“Once the preserve of whacked-out teens and college slackers, this testosterone-filled landscape is the new normal for American males until what used to be considered creeping middle age, according to the sociologist Michael Kimmel. In his new book, Guyland, the State University of New York at Stony Brook professor notes the traditional markers of manhood–leaving home, getting an education, finding a partner, starting work, and becoming a father–have moved downfield as the passage from adolescence to adulthood has evolved from ‘a transitional moment to a whole new stage of life.’ In 1960, almost 70 percent of men had reached these milestones by the age of 30. Today, less than a third of males that age can say the same.

“A bad attitude about marriage is not the only thing that’s holding these guys back. A series of social and economic reversals are making it harder than ever to climb the ladder of adulthood. Since 1971, annual salaries for males 25 to 34 with full-time jobs have plummeted almost 20 percent, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University. At the same time, women have crashed just about all the old male haunts, and are showing some signs of outpacing their husbands and boyfriends as breadwinners and heads of family, at least in urban centers. Last year, researchers at Queens College in New York determined women between 21 and 30 in at least five major cities … not only have made up the wage gap since 1970–they now earn upwards of 15 percent more than their male counterparts. As a result, many men feel redundant.

“Today’s guys are perhaps the first downwardly mobile–and endlessly adolescent–generation of men in U.S. history. They’re also among the most distraught–men between the ages of 16 and 26 have the highest suicide rate for any group except men above 70–and socially isolated, despite their image as a band of backslapping buddies. According to the General Social Survey, a highly regarded decadeslong University of Chicago project to map changes in American culture, twentysomething guys are bowling alone when compared with the rest of society. They are less likely to read a newspaper, attend church, vote for president, or believe people are basically trustworthy, helpful and fair. Meanwhile, saddled with an average of $20,000 in student debt and reared with a sense of entitlement that stops them from taking any old job, the percentage of 26-year-olds living with their parents has nearly doubled since 1970, from 11 to 20 percent, according to economist Bob Schoeni’s research with the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan.”

Discussion Starters

1.) Various studies show marked changes in what have been traditional life patterns within the aging U.S. male population. To what degree are your youth group members following these cultural patterns.

2.) Do you think males who have a Christian, Bible-believing upbringing follow these same cultural trends? If not, what other social influencers are driving their development?

3.) The article indicates how Guyland is impacting females professionally, but what impact is being made on them emotionally, socially and spiritually?

4.) What are males among your group members saying about the concept of “Guyland”? Are they happy, confused or troubled about this “Peter Pan syndrome”?

5.) What are parents of males saying in regard to their sons’ development and life choices?

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