Heidi Matthews in Psyche:
As a new parent of boy/girl twins (at least as they were assigned at birth), I puzzle about the cultural pressure to scrutinise my infant son’s burgeoning masculinity lest it emerge as ‘toxic’. I catch myself watching and wondering, resisting the urge to police his interactions with his sister: He took the toy she was playing with, is this aggression that will stifle her confidence? She seems unbothered and has quickly snatched it back – phew! Is it bullying or an early form of manspreading when, both of them vying for the same object, he moves into her space and pushes her aside?
Today, popular parenting messaging, from Instagram to The New York Times, is suspicious of and concerned about boys. ‘Boys are broken,’ we are told. Boys underperform girls in school and college, and are more likely to engage in behaviour that is harmful to both themselves and others. Boys fight, bully, take dangerous risks, and sexually harass. From school shootings to incel-inspired terrorism, white boys in particular perpetrate mass acts of violence.