Nobody’s arguing that it’s easy to be a teenage girl. That’s a stance that’s doomed to fail—there are enormous double standards in society that haunt girls every day, and they can’t be ignored.
But to unequivocally claim that “girls have it harder in high school” neglects some of the double standards that teenage boys have to deal with.
The first: aggressiveness versus respect. Guys are expected to be the aggressor in most social situations—that is, they’re the ones asking girls to dances and on dates, and even more subtly, they’re the ones driving and opening doors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because most guys take it in stride and enjoy being chivalrous, but the problems arise when the dichotomy between aggressiveness and respect shows its head.
Society is, I’d argue, hyper-aware of disrespectful men, and it’s expected that “gentlemen,” the boys that girls want to keep around, are impeccably polite in everything they say and do. But for many guys, it’s sometimes hard to reconcile the notions of being deferential and being “forward.” Call a girl “hot” and you’ll get an enormous backlash with accusations of objectifying women, but call a girl “pretty” and it’ll get taken as a passing compliment, something the girl’s mother would say. It’s hard to find a happy medium, and the consequences on either side of that medium are not to be taken lightly.
And the second double standard: masculinity versus intellectualism. From a very young age, boys are taught that being male means neglecting things that aren’t “manly.” Now, I’m not going to go so far as to say that boys are taught to pick up sports at the expense of school. Rather, it’s that boys aren’t taught to flaunt their academic successes—show off that soccer trophy, but keep the Science Olympiad medal to yourself. And, however small, little inequities like that do subconsciously discourage boys from academic pursuits.
And here’s the kicker—society at large expects men to be the breadwinners, which wouldn’t be so bad if it hadn’t spent the adolescent’s formative years discouraging them from intellectual pursuits! In our day and age, landing a high-paying job more often than not requires a college degree. Are we setting teenage boys up to be successful in a world where intellect counts extremely heavily?
Again, I don’t want to belittle the problems that girls face, because I completely buy their arguments. But let’s not make this a one-sided discussion.