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Reclaiming boyhood as more than a stereotype

Girlhood is a major topic of discussion following the "Barbie" movie. Should we let boyhood fall to stereotype in its shadow? Kiser Young writes.
Girlhood is a major topic of discussion following the "Barbie" movie. Should we let boyhood fall to stereotype in its shadow? Kiser Young writes.

Girlhood is converting the price of goods into a number of ice coffees. It's complimenting a simple shade of lipstick and reciprocally being added to the “Girlies” Snapchat story. It’s much more than simply being a woman. 

Girlhood is a term that was solidified by the “Barbie movie and is about experiencing the gift of femininity from a lens much bigger than the individual girl. It’s the justification of a $70 water bottle, or the significance of the first big haircut. The experience is innately innocent and unique, symbolizing only the best aspects of the female experience.

So what about boyhood?

Why is it so strange to see young male youths relish in an experience as equally extraordinary and guiltless? While it’s mundane to witness women or feminine identities operate in the somewhat universal ideology that “girls support girls,” it is a wild double standard for men to view masculinity in the same way. 

From an early age, boys are coddled into believing the significance of becoming self-sufficient, they are breast-fed the “alpha” mindset, and thrust into the daunting reality of “manhood,” without ever experiencing the luxury of being young, of experiencing boyhood. 

The idea itself is somewhat fictitious and taboo. Boys are taught to forgo aspects of childhood the moment they are deemed capable. They learn that “real men” know how to change a tire, navigate the fiscal return and investments of the stock market and all manner other traditionally masculine tasks. 

When we think about the virtues and core principles of being a boy, society often condenses male adolescence into the parasitic relationship of Monster Energy drinks, Saturdays Are For The Boys flags, covering holes in the drywall from lost NBA 2K matches and the forever insistent “incel” ideology. 

However, being a boy is much more expansive than these ideas. The negative connotation that “boys will be boys'' strips the average boy of his individual experience with masculinity. When this hypercritical lens is put on boys, it often condemns more than just harmful actions. 

It takes the fun out of being a boy. 

The expression of masculinity through boyhood cannot simply be condensed into physiological factors. It’s a more special, individual experience. 

Boyhood is the urge to collect unremarkable objects like rocks, Pokémon cards or bottle caps. It’s walking down the street and gauging whether or not you can beat the person you passed in an arm wrestle, or skipping steps when you walk up the stairs. 

Boyhood is the 1.5 seconds of uncertainty when going to dap someone up. It’s being ridiculed into shaving off the nine weeks of facial hair depicted through a few wisps under your nose. 

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These nuances of being a boy cannot be forgotten when understanding the experience of masculine youths because they too are fundamentally experienced by boys everywhere.

Boyhood is an idea that is often overlooked and deemed irrelevant to the majority of people, but it is time for the paradigm to shift and finally have boyhood viewed as an equally special experience as its feminine counterpart. 

When boyhood is truly separated from the human experience or, more importantly, the negative traits of being human, it gives new meaning to living the day to day in masculinity. It finally bridges the gap between the individual boy and creates a community in which masculinity can be expressed in an open and casual way — beyond the typical competitive environment seen between boys. 

While boyhood may be the urge to build a 1,000-piece lego set or finish a five-course meal in record time, it is simply expressing masculinity in whatever avenue you see fit. 

The next time you see a guy out enjoying himself, compliment his pair of 504s or his brand new baseball cap. Reclaim your expression of masculinity while empowering the bros around you, and always remember that you’re never alone in boyhood.

Kiser Young is a first-year strategic communication major from Beavercreek, Ohio. He is a contributor for both the opinion and entertainment sections at The Student and is a district 8 senator for Associated Student Government.