Dear Straight Talk: A friend with daughters referred me to your column. While I enjoy it very much, I would like to see more coverage of male issues. Almost every helpful program is weighted toward girls while ignoring the needs of boys. What is going on? -- Mother of a Son, Monterey, Calif.
Dear Mother: I have been fretting over this since the column began. It truly is a huge problem society-wide. For an idea of the magnitude, for every letter we get from a boy, we get about 80 from girls. We hear from fathers even less. We have been adding many male panelists (also harder to come by), in hopes of coaxing more male-oriented questions.
Females have been considered oppressed by males, but that thinking is flawed because in an oppressive system, both "oppressor" and "oppressed" are oppressed -- the "system" is damaged throughout. Unfortunately, for the past 50 years, female empowerment has been emphasized while male empowerment was bashed. I raised three sons, grew up alongside brothers, and had two dads. I know how society oppresses males, making them deny their feelings and needs. At this point, male needs are even greater than those of females. Males dominate conditions of drug abuse, alcoholism, gaming and pornography addictions, violence, suicide, incarceration, and homelessness. Significantly fewer males than females are attending and graduating from college. I hope your letter encourages more males to reach out -- and for the public to reach back.
The panelists' responses below are poignant. For more on male empowerment visit mankindproject.org. --Lauren
Justin, 22: It's harder for a guy to reach out for help. I know that whenever I have a problem, I tend to feel like I've failed or that I need to "man up." Also, lately I've learned that whenever I "talk out" an issue, I end up feeling worse because I make everything "my fault" even when I know inside that that's not true. Society has made it very hard for a man to express himself openly.
Lennon, 24: Historically, men had a harder time asking for help or advice; we were supposed to be stoic and know how to do everything. That's changing, but many boys still try to do things themselves without even thinking of asking for help. This is probably passed down from fathers, which explains why they ask for guidance even less.
Katelyn, 16: If we cover more girl issues than guy issues, it's only because girls write in more (just like girls talk more and are more open about feelings). Instead of making up generic questions, we are keeping it real -- so SPEAK UP GUYS!
Jesse, 18: Men don't speak up as much because we aren't supposed to have issues. It's a natural instinct to think men are stronger and can take things women aren't expected to take. Also, we don't "take things to heart" like women do.
Peter, 23: Things like Straight Talk, Cosmo, and GQ, where advice and tips are solicited, are way more popular among girls.
Rachel, 19: Girls tend to seek outside guidance as they find themselves (including going beyond their circle of friends), whereas guys usually turn inward. This ability to seek beyond their own world helps girls reach their ideals.
Gregg, 20: Culture has allowed women to be more alpha. And their "squeaky wheels" are getting the grease. Did we see the same during the 1800s? No, but times have changed and women have changed with them. However, what has not changed is men's lack of emotion. The problem boils down to men not talking about their feelings as much as women.
To ask a question or inquire about being a youth panelist, visit straighttalkTNT.com or write to P.O. Box 963, Fair Oaks, CA 95628