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3.20.2011 | Benign Neglect or Calculated Malignity?

by Anthony Esolen

Why, I wonder, do boys these days get no love? What have they done to deserve their treatment at our hands? Recently, a boy competing for his high school in the Iowa state wrestling tournament chose to forfeit his initial match rather than wrestle against a girl. He spoke about his decision with an admirable reserve and good sense, saying that wrestling could be a violent sport, and that in this case he had to follow his conscience and his faith. He believed, in other words, exactly what in almost any other circumstances he would be taught as an absolute rule, and that is that a man is not to raise his hand in anger against a woman, and that he is not to touch a woman who is not his wife in the way that wrestling makes necessary -- grabbing under the legs, pressing chest to chest, and worse.And there are other considerations, harder to talk about, but ones that should have occurred to sensible people -- should have, that is, if there were the slightest thought for the feelings of the boy in question. The boy would have been peculiarly vulnerable. The wrestling suit is skin tight. What if he should be aroused? What if he should hesitate to use certain holds, out of embarrassment -- an embarrassment, I might add, which is natural and to be respected? Nor is the girl in exactly the same situation. She can only win, and he can only lose. If she loses and he wins, well, that is only what is "supposed" to happen, given that even before they grow tall and broad shouldered, boys are still usually stronger than girls. But if she wins, her name will be on all the sports pages across the state, as well as his.

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