A Broken Boy’s Reasons

It started as a twitstorm on Valentine’s Day, and was catchy enough to make it into the New York Times.

It was the catchphrase, “boys are broken,” that did the trick for Michael Ian Black, a comedian (his twitter bio says “nine years in the NFL. Two rings) and actor.

America’s boys are broken. And it’s killing us.

That’s a rather broad assertion. It came after the Parkland High School shooting, and rather than go the “guns are the problem” route that many took, he made a hard left into toxic masculinity.

The brokenness of the country’s boys stands in contrast to its girls, who still face an abundance of obstacles but go into the world increasingly well equipped to take them on.

The past 50 years have redefined what it means to be female in America. Girls today are told that they can do anything, be anyone. They’ve absorbed the message: They’re outperforming boys in school at every level. But it isn’t just about performance. To be a girl today is to be the beneficiary of decades of conversation about the complexities of womanhood, its many forms and expressions.

He apparently aced the gender studies class, but this paean to womanhood explains nothing about boys.

Boys, though, have been left behind. No commensurate movement has emerged to help them navigate toward a full expression of their gender. It’s no longer enough to “be a man” — we no longer even know what that means.

Would this be the right time to note that he’s begging the question, there being no reason as yet proffered for why boys might need a movement to “navigate toward a full expression of their gender.” Then again, he’s right about one thing: I don’t “even know what that means.”

Too many boys are trapped in the same suffocating, outdated model of masculinity, where manhood is measured in strength, where there is no way to be vulnerable without being emasculated, where manliness is about having power over others. They are trapped, and they don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel about being trapped, because the language that exists to discuss the full range of human emotion is still viewed as sensitive and feminine.

Trapped? By liking bacon and football? By putting their energies into fixing problems rather than engaging in long talks to explore their feelings about the problems that need fixing?

Men feel isolated, confused and conflicted about their natures. Many feel that the very qualities that used to define them — their strength, aggression and competitiveness — are no longer wanted or needed; many others never felt strong or aggressive or competitive to begin with. We don’t know how to be, and we’re terrified.

No, Mike. Men do not. Boys either. You may, and that’s fine, but nobody elected you our spokesmodel and, frankly Mike, this isn’t about men at all. This is about you, and the women and Times editors whose feelings you confirm. No doubt there are other men who, like you, feel trapped in a male body. There are a lot of people out there and it would come as no surprise that, out of 150+ million males, a few hundred thousand have discovered manscaping and Axe body wash.

But what does any of this have to do with boys being broken?

Last week, 17 people, most of them teenagers, were shot dead at a Florida school. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School now joins the ranks of Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Columbine and too many other sites of American carnage. What do these shootings have in common? Guns, yes. But also, boys. Girls aren’t pulling the triggers. It’s boys. It’s almost always boys.

There have been 22 shootings at primary and secondary schools in which 2 or more people died since 1990, resulting in 122 deaths, including the deaths of the shooters. It’s true that boys tend to be school shooters. But it’s not that girls don’t kill. Even mothers kill, about 250 children per year, as it turns out, but mostly their own children rather than other people’s children. Are they broken?

Yes, some people are broken and do terrible things. It’s not because they are broken boys. Or broken mothers. Or broken people. Or you, MIchael Ian Black. They’re not you. They don’t suffer because you suffer. They aren’t resentful of their “toxic masculinity” because you have masculinity issues. They’re doing just fine, except for the very few who are broken. And those who are broken aren’t broken because Michael Ian Black has fragility issues that he extrapolates to all of his gender so he can pretend he’s not his own problem.

You shouldn’t be faulted for feeling as you do about your masculinity, Mike. You are entitled to feel badly about yourself all you want. What you are not entitled to do is engage in inductive reasoning, that an infinitesimal number of school shootings by males proves that boys are broken.

I wish you well, and hope you come to grips with whatever dark hole you find yourself in, Michael Ian Black, but please leave other males out of your personal journey of condemnation. Please don’t validate the silliness of women unfamiliar with the illogic of inductive reasoning who believe guys must be insecure and fragile or they would be more like girls.

I would like men to use feminism as an inspiration, in the same way that feminists used the civil rights movement as theirs. I’m not advocating a quick fix. There isn’t one. But we have to start the conversation. Boys are broken, and I want to help.

Thanks, but if you want to help, start with yourself. Pull out that nail, MIke. Oh, and one last thing, Mike. Not that I suppose you have one, but just in case. Get rid of your gun. You sound as if you’re that guy who might lose it and do harm to others.

53 thoughts on “A Broken Boy’s Reasons

  1. Pat Riot

    Oh, SNAP!, like my grandkids would say (and will after I let them read this!) GREAT article! Thank you! It’s getting old and tired having all these wannabe social (fake) justice warriors trying to convince everyone else that everyone partakes in their problems, paranoias, fears, issues. Sanity is such a wonderful thing. Thank you again, and again!

      1. John Barleycorn

        I can roll with concise. Cogent is mostly. well cogent…

        I will try… including that, whatever that thing is

  2. PseudonymousKid

    Dear Papa,

    This guy needs to put down the nursery rhymes. No, boys aren’t really made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. No, girls are not really made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Maybe those are words he can grasp.

