“To Raise a Boy is a clear-eyed and sometimes shocking view of the world that we have created for boys, and a call for change.” —Peg Tyre, author of the New York Times bestseller The Trouble with Boys
“A stunning work of investigative journalism that looks at the systems and structures that have failed our boys.” —Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her
A journalist’s searing investigation into how we teach boys to be men—and how we can do better.
How will I raise my son to be different? This question gripped Washington Post investigative reporter Emma Brown, who was at home nursing her six-week-old son when the #MeToo movement erupted. In search of an answer, Brown traveled around the country, through towns urban and rural, affluent and distressed. In the course of her reporting, she interviewed hundreds of people—educators, parents, coaches, researchers, men, and boys—to understand the challenges boys face and how to address them.
What Brown uncovered was shocking: 23 percent of boys believe men should use violence to get respect; 22 percent of an incoming college freshman class said they had already committed sexual violence; 58 percent of young adults said they’ve never had a conversation with their parents about respect and care in sexual relationships. Men are four times more likely than women to die by suicide. Nearly 4 million men experience sexual violence each year.
From the reporter who brought Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s story to light, To Raise a Boy combines assiduous reporting, cutting-edge scientific research, and boys’ powerful testimonials to expose the crisis in young men’s emotional and physical health. Emma Brown connects the dots between educators, researchers, policy makers, and mental health professionals in this tour de force that upends everything we thought we knew about boys.
Johns Hopkins chair of the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health Robert Blum says, “The story of boys has yet to be told, and I think it’s a really important story.” Urgent and revelatory, To Raise a Boy begins to tell that story.
"How will we raise our boys to be different?" asks journalist Brown in her deeply insightful take on how to give boys "what they need to build healthy relationships with themselves, with other boys and men, and with girls and women." In surveying how American boys are raised, Brown addresses sexual violence against them, which is often dismissed as bullying or hazing, and highlights the damage done by selling boys short as "violent, dirty, impolite, unfeeling, disengaged," while at the same time failing to afford them space to fail or seek help. Brown suggests that giving boys "space for conversations about masculinity, sex, consent, and porn" will help them deal properly with peer pressure, and calls on parents and teachers to offer nuanced guidance on consent, as "boys must hear the clear message that girls can like sex, too, and that a person a girl or a boy should be believed the first time they say no." The best path forward, Brown writes, is offering boys a broadened and positive model of masculinity: "One way parents can give their kids a willingness to buck gender norms is by bucking those norms themselves." Readers will leave this book inspired by Brown's vision.