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On Int’l Men’s Day: A Plea to Empower Our Boys

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On International Men’s Day, November 19, Clarion makes a plea to empower our boys so they will grow up to be productive members of society and not fall into the trap of extremist groups. 

Violent extremists exploit our crisis of masculinity to push their ideology toward a vulnerable population of our young men. Here are nine facts on how one of the cornerstones of preventing violent extremism is understanding gender challenges:

  1. The vast majority of school shooters grow up in fatherless homes.
  2. Extremist recruiters use masculine tropes of heroism to lure in new members. This is occurring in a our culture, which offers fewer expressions of traditional masculinity and as boys fall behind in college.
  3. If we want to fix political extremism, we have to look at what’s going on with our young men. Is there a clear path for how to fit in and succeed as a man in this generation? It doesn’t look like it.
  4. Why is suicide for young men on the rise? According to the journal of the American Medical Association, in 2017, suicide claimed 5,016 males compared to 1,225 females between the ages of 15-24 in the United States.
  5. Our society is failing boys, and we need to find out why.
  6. If we can’t come up with a reasonable, achievable track that gives young men status, emotional security, a path to a secure job and stable, loving relationships, more and more young men are going to be drawn into ideologies which are misogynistic and extremist. Both Islamism and white supremacy movements share these ideologies.
  7. Extremists are telling our young men, ‘The system isn’t working for you and doesn’t care if you live or die. But we care, join us.” It’s a powerful message.
  8. If mainstream culture’s response is to sneer, laugh or complain about toxic masculinity, we’re not going to get anywhere. Preventing violent extremism is a men’s issue.
  9. If you look at what Islamist and Far-Right extremists are actually saying, they’re talking in an explicitly gendered way, essentially: “We will offer you the masculinity you have been denied.” We can’t afford to cede the concept of positive masculinity to the extremists.

 

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