From the Publisher: The successes of feminism have led to greater opportunities for girls, by challenging stifling stereotypes about femininity and broadening the understanding of what it means to be female. While boys have travelled alongside this transformation, narrow definitions of masculinity and manliness haven’t faced the same degree of scrutiny. Whether they’re being urged to “man up” or warned that “boys don’t cry,” young men are subjected to damaging messages about manliness: they must muzzle their emotions and never show weakness, dominate girls and compete with one another.
Boys: What It Means to Become a Man examines how these toxic rules can hinder boys’ emotional and social development. If girls can expand the borders of femaleness, could boys also be set free of limiting, damaging expectations about manhood and masculinity? Could what’s been labelled “the boy crisis” be the beginning of a revolution in how we raise young men?
Drawing on extensive research and interviews with educators, activists, parents, psychologists, sociologists, and young men, Giese–mother to a son herself–examines the myths of masculinity and the challenges facing boys today. She reports from boys-only sex education classes and recreational sports leagues; talks to parents of transgender children and plays video games with her son. She tells stories of boys navigating the transition into manhood and how the upheaval in cultural norms about sex, sexuality and the myths of masculinity have changed the coming of age process for today’s boys. With lively reportage and clear-eyed analysis, Giese reveals that the movement for gender equality has the potential to liberate us all.
“Giese is highly successful at applying ideas that might otherwise feel academic or abstract. Through a combination of original reportage, personal experience, and scholarly research, Giese makes a strong case. She argues, for instance, that no child is biologically drawn to a truck versus a doll; after she leads you through the maze of gender-reveal baby showers to expose a toy industry driven to make “boy” and “girl” versions of everything in order to increase sales, it’s very hard to disagree.” –Quill & Quire
“Deeply researched, but also deeply considered, Boys is something quite rare in the pages of non-fiction, a page-turner. This is a must read for everyone who loves boys.” –
Tabatha Southey, writer and columnist
“These are not good times to be or raise a boy. The toxic expectations of traditional masculinity block and distort healthy, humane development and communications, while many social institutions seem to go out of their way to help girls get ahead, not boys. But in this compassionately written, carefully researched book, covering school, sports, sex, gaming and the complexities of gender, Rachel Giese presents a critical but ultimately encouraging view of the possibilities for affirming change. It’s both hopeful and helpful.” – Bruce Kidd, Professor, Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto
“Boys is a multifaceted exploration of masculinity by one of Canada’s most talented journalists. Rachel Giese’s vision of boyhood — and therefore manhood —is an enlarging, humane one. This is a beautifully reasoned work that should be required reading for anyone interested in detoxifying masculinity.” Michael Redhill, author of Giller-winning novel Bellevue Square
“A broad, readable take on the limits of modern-day masculinity, and how to push its boundaries to better serve our children and ourselves. It’s full of love but unsentimental, with new tidbits for scholars of gender, race and identify, and valuable insight for parents of little boys, like me.” – Denise Balkissoon, columnist, The Globe and Mail
“If ‘the future is female’ where does that leave our boys? Rachel Geise brings her talents as a journalist, a refreshing lack of jargon and her insights as a mother of a charming, ADHD, hockey-loving son to this urgently important matter— of how to raise stronger, kinder boys. As we say ‘enough’ to the very worst of male behavior – gun violence and sexual assault – we need to imagine and invest in the best of it as well. This book about re-inventing the culture of masculinity could not be more timely or wise.” – Marni Jackson, author of The Mother Zone and Home Free: The Myth of the Empty Nest
“With Boys, Rachel Giese shows that there is indeed a ‘boy crisis,’ but it’s not the one we keep hearing about, and it’s a crisis whose solutions lie in expanding the limits of boyhood and manhood to enable boys and men to be true to themselves and reach their full potential. I loved this book, such an absorbing and inspiring read, and it left me with hope and admiration for today’s boys—and the men they’re on their way to becoming.” – Kerry Clare, author of Mitzi Bytes