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Book Review: Boys Adrift (Part 2)

For Part 1 of this review, please go here.

Fourth Factor: Endocrine Disruptors

The fourth factor on endocrine disruptors is the most intriguing chapter to me, given that I have majored in life sciences in college. Dr. Sax alludes to evidence which suggests that polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is used to produce plastic bottles, contributes to early onset of puberty in girls but delayed the process in boys. The use of plastics is prevalent in the West as seen in bottled water and sodas, pacifiers, and baby bottles (just to start). Research in laboratory animals has shown that phthalates mimic the female hormone estrogen and can damage the nucleus accumbens, an area in the brain that is responsible for motivation in boys. Thus, Dr. Sax proposes that a key factor in causing boys to “go adrift” is the indiscriminate use of PET-based products in our society.

While there seems to be some evidence to suggest the use of plastics may have damaging effects on the human brain, I am not entirely sure this is a proven concern. I am not disputing the research, but I believe there should be more research conducted to clearly show the damaging effects of the chemicals in plastics. It is probably prudent to be more educated on this topic.

Fifth Factor: The Loss of Positive Role Models

The last factor which to which Dr. Sax attributes the decline in “manly” men in recent generations is the loss of positive role models. In this generation, Dr. Sax points out that we often see young boys modeling after convicted felons/”artists” such as Akon and 50 Cent instead of positive role models. [And too often, their fathers are absent (in spirit if not in body)]. In contrast, Dr. Sax suggests that a crucial element in helping boys become men is surrounding them with a community of men who can exert a positive mature influence. Of particular interest to me was his reference to true manhood being defined by the words of Jesus: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15;13, KJV)

I agree with Dr. Sax wholeheartedly regarding the importance of having positive male role models for boys. I find it interesting that what he wrote in this chapter has already been written in the book of Titus of the Bible. Titus chapter two lays out the framework for the social construct: Older women are to teach younger women and likewise, older men teaching younger men.

Conclusion

I enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it for those who are interested in this topic. I’ve found Dr. Sax’s research to be helpful to think carefully (as a woman) about how I parent and educate my boys, so they grow up to be men. This book provides a very helpful corrective in our “politically correct” culture that so frequently works both to de-emphasize traditionally understood differences between men and women, as well as demean traditional male roles in the name of “gender equality.” Kudos to Dr. Sax for being willing to stand up and offer a counter-cultural analysis to help change that trend.

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