Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Healthy Man Love

Josh writes:

Parents want male teachers for boys

Not sure what to make of this -- here are some possibilities:

First, I look forward to watching Jack, now a valuable and sought-after commodity, whore himself out to the highest bidder like the dirty, dirty slut we always knew he was.

Secondly, I wonder if the fixation on adult male role models doesn't cause us to miss out on other things. Having a mother and a father, and having had plenty of male teachers, I don't feel I was lacking in adult role models -- what I didn't have, though, was sisters. As a teenager I was your typical introverted, don't-know-how-to-talk-to-girls type, and at least some of that had to come from the fact that the concept of familiarity with similarly-aged members of the opposite sex was completely alien to me. So maybe there are other things to consider than just exposure to adult company.

Nextly (as my old principal used to say -- how's that for a grammatical role model?) one wonders why parents are so concerned that little Timmy gets enough exposure (for want of a better word) to examples of manly men. Is talk of psychological development and healthy socialisation simply shorthand for "make sure he doesn't catch The Gay"?

I suppose there are worse things paranoid homophobe parents could do to stop their boy from turning sissy -- beating him to death, for instance -- and hell, maybe I'm reading too sinister a motive into this in the first place. My concerns are triggered, however, by the coincidental fact that I read that Herald article just after the first in Salon.com's four-part investigation into the growing "pray out the gay" movement in the US (a movement where exposure to male role models and "healthy man love" is also deemed crucial).

As with the creationist/ID movement, what we have is a bunch of zealots peddling bad science to make a dodgy ideology sound more respectable -- in this case its subscription to a sort of layman's Freud which says that homosexuality is a mental disorder that comes out of a boy's unfulfilled need for love from a physically or emotionally absent father becoming twisted into sexual desire towards all men. Thoroughly discredited by modern psychology, but that's hardly an obstacle.

In another parallel, proponents of such "reparative therapy" advocate for "equal time"/"telling both sides of the story", this time in sex ed classes, where they want their views on homosexuality taught as an "alternative viewpoint". In some cases, they're winning.

It's all very moderate and nice -- they're compassionate, not hateful; they simply want to heal these poor damaged souls. Of course, the niceness starts to slip a little when we get to why these people need to be "cured" and out come the claims that homosexuality causes "surging AIDS rates, drug abuse, 'gay bowel syndrome,' psychological problems and violence."

And then there's the proof of the pudding -- do their techniques actually work? At this point, it may be worth noting that Exodus, one of the more prominent foundations in this area, is famous for its two ex-gay founding members now being ex-ex-gays, and the current chairman having been found in a gay bar. Incidentally, no website for an organization that tries to put a benign face on sexuality reprogramming should have a "FAQs" link on its home page -- much too easy to misread at a glance...


Apathy Jack said...

See, there used to be a big bunch of male teachers in Primary schools - the majority of my own teachers, for example.

Then Peter Ellis taught us all a valuable lesson: If you are a male who works with small children, you will be accused of a crime you did not commit, and you will have your life taken away from you.

Unitl this country can cure it's sickness in this area, there will be no such thing as male role models in our primary schools.

Psycho Milt said...

Re the article on Ronnie Paris Jr, don't you just know that a Dad who calls his son My Name Jr will be an utter twat? The cloning technology isn't there yet, so he's forced to use a bunch of this crappy woman's genes to make a nice carbon copy of his manly self, such a shame. There are some male role models your kids can really do without.

Half of my primary school teachers were male too (1960s), but my kids have never had one. That Peter Ellis lesson was pretty convincing.

Blair said...

I think you've missed the point entirely. Male role models don't stop boys "turning gay" but they do help them avoid becoming criminals or permanently unemployable. The stats of kids in one-parent homes vs two-parent ones are pretty conclusive in this regard.

HORansome said...

Oh, but the stats aren't, in themselves, conclusive at all. Indeed, many of the stats tend to be inflated because of the Base Rate Fallacy where the numbers of ne'erdowells from single parent families are not properly taken into account with the similar proportion from two (or more) parent families. Also, some of those single parent family numbers are taken from families where you have one actual parent of the child and a caregiver (non-parent), which overinflates the incidence rate once again. The numbers may not actually lie but the presentation of them can sometimes be in doubt, which is why this is still a fairly controversial subject in social theory.

HORansome said...

The Primary School I went to had a male school teacher; he left the job after a few years when he found that the female teachers did not appreciate his presence; this was before the Peter Ellis trial. Truth be told, from my contacts in the Primary Education Sector, male teachers just aren't respected if they want to teach pre-teens.

It's because they are thought to be girly.

This is troublesome not because we need more male rolemodels (I'm not really sure what they means, actually) but because there is a problem in the education system itself if our pedagogues (or a subset therein) think that primary education is the domain of women.

(Nota bene: My evidence here is fairly anecdotal and only extends to the North Shore. Caveat employed.)

Josh said...

Ooh, lotsa things to say.

"We want our son to be taught by a man!"

"That man teaching our son seems a bit suspicious - what sort of man wants to spend all of his time around children, anyway? Hmm..."

Yep, that's gotta be fixed.

Sure, people want their sons to have examples of adult males that they can grow up to be like -- makes sense. Like I say, it was just the coincidental association with the Salon article that got me thinking in the direction of "they want real men that their sons can grow up to be like -- hmm..."

Personally, I'm of the opinion that kids should have to deal with as many different kinds of people as possible -- male and female, young and old -- for largely the reason I mention in my second point. Not so much a matter of emulation, but accustomisation to all the types of people they're going to spend the rest of their lives dealing with.

In terms of single-parent homes being more likely to produce criminals, it could be argued that it's not the absence of a father that causes it directly; rather the poverty and strain that can result from having only a single breadwinner providing cash and a single caregiver providing love. If this is case, then I don't see how having "role models" outside the home (e.g. teachers) will help overly -- certainly not in the financial sense.

anth said...

I like to think the desire for male role models isn't to try to stop them from being gay but because it would be good for boys to have a definition of men that was a bit wider than what they get from the media. While there is a place for athletes and the cast of Jack Ass an alternative would be good.

I wonder if there is the same desire for girls to have male teachers. It seems to me that it is equally important that both genders know that they don't have to behave towards each other as happens in rap videos.