Because we are doing On Becoming a Woman, I thought it would be fun to simultaneously do On Becoming a Man as well, so that we can compare and contrast the advice given to the sexes.
Warning: this book will not actually turn you into a man if you do not have a penis. I know, because that’s what I told everyone when they asked why I was reading it, and boy did I get an earful!
This chapter is basically the same as OBAW, but with different wording and a few changes.
Like the previous book, this one starts out with Shryock jabbering on about how awesome teenagerhood is.
By the flip of a switch, as it were, you can choose to be a businessman, or a craftsman, or a member of one of the professions. You can choose to spend your life accumulating a fortune, or you can choose to spend it in the service of humanity.
This is the major difference in this chapter from On Becoming A Woman (OBAW): the women are told they all dream of being housewives and mothers. There isn’t one shred of text saying that women could have careers too, or even jobs before marriage.
Thus far you have been following the pattern mapped out for children. Thus pattern is almost the same for one child as for another.
Eh, not really. Different things are expected of different children across different times and cultures.
Your life is custom built, and you can have it the way you want it.
Because you’re becoming a man, and men can pretty much have things the way they want them.
Shryock tells us how the tools we have used in childhood to get along with others and learn things will help us in adulthood.
Just now your horizons are broad, and the sky is your limit. but a few years from now your opportunities will be restricted, depending upon how you have chosen during your teens.
That’s not a scary paragraph to read! Shryock says that if you become a tradesman and then later decide to go into something requiring higher education, it will be very difficult to transition. He says that the reverse is true, but from what I’m reading, college educated individuals have no problems deciding they want to become tradesmen.
It seems that life is built backwards. You have to make the major choices of life before you have had experience enough to form good judgement.
This chapter is pretty much the same advice we relieved in OBAW, just worded differently. Shryock goes on to tell us that we don’t need to choose a career right away, but that we can put this off till our early 20s. Well, kind of, not really. Of course, I’m in my late 20s, there’s probably no hope for me. Don’t think this all doesn’t scare me.
In OBAW, Shryock compares the teen years to a new dress. Here, he compares them to a car.
Because reducing humans to objects is cool, kids!
In any case, a car, if taken care of, will last for years and “give good service.” If the car is not well taken care of and if one drives recklessly, the car is more likely to break down a lot and you’ll need a new one sooner rather than later.
As a teenager you are in your “breaking in” period. As far as mental alertness and physical energies are concerned, you are superior to those who are older.
I’m not sure what he means by mental alertness. If he means “you have a built in bullshit detector that hasn’t yet been socially conditioned to ignore certain types of bullshit,” then yes, teenagers are way more mentally alert than most adults I know. Does he mean that teenagers have a greater capacity to learn than most adults? Because I could agree with him there, younger brains are way more absorbent. But teenagers often make really stupid decisions. This is all very normal, but I wouldn’t say it gives them an advantage over adults.
As for physical energies (again, something missing in OBAW), yes, I agree. A teenager is way more physically superior to me because oh my god I just about DIED walking around in this heat today and there’s these young punks just running around in 31C heat. Where do they get all this energy from anyway, jeez!
The author goes on from this to warn us that, if we develop bad habits in our teens, our characters will be “permanently blemished.”
Blemishes that are permitted to develop during the teens are prone to persist throughout life.
Yes, my blemishes as a teen are still with me today. I questioned my religion, I frequently stole things, and I rarely paid attention in class. So, Shryock is 1/3rd right, I guess.
Shryock goes on to say that children often argue about whether it’s better to be a boy or a girl, with boys usually being glad they are boys and girls being glad they are girls.
Is, is that how the argument usually turns out? It was not like this for me at all. I knew that it was better to be a boy. I envied the abilities of boys to run around shirtless, to never grow breasts or bleed, and to pee standing up. I also envied them their….boyness. Less was expected of them, and they had way more freedom.
I am still jealous and wish I was a man, with manly parts and a manly life…in fact, if I had been born a man, I likely would have been able to remain Adventist.
Shryock tells us that there’s very little difference between young boys and girls, except anatomically and that they usually keep segregated and play different games, though sometimes they will crossover.
A teenage boy and girl are going to be way more different than a 9 year old boy and girl. Anatomically speaking this is true, but I think the way children were socialized in the 60s made this statement patently false. Heck, the way children are socialized today makes this statement very false.
Shryock isn’t just talking about anatomy. Teenage boys think very differently from teenage girls, and he doesn’t think socialization has anything to do with it.
In a boy’s early teens, he may not want to be seen socializing with girls. This will change by his late teens, as he becomes very interested in girls.
This curiosity is perfectly natural and proper. Curiosity about this and many other things is one of the advantages of the teenage period.
Shryock then talks about handling your curiosity wisely, whatever the fuck that means.
One of the principle purposes of this book is to help you satisfy your curiosity about the changes that have occurred in your own body since you were a child. Mention will also be made of the similar changes that have occurred in girls.
Whoa, slow down there Shryock. You’re telling boys about the female development, but you mention nothing to the girls about male development?
It has been many years now since I passed through the teenage period of my own life. But I still have vivid memories of the thoughts I used to think at the time.
I’ll bet you do.
Shryock also mentions his relationship with his son and daughter, who he says “have already passed through their early teens.” In OBAW, his children have just left their teens behind. So, he wrote this book first, then.
His other credentials include seeking advice from friends, and also people who render service to the youth, whatever the fuck that means.
I trust you will find the book both interesting arid profitable(sic).
So far, Shryock, I already have.