In the beginning of this essay, the author Kimmel poses the question of what it means to be a woman or man, and notes the differences of response between genders. One female college students says, "Nobody can tell me what it means to be a woman anymore" (Kimmel 44). To me, this statement pronounces the overall feeling I also get as a woman living in today's culture. In the past, there were many unequal struggles for the female gender, and after decades of hard work I believe much of the fight for equality can now subside. I, too, feel that as a woman I can choose any path I want, and I am grateful for this (of course in many situations other than my own, this is a whole different story for some women). After reading this essay and alongside with our recent class discussions, the men's side of all these issues is becoming more and more clear, and I am beginning to see the immense struggle of the male "box" of Guyland to which so many males are being held captive.
In reading about how this box becomes constructed as boys are very young, I am reflecting on my own seven year old son and our mother/child relationship. Kimmel writes about boys feeling the need to create distance from their mothers. "Along the way they suppress all the feelings they associate with the maternal- compassion, nurturance, vulnerability, dependency. This suppression and repudiation is the origin of the Boy Code. It's what turns those happy, energetic, playful, and emotionally expressive 5-year olds into sullen, withdrawn, and despondent 9-year olds" (Kimmel 52). As my son is in the middle of these ages, I am wondering what is to come for us down the road. He is mostly still this bubbly little one, but from time to time we enter those sullen phases when I feel him pulling away from me, and this is one of those fragile, almost painful parts of parenting that I try to recognize and accept, as it seems like in many cultures for many ages, as boys grow there is a natural shifting from being at home with their mother to craving the company of males, the learning and the commradery of uncles, community men, etc. While I feel it is important to respect my child's need to explore the ways of his own gender, I work very hard to have him exposed to the positive aspects of this with positive male examples. It makes me so angry to think of all the little boys in this culture who might be growing up learning that it is imperative to fit inside this awful tough-guy homophobic "box". No one would want to be inside these constraints, male or female. It is time we all recognize that compassion is not gender-specific, it is the path we all may choose.