In Guyland, Michael Kimmel chronicles the journey of young males and the issues they face while trying to exert their masculinity and prove themselves to their peers. Based on interactions among North American males between the ages of 16 and 26, Kimmel has found that at an age where young men had previously prepped for a life of work and committed relationships, they are now living in “Guyland” where they spend their time drinking, playing video games, and having immature relations with women. Kimmel explains that these young men are “frighteningly dependent on peer culture” and “desperate to prove their masculinity in the eyes of other boys.” (30) These young men live in constant fear that they will not measure up to the ideals of masculinity, which are wealth, power, status, strength, and physicality.
Kimmel explains that “homophobia—the fear that people might misperceive you as gay—is the animating fear of American guys’ masculinity.” (50) These young boys obsess over coming across as a “man’s man” and fear that failure to conform will lead them to lose their friends and become ostracized. These young men are forced to suppress their emotions and wear a “mask of masculinity” to disguise their feelings (53). Masculinity is something that these young men need to prove on a daily basis, and frequently, they take enormous risks to demonstrate their manliness. They engage in binge drinking, hazing, hazardous driving, and hang out in dangerous places. “Safety is emasculating,” and the pressures to engage in these dangerous behaviors are becoming higher and higher (51).
In Guyland, Kimmel discusses the cultures of entitlement, silence, and protection. Today, many young men have a “shockingly strong sense of male superiority and a diminished capacity for empathy.” (59) When guys subscribe to what Kimmel calls “Guy Code,” they are rewarded with this newfound sense of entitlement. Kimmel gives the example of white men in their late twenties and early...
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