    Good for him for getting published in the times. Bad for him for trying to sell all of us out in the process. Despicable for him to target children especially. Those poor boys who aren’t broken are going to get their video games taken away just in case. Hopefully that’s the extent of any damage.

    The quip about manscaping is a bit much. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, after all.


      1. PseudonymousKid

        I will and, barring any tragic accidents, I’ll still be a man afterwards too. Toxic masculinity is really hard to wash off.

  3. B. McLeod

    I don’t know how he can claim “boys have been left behind.” Clearly, boys can be anything too. Boys can even be girls now, if they so choose.

      1. LocoYokel

        Yes, and I have multiple times, and baked bread, and poached eggs, and made spaghetti sauce from scratch using only the seasonings out of a jar, and I regularly make chili from scratch not using a kit. Biscuits and gravy with poached eggs on Saturday mornings are the best way to start the weekend. Planning to make some blackened red snapper this weekend.

        Real men cook! If that’s what they want to do and enjoy it, or if they’re single and like eating more than just TV dinners. But I have to hand it to your son, making croissant rolls from scratch, he’s definitely got me there.

      1. wilbur

        Ah yes, Geto Boys.

        “This year Halloween fell on the weekend
        Me and Geto Boys were trick or treatin'”

        My Mind’s Playing Tricks On Me.

    1. Robert

      Typical selfish male, thinking only of himself. If you had any decency, you would not eat it, but instead have it mounted so it could be used by non gender specific persons as a dildo.

    2. Richard Kopf


      Never go full . . . .*

      Hack a testis. That will be sufficient.

      All the best.


      *Keep the shower cap pulled down low if you follow through!

  4. HJ

    Presumably since it’s painting men in a bad light he gets a pass for committing the mortal sin of suggesting that one sex may be more predisposed to certain behaviors.

  5. Anonymous

    Fun read. But to the extent the guy is trying to lambast America’s love of violence i can’t say he’s completely wrong. The clients i represent in their younger years are usually in love with the violence of their lifestyle. I suppose doing federal defense work you don’t have much reason to think about why guys keep going back to that life.

  6. paleo

    I graduated high school in 1975. Looking back, I only now realize how I had no chance to thrive:

    – Trapped in one gender
    – No social media on which to show off my superior moral virtue
    – “Woke” only had one definition, and that (followed by “up”) was what I did every morning and after naps.
    – If I whined about anything my parents canned response was “quit complaining, you have it better than we did”.
    – My parents and the authorities at school were allowed to whap me on the ass with anything they wanted for any reason they wanted without consequence.
    – If I wanted to take a position hostile to someone, I actually had to do it personally to their face and therefore risked getting my ass kicked.

    In exchange for this, I guess, I was still free to brandish my toxic masculinity and be a rapelord and treat minorities like crap. How different my life would have been if only somebody had told me back then that it was ok to do stuff like that!

  7. Corey

    So boys are broken and it’s societies fault? Well nice to know we’re not responsible for our behavior. Somehow I don’t think that will fly. “But officer, it’s not my fault! My parents raised me to be a broken boy instead of an empowered girl!”

  8. Jake

    “…a few hundred thousand have discovered manscaping and Axe body wash.”

    I wouldn’t assume what you would or would not have done to improve your chances, had you been single in the last two decades.

  9. Erik H

    I am suffocated and drowning; I can hardly break free to write this response. But I will push through and prevail.

    This post is poorly written pablum. Whew. Said it.

    It is true, though, that much of liberal society seems to be focused on what men/boys are doing wrong, rather than pushing a good ideal for what men/boys should strive to do right. The SJWs don’t seem to understand that positive reinforcement works better, or maybe they just can’t bring themselves to say “positive” and “men” in the same sentence. Meh.

    1. SHG Post author

      I’m not entirely sure that’s correct, that they haven’t offered a constructive means of improvement for toxic masculinity. In fact, I’m fairly certain they have.

  10. marty

    You lost me at Michael Ian Black.

    Notwithstanding, I for one am glad that “no movement has emerged to help them navigate toward a full expression of their gender”. Back in the day, even for a minor Sh*tlord such as I, a full expression of my gender would have been a very scary thing to behold.

  11. Matthew S Wideman

    Who are these men having existential crisises? Get a job, get a dog, fix a car, or start a watch collection.

    I have two nephews. They seem well adjusted. It just seems if you don’t focus on endless problems, you might actually get something done.

  12. Scarlet Pimpernel

    I would think that his having grown up without a father, who died in 2004, with a mother who had very little extended family support, was placed on ADHD drugs when he was younger and started showing behavioral issues and had something happen with his biological family that led to him and his brother being put up for adoption at a very young age would be bigger contributors to his being broken than some “outdated model of masculinity”. But then again, I don’t buy into the myth of the uncaring male, so what do I know.

  13. KP

    If we had that “outdated model of masculinity”. then some young guys would take out these shooters before they got very far.

    Having emasculated our heroes it seems there is no-one to stop some weakling with a gun. ‘Being strong’ for femisists is obviously not being brave.

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