, loyal, etc. Such bad ideas.

      Single Mothers–good. Unfortunately the plan destroys boys’ futures by not having father figures. And if you think girls are okay, think again. They end up dating dirt bags because they’ve never had a decent father figure to compare any future husbands.

      Remember VMI, that horrible military school that didn’t involve girls? Very bad. Must include them. Forget a school that teaches boys to be men.

      Movies? Gotta have girl super heroes that can kick a guys butt because… well, science. No wait, social justice.

      Let’s promote hedonism! Teach boys that the cool guys get a lot of action and are not faithful. Teach girls to hook up and not understand what a true relationship is all about.

      Thanks left. Thanks sixties culture.

      • CapitalHawk

        “Unfortunately the plan destroys boys’ futures by not having father figures.”
        That’s not a bug, that’s a feature.

      • FriendlyGoat

        The Boy Scouts, if they are/were “based on Christianity” as you say, can still and always could have focused on treating people as Jesus would have us do. Being a Christian is NOT measured by how much one disapproves of or shuns gay people. Please don’t lecture me about Scouts. I was one for a long time and I do know how much the leaders all tried to downplay any reference to religion—-except for the word “reverent” appearing as the twelfth of twelve virtues in the Scout Law. No one ever attempted to define reverence “for what”. The reason why was to keep the Scouts from becoming a forum for the adults to fight in over the nuances of various churches’ doctrines.

        • seattleoutcast

          Last I heard, the boy scouts were a private organization. But you act as if you know what is best for everyone, and you should interfere with the boy scouts internal procedures. Why should the boy scouts behave as you think? Why are you allowed to shove your agenda down their throat? By doing so, you are worse than the boy scouts.

          Tell you what: go and complain that Curves doesn’t allow men. Can you do it? No. Why? Because you’re obsessed with an American that died in the 60s–before your generation even had the ability to vote en masse. All you think about is smashing institutions in this country that don’t agree with your particular beliefs in social justice.

          Your generation did nothing to help minorities. All it did was use social justice issues to gain personal advancement.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The reason I won’t be complaining to Curves that they won’t allow me in as a man is because I have no interest in making women uncomfortable in a gym by staring at them in their workout clothes.
            Curves is not a political statement. It is just a smart business model.

            As for Boy Scouts, I do know something about them. You CLAIMED they are “Christian” when they are not and never were—–out of your “last I heard” crazy stuff.

            In the “Tell you what” category: How about you go pester somebody else? You’re to full of it for me.

    • Fred

      Like Boritz, I disagree about sports. Seems to me the football field or the wrestling ring is a much better place to burn off boy aggression and energy than the classroom, the playground, the home, or the neighborhood. However, I completely agree with what you say about intermediate institutions, churches, clubs, etc. If we had healthy ones they would provide a much better way to channel and direct the aforementioned aggression and energy than trying to suppress it or medicate it away, which is our current social default mode. One caveat though, social liberalism (abortion on demand, no fault divorce, redefinition of marriage, drug legalization, expulsion of religion from the public square, etc.) is at odds with preserving what’s left of our intermediate institutions much less strengthening them. But who knows? We might make a social conservative of you yet. Come to the Dark Side FG.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Thanks for the invitation, Fred, but I won’t be changing into a “social conservative”. I share your concern always that we should have fewer abortions. But I am firmly in the camp of women making individual decisions about that as opposed to any legislatures of (mostly) men making laws. I would like to see any possible campaigns to get men to impregnate fewer women in the first place where the circumstances are not in a marriage. It would be fine with me if our culture swung to a much more prudish climate, but NOT by telling women they are not in charge of the choice to give birth or not give birth.

        As for sports, there is NOTHING wrong with boys playing all the competitive games. There is something wrong with too many boys dreaming that the NFL or NBA are their “career paths”. Our pros are worshiped in an over-the-top way because we pay them too much. We pay them too much for no reason other than that we stupidly gutted the high end of our tax code

        • Anthony

          Tax code reference provides connection FG to matter I think fits right into your wheelhouse; here’s a quote from referenced article below (though I don’t label you a leftist despite…): “yet the left and working class rural Americans have many reasons to forge a stronger relationship – specially in challenging the authority of corporate America and growing the bargaining power of workers.” Something that may interest – inthesetimes.com/rural-america/entry/18526/why-the-left-isn’t-talking-about-rural-american-poverty

          • FriendlyGoat

            Thanks, Anthony. That’s an interesting article and an interesting site. I grew up near enough to the Ozarks to have some familiarity with that discussion.

          • Anthony

            I thought you could appreciate it and you’re welcome.

