Thursday, May 11, 2017

Scouting and the Death of Masculinity

Last night, I attended my son's Blue and Gold banquet, which did serious violence to the word "banquet." But as I've written before, considering the professional, educational, familial, and personal complications they have going on in their lives, I am appreciative that the women who run our ward's Cub Scouts program have it running at all.

But I want to reflect for a moment on why Cub Scouts is run exclusively by women, and how that undermines the entire purpose of the program.

Scouting is supposed to make men of boys. I didn't appreciate that as a boy; I thought it was supposed to provide boys with entertainment and I thought they picked some cut-rate entertainment to provide. ("Seriously, was there ever a time when knots were entertaining? Get some video games up in here, stat!" - 14-year-old me.)* This is why I tell people that I didn't like Scouts that much as a boy, but as a parent I like it a lot. I want my boys to grow up to be good men, and Scouting is designed to do that.

To work properly, though, manhood has to be modeled. Sometimes in Boy Scouts the problem is lurpy** leaders who aren't models I want my sons to emulate, but the problem in Cub Scouts is that there are no men around at all, lurpy or not.

I understand why this happens, I guess: we don't have enough male leaders to serve in areas where they aren't needed.*** But instead of a program that models manhood for boys to emulate, the boys get to see their mothers wait on them hand and foot (as usual), only in exotic settings ("She's never cleaned up after me in a church before!").

This isn't just a problem in Cub Scouts, but in all aspects of raising boys. It is referred to as "the death of masculinity" and it shows up in all kinds of surprising ways. Recently, I had to interact with a Millennial male who, despite his full beard and visible tattoos, was, in voice, mannerisms, and behavior, a post-menopausal woman. Schools select for this because neutered men are more docile, and schools favor docility. Ideally, Scouting counters this societal trend instead of reinforcing it.

What can be done? Well, in a ward with a shortage of men who will take callings, we can't do anything, I guess. Cub Scouts will continue to be run by women and Boy Scouts is where you'll have a steep learning curve when mamby-pamby boys get thrown into the world of men. (Except increasingly the Boy-Scout version of "the world of men" is the world of poor leadership and video games, as my older son's Boy Scout meeting was last night.)

I guess I could go to my bishop and volunteer for a Cub Scout calling, but I'm loath to do that because those boys are TERRIBLE. They don't sit, they don't listen, they don't clean, they don't serve, they don't do ANYTHING except exactly what they want to do. Case in point: last night's "banquet." While the MC was speaking the boys began a chant of "Pizza! Pizza!" Then they were first to get food (instead of allowing their leaders and guests to be served first), first to get dessert, and first to leave the room when it was time to clean, leaving all cleaning to the women leaders.

Maybe the problem is that Cub Scouts is run by their own mothers. But what other women will take that calling? My wife said, "Thirty years ago we could have called some of the older women in the ward to Cub Scouts because back then boys would listen." Of course, people will say, "Children have been misbehaving since the beginning of time," but when we were children there were repercussions to misbehavior. Now misbehavior is just a manifestation of a learning disability and I'm being insensitive for not recognizing that.

Scouting is a program that society has left behind, and I wish there was a way of preserving it, but I don't see what that way is.

* = I recently read a blog post about better style formatting for blogs, and the woman recommended using bold instead of italics because it's easier to notice on a computer screen. So I'm trying to make the transition, but I'm very used to typing the italics tag, so it might take me a while to change.

** = A family word that means sort of doing what you're supposed to, but doing a real poor job of it. From the noun "lurp" comes this adjective "lurpy" and the verb "to lurp," as in, "That lurpy lurp is just lurping it up on his cellphone while his kid is performing in the talent show." A bad dad wouldn't be there, while a lurpy dad is there but might as well not be. The problem with a lurp is he thinks he should get credit for his half-assed efforts.

*** = We have a priesthood leader moving out of the ward in a month and there is NO ONE to replace him.

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