Sunday, October 19, 2008


Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men (Michael Kimmel, 2008) is a depressing book. Kimmel's theory is that our culture has added a new stage between adolescence and adulthood, especially for young men--"Guyland," roughly the ages between 16 and 26. And that stage is pretty messed up. While acknowledging that not every guy fits the mold and that most don't go to the worst extremes, Kimmel paints a depressing picture of binge drinking, hazing hell, misogynistic porn, dysfunctional relationships with women, and post-collegiate aimlessness.

Mostly this book made me feel glad I (and my male friends) are well past this stage, and that I spent my college years in a different subculture where my only interaction with Guyland guys was occasionally having to walk by the frat houses where the brothers sat on the porch and called out 1-10 ratings or speculated on your sexual orientation. And, it also made me apprehensive when I think of my daughter being a teenager in less than a decade.

But the funny thing is it also made me feel a bit sorry for the guys, insofar as we as a culture have let them down--it doesn't make me forgive the misogyny, not even a bitty bit, but I can relate to feeling like the American Dream is slipping away from your generation and to knowing you want more from life but being totally clueless and therefore aimless about how to get there.

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