TranscriptQuestion: Are males in decline in our society?
Lionel Tiger: If you look at the educational system it’s doing about 30 to 40 to 50% better with females than males, so college enrollments are overwhelmingly more female than male and the question is why is that. There is some feeling that the introduction of a kind of women’s studies cast of characters has tended to make males feel somewhat out of sorts or not fully wanted and in my Decline of Males book I described males as having been born with a male original sin, that is if you’re born a guy you have to work it off. You have to express your feelings. You have to do all those things that will be **** with the current sexual fashions, which can’t be machismo-ish, can’t be too draconically male, can’t watch football as much. You have to articulate a different path. Now that’s relatively trivial. I’m not trying to make a point about it, but the fact is that in the school system we see boys don’t work well and overall and there is a political question if a taxpayer funded entity is producing a better result for one part of the population than the other. A, that is not fair and B, it constitutes a social problem.
So for example, I discovered that… and this was after I wrote the Decline of Males, that four out of five kids expelled from kindergarten are boys. Now my first question is how the hell do you get expelled from kindergarten, but the second is why this differentiation and then we see for example in the use of drugs to drug kids that 90% of the victims of Ritalin are boys and I know a case at the moment of a woman who has got a child that speaks three languages, is in a school where most of the kids speak one and the child is very bouncy and very active and very energetic and the mother was told that perhaps the child could be brought to a medical practitioner for an evaluation. That word was used. And you can be certain that they’re thinking let’s drug the kid, let’s calm him down with Ritalin or some other substance and that’s very serious because we don’t know what the long-term impact of those powerful drugs might be on a small organism. So the issue of what happens to males I think is now resurfacing in an interesting way and I think it offers us the opportunity to begin to review the matter, to begin with the basic biology, to begin the notion of humans as primates and to assume that male primates and female primates will act differently, in many cases the same, but also in many cases differently and we should understand that better and with warmth and not hostility and so the male original sin problem I think has to be avoided because the results are poor. Fifty years of women’s studies for example and I’m not singly out women’s studies. I think it’s a general issue. Fifty years of that since the first program was established in 1970 has yielded a system which is very biased it appears functionally against males and after all who wants that? When my book the Decline of Males came out the warmest response I had was from the mothers of boys who wrote and called and whatever to say, “You have no idea what goes in schools.” “My son has his hand up all the time.” “Nobody recognizes him because they’re supposed to favor girls.” Well that may be an exaggeration, but that was the response I had and I thought that was very interesting.
Question: Are psychoactive drugs feminizing?
Lionel Tiger: I’m not sure that they’re feminizing. I think they have impacts and we don’t know for sure what those impacts are. We know some impact. A kid is quieter. Maybe learns more, learns better. On the other hand, we have very good reason historically to be very suspicious of drugs that cause behavioral changes because the changes they cause are never the ones that are explicitly indicated on the package and so one wants to be very, very careful and I would if I were a medical practitioner, which I’m not and I don’t have any expertise in the matter, I would be very, very hesitant to drug a kid who is three because we have no idea what the long term implications might be on that child’s development, a boy or a girl, but since most of the victims of these drugs are boys we have to assume that essentially they are being feminized in the sense that they’re behavior is supposed to become more female like.
Question: Do some of them benefit from the drugs?
Lionel Tiger: Sure, I’ve been told by parents that their children under these drugs are much better off in school. However, I was talking with a French doctor who teaches at the University of Paris Medical School and he said that… now this was four, five years ago, that in all of France there are 4,600 people, kids taking Ritalin. That is probably as many as there are in a high school in a local suburb. They regard this drug as a highly suspicious drug, very, very powerful and it’s on the restricted list along with cocaine, heroin and all of that, so nobody can get it. In this country school nurses just hand it out and so I think we have sold ourselves a very shabby bill of goods which may cost us a lot of human competence in years to come.