Michael Kimmel brings ‘Guyland’ to campus

Joanna Harlow
Online Editor


Dr. Michael Kimmel spoke on Wed. night about his book “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men.”

LHU students Diosanny Rivera, Meghan Mausteller and Felicia Baker asked the author to give a lecture after attending the PASSHE Undergraduate Women’s Leadership Institute. Kimmel is a researcher and writer who studies the issue of excessive or toxic masculinity in our modern world. The book navigates the world surrounding young men in our society. Kimmel considers himself a “pro-feminist man” and his work is as much about violations to women’s rights as it is about the culture of masculinity.

His research centers on the origins of attitudes detrimental to women’s rights and our society as a whole. In his lecture, Kimmel focussed on “frat-culture,” and “hook-up culture,” which foster sexist attitudes on college campuses. Kimmel described his journalistic research into these cultures and the young men and women he met.

Kimmel found that while the rituals involved in “frat-culture” did not always affect women directly, but they did promote hierarchical thinking which inevitably leads to abuse. The “orgasm gap,” a tongue in cheek concept for many, was exposed by Kimmel as another example of the problems with the male culture on college campuses, where women view sex as a sort of duty to boys who feel entitled to it and use women to climb a social ladder which includes only other males.  Kimmel said that he is not an opponent of fraternities and would not like to see them abolished from college campuses. The problem, he says, lies deeper in our culture.

kimmel-michael-72The way in which children are raised and socialized into an unhealthy masculine culture was also discussed. Kimmel described the change in the family model since the Victorian era and the way that masculine ideology has evolved. His buzzword “adultolescence” describes the slow progress that college graduates make into adulthood. The economic strains of today’s world might be to blame for the trend of adults who act more like children and do not recognise the scope of their societal influence.

Kimmel’s goal is to make oppression more visible and address entitlement in the male community. The example that Kimmel gave illustrating this entitlement is a familiar quote: a man says “I can’t believe that black woman got my job.” We can assume that the operative word “my” is the root cause of the apparent racism/sexism in his statement. Why would the job have been his to begin with if they were interviewing for the same position?

Kimmel’s TED Talk “Why gender equality is good for everyone — men included” can be viewed online.


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