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What he believes :

In their book The Maiden King: the reunion of masculine and feminine, Robert Bly and Marion Woodman describe how each girl must work out for herself what "feminine" will mean for her, what kind of woman she will be; and likewise, each boy must discover and create what "masculine" will mean for him.

Most enduring cultures of which we have any record have taken this process -- the process of transition to a gendered adulthood -- very seriously. We ignore it. Indeed American parents seldom speak to their children at all about the meaning of womanhood or manhood (as opposed to generic, un-gendered adulthood). Most parents today don't know what to say.

But girls still want to know, What does it mean to be a woman? Boys still want to know, What does it mean to be a man? We don't tell them. As a result, the marketplace fills the vacuum, providing "the ready-made masculine and the ready-made feminine" (Bly & Woodman, p. xvii), which are caricatures of the real thing; but young people don't recognize them as caricatures, because they have received no guidance. The result is a growing proportion of girls who are anxious, depressed, and tired; girls who can tell you a great deal about what they do but not so much about who they are. Likewise, we find a growing proportion of boys who are disengaged not only from school but from the real world. Those boys are comfortable in the virtual world, where they play their online video games, and/or surf the net for photographs of girls.

Understanding these problems, and working toward practical solutions that can be put in place today by every parent and every teacher -- that's what my second book Boys Adrift and my third book Girls on the Edge are all about.

Leonard Sax MD PhD

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