The following excerpt is from chapter 14, “No Man’s Land,” from the Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman. This excerpt analyzes the social hierarchy within guy-world and helps break down the largely visible trends that appear within a school or community. My name is Micah Garry, intern at Cultures of Dignity, and I’ve chosen this passage because it puts into words the societal tendencies that I’ve witnessed all my life. So, I encourage you to not just read this passage, but to look around your community and visualize how realistic this excerpt is to your life.
The Social Class Breakdown
By Rosalind Wiseman
As human beings, there is no way for everyone to get along. Ever since the cavemen times, our species has leaned into groups and categories. But in the modern age, how have these groups evolved? This concept gets even more interesting when examining the youth of our world. So, let me break down all the components of the natural social hierarchy among boys (although the lessons can be spread to all genders) that is inescapable.
How to Confront Substance Abuse With Friends
When you’re worried that someone you know may have a drinking/drug problem, the first thing that happens seems pretty basic—the people around the guy have concluded that he has a substance abuse problem. But it’s not as easy as it seems. When you think about who makes this decision, you naturally think of the guy’s friends, his girlfriend, his parents, or a coach. But all of these people define “a drinking problem” very differently, because the bar for that definition will be lowest for the adults, a bit higher for the girls, and extremely high for the guy’s friends.
Lots of guys are voted into student government leadership positions because they’re funny and popular, but they have little intention of working hard once they’re there. Meanwhile, people with more substance who would have worked much harder in the job don’t get elected. If you’re the popular guy who won the election, it’s not your fault that enough of the student body voted for superficial humor over substance. But once you have the job, get off your ass and honor the commitment you signed up for.
Is there anyone you’d rather just sit on a couch and watch some stupid video on your phone or play games with than your friends? Is there anyone you’ve laughed harder with? Is there anyone who understands you better when something is seriously messed up in your life? Guy after guy I’ve talked to for this book agreed with me. But when guys admit how much they value their friends, they have to make fun of it by draping themselves over each other, pretend-hugging, and proclaiming, “I love you, man!” As Hunter says, “I know it’s ridiculous, but we have to lisp when we say something emotional. We’re just way too insecure with ourselves to show our feelings any other way.”
Life is better—way better—with friends. For guys who don’t have close friends (even if it looks like they have tons of friends), it can feel incredibly lonely. But friendships are complicated. Things aren’t always going to go smoothly. And even though conflict is inevitable, even with your closest friends, Guy World doesn’t allow that. Guys are supposed to let everything roll off their backs or throw a few punches and then forget about it
For better or worse, there’s no getting around the fact that you live in a world with girls. Even if you go to an all-guys school, at some point you have to study with girls, work with them, argue with them, and compete against them. They can be your friends, people you vaguely know at school, sisters, your enemies, or your girlfriends.
Your high school experience (and your whole life) will go better if girls like you. I don’t mean liking you because they all want to hook up with you, or liking you because you do everything they say or take their side against guys. I mean, if you project internal strength and treat girls with respect, I guarantee the non–drama queen, hot girls will find you attractive
Reason 1: Self- Delusion
“I lie if my parents ask if I cleaned my room. I say I did and close my door and then leave for school. It’s because I am going to clean my room later.” — Jake, 13
Why do boys lie when they know how easy it is for you to check whether they’re telling the truth or not? I want to share with you something Anthony Wolf, Ph.D., explains about lying in these situations. He calls this a “lie of the future self.” The boy lies because he genuinely believes that in the future he’ll do the things he’s supposed to have already done. So when boys say, “I walked the dog,” “I cleaned my room,” or “I did my homework,” they don’t think they’re technically lying because they believe they’ll eventually do it.
Understanding this concept and therefore confirming that my children are confused about the time-space continuum has dramatically decreased the yelling I do at them. I still have to get after them to do their chores and homework, but I don’t think they’re dragging their heels on purpose to make me crazy.
By Rainer Wasinger
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or the school system has failed you so bad that someone is reading this to you, you’ve probably heard grim news about American public schools. Longtime Chancellor of New York City Public Schools Joel Klein penned a piece entitled “The Failure of American Schools” and the Huffington Post has an entire category of articles called “Failing Schools.”
So, the experts think there’s a problem. I’m not an expert. Additionally, I’d like to add some qualifiers, because no one student’s experience is alike, and for what it’s worth, mine may have been more out of the ordinary than others. First and foremost, I went to public school in a district that was not only decidedly well off and open to spending generously on education, but was also particularly well suited to draw talented teachers. My hometown is often named one of the most educated cities in the United States, earns high quality of life ratings, and my high school is a two minute walk from an excellent research university. Smart people want to live here and smart teachers want to teach here.
Jessie Bernard, 17
The longer you look at something, the uglier it will get. This is just human nature. We’re accustomed to notice the deterioration of beauty. Cracks in the sidewalk and dilapidated fences are the perfect background for your senior pictures, but if the tables were turned and you were the one who was old and broken and falling apart, you would not be so beautiful.
I bet you thought you were beautiful, too. On some level, maybe physical or figuratively. You probably are, but all the things you love about yourself quickly turn to dust the minute you think of yourself as insignificant.
You see, the only beautiful thing about you that won’t change in twenty years is your mind and your ability to think for yourself. Looks will only get you so far in life, but you’ll be significant if you put your mind to good use.
By Rudolph Robertson, 18
A month into my senior year I was already being inundated with forms and information about graduation. I was still adjusting to being a senior. I was hardly prepared to order a cap and gown, and scarf, and sweatshirt, and mug, and photos, and 800 announcements, and blankets, bags, earbuds, envelope seals, tankards, tiaras and a $500 class ring. I just wanted to order my cap and gown as cheaply as possible and forget it until May (they still email me pretty much biweekly to buy their crap but that’s never gonna happen). But I tried to keep it as simple as possible and dutifully attended the presentation by the company from which we were to buy these items. The rep for this company was a perky, attractive lady of about 38 years old. The delightful slideshow of ... amazing things that we should buy... culminated in a picture of her at her own graduation. Now this wouldn't have been an issue had she not clearly made fun of the other girl in the picture.
Cooper Waters & Clay Linden
It’s Friday night. You’re at a football game with your crew, its packed and getting increasingly rowdy. Word gets out that your parents are out of town, and everyone is looking to throw down at your place. You freeze as an upperclassman comes up to you and asks something along the lines of “Is it cool if we have some people at your place?” You can’t really say no, so you hesitantly mumble “ uh… I guess so.”