Boys Will Be Boys Will Be Broken

have gun will travel photo credit images by westfall


I am a boy.

I am a boy.

I have all the feelings girls do.

When I fall down, I hurt.

When my friends exclude me, I’m sad.

When it thunders, I’m scared.

When I’m hurt, I want to cry.

When I’m lonely, I want to be connected.

When I’m scared, I want to ask for help.

I want to talk about how I feel.

I want to be loved and accepted.

But boys don’t do that.

You told me not to do that.

You called me a cry-baby, a pussy, a sissie, a momma’s boy.

You told me to suck it up.

You told me to “man up”.

You told me to “hit that ass”.

You didn’t give me words for my feelings; you told me not to have any feelings.

You gave me a truck, a bat, a hammer, a gun.

You sent me to war.

You sent me into the coal mines.

You sent me away from my children for ten hours a day.

You sent me into burning buildings.

And when I turned out to be just as you conditioned me to be — divorced from my own emotions, devoid of my humanity, alone, fearful, and disconnected, I used the only tools you gave me to express my powerlessness and rage — the hammer, the bat, the gun.

So then you put me in jail.

With all the other boys.

Who were told not to feel anything.

And you want to blame a politician.

And you want to blame public schools.

And you want to blame religion.

And you want to blame, me.

For being a boy.

photo: greg westfall / flickr / creative commons license

About Lisa Duggan

Lisa Duggan is the Founder of The Modern Village, a continuing education series for parents. Follow her on Twitter@motherhoodmag.


  1. When my son cries, I comfort him.
    When he wants to wrestle, I piledrive him.
    When he is hungry, we make pancakes together.
    When wants to flirt with girls twice his age, I’m his wingman.
    When he’s jealous of his sister’s pedicure, we paint our nails.
    When he’s milking an injury, I tell him to toughen up.
    When he is being to rough, I tell him to be more soft.
    And when someone says I’m forcing masculinity.on him, I tell him to roll his eyes.


    • Thanks Jason, you are what a father should be, strong yet flexible. Yes, he will grow into a man, but he will also need to honor the feminine as an equal.

  2. I liked Madonna’s version better.

  3. The negative to writing such an article, Lisa, is that you are propagating a stereotype of male development while at the same time marginalizing men who may have had a healthy development and/or are creating a new example their sons. The problem that I have is that this article does nothing to move the discourse to what healthy male development looks like, but instead focuses on what dysfunction has looked like in the past. And last, if you do decide to write on healthy male identity, please collaborate with a healthy male/father to lend some credibility and good faith.

  4. Being a boy is more complicated than that Lisa. We are not just little girls forced to be men, but yang spirits in human form entering the world with intention, curiosity, clarity and purpose. Go to a playground and watch little boys. They are assertive and energetic, wanting to bring their energy into use in society. Yes, we have been the warriors and expendables, but surely there is better use for us than to be neutered and corralled into cubicles? Yes, we are confused and angry, but that is not our natural state of being. The sacred masculine yearns to create sanctuary for the sacred feminine. Currently we are in social flux with need of hyper yang warriors on the perimeters and disdain for such in the cities and marketplace. There will be an evolution to a less violent, more purposed masculinity, but making us more like women is probably not the solution. We are changing, but we will retain our grounding in yang energy. It is the tension that fuels the fires of creativity and, sadly, the flames of war and genocide. A new masculine paradigm is forming and it will be balanced and humane. And men will learn to form their sons into men worthy of the times to come.

    • Very beautifully put, John. Thank you for sharing this.

    • I couldn’t have said this better if I’d had a week to write it out. Thank you, John, for helping express this difference of opinion. I hope the author is reading these comments.

    • You seem to be saying all boys and all men should be the same. Believe it or not, some boys aren’t even interested in the playground; but I guess you’d say they were “inferior” or that something was wrong with them. In other words, you believe all boys and all men should uphold what YOU believe is “masculine” and that those who don’t CONFORM to your standards should be reprimanded for being “anti-social” or whatever. The truth is there are different roads to masculinity. (What would you expect when you’re speaking of half the human race?) I don’t need you or anyone else telling me what I should do to be “masculine.” I had enough of this garbage when I was growing up from “adults” who didn’t have my best interests at heart and weren’t even concerned as to what my needs actually were. In the long run, I had to progress without their input . In spite of it, actually.

      No thanks.

      • Just so there won’t be any misunderstanding: I’m addressing JohnH, not Lisa.

        I’m sorry, JohnH, that your view of men is so limited. (Of course, as we all know, moral courage isn’t a quality that should be considered as being of any worth at all by “alpha males,” who are the best examples of “true masculinity” — sarcasm intended.) Of course, you would say that only certain men are “real men.” Yeah, I heard it all the time as I was growing up; and I continue to hear it today. Sometimes it’s expressed in hippy-dippy terms, but it’s still the same garbage. I guess I should go looking for my plastic Conan sword so I can be one of your “warriors” banging on trashcan lids.

        • Nice strawman that you built their Bill. Anything else you need to get off your chest and recreate it as someone else’s thoughts. I didn’t even see John make one mention of any of your arguments against him.
          The only one talking about ‘real men’, ‘alpha males’, ‘inferior’, ‘masculine’ is you.
          Did you go to the school of feminism to learn your projection?

  5. Thanks for putting into words the experience of many men today. How parents project their interpretation of manhood onto their sons is the first and most impactful of all. The boy code and culture of men simply uphold what was already programmed. It takes a very conscious and brave man (yes, it’s an act of bravery) to step outside the box to find his true self.

  6. Bravo!

    Don’t forget the booze and other drugs to go along with our truck, bat, hammer, and gun!

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