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‘We need to understand how the rules and norms of masculinity affect how boys and young men feel and behave’

By Rachel Giese      

The following is an excerpt from Boys: What It Means to Become a Man, by Rachel Giese, which has been shortlisted along with four other books for this year's Writers' Trust of Canada's Shaughnessy Cohen Prize, the best political book of the year. The winner will be announced in Ottawa on May 15.

Author Rachel Giese: 'If we believe in gender equality, if we want to eradicate gender-based violence and discrimination, and if we want a world in which everyone feels safe and feels encouraged to be their full self, then we need to understand how the rules and norms of masculinity affect how boys and young men feel and behave. The last few years, with the rise of #MeToo, we have seen an opening up in our conversations about sexual assault and sexual discrimination. But our proposed solutions won't be effective without engaging boys and men in this important work.'

When I began my research on Boys in 2015, gender progress seemed to be marching, slowly, forward. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey of American millennials, the generation just ahead of my son and his peers, found that this generation is optimistic and open to change, less attached to political and religious institutions than older adults, more likely to have been raised in a single parent or blended family, more likely to have children outside of marriage and to wait until they are nearly 30 years old to settle down, more open to interracial and same-sex relationships and more receptive to immigrants. 

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