First, the title is inspired by the book Guyland by Dr. Michael Kimmel, a sociological discussion of masculinity in contemporary America and the complexity of being a young man. Undoubtedly, I’ll summarize and discuss the book more thoroughly in a later post.
Second, everyone is familiar with the “guy code”: Man Up. Boys don’t cry. Bros before hos. Nice guys finish last. The thing is, I don’t abide by it. I don’t want to abide by it. The guy code makes no sense. Sure, sometimes I act the part and follow these rules, but are they really the life guidelines that comprise manhood? No. Are they what I would teach or expect of my sons (if I have any), on par with the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments? Certainly not. I’m sorry, but I will befriend women, including those I wouldn’t sleep with, and view them as equals. Sports are fun to watch on occasion, but they are not important. In my view, violence is unacceptable. Unless my life or someone else’s is threatened, I’d walk away from a fight. The pressure to prove yourself and fit in is ubiquitous, and at the same time, it is pointless in a universal sense. It is far more important to do the right thing, to be a decent human being, than to “be a man” and fulfill an arbitrary gender role.
I cannot help but feel like an outsider in “Guyland” — Kimmel’s term of art for the culture of teenage and twenty-something men. Most of my friends since childhood have been girls or women; in fact I’m happily married to my best friend. Even so, this culture should be discussed more critically. To be blunt, why do men do such stupid, eff-ed up things, and what can be done about it? The “guy code” seems to be an elephant in the room of society whenever I read news reports of rape on college campuses, domestic violence incidents, disgusting hazing practices, school bullying, and numerous other activities ranging from poor judgment to sociopathic crime.
So, I think I’ll blog because I’m passionate about this topic, and also because I’ve been out of school for four years now and could use some intellectual and creative stimulation beyond my work in government bureaucracy and watching six nightly reruns of Family Guy. It is my hope to meet some like-minded folks, men and women, who feel alienated or offended by the crude behavior and the oppressive rules of “acceptable” manly behavior. It is also my hope to discuss, with a measure of humility, humor and respect, what should be done to change it.