What is going on inside guys’ heads? Why do things often seem easier for them in society? And what can we young women do to understand them better—and help them understand us? This book looks to give insight into those questions and more, using proven biological information and social findings, and a little humor, to explore just what is up with the teen boys in your life.
They don’t always bathe when they should. Or they seemingly spend all their time with friends hitting each other and having weird contests. Deep down, we like them, but boys can be hard to comprehend sometimes. Especially when our culture seems to value the male gender more than our female counterpart. Thankfully, experienced author and youth leader Crystal Kirgiss has done some research and has answers to the questions you’ve often asked about the guys in your life. Going beyond stereotypes and looking at the real facts—from the biological to the social to even the biblical—What’s Up with Boys? will help you understand, appreciate, respect, and accept guys as they are … and give you straight-forward information to help them do the same when it comes to you.
What’s Up with Boys:
- contains honest comments from girls like you, taken from thousands of interviews and surveys
- breaks down erroneous stereotypes—both the ones we have about guys and the ones they have about us
- looks at what is actually different between men and women, and why those things should or should not matter when it comes to how we treat each other in relationships and in society
- is an easy-to-digest guide packed with information
About the Author
Crystal Kirgiss teaches writing at Purdue University and is the author or co-author of more than ten books, including What’s Up With Boys?, Sex Has A Pricetag, Girls, Guys, and A Teenager’s Daily Prayer Book. She’s been married to Mark, a Young Life area director, for 25 years and they have three college-aged sons. Crystal also writes the monthly “Guys” and “Girls” columns for Youth Walk magazine.
Read an Excerpt
What's Up with BoysEverything You Need to Know About Guys
By Crystal Kirgiss
ZondervanCopyright © 2004 Youth Specialties
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe T-Shirt
It all started with a T-shirt ...
A few years ago I was hanging out in the choir room at the high school where I work part-time. A group of girls and I were eating our lunches, talking about the day, complimenting Annie on her cool toenail polish, admiring Kayla's pink-streaked hair dye, and congratulating Amy on making the girls' varsity hockey team when in walked Erin, wearing a blazing pink T-shirt. Across the front it read,
"BOYS ARE STUPID ... THROW ROCKS AT THEM."
Everyone laughed at her shirt and started making comments like,
"Ohmigosh, that is soooo true!"
"Where did you buy that shirt? I want one too!"
"Whoever designed that shirt must know my brother."
"Boys aren't just stupid. They're stupider than stupid."
"What's the problem with boys, anyway?! They are so annoying."
"I wish I'd had some rocks to throw at Travis during algebra this morning."
Before long the comments had turned into a heated conversation about what boys are like, how they act, the things they do, and the stuff they say. All in all the girls pretty much ripped the entire male population at their high school to shreds. They had a million complaints and almost no compliments. In the end the general consensus was that Erin's T-shirt spoke the truth, and that even if it wouldn't be very nice for the girls to actually throw rocks at boys, it sure was fun imagining what it would be like if they did.
I don't want you to get the wrong impression about these girls. They're not violent. They're not delinquents. They don't spend their time in the school detention center. They don't walk through the school halls looking for someone to pick a fight with. They've never had to serve an in-school-suspension for anything more serious than having too many tardies in one class. And I'm quite sure that they're not in the habit of throwing rocks at anyone ... not even boys.
They're nice, decent, friendly, typical teenage girls.
And at one time or another most nice, decent, friendly, typical teenage girls find themselves becoming very frustrated, confused, and annoyed by typical teenage guys.
That's probably why you're reading this book-to help you understand guys better.
That day in the high school choir room, while all those girls were voicing their opinions about boys, I started thinking about some things.
First, if a boy wore a T-shirt that said "GIRLS ARE STUPID ... THROW ROCKS AT THEM," there'd be a major scene. The principal would probably tell him he couldn't wear such a sexist shirt. The girls would all gang up on him and start lecturing him about being rude and mean. The female teachers would pull him aside and gently talk to him about how hurtful and unkind and insensitive he was being to females. And the boy's mother would probably send him to his room for a month with no dinner. Why, then, wasn't Erin treated the same way? Is it possible that in today's world there's some kind of double standard that says it's okay for girls to voice their negative opinions about boys but not the other way around?
Second, since I have three teenage sons whom I happen to love dearly, even when they drive me nuts, I happen to think that teen guys are okay. Yes, they're hard to understand sometimes. Yes, they're annoying sometimes. Yes, they can be weird, different, and completely wacko sometimes. But isn't the same thing true of teen girls? Aren't we all, girls and guys alike, confusing, mysterious, and hard to figure out sometimes?
Third, it's clear that girls and guys are different (and not just in the obvious physical ways). If they weren't different, there wouldn't be so much frustration, so much misunderstanding, so much teasing and ridicule and making-fun. There wouldn't be half as many jokes in all the comic strips, television shows and movies. There wouldn't be so many different magazines. There wouldn't be