Rosalind Wiseman, the boy whisperer

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of Queen Bees and Wannabees, a book published in 2009 addressing feminine relational aggression from the point of view of teenage girls and their parents. It is an important book which not only served as the basis for the Hollywood movie Mean Girls, it’s one I’ve got on order from Amazon. But Wiseman isn’t content to rest on past accomplishments, she’s also just published a book about boys addressing some of the issues they face every day. It’s called Masterminds and Wingmen, published in September of 2013. While researching for the new project, she interviewed at least several hundred high school aged boys, to get a picture of the world they inhabit, and some impression of their experiences.

Truly, this author is breaking new ground, covering a topic never explored in depth by any significant writer or researcher. Except, of course, for Dr. Warren Farrell, who wrote a better version of the same book in 1993, called The Myth of Male Power. Also except for the dozens of books following in the space opened by Dr. Farrell two decades ago. But now, somebody from the mainstream is going to jump on the “me-too!” bandwagon. Well, almost. What Rosalind Wiseman appears to be saying is that she’s discovered a new planet: Guy World.

What is so important to me, that I want adults to realize is boys have deep connections with people. They want meaningful relationships. They fall in love, and when betrayals happen, and they DO, or when breakups happen, they are in deep amounts of pain. They often don’t share that with other people but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. […]

What I am hearing in these interviews are boys really breaking so many of the stereotypes we have about boys. They’re so much more complex, they have rich emotional lives. And if we can sit down and really listen to them, they will tell us.

Well by golly, did you catch that everybody? Boys are breaking the stereotypes we have about them. They’re much more complex; they have rich emotional lives. If we can sit down and really listen to them, they’ll tell us.

Rosalind Wiseman is here to bring us a revelation! They (boys) are apparently not made of wood. They’re not mere action machines bolted together from scrap aluminum. Would you believe they’re actually human beings?

Zounds!

Thank you, Rosalind Wiseman, for granting actual, publicly-conferred humanity onto those poor unfortunates who, until now, like Pinochio have only wished to be real human beings. Indeed, judging from much of the online commentary, many men and boys are deeply grateful to be acknowledged as: also people.

From the a user identifying as Moviedude22 in the comments section of Time Magazine’s Youtube video[1] promoting “Masterminds and Wingmen”

“This woman is very special. young men need more advocates in society especially intellectually sensitive female advocates.”

So, on first seeing the Time Magazine video promoting Wiseman’s new title, why were my hands shaking with anger?

Wiseman’s words:

What is so important to me, that I want adults to realize is boys have deep connections with people. They want meaningful relationships.

As well as:

….boys really breaking so many of the stereotypes we have about boys they’re so much more complex, they have rich emotional lives.

This is breaking news? This is the great revelation to the world? That the individuals of the male half of the human species are also human?

That anyone, including Wiseman, has the towering contempt for young men that she can pretend their basic humanity is a secret of her own discovery is beyond belief for any sane adult to consider.

Are we seriously entertaining the pretense of discourse with somebody who condescends to grant humanity, complexity and an inner emotional landscape to the male half of the human race?

Fuck.

How magnanimous of Rosalind to grant all of that to mere boys.

In fact, she magnifies this insult by positioning herself as the sympathetic and humane interpreter who can talk to those poor dumb beasts, unable to communicate without her.

But in a sense, that Youtube commenter was correct that young men need more advocates in society. However, it is not clear that “intellectually sensitive female advocate” is an accurate description of R. Wiseman.

They have rich emotional lives. And if we can sit down and listen to them, they’ll tell us.

She’s the Boy Whisperer. In fact if reality follows on satire, as it occasionally does, Rosalind Wiseman will soon have her own show on the Discovery Channel, right after Caesar Milan, giving the good people of the world Rosalind’s very own teaching and training techniques to prevent the men-childs from chewing up the drapes or pooping on the new ivory-wool shag rug.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Masterminds and Wingmen seems, in Wiseman’s Time Magazine interview, to be a book written not just about, but on behalf of the young men who are that book’s subject material. This impression is somewhat diminished by the fact that unlike her earlier title, Queen Bees and Wannabes, the boy-focused book was issued in two versions. The second one being a shortened, simplified free ebook for the boys themselves. Obviously, being mere boys, reading words in a long, paper-bound volume is too much to expect. That might cut in to masturbation and video game time.

Carrie Goldman, writing about Wiseman’s new book for Chicago Now dot com said:

I have seen how difficult it is for parents, moms in particular, to see evidence of the way their children can behave around their peers. I have spoken with moms who said, “My son is a good kid, and he wouldn’t do something like that.” And then when it comes to light that their sons have participated in unacceptable activities, the mothers feel devastated.

Rosalind Wiseman, when asked by the Chicago Now columnist what advice she had for mothers whose sons engaged in “upsetting activities” said:

Sometimes we learn things that are painful, and women need to be ethical authority figures with their sons […] When it comes to how your son treats other people, get him to think, if my mother knew I was doing this, how would I act?

Does this sound like human recognition, or does it sound a bit more like manipulation?

Goldman also noted that Wiseman’s Director of Communication and Marketing, Charlie Kuhn, was hired with the specific intent of having him relate to the boys. According to Goldman, Kuhn is close enough in age to remember what it was like to be a teenage boy, yet old enough to have some perspective and wisdom that can only come with time. She hired Kuhn to game those boys into revealing their inner lives to her.

This woman is very special. Young men need more advocates in society. Especially intellectually sensitive female advocates like Rosalind Wiseman.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxTJ0UhPEJg

[2] http://www.chicagonow.com/portrait-of-an-adoption/2013/09/masterminds-and-wingmen-rosalind-wisemans-exploration-of-boy-world/

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