Sunday, June 26, 2005

Lad-lit: Canadian and non-fiction.

A new book that is clearly lad-lit and clearly Canadian was reviewed very favourably in the centre fold of the "Books" section of this weekend's Toronto Globe and Mail. It was also well-reviewed in Quill & Quire, and elsewhere. The book is With the Boys: Field Notes on Being a Guy by Jake MacDonald, and is non-fiction of the reads-like-fiction type.
The Toronto Globe and Mail has the book's first chapter available online, and the following passage is worth our attention - especially as it echoes some of the ideas I've suggested in class.
Women appear in some of the stories too. Even when they're not on the scene, their absence is a kind of presence. Women keep an eye on men and exert a moderating influence on their behavior. That's one of the reasons that men like to occasionally get away from them. The singer Garth Brooks once remarked that he was teaching his little daughters a simple concept: "Men are pigs." All men know this about themselves, and they think it's funny. But at the same time, they have their own gender-specific code of ethics. Some kinds of piggy behavior are allowed, and some aren't. There are hundreds of rules affecting male behavior. That's too many to list here, and in any case every guy knows them. But women might find the male codebook strange and interesting. Women, for example, commonly assume that men like to talk about their spouses or sweethearts with their buddies. This is what psychologists call "projection." Women do it, so they think men do it too. A woman will happily dump the entire kitbag of her romantic woes on the table for the amusement of some other woman she's met four minutes ago. But no matter how late the evening or how debauched the conversation, you'll seldom hear a man say more than a few neutral words in passing about his mate. In the male codebook, talking about your love life is considered to be craven and unmanly. So women can at least relax about that.

2 comments:

Kristen said...

But I know tonnes of guys who talk about their relationships! My three best guy friends ALWAYS talk about their girlfriends. They talk to their guy friends, too, because I hear about THOSE conversations, too. Is this a generational thing, maybe??

Dr. S.A. Ogden said...

That's a good point I hadn't thought of. (One tends to view one's peers and elders as the norm.)
One thing I am learning from this course is how much & in what direction masculinity is changing in the new millenium. Blog post to follow, however, on a counter-reformation ....