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Jonathan A. Allan

Crises of masculinity and wars on boys often deploy the suicides of young males as a rhetorical strategy in raising awareness for a political cause, that is to say a declaration of war, a war that remains dubious at best. Who, for instance, declared “war” on “boys”? This paper argues that theorists of gender, particularly masculinity, must think carefully and critically about suicide as a rhetorical strategy. In particular, this paper seeks to explain why men’s rights activists and scholars prefer the term “boys” to “young men” or “adolescents,” and subsequently aims to work through ideas of temporality, futurity, and slow death to understand the deployment of suicide as strategy.

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Introduction

Schools, Masculinity and Boyness in the War Against Boys

Chris Haywood, Máirtín Mac an Ghaill and Jonathan A. Allan

The re-publication of Christine Hoff Sommers’s book on the War Against Boys (2000, 2013) continues to feed into a widely circulating premise that feminist inspired pedagogical strategies are having a detrimental effect on boys’ experience of education. It resonates with a UK newspaper article whose author asked: “Why do women teachers like me treat being a boy as an illness?” (Child 2010). In the late 1990s, Sara Delamont had already highlighted how the media targeted feminists for the failure of boys, where “school and classroom regimes … favour females and feminine values; a lack of academic/scholarly male role models for boys, a bias in favour of feminism in curricula, a lack of toughness in discipline, and a rejection of competition in academic or sporting matters” (1999: 14).