        • Fred

          Well, the invitation remains open. Seriously though, the “moderate” pro-choice position has always seemed inconsistent to me. If abortion is just a choice women make about their own bodies, what difference does it make how many of them there are? And if it is taking an innocent human life, then how can you advocate tolerating even one? As for the gender of lawmakers, I read an exchange once on a comment board. A pro-choice man wrote (I’m paraphrasing a bit) “George Carlin once said ‘When the bishops get pregnant, I’m sure what they say about abortion will be both interesting and enlightening.'” A pro-life woman responded “When George Carlin is dismembered and sucked through a tube, I’m sure what he has to say about abortion will be both interesting and enlightening.” Human life is human life and should be protected by law. The gender of the lawmakers doesn’t matter any more than the gender of those making laws against any other form of murder. I also fail to see the relevance of tax structures to the pay of top athletes. They get paid that much because they make other people even more money than they get paid. I’m not a free market fundamentalist, but that just seems to me the free market at work in a not particularly sinister manner. We do have some common ground though. I also would like to see a return to values closer to those that existed before the sexual revolution. The problem is there was a whole cultural edifice that reinforced and enforced those values. A sexually explicit television show would have been unthinkable, partly because of obscenity laws and partially because the audience would have turned from it in disgust. Those elements were mutually reinforcing. Unwed pregnancy was rare, or at least much more rare than it is today, partly because the woman was stigmatized and ostracized and partly because there was little financial help for her. That cultural edifice, both legal and social, has been swept away. We’re stuck in a version of the prisoner’s dilemma. The legal and social restraints on sexuality that once existed are now seen as cruel and oppressive. Enabling the kind of behavior we both deplore is considered compassionate and humane. The problem is you can’t restrain the behavior without the “cruel and oppressive” restraints. Of course, it’s legitimate to ask which is more cruel? The old system that absolutely did cause individual suffering or the current situation of children without fathers, mothers mired in poverty, taxpayers on the hook for the irresponsible behavior of others, and a general cultural entropy that will only end in America collapsing into Detroit writ large.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, I’ll take common ground with you wherever we find it. I have a feeling we agree that there is a lot of “smut” in our culture and that it is negatively affecting both men and women. I hope we can agree that almost all of it (except person to person conversation and interaction) is being created and transmitted to us in huge waves from incorporated entities including everything in movies, on TV, on recordings commercially sold, on the Internet and via all of the electronic communication companies which enable those “entertainments” to come to us.

            I do not believe the answer to the “culture war” is to blame women, criminalize women, blame the 1960’s sexual revolution, or cut assistance to children in abysmal circumstances. I believe the answer to the culture war —–if there is to EVER be any—is for society to place limits on what incorporated entities are permitted to do to us as a people. We have first amendment “free speech” and there is considerable question (for Constitutionalists) that it was ever intended by the founders to apply to incorporated entities. Just sayin’.

  • InklingBooks

    I’d suggest another factor. When those young boys go bad, they do a heck of a lot more immediate harm to our society than do their sisters. For instance, they turn to violence and crime to an extent that makes female behavior pale in comparison.

  • Johnathan Swift Jr.

    I don’t know anyone on the right who “downplays the obstacles that poverty poses to mobility.” It is of course more difficult for someone starting at the bottom to make it into the middle class or even the upper classes, but over time most people – especially those who mange to stay on the right side of the law – manage to do so. The abstract for the influential Solon and Lee paper stated:

    “Our estimates are still too imprecise to rule out modest trends in either direction. For the most part, though, our results for the cohorts born between 1952 and 1975 suggest that intergenerational income mobility in the United States has not changed dramatically over the past two decades.”

    “We find that all of these rank-based measures of intergenerational mobility have not changed significantly over time. For example, the probability that a child reaches the top fifth of the income distribution given parents in the bottom fifth of the income distribution is 8.4 per cent for children born in 1971, compared with nine per cent for those born in 1986.”

    Social science is by nature inexact, but most of us know people who started out poor and became at least part of the broad middle class.

    Now, for some reason Solon and Lee are worried about how many people move from the very bottom to the top, where most of us are probably far more relieved to find that very few people remain at the bottom, that as people age they get knowledge, experience and assists and move up the scale. There are also people who drop from the top to the very bottom, social mobility does not work only one way.

    As someone on the right, what I see is a conspiracy on the part of the Democratic Party to keep many of their voters poor and angry. How can anyone with an ounce of humanity defend the notion that poor inner city residents should be trapped in awful pubic schools with no alternatives? No vouchers? No improvement in the educational structure or system? How is it even possible to produce the type of schools we see in Baltimore or Newark or Camden, ones that are not only unfit for their students but at the same time breathtakingly expensive? In Camden the cost for secondary education is about $18,000 – $20,000 per student and the last time I was there I read an article about how something on the order of 830 students took the SATs and three, if memory serves, three qualified for a four year college.

