The topic of this article is the psychological meaning and consequences of the repression of a male’s experience of being a boy in the course of his socialization to manhood. Although the eradication of the sense of being a boy is a requirement for attaining manhood in nearly all cultures, the boy remains psychologically alive, although hidden, in the older male. The features of boyhood, why boys often frighten us, and why boys nonetheless enchant both males and females are discussed. An explanation of our ambivalence about boys is found in their anatomy, kinetic physicality, distinctive early experiences with their father, and residual characteristics of the boy’s early relationship with his mother and the feminine. The article concludes with some observations about what a genuine harmonization in a male of the boy with the man might mean for a man’s relations with his father, his sons, other males, and females.
The Fate of the Boy in Becoming a Man
Naughty Boys. Anti-Social Behaviour, ADHD and the Role of Culture by Sami Timimi. London: Palgrave, 2005, xv + 245 pp., paper.
Lovers’ Legends by Andrew Calimach. New Rochelle: Haiduk Press, 2002, and Lovers’ Legends Unbound translated by Andrew Calimach and Agnes Lev. New Rochelle, NY: Haiduk Press, 2004.
Shakespeare was keenly affected by the lives of the boys who played the parts of women in his plays. Evidence for his understanding and compassion is found in the speeches of those characters who cross-dress female to male. By a double negation of his gender, the boy actor is given an opportunity to speak for himself as well for the female character he is portraying. The examples are Julia as Sebastian in The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Portia as Balthazar and Nerissa as both the young lawyer’s clerk and Jessica in The Merchant of Venice, Viola as Cesario in Twelfth Night, Imogen as Fidele in Cymbeline, and especially Rosalind as Ganymede in As You Like It. I argue that what they were given to say by Shakespeare reveals the experience of being a boy, not only in early modern England or ancient Greece (where all parts were also played by males), but also in our time. I suggest the treatment of boys in the theatre is mirrored by the treatment of boys today. In those instances where doubled impersonation was written into Shakespeare’s plays, we have a unique opportunity to hear boys tell us about themselves. As with so much else that is timeless insight, the bard understood and articulated the experience of being a boy. Taken together, the utterances of his “boys” tell us how it is to be a boy.
Miles Groth and Diederik F. Janssen
With far too many scholarly journals out there now, why launch yet another? Hurried readers may never recognize what THYMOS is about unless they get past the first word to what follows: Journal of Boyhood Studies. That may happen in quite a few cases at first, but we are convinced that once underway, THYMOS will take its place among the best interdisciplinary journals in English. Boys, we believe, have something to teach us about the body, sexuality, spirituality and the imagination and, for that reason, without wishing to be excessive, we want to emphasize our conviction that the subject matter of THYMOS—boys and boyhood—is central to everyone’s self-understanding as a human being in what will very soon be a thoroughgoing global culture.