- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Reprint edition (October 13, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060831359
- ISBN-13: 978-0060831356
- Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men 1 Reprint Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
To a growing list of books about the myths and mysteries of American boys and young males, Kimmel, a sociologist and author of Manhood In America, adds this deft exploration grounded in research. Based on more than 400 interviews, over a four-year span, with young men ages 16–26, Kimmel's study shows that the guys who live in Guyland are mostly white, middle-class, totally confused and cannot commit to their relationships, work or lives. Although they seem baffled by the riddles of manhood and responsibility, they submit to the Guy Code, where locker-room behaviors, sexual conquests, bullying, violence and assuming a cocky jock pose can rule over the sacrifice and conformity of marriage and family. Obsessed with never wanting to grow up, this demographic, which is 22 million strong, craves video games, sports and depersonalized sexual relationships. In the end, Kimmel offers a highly practical guide to male youth. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“[A] deft exploration grounded in research....Kimmel offers a highly practical guide to male youth.” (Publishers Weekly)
“Engaging...provocative....The book raises important questions....A useful, highly readable overview of an important social phenomenon.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“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.” (Gloria Steinem)
“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)
“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 Girls Rachel 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)
“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)
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Top Customer Reviews
-- many interviews
-- interesting anecdotes from campus life
-- a rare book focusing on males and masculinity
-- Kimmel gives a disclaimer that the book talks only about a small percentage of young men
-- questionable methodology
-- despite the disclaimer, the book leads reader to believe that all young men follow the Guy Code
-- the book stresses negative aspects of masculinity, but it mentions no positive examples, except in a disclaimer and only in regard to ethnic and racial minorities
-- Kimmel robs women of agency and dismisses them despite a growing body of research indicating that women play an important role in establishing and propagating ideals of masculinity
-- the book does not hide its strong underlying feminist agenda: It is not an objective academic research
-- Kimmel needs a better editor: The book is full of unnecessary repetitions
I would not rely on this book as a comprehensive overview of young adult male culture. I would also be cautious to use it as an academic source. However, I see it as a useful example of the contemporary conversation about gender.
He continues in the first chapter, “Only when we begin to engage in these conversations, with open eyes and open hearts… can we both reduce the risks and enable guys to navigate it more successfully. This book is an attempt to map that terrain in order to enable guys… to steer a course with greater integrity and honesty, so they can be true not to some artificial code, but to themselves.” (Pg. 8) Later, he explains, “The book brings together psychological insights into these guys’ interior anguish and a sociological analysis of what larger social forces have brought them to this state.” (Pg. 22)
Of the “nearly 400” young men he interviewed, he comments, “In another era, these guys would undoubtedly be posed to take their place in the adult world, taking the first steps toward becoming the nation’s future professionals, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. They would be engaged to be married, thinking about settling down with a family, preparing for futures as civic leaders and Little League dads. Not today. Today, many of these young men… are more likely to feel anxious and uncertain. In college, they party hard but are soft on studying… After graduation, they drift aimlessly from one dead-end job to another, spend more time online playing video games and gambling than they do on dates… ‘hook up’ occasionally with a ‘friend with benefits,’ go out with their buddies, drink too much, and save too little… They watch a lot of sports. They have grandiose visions for their futures and not a clue how to get from here to there…” (Pg. 3)
He defines “Guyland: “the world in which young men live. It is both a stage of life… that can often stretch for a decade or more, and… a bunch of places where guys gather to be guys with each other… In this … mindset, young men shirk the responsibilities of adulthood and remain fixated on the trappings of boyhood…” (Pg. 4) He continues, “It’s the world of everyday ‘guys’… It has become a stage of life, a ‘demographic,’ that is now pretty much the norm… Guyland lies between the dependency and lack of autonomy of boyhood and the sacrifice and responsibility of manhood… It is a period of life that demands examination---and not just because of the appalling headlines that greet us on such a regular basis… it may be more urgent to examine the ubiquity of Guyland in the lives of almost everyone else.” (Pg. 6-7) He adds, “Just about every guy … knows that his ‘brothers’ are his real soul mates… To them he swears allegiance and will take their secrets to his grave.” (Pg. 13) He concludes, “Guyland rests on three distinct cultural dynamics: a culture of entitlement, a culture of silence, and a culture of protection.” (Pg. 59)
