Lecture addresses the impact of society on male development

By Ingrid Holmquist on February 26th, 2012

The transition from boyhood to manhood has become less black and white and more gray with a newfound study of the gap between a male's 20s and 30s, known as "Guyland".

The talk, "Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men," presented by Michael Kimmel, researcher of men and masculinity, is an event hosted in the City Union by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Women's and Gender Studies Program and the UNL Women's Center on Thursday. "Guyland," as Kimmel calls it, is the developmental stage between being a boy and a man.

"It's a lecture in which I'm going to talk about issues on the minds of young people," said Kimmel. "The talk is about sexuality, relationships (and) proving manhood."

Kimmel said gender and gender roles are changing enormously. Women are more prone to having full-time jobs and being committed to careers. They have the ability to balance careers and family in ways that were unprecedented in the past.

Kimmel links the new mindset women have to the changing development of men.

After writing a book about his research, he transformed his findings into an entertaining lecture. He focuses on raising awareness of the new stage of development that males go through.

Jan Deeds, director of the UNL Women's Center, said Kimmel's findings are extremely relevant to college students and will bring to light many of the issues that men face regarding "Guyland".

Deeds described "Guyland," saying, "In the past, adolescence lasted until you were 20 or 22. You then went out to get a job and become an adult man. Now there's this sort of area where you're not a man, not a boy, but a guy."

Kimmel mentions the rush to become a man is no longer pressing. He said when men live to their 90s, they figure, "What's the rush?" He said male development is different now that young men do not feel pressured to commit to careers and relationships.

Kimmel will talk about the positives and negatives to "Guyland." He does not refer to "Guyland" as a bad place to be, but rather a state that needs to be discussed.

Many males in "Guyland" may feel pressures from other members of "Guyland" to prove their masculinity.

"There are some codes for what guys do," said Deeds. "Being a man seems to be a negative thing because then you're responsible, boring and you have to go out and get a job that you go to everyday. But if you're a guy, even if you have a job, your main focus is going out and picking up women and drinking a lot."

Both Kimmel and Deeds agree older men have failed at educating and mentoring boys about becoming men.

Deeds said one premise of Kimmel's speech is about how "Guyland" is often not as satisfying for some college men because of the constant need to follow the rules or stereotypes of "Guyland".

"In order to be a man in ‘Guyland,' you're supposed to be tough, show no emotion, drink like a fish, have sex with lots of women and not have it mean anything," said Deeds. "Unfortunately, all of those things set you up to feel isolated, lonely and depressed because the actions aren't really causing you pleasure. It's all momentary."

The men in "Guyland" simply do things because they have the preconceived notion that "this is what men do."

The lecture will be relevant for women as well. It's important for them to learn about it because, while they may not live in "Guyland," women are frequently invited to visit, said Deeds.

"We're limited by ‘Guyland's' rules," said Deeds. "You're either a babe who participates in drinking like a fish and is fine with having meaningless sexual encounters, or you're a bitch because you don't want to be a part of that."

According to Deeds, Kimmel is not criticizing the males in "Guyland." In fact he thinks that the developmental stage is largely positive, he simply wants to educate about the changes in perceptions of masculinity and men.

"I don't think we need to be concerned that young people aren't committing to careers and family life," said Kimmel. "I think it's positive. There are problems of course, but that's natural in a stage of development."

Kimmel and Deeds said the lecture is not only extremely relevant and informative, but will also be entertaining because of the comical light in which he displays his findings.

ingridholmquist@dailynebraskan.com

 

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