    The teachers unions always claim that it is about the Benjamin’s, but of course there is simply no linkage between school spending and results. It is about safety, security, discipline, universally high expectations and a solid core curriculum, things that have largely disappeared from public education. There are many states that spend modestly and get good results and my own family members were well educated at schools with the most meager resources imaginable during the Great Depression and all of them went onto productive lives and one of them went on to excel in stem courses and aerospace. We managed to turn out Presidents from rough hewn rural schools with a few books and the single greatest resource a student can have – a curious, strict and motivated teacher.

    And if you drive through Camden, it looks like the scenes my late father saw in Normandy in 1944. Parts of the city appear to have been hit by bombs and in a way they have, close to a century of straight, unadulterated Democratic Party rule. After a while, what we see in Baltimore, Detroit, Newark, New Orleans after a half century to a century of Democratic Party rule and billions and billions of dollars in anti-poverty programs can’t be unintentional. I just can’t buy it.

    The fatherlessness, the out of wedlock birth, the crime, the addiction, the fact that every decent employer seems to be driven out by crime and regulation just can’t be a coincidence, can they? And of course from the left, every pressure is on the residents not to assimilate into the mainstream culture, the left sees ghetto culture as a wonderful cultural artifact, authentic and so the kids who work to apply themselves in school and assimilate are looked down on. It’s simply sick. In the much vaunted stimulus, Baltimore got close to a billion dollars. Most of it went to a small number of zip codes. Where pray tell are the good results? For God’s sakes a billion dollars in spending should show up somewhere right?

    And, every year billions and billions of dollars are poured into grants, programs and non-profits for inner cities and yet when I return to neighborhoods I have visited years ago, there is nothing that has changed. How is this possible? And please, let’s not hear the old song and dance about money because the United States declared war on poverty fifty years ago and spent trillions of dollars and in many quarters, the metrics are only worse, because of course it is about social values and not spending. I spend a lot of time on American college campuses and they are all awash in new construction, yet many kids you speak to cannot even place major historical events in the right century, can’t tell you how many senators there are, let alone in the house and can’t pick out major nations on the map.

    Except for STEM courses, American education is increasingly about distractions, not knowledge. A century ago, only about half of Americans went onto complete high school, let alone to go onto college. I knew several people who stopped school after the 8th grade to support families in the 1930s and they all ended up in the upper middle class. Just read a book on virtually any of the Hollywood pioneers for example. D.W. Griffith had virtually no formal education. Buster Keaton had a single day of school and grew up being thrown into the audience. In fact, many of the men who made the most progress for America and the world were autodidacts who had very little formal schooling.

    At the beginning of the last century there were millions who were prepared for American life at twelve. I have wonderful letters of recommendation for one of them, all written when he was twelve, thirteen and fourteen and holding down a full time job. They read well, wrote beautiful letters, were able to do math, balance checkbooks, and understood civics, all at twelve. Now, we are infantilizing twenty year olds and half of them spend all day on the phone with Mom and Dad just in order to deal with a $50,000 a year college that looks more like a resort than a place for education! Meanwhile, my own father was at sea in 1941 at sixteen and his friend celebrated his 17th birthday on Saipan. We treat children like adults, spoiling any vestige of innocence they should have, while at the same time treating legal adults like six year olds. This is progress? Get off my lawn!

    • Albert8184

      Well said. Not many long essays on the comment boards are worth reading. But yours is the exception.

    • Jim__L

      Definitely worth reading.

      (The puckish part of me is curious — was Buster Keaton literally thrown into audiences as part of an act? Considering the stunts later in his career, I have to ask.)

      • Johnathan Swift Jr.

        Actually yes. He began working with his father and mother in Vaudeville. They had what was known – if memory serves – as a knock-about act, which consisted of violent slapstick. He was thrown into walls, into the audience, starting at four. They sewed a handle into his pants to his father could throw him farther. He was trained to fall, so he didn’t get hurt, but even then some thought it was abusive. He once had to strip down in front of the governor of New York and prove he was unmarked. There is a nice documentary or two on Keaton, who became a washed up alcoholic by the early 1930s, lost his massive house (Google “Buster Keaton estate” or house and you’ll find old Hollywood postcards and images, it was palatial) and his kids and his ex-wife, one of the three Talmadge sisters, never even allowed his name to be uttered in her presence. He managed to come back though. There is a great little film on CBC, the Canadian network on You Tube that was filmed late in his life.

        “The General” was his masterpiece and it is on Youtube. Civil War story based on the Great Locomotive Chase, except with a million gags. All real, no trick photography, no stunt men, all Buster Keaton. The locomotive crash is worth the price of admission for they really crashed a steam locomotive into an Oregon stream and left it there until WWII when they needed the metal. Orson Wells used to say it was the finest film ever made, not the best silent, the best comedy, but the best film. It was so expensive and not the same sort of slapstick that it was not a hit and he never regained the type of control he had and its failure is what broke him in the first phase of his career.

