When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity

Overview


When Judy Y. Chu first encountered the four-year-old boys we meet in this book, they were experiencing a social initiation into boyhood. They were initially astute in picking up on other people’s emotions, emotionally present in their relationships, and competent in their navigation of the human social world. However, the boys gradually appeared less perceptive, articulate, and responsive, and became more guarded and subdued in their relationships as they learned to prove that ...
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When Boys Become Boys: Development, Relationships, and Masculinity

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Overview


When Judy Y. Chu first encountered the four-year-old boys we meet in this book, they were experiencing a social initiation into boyhood. They were initially astute in picking up on other people’s emotions, emotionally present in their relationships, and competent in their navigation of the human social world. However, the boys gradually appeared less perceptive, articulate, and responsive, and became more guarded and subdued in their relationships as they learned to prove that they are boys primarily by showing that they are not girls.

Based on a two-year study of boys aged four to six, When Boys Become Boys offers a new way of thinking about boys’ development. Chu finds that behaviors typically viewed as “natural” for boys reflect an adaptation to cultures that require boys to be emotionally stoic, competitive, and aggressive if they are to be accepted as “real boys.” Yet even as boys begin to reap the social benefits of aligning with norms of masculine behavior, they pay a psychological and relational price for hiding parts of their authentic selves.

Through documenting boys’ perceptions of the obstacles they face and the pressures they feel to conform, and showing that their compliance with norms of masculine behavior is neither automatic nor inevitable, this accessible and engaging book provides insight into ways in which adults can foster boys’ healthy resistance and help them to access a broader range of options for expressing themselves.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Chu possesses three rare gifts: she gets boys to open up to her and describe their lives in gorgeous detail; she listens with extraordinary compassion, and she analyzes their experiences with the meticulous care of both finely tuned head and heart. In so doing, she gives us a single gift both rare and precious: a look inside the world of boys, wriggling between demands about performing for others, and eager to be who they really are."-Michael Kimmel,author of Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

"In this provocative and beautifully written book, Judy Chu reveals that we have been telling ourselves a false story about boys and their development. Boys, she finds, don’t start off being the emotionally disconnected stereotype that our culture projects onto them. They become those stereotypes via cultural socialization. Yet boys also resist, and maintain their humanity despite living in a culture that denies it to them. A must read for anyone interested in boys."-Niobe Way,author of Deep Secrets: Boys' Friendships and the Crisis of Connection

Library Journal
07/01/2014
Chu (human biology, Stanford Univ.) obtained her PhD from Harvard University under the supervision of feminist and psychologist Carol Gilligan, who provided the foreword for this book. Inspired by Gilligan's work on girls' development in adolescence and their resistance to gender stereotypes, Chu turned her attention to preschool boys. She studied a class of four-year-old boys for two years, wondering: Do young boys have the relational capabilities (e.g., to be attentive, articulate, authentic, and direct in expressing their emotions) essential to develop meaningful relationships? Can they resist conventions of masculinity—individualism, self-sufficiency, emotional stoicism, and toughness—that too often jeopardize relationships? The author's answer to both questions is yes, and she explains it in a most beautiful way, by describing sensibly her interactions with the boys in her study. Four of the boys are each the center of a case study in which Chu demonstrates further how the child succeeds or fails to develop relationships and how it affects his general psychological health. VERDICT Although Chu is short on recommendations for parents, her book offers an insightful portrait of group interactions and hierarchy in boys. She convincingly makes the case that, being human, boys share with girls the capacity to relate. For all readers interested in child development.—Maryse Breton, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814764800
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/6/2014
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 792,935
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Judy Y. Chu is Affiliated Faculty in the Program in Human Biology at Stanford University.

Carol Gilligan is University Professor of Applied Psychology and the Humanities at New York University. She is the author or editor of many books, including In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development and Joining the Resistance.

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