I’m always looking for new books to read, so when my guy friend saw me reading Feminism at the Movies, he suggested that the next book I read be from a guy’s point of view to understand the male psyche. I acquiesced and found Michael Kimmel’s Guyland at the university library. I’ve been trying to understand what it means to be a boy, a guy, and a man the past few years after the ups and downs of personal relationships with these college guys who claim that they are men. After reading the text, I would say that the blame is not solely on the guy individual as much as the thoughts and culture of our collective society.
Guyland is a sort of terra incognita – it has yet to be properly defined. All we know is that this intangible territory and time period, a fourth dimension if you will, takes place somewhere in between ages 16 and 26. Guyland is inhabited by males who are not a boy and not yet a man. Guyland is a temporary vacation. It serves as a metaphorical hiding place for males to go when they need a break from their special lady friends.
How many times have you heard both males and females refer to each other as “guys”? Even in a room with all females, the average college-aged female will call her female counterparts “guys”. This is because the term “guys” has become a generic and widely accepted term for “persons”. Guys will be guys, whether or not they are boys or girls trying to join the big boys’ club. In Guyland, Kimmel explains that “boys being boys” should not be an excuse for inappropriate behavior. This phrase only serves to proliferate the need for an intimately crude male bond.
Nowadays, adolescence starts earlier and adulthood begins later. Kids feel the need to grow up faster, disillusioned by the lures of freedom and independence that adulthood brings, but as they attempt to transition into adulthood, are completely unprepared for the responsibilities that come with said adulthood and therefore continually delay adult accountability. The economy shift has led to a culture shift from production to consumption. Men are beginning to realize that they are feeling less like providers and protectors and more like ornamental consumers. They are experiencing society-wide emasculation. In that vein, guys feel a need to create a “Band of Brothers” more than ever to protect their fragile egos.
From the Alpha Female perspective, I urge boys, guys, and men to emulate the women in their levels. Women want to be on the same playing field as you, not above or below you. I desperately hope to see that these boys stuck in Guyland can become men by choosing admirable role models. Men do not have to be emotionless in order to be strong. They can be heart-centered leaders. If guys cannot find a role model that they wish to emulate, then they need to become their own role models. They must lead from within.