        Nothing, nothing in Hollywood history compares to the Silent Era. D.W. Griffith, Dwan, Demille, they made it all up as they went along. Demille watched filming a single day at Edison’s studio and said, “I can do this,” and he did. Griffith invented the entire language of film. Dwan did 400-800 films, from about 1911 or so through the 1950s. Almost unknown now. Anything with the Gish sisters is wonderful, national treasures. Orphans on the Storm or any of the Griffith epics. He invented the close-up, the producers said they paid for a whole man and wanted to see him! Mary Pickford was a great trouper, supported a family from the time she was six or seven. On the road by herself at ten or eleven on stage, then the biggest actress the world has ever known, greeted by tens of thousands in Moscow under Lenin, mobbed in London, the most famous person in the world and she knew every contract. She made more than a million a year in the teens, half the profit, two maids at home, two at the studio, two motorcars and chauffeurs, when a lot in the best part of Los Angeles was $7,500. Gloria Swanson was the first Diva, fashion plate, not an every girl, but glamourous.

        Almost none of them had any formal education, yet they could run rings around the idiots that populate the industry today. Those early women were wonderful. There are lots of interviews with Lillian Gish who lived to be 99 and was clear and gracious to the end. And Fairbanks was the most lithe, athletic man film has ever known. Dwan’s work with him was wonderful. The Robin Hood sets were the largest ever built, hundreds of feet high and 450 feet long, cast of thousands (no unions then) on the ground and on the parapets. The other great set was for Intolerance, by Griffith and Thief of Bagdad with Fairbanks. Great era!

  • Albert8184

    One phrase: Cultural Marxism. The marginalization of the so-called patriarchal white-male culture is deliberate and desired. The progressive Left-controlled establishment of the West doesn’t want this problem solved, because to them it isn’t a problem. They want to exacerbate chaos and division at every fault line, in order to foment a revolution. The solutions will come when the beleaguered, hopelessly impoverished populace of sheep finally give up their “stubborn refusal” to accept the “enlightened future”.

  • http://learningtheory.homestead.com/Theory.html mayfieldga

    As we can see the problem involving differential treatment and learning is much more complex than school curriculum. We need to stop looking at where boys are in life and behavior and begin see how boys are treated very differently from us as girls from infancy by parents teachers peers and society all to make them tough. This is creating the activity less maturity more learning problems and more fear of authority figures.
    The belief boys should be strong allows for more aggressive treatment from one year of age designed to create layers of anger and fear so they will be prepared to fight and be tough. This is coupled with much less kind stable little verbal interaction and less mental/emotional support knowledge and skills for fear of coddling. It is this aggressive treatment which creates the extra maintained layers of average stress anger and fear. These layers remain in the mind and take away real mental energy from academics so those boys will have to work much harder to receive the same mental reward for work expended. This treatment creates more social/emotional distrust of others parents and teachers. It creates lags in social vocabulary and other communication we as girls are given on a continuous basis. The higher average stress creates more activity not genetics but environmentally created. The higher stress creates higher muscle tension which creates more pressure on pencil and a tighter grip hurting handwriting and causing early fatigue. This creates more failure and hopelessness especially with our false genetic models firmly in place. To make it even tougher for boys is the giving of love and honor feelings of selfworth only on condition of achievement or status. This was designed to keep Male esteem feelings of self-worth low to give their lives in time of war for measures of love and honor from society. Males not achieving are given ridicule and discipline to make them try harder. Support is not given for fear of coddling. Many boys falling behind in school turn their attention to sports and video games to gain measures of love and honor not received in the classroom. The belief boys should be strong and false belief in genetics creates blatant denial of differential treatment which is creating the lower academics and other problems many boys are facing today. There is an emotional cannibalism allowed upon boys and men who appear weak in some way by parents and teachers even from many girls and women.
    As girls we are treated much better and enjoy more care from society. Since we as girls are given more continual positive mental social/emotional support verbal interaction from an early age this creates the opposite outcome for girls. We enjoy much more care and receive love and honor simply for being girls. This creates all of the good things. We enjoy lower average stress for ease of learning. We enjoy much freedom of expression that makes us look unstable at times. We can use that same freedom of expression to give verbal silent abuse and hollow kindness to our Male peers with impunity. We enjoy low muscle tension for handwriting. We enjoy positive communication from parents and teachers. We are reaping a bonanza in the information age. The lower the bracket the more amplified the differential treatment. Now women taking over many areas of society we enjoy even more lavishing of love and honor while men are now given even more ridicule and abuse by society. Mind you this is also now coming from many women using our protected expression and more so with false feelings of superiority. My learning theory will go to all on request.

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