He outlines ‘The Guy Code’: “the collection of attitudes, values, and traits that together composes what it means to be a man. These are the rules that govern behavior in Guyland, the criteria that will be used to evaluate whether any particular guy measures up.” (Pg. 45) Later, he adds, “The Guy Code… demands a lot---that … young men shut down emotionally, that they suppress compassion, and inflate ambition. And it extracts compliance with coercion and fear. But it also promises so much as well. Part of what makes the Guy Code so seductive are the rewards guys think will be theirs if they only walk the line. If they embrace the Code, they will finally be in charge and feel powerful. And so, having dutifully subscribed, young men often feel cheated… when the rewards associated with power are not immediately forthcoming.” (Pg. 55)
He points out, “college is considered the last hurrah before the real demands of adulthood begin. Most know that when they graduate they’ll be expected to get jobs, support themselves, be responsible. A they see it, they’ve only got four more years of boyhood left, and they’re going to make the best of it. And perhaps this is why binge drinking is so attractive. It allows them to prove their manhood and hold only their boyhood all at the same time. All the freedom and none of the responsibility.” (Pg. 109)
He observes, “we need to ask some questions about what sports mean to us, to think about the place sports occupy in our lives… Once, of course, the entire public sphere was a man’s world. Today, everywhere you look---the corporate boardroom, the classroom, the military squad, the athletic field---there are women. Is it so surprising that guys today rely more on talking about sports, playing fantasy sports, and living and breathing sports 24/7? Sports talk has become the reconstituted clubhouse, the last ‘pure’ all-male space in America.” (Pg. 126-127)
He also cautions, “Guyland is seductive, easy, and suggests you never have to grow up... Why would he ever leave Neverland? But Guyland is also crippling young men, making it more difficult for them to negotiate real relationships with real women, or to commit to careers and family lives.” (Pg. 168)
He suggests, “Young women assume they will have both careers and families, and that they will be able to balance the two. Most plan to marry and have children, and they hope to have the flexibility and work/life options that will make it possible to continue their careers. And this is where things get complicated. Because in order to complete the project of becoming adults, they’d like to be able to count on the partnership of men. But given the cultural dynamics of Guyland, men their age are lagging far behind.” (Pg. 258)
He adds, “And feminism also dares to expect more from men. Feminism expects a man to be ethical, emotionally present, and accountable to his values in his actions with women---as well as with other men. Feminism loves men enough to expect them to act more honorably and actually believes them capable of doing so. Feminism is a vision that expects men to go from being ‘just GUYS,’ accepting whatever they might happen to do, to being JUST guys---capable of autonomy and authenticity, inspired by justice. That is, feminism believes that guys can become men.” (Pg. 264)
He concludes, “The only way to transform Guyland is to break the culture of silence that sustains the Guy Code. Guys do what they do in part because they believe they can get away with it, that other guys won’t say anything, and that the community will basically support them. And they’re right. Remember, the majority of guys are bystanders… It is also true that many guys anguish over their silence, recognizing it for the cowardly complicity that it really is. As a culture, we need to drive a wedge in between the perpetrators and the bystanders, severing the few from the many, and isolating their behavior. This wedge requires that some young men need to begin to challenge their peers, and this is risky.” (Pg. 280-281)
This is a highly informative, engagingly-written survey of the entire range (well, at least the particular subculture Kimmel is addressing) of Guyland, that will be of great interest anyone wanting to know more about modern males.
Honestly, this is not a book I'd read for fun, mostly because it is extremely depressing, but it is really interesting and contains many facts about the culture of young men and toxic masculinity. It is written from a sociologist's perspective, and all the information in the book comes from the many interviews Kimmel had with young men all over the country.
I'd recommend this books for anyone who enjoys sociology, or has found themselves troubled or confused by guy culture (moms of teenage boys, for instance).