Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men
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Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  809 ratings  ·  135 reviews
Why do so many guys seem stuck between adolescence and adulthood? Why do so many of them fail to launch? Just what is going on with America's young men?

The passage from adolescence to adulthood was once clear, coherent, and relatively secure: in their late teenage years and early twenties, guys "put away childish things" and entered their futures as responsible adults. Tod...more
Hardcover, 332 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Harper
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Tiny Pants
I don't want to out and out trash this book, because there are glimmers of brilliance in it. Unfortunately, most of those insights last all of a paragraph, and then we're back with the meat of the book, which I would describe most uncharitably as: A rehash of arguments from Manhood in America and The Gendered Society dumbed-down and cuted-up to a "this'd better get me on the Today Show level." Sorry, but no one is going to start calling a life stage "Guyland," no matter how many times you diss J...more
Elevate Difference
Guyland is less of a place than an attitude, a realm of existence. Occupied by young, single, white men, its main demographic is middle class kids who are college-bound, college co-eds, or recent graduates in the United States. They live in communal housing with fraternity brothers or other recent grads. They work entry-level jobs but act aimless. They have plenty of time to party like they did in college and subsist on pizza, beer, and a visual diet of cartoons, sports, and porn. They hook up w...more
James
I wanted to give this 5 stars but ultimately did not because his case studies and examples are a little too narrow. He makes a good case using statistics that the culture of fraternities filled with white men is overwhelmingly toxic on many college campuses. He then asserts that similar problems exist with other white men of the same age who didn't go to college but provides little evidence for it. So I really liked what he says, and it rings true to me from my own experience, but I think the ev...more
Katie
Couldn't finish this. It's an important topic, but this treatment is marred by a far too narrow focus (upper middle class spoiled white boys) and Kimmel's completely obnoxious writing style. The whole thing could boil easily down to "stop raising your kids like they are owed the world, elite people!" but Kimmel is quick to exculpate individuals ("this isn't about bad parenting!" he says regarding boys who...rape and assault; "these aren't a bunch of raving psychotics!" he assures us regarding bo...more
Denis
Feb 10, 2010 Denis rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
Being the demographic about whom Kimmel is writing (except not heterosexual), I felt I needed to read this. Feeling the listlessness and aimlessness he ascribes to males 16-26 who graduate college fit me quite well.

Unfortunately, I did not connect to the text as I thought, as being gay, this was a world I did not live in, and being a feminist already, many of the arguments were ones I'd read elsewhere, for a different audience, and with different intents.

The style with which Kimmel writes about...more
Nicola
The traditional markers of reaching manhood have long ago been eroded: most males are in their late-twenties/early-thirties before they have a “real” job, a marriage, kids or their own home. Michael Kimmel examines the wasteland that exists after adolescence, where males are not men, just “guys”.

These 18-25-year-old guys tend to be overeducated but underemployed, with a sense of entitlement that does not align with the privilege that they don’t receive. “Hooking up” with girls is just another sp...more
l
I read that this book was like a male version of "Reviving Ophelia", and it was not, which was disappointing. Kimmel sort of writes about guyland as if he has never met a guy before in his life? Maybe he just treats the subject too sociolog-ey. "Watch as the interesting creatures submit to the barbaric ritual they refer to as 'POWER. HOUR.'" (I'm paraphrasing.) Or maybe it's because I went to a frat heavy college, so I wasn't surprised to hear about POWER. HOUR and KEG. STANDS. And since I'm a g...more
Jack Donovan
In Guyland, Kimmel describes and analyzes young American males with all the civilized horror of an eighteenth century missionary reporting on the customs and activities of naked heathen cannibals. These savages, born innocent and full of childish wonder, learn early to fear the scorn of their male peers and become so desperate for male approval that they will engage in bizarre and often criminal behavior. Enter “Guyland,” a human terrain inhabited by young men that Kimmel maps only by the most e...more
Zach
Guyland is an observation of the "macho" culture that pervades high school and college. It's written in a very anecdotal voice, which is accessible, though it leads Kimmel to paint in sometimes too-broad strokes. The book's message is one of male privilege and power, how that power perpetuates itself, and the fact that many males are uncomfortable with such, even though they perform such actions because it's how they "should" be.

For me, this book put into words everything I found so disgusting a...more
Emily
Apr 14, 2009 Emily rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those with sons, grandsons, nephews--anyone with young men in their influence
Recommended to Emily by: Al Ricci
Quite a fascinating book! I actually started reading this book in October and it so intrigued me that I got my hands on my own copy and finished it. Kimmel explores the culture and stage-of-life that he calls "Guyland." It's essentially that limbo of irresponsibility that many 16-30 year old men seem to be stuck in these days. The lifestyle includes lots of video games, hooking up, binge-drinking, group pornography viewing, purposely working dead-end jobs in order to maintain a party lifestyle,...more
Mike
Nov 02, 2008 Mike rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Parents, or those interested in our future.
I suppose most perceptive people of really all generations can tell you that kids aren't the same today that they were years ago. Whether or not there's disgust, jealousy or a disapproving head shake probably depends upon what generation you find yourself. Then again, every generation can and will say that about the ones that follow.

To say that there are men today in their twenties and thirties who refuse to grow up is indeed an understatement. But then again, you might not see it as such depend...more
Liz (Consumed by Books)
This was another book that I read for my intro to women's and gender studies class and on the whole, I really enjoyed it. This book is all about the world that white, upper-middle class American boys grow up in. I think that this is a particularly important book for college students and parents.

Kimmel's writing is not overly dense, but he definitely still sounds intelligent and this book is still very well researched on the whole. It's hard to write a review of this book, because it's a book one...more
Jeanne
I certainly hope that Kimmel selected some atypical, alarmist types of examples or I am not sending my son to college! I realize that many of these things do happen, but my husband was in college sports and a fraternity and I was in a sorority myself and we were not exposed to such examples in our college experiences. This is all concerning, but I hope it is the exception, more likely to happen at large schools rather than a widespread epidemic.

As to the substance of this book for nonfiction rea...more
Chris
I haven't read Kimmel's other works, so I don't know if the reviews that state this is somewhat a rehash are correct.

That said the best review I can give is - Well, it explains much. I will also point out that this review says it best.
Anita
An excellent study of what it is to be a guy today! As a woman, I found it really intriguing: the author explains a lot about how masculinity is constructed and how men are forced by their male peers to conform to the "guy code." I've seen these behaviors, but the explanations were new to me; it was great to be enlightened about some of the more perplexing male behaviors I've observed. This study also explains why it is so hard to change the dynamics that create the more destructive elements of...more
Adena
This was an interesting look at how in our society, boys stay boys for much longer than is healthy, and how their rituals and group behaviors are detrimental to true manhood and society. Very interesting.
Amy Raby
Though I have some reservations--it's not as rigorous as I'd like, and there are issues with the writing--this is worth reading, especially for parents of teenage boys and for feminists who are trying to understand where some of the puzzling misogyny we see among young men is coming from.

This book focuses on the culture of young boys/men from ages 16 to 25, especially white men at universities. There are chapters on sports (watching and playing), video games, hooking up, hazing, binge drinking,...more
Andrea
Not really what I expected. I felt like the author was using data from the past to explain men-children in the present. As if every guy subscribes to frat-boy culture, and those who don't are beat up. I don't think this is necessary correct.
In fact I know many decent guys who don't fit into that culture at all, and they are still stuck in the place between adolesence and adulthood. There were a few insights into these fellas, but for the most part the book focused on frat-culture. Not really wha...more
Teresa
I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did. It was thoroughly engrossing and vastly interesting! On the back there is a blurb from Madeline Levine, Ph.D that says; "A disturbing but mandatory wake-up call for all of us who are boys, love boys or raise boys." Which I think is absolutely true. There isn't a lot in it that I would claim to be 'news' per say but Kimmel's writing is accessible, emphatic and clear. He spells out what may be mumbled about in conversations and public spheres and...more
Angela
I thought this book presented a necessary look at masculinity and male developmental culture. He uses extreme examples in some cases and it was sometimes not a pleasure to read because it was so explicit. It definitely made me more sensitive to these behaviors of male entitlement and acting out when men feel like they are failing or when they aren't getting what they feel the world owes them. It helped me open the door to have honest conversations with the men and boys around me about things tha...more
Laura Avellaneda-Cruz
I appreciated this book and appreciated Kimmel for writing it: It reminded me of many of the dynamics I have observed or studied in other contexts, reminded me of my passion for working to change normative masculinity, and it provided detailed insight into Guyland in a way I would never have access (both because I am a woman and because I have not interviewed as many men as he has)--from the gritty details of bullying and fraternity hazing rituals and party rapes to the deep insecurities and fea...more
A.J.
I’m all over the place about this book. I learned some things, but overall it lacked focus and many of the quotes seemed contrived.

I thought the intro was all over the map and the promotional quotes on the back didn’t really describe the content of the book. As for the chapters, the author brings up important topics which are for the most part well organized. But as soon as he gets on a subject he throws out an extreme quote to back up what he’s saying and then uses sweeping generalizations to w...more
David
Just finished reading this book. if you have a teenage son, or a teenage daughter who is around teenage boys, you want to read it. it is a disturbing but enlightening look at what our culture has done to "growing up" as a young man. One review says it better than me:

"This is a shocking look into the world of young men from 16 to 24. The book is a interesting read because of the uncertainty of masculinity during those years. There is a constant fight to be accepted and manly during those years wh...more
Sophia
Guyland is an interesting and thought-provoking book. Sociologist Michael Kimmel charts Guyland as both a now-extended life stage between adolescence and adulthood and a social arena with its own set of rules and cultural imperatives. Young men, roughly between ages 16 and 26, are now spending more years living in a buddy culture with its "boys will be boys" behaviors (playing video games and sports, boozing, and hooking up)—and emerging less equipped for adult living. An unwritten Guy Code prom...more
Jessica
I liked this book quite a lot. I think it is both useful and necessary. In light of that, I think that it could have been better than it was. It could have stretched itself.

There were also some things that I found to be problematic. For example, Kimmel asserts that all girls' hazing serves to uphold the male hierarchy, with the implication that it all involves such things as performing mock fellatio on a boy while ignoring the fact that girls have their own separate Girlland as much as guys hav...more
Kat Kent
Living with an adopted dad, a mom who had three brothers, my twin brother and most of my close friends being guys as well as dating a guy; guyland gave me a glimpse into the inner workings of the mental thoughts and emotions of the adolescent-and-beyond guys that i seem to experience so much in the world around me today. While some chapters do make me scared a bit for college, despite not admitting so to those around me, i know im happier to have read it and become aware of the realities of guyl...more
Katherine
OK, i agree that this is predominately a "sociology for the masses" book, along the lines of "pledged." nothing wrong with that at all, except for the fact that this study gives us over 250 pages of really disturbing and frankly just sad data and then provides a disproportionate seven pages of "what we can do to help our men." i recognize that this is not a behavioral workbook or a self-help book, but still, after reading so much disheartening and upsetting material, i'd like to have at least a...more
Carol
The book cover says "must reading for parents whose sons are about to start college." So now I've read it and I don't feel particularly empowered as I send my son off to school next fall. There are surely enough stories to make a parent consider a local university with room and board at home. However, I don't believe all young men are truly as alcohol soaked, sex crazy, and video game addicted as the author portrays. I would have liked to see more positive examples of guys who broke the mold and...more
Scot
This is a quick read sociology-for-the-masses overview of male bonding culture in the current extended period of adolescence (roughly, from around age 14/15 through 26--and into later years for those who are caught in what was earlier called "the Peter Pan Syndrome." No startling insights here, though some useful points are made, including how much of the self-definition in this social framework comes from constantly re-establishing oneself as macho, as not a wimp. (wimp = gay, as in "that's so...more
Tyler
Oct 17, 2010 Tyler rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Middle Class Conservative Parents
Shelves: non-fiction
Guyland implies a discussion of American males ages 16-26 or 27, but the book is actually much more narrowly focused. Its main concern is the subset of that group we think of as frat boys. It has little to add on the subject, so I wasn't as impressed as the reviews led me to expect.

Some surprises do emerge from this focus on white, middle class college fraternity males. First was the extent of their susceptibility to conformity and groupthink, and second, the depth of out-and-out rage inculcated...more
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MMKC Book Review 1 12 Jan 27, 2010 10:11AM  
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Michael Scott Kimmel is an American sociologist, specializing in gender studies. He is among the leading researchers and writers on men and masculinity in the world today. The author or editor of more than twenty volumes, his books include The Politics of Manhood, and The History of Men (2005).

His documentary history, "Against the Tide: Pro-Feminist Men in the United States, 1776-1990" (Beacon, 19...more
More about Michael S. Kimmel...
Manhood in America: A Cultural History Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era The Gendered Society Reader Men's Lives Privilege: A Reader

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