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Let our boys be boys, says Tamihere

John Tamihere has again defended boys’ rights to be boys.

The Youth Affairs minister has attacked the media’s portrayal of boys as “problems” and society’s failure to recognise their differences.

He told the New Zealand Family Daycare Association conference in Rotorua last night: “We are told their behaviour needs to be controlled, managed or handled. It’s as if boys are ticking time bombs – it won’t be long before their latent criminal behaviour is unleashed on the unsuspecting public, or the testosterone surging through their bodies renders them incapable of any rational thought.”

Tamihere – whose “red-blooded Kiwi men” speech was seen as a ploy to win back the bloke vote – said that not recognising boys’ differences from girls’ came at a cost when boys were under-performing in educational areas.

“I want to make one thing clear – boys are not the problem. It’s time to stop blaming them.” He said most boys and young men could “deal with their hormones”.

“As a society, it’s time to show our boys we are proud of them and who they are. Let’s drop the blame mentality of the past. Let’s focus on their potential.

“For so long we have been blaming our young men – yet it is our behaviour they are reproducing.”

Following on from his red-blooded bloke speech when he attacked political correctness, saying heterosexual men needed to re-assert themselves, Tamihere reiterated the need for positive male role models.

“In a boy’s life, their father is often the most significant figure. Yet for many boys today, finding a male to look up to and seek guidance from is not an easy task.”

Tamihere said one in three boys lived apart from their fathers. A mere 18 per cent of primary teachers were men. The minister has long been a defender of men’s rights to be men. Last September he told the Sunday Star-Times that blokes shouldn’t be afraid to leave the toilet seat up or have a beer with mates at the pub.

He said too much suspicion was cast over men in matters such as marriage break-ups, child custody rights and allegations of impropriety.

“Basically, I’m sick of men having to apologise for having a penis,” he said last year. “Look at what goes on in the family court, that is a system that always presumes the man is guilty.”