Reference these key facts as needed to support discussions throughout this lesson.

In the United States, men represent:

  • 80% of arrests for violent crime
  • 98.9% of arrests for forcible rape
  • 97% of all mass shootings
  • 3.5x higher suicide rate than women

Western culture defines specific characteristics to fit the patriarchal ideal masculine construct. The socialization of masculine ideals starts at a young age and defines ideal masculinity as related to toughness, stoicism, heterosexism, self-sufficient attitudes and lack of emotional sensitivity and of connectedness.

Boys learn to be men from the men in their lives, from their own experiences navigating our social norms, and from the large social and cultural context. Boys live under intensified pressure to display gender-appropriate behaviors according to the ideal male code. (

Video #3:

Boys who are close to their mothers perform better in school. Mothers often nurture emotional intelligence in their sons, teaching them to recognize and express their own feelings and to be more attuned to the feelings of others. These boys not only become more articulate, which helps them with reading and writing skills, but also have better self-control in the classroom.

A close mother-son relationship is beneficial to a boy’s mental health. A study presented at the American Psychological Association showed that boys who are close to their mothers tend not to buy into hyper-masculine stereotypes. They don’t believe, for instance, that you have to always act tough, go it alone, or fight to prove your manhood every time you are challenged. These boys remained more emotionally open. Not only did they have better friendships, but also less anxiety and depression than their peers without a strong relationship with a female caregiver. (

Back to top