Boys Today Defying Expectations

Has anyone else been watching the new season of So You Think You Can Dance? So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation premiered on May 30th on Fox and features contestants ages 8 to 13 year olds. Of course, I was intrigued because it provided a national stage for young men to showcase their dancing talent and provide one more avenue to help them overcome one masculinity stereotype.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I watch each week in awe of many of the young men and their openness to share their stories of bullying, name calling, and being thankful for the opportunity to share their passion. Check out the video below.

While watching one of the amazing audition episodes, I recollected a quote from a book I read recently in preparation for my own manuscript. Malina Saval interviewed several young men from different backgrounds and cultures and shared their stories in her 2009 book The Secret Lives of Boys. In the Introduction to her findings, she shared:

Teenage boys today are not bound by any one set of rules or regulations. They are not all stymied by social expectations. Of course, this is not to say that we don’t still make unreasonable demands of grown (and growing) men. But boys today are working to defy such expectations. They are waiting longer to have sex. They are pursuing careers based not primarily on socioeconomic prospects but on passion. They are taking dance lessons. They’re wearing pink. They’re crying in front of their girlfriends and not feeling emasculated. They’re crying—Period.

Boys today are responding to the world around them in ways that reflect the cultural context in which they live.

These boys projected loneliness, confusion, resilience, and fear. As well as joy and hope. These boys expressed hope as they discussed future career prospects, artistic interests, college, girls. Boys were romantic. Boys were sensitive. They cared about their parents, their siblings, their friends.

No. Not all men are sensitive, artists, dancers, interior decorators, or romantics but I do believe we are all unique mixes of God’s creativity and not well-defined, one-note puppets. I am encouraged that we live in a day and age where men and boys who don’t match up with the ideals are being more bold, vulnerable, passionate and defying the cultural expectations and I love it.

With it all comes more confusion and a need for clarity from God’s Word on the issues of gender and masculinity. I believe wholeheartedly that Christ offers purpose and identity in a world of macho stereotypes and I can’t wait to get my book in the hands of the many men, boys, wives and parents who are searching for answers and in need of hope.


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