As I said at the time …

Came across a fascinating insight a while back, something that might continue our “bad boys/good girls” dialogue. The writer, a mother, was observing that even in second grade, teachers automatically divided the class into bad boys and, you guessed it, good girls. By extension, then, coming as this does around the time that most boys are undergoing their sexual and emotional separation and twisting away from Mother, a different path from the girls’ formation, the very model of boyhood becomes, by definition, to be bad! To be a “good boy” is in effect to be a sissy, a girl. To be bad is to push the limits, be independent, be a leader, take action, grow up fast.

Perhaps this is when the boy really needs the mentor figure Robert Bly envisions, to take the boy into wilderness beyond the camp. Maybe it was the same writer (newsroom means little time to read closely, and often not to make a printout either) who was warning that American society has a real time bomb in the making as boys are being subjected to some very confused expectations and accusations. To be virile is taken to translate as promiscuous; strong, as violent; and so on.

Incidentally, David Hernandez’s “Bruises” demonstrates one side of this boy/girl outlook marvelously: when you were a child, did girls ever compare their signs of toughness like this? (So who are the “bad girls”? Tomboys? Or loners at the edge, exploring their own imaginations? Diane Wakoski has pursued this as well as anyone I can think of, but the field still seems wide open!)

Oh, well, I can only open these issues in a poem; resolution comes somewhere else!


Blue Rock

My collected poems are available in Blue Rock. The ebook’s free in the platform of your choice.




3 thoughts on “BAD BOYS, GOOD GIRLS

  1. When my kids were that age, the teacher did the same to them (I have two boys). And the only reason they were ‘bad’ is that they had a hard time sitting still for 8 hours. What boy – or even a girl – in second grade is able to sit still that long? Even at my age, I’d have a hard time sitting still for so long so I guess that makes me a ‘bad’ girl:)

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