- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; 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: 120 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men Reprint Edition
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“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)
“[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)
“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)
From the Back Cover
The passage from adolescence to adulthood was once clear. 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—a territory Michael Kimmel has identified as "Guyland."
In mapping the troubling social world where men are now made, Kimmel offers a view into the minds and times of America's sons, brothers, and boyfriends, and he 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, stay true to themselves, and emerge safely from Guyland as responsible and fully formed male adults.
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-- 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.
Guyland, by Dr. Michael Kimmel, offers a promise of such understanding, but does not deliver.
Reviewing books like Guyland is challenging because one has to not only analyze their claims, but also the context in which they are written in light of current cultural attitudes surrounding young men. We can and will quickly enter emotionally-loaded territory in the race element, so I will avoid the petulant bickering that is currently poisoning identity politics. Approaching this book with an open mind, as suggested by other reviews here on Amazon, does not mean that the science and data behind the book are above scrutiny.
Let's first do a quick overview of the thesis. According to Kimmel, young men aged 16 to 26 experience extended adolescence according to a debaucherous fraternity subculture. Kimmel speaks of this "Guyland" as if it is a territory, but the parallels go only as far as to say that Guyland is governed by a malevolent "Guy Code" that allegedly perpetuates hyper-masculine flavors of peer pressure and the Bystander Effect. Outside of that, Guyland has no observable borders or governance structure—although Kimmel appears to believe that both are present in the form of a nebulous social system. The text's message captures the imagination of concerned parents everywhere by saying that insecure, codependent or naive young men (and women) gravitate to Guyland in an attempt to "fit in" with the wrong "almost-men."
Kimmel defines collegiate masculinity almost entirely in terms of the frat boy, as opposed to the average student. Kimmel admits near the beginning that "most guys aren't bad, they just know bad guys," but apparently this minority of bad guys are still universally influential in everyone's adolescence. Again, Kimmel never draws borders for Guyland. This bizarre scope is never justified, yet I suspect Kimmel uses it because it fits with the popular and unhealthy notion that masculinity is predatory, privileged, entitled or hedonistic.
In many ways Kimmel appeals to the concerned parent in a way that for some reason reminds me of Jack Thompson. Kimmel suggests that video games, sports and radio, create "spaces" where men can retreat from women (pg. 127; 134; 143; 151; 161). and that women's beauty or independence either provokes men into violent retaliation (pg. 229) or strips them of any desire to grow up (pg. 31). These wild speculations are only easy to swallow because of Kimmel's ability to appear both concerned and open.
The book shows no evidence that the examples of corrupted masculinity cited therein are anything more than picked cherries designed to sell broader speculations. Also, nowhere in the book does Kimmel ask perfectly reasonable questions like "Do young men lash out because they feel misunderstood?", "Do young men withdraw because video games are easier that dealing with the pressures we unknowingly place on them?" or "Why do some young men confuse recklessness with adulthood?" Instead, Kimmel presumes on the character of young men in particular—women never face any constructive criticism at all—and spreads a new flavor of the tired meme that masculinity enforces gender roles and a power structure, all at the expense of women, minorities, children and the kind of man Kimmel imagines as worthy of designation as an adult. Does Kimmel ever give a nod of recognition to young men who take their studies seriously and compare their future social influence to that of Guyland? No. Apparently the future philanthropist playboy is no match for the Stifmeister-types in Kimmel's dystopian fantasy.
To be fair, Kimmel has decades of activity in his background regarding masculinity. However, unlike a scientist, Kimmel speculates, then seeks confirmation. He does not discuss many contraindicators to Guyland as a meme (such as women's social influence through the April 4th directive by the Department of Education--Please study that, it affects everyone), which suggests to me that Kimmel manufactured the context such that critics look wrong, even if they are not.
The powers of Guyland seem to change according to Kimmel's topic. How can a subculture of men be reckless enough to literally drink themselves to death, powerful enough to impose a way of life, and still weak enough to lose all of their influence when a man or woman decides they have nothing to prove to frat boys? The power structure makes no sense!
Kimmel haphazardly substantiates his meme with a heap of selected anecdotes and limited data sets begging for additional context. I cannot help but think that Kimmel's years of experience went to cherry-picking, but I suppose that won't hurt book sales so long as he beguiles the public with his trendy "social scientist" title.
Guyland is a meme that is now required reading in many masculinity studies courses, which, in my view, are not mature or stable enough in terms of peer-review to constitute quality science. Guyland is a product of an academic counter-culture that is only a few decades old, and so far I see little more than speculative texts of the same tone.
Given my experience in social activism and my readings in both epistemology and political science, Guyland is only a pertinent text without the necessary gravity to live beyond the ideological forces that merely wish it's truth into being. It is a beneficiary of the Woozle effect, given the major in-group bias evidence in the list of citations. I could go on, but I suggest to everyone here that they read Professing Feminism: Education and Indoctrination in Women's Studies (ISBN-10: 0739104551) to learn the methodology and biases behind books like Guyland.
I assume that you, the reader, want to understand men. Excellent! But if you read this book, do not think you have digested anything remotely representative of the adolescent male experience. This is a book that sells a message to people who already took a side. If you want to know young men, go get to know some without letting this book install a filter into your head that teaches you to ignore and disrespect the cool young men who have an amazing future.
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