The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
By Michael Kimmel
Harper, Hardcover, 9780060831349, 352pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2008
List Price: $25.99*
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Why do so many guys seem stuck between adolescence and adulthood? Why do so many of them fail to launch? Just what is going on with America's young men?
The passage from adolescence to adulthood was once clear, coherent, and relatively secure: in their late teenage years and early twenties, guys "put away childish things" and entered their futures as responsible adults. Today growing up has become more complex and confusing as young men drift casually through college and beyond—hanging out, partying, playing with tech toys, watching sports. But beneath the appearance of a simple extended boyhood, a more dangerous social world has developed, far away from the traditional signposts and cultural signals that once helped boys navigate their way to manhood.
The average young American man today is moving through a new stage of development, a buddy culture unfazed by the demands of parents, girlfriends, jobs, kids, and other nuisances of adult life. Sociologist and gender studies authority Michael Kimmel has identified this territory as "Guyland," a place that is both a stage of life and a new social arena.
Guyland is the locker room writ large: the world where young men both test and prove themselves as men and develop the defining attitudes and self-images they will carry into adulthood. Kimmel has interviewed hundreds of young men ages sixteen to twenty-six in high schools and college fraternity houses, military academies and sports bars, to better understand Guyland's rules and restrictions, its layers of peer pressure and gender policing, its features and artifacts—from the ordinary (video games, sports, and music) to the extreme (violent fraternity initiations, sexual predation).
In mapping the social world where tomorrow's men are made, Kimmel offers a view into the minds and times of America's sons, brothers, and boyfriends, and works toward redefining what it means to be a man today—and tomorrow. Only by understanding this world and this life stage can we enable young men to chart their own paths, to stay true to themselves, and to travel safely through Guyland, emerging as responsible and fully formed men of integrity and honor.
A leading scholar in the field of gender studies, Michael Kimmel is author or editor of more than twenty volumes on the subject, including the groundbreaking Manhood in America. A professor of sociology, he teaches at State University of New York, Stony Brook, and lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.
“For anyone who has ever longed to know what’s really going on in a young man’s life, rejoice: Guyland is a compassionate, unflinching dispatch from deep in the heart of young masculinity. Required reading for people who raise, teach, and love guys.”
-Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in GirlsRachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls
“Every parent who is about to write a check for college tuition should read this book first and discuss it with his or her son...and daughter.”
-Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
“Michael Kimmel’s Guyland could save the humanity of many young men-and the sanity of their friends and parents-by explaining the forces behind a newly extended adolesence. With accuracy and empathy, he names the problem and offers compassionate bridges to adulthood.”
“[A] deft exploration grounded in research....Kimmel offers a highly practical guide to male youth.”
“Engaging...provocative....The book raises important questions....A useful, highly readable overview of an important social phenomenon.”
“Guyland takes up where Real Boys left off...a must-read for parents, teachers, coaches, young women who are so confused by the guys in their midst-and for guys themselves who yearn to break free of unwritten rules that leave them half a man, rather than a whole person.”
-William Pollack, author of Real Boys
“Just as Reviving Ophelia introduced readers to the culture of teenage girls, Guyland takes us to the land of young men.”
-Mary Pipher, Ph.D., author of Reviving Ophelia
“An absolute bombshell of a book. A disturbing, but mandatory wake-up call for all of us who are boys, love boys or raise boys.”
-Madeline Levine, Ph.D., author of The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage are Creating a Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids
Kimmel calls on us all to see the boy in the pseudo-man, to break the silence with which we surround them, and do what it takes to help them grow into real men.”
-Arlie Hochschild, author of The Second Shift, The Time Bind, and The Commercialization of Intimate Life