“Boys are emotionally illiterate and don’t want intimate friendships.” In this empirically grounded challenge to our stereotypes about boys and men, Niobe Way reveals the intense intimacy among teenage boys especially during early and middle adolescence. Boys not only share their deepest secrets and feelings with their closest male friends, they claim that without them they would go “wacko.” Yet as boys become men, they become distrustful, lose these friendships, and feel isolated and alone. Drawing from hundreds of interviews conducted throughout adolescence with black, Latino, white, and Asian American boys, Deep Secrets reveals the ways in which we have been telling ourselves a false story about boys, friendships, and human nature. Boys’ descriptions of their male friendships sound more like “something out of Love Story than Lord of the Flies.” Yet in late adolescence, boys feel they have to “man up” by becoming stoic and independent. Vulnerable emotions and intimate friendships are for girls and gay men. “No homo” becomes their mantra. These findings are alarming, given what we know about links between friendships and health, and even longevity. Rather than a “boy crisis,” Way argues that boys are experiencing a “crisis of connection” because they live in a culture where human needs and capacities are given a sex (female) and a sexuality (gay), and thus discouraged for those who are neither. Way argues that the solution lies with exposing the inaccuracies of our gender stereotypes and fostering these critical relationships and fundamental human skills.
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Adolescent Boys African American American boys Asian American asked best friend Black Blue Brain Carol Gilligan cause Chinese American close friends close friendships close male context conventions of masculinity Danny describes desire Development Developmental Psychology Dominican American early and middle emotional stoicism emotionally intimate empathy ethnic experience express father feel Fernando focused Frans de Waal freshman gender stereotypes George Gilligan girlfriend girls gonna guys Harry Stack Sullivan heterosexual high school human Ibid interview intimacy intimate friendships intimate male friendships Judy Chu junior late adolescence Latino lives loss male friends manhood mean Michael Michael Kimmel middle adolescence mother Nick Niobe Noel parents patterns person problems psychological psychologist Puerto Rican racial relationships resistance reveals says sexual sharing secrets ships social and emotional someone sophomore story studies stuff suggest talk teenagers tell there’s thick culture things tion trust vulnerability what’s York