A new store opened in the Mall of America in November of this year. On the outside, it had the phrase “Traditions of American Boyhood.” This store had army toys, real metal Tonka trucks, boy-sized hand tools and power tools, fishing and hunting and other outdoor gear. The name of the store is JM Cremps, and my heart sang for joy as I shopped in it for a gift for my 5-year-old grandson.
And Glenn did, and now everybody knows about it!
Even better, thanks to the wonders of modern internet shopping, you don’t have to have one of these in your home town to take advantage of it. So buy a boy something a boy, not an emasculated, feminized “boy facsmile” would really like.
Which leads me to a rant. In my new book I have a significant character who happens to be a 17 year old middle class male. He lives with his mother and two sisters – his father is dead.
He’s a smart kid. He pays attention in school, he listened to his dad, who was an accountant, talk about money and economics, he was a heavy-duty boy scout, and he keeps up on things.
And when the shit hits the fan, he has a far better grasp on things than his clueless mother does.
My agent hated his character. As she put it in a note, she didn’t know any 17 year old boys who were capable like this kid was. She thought he was entirely unrealistic. Even SteveF, my copy editor, thought he was a little too smart and able.
I didn’t change him much. He would not have been all that uncommon when I was a kid. Older teen boys were going off to war, getting married, working at the factory, buying homes and raising families. They weren’t children.
The whole notion that young men who, up until very recently, were considered full-fledged adults, have become helpless children just grinds my ass. This may be a point of view that women somehow find appealing – not all women, of course, but a significant number of them – because it plays into their fantasies of sexual superiority, and it also assuages the deep anger they developed when they turned nine or ten and discovered they were no longer physically stronger than the boys they knew, and never would be again.
The notion that a late-teen male is inherently stupid or incapable is hooey. At that age Alexander the Great was out conquering Thebes and surviving the poisonous atmosphere of a deadly court battle – and he didn’t even have all the “advantages” of a modern public school education.
Which is probably another reason why this book won’t be going through normal publishing channels. I’m really not interested in reinforcing destructive stereotypes that stroke the preferred beliefs of a certain class of female, a class that happens to be temporarily in the ascendancy.
Okay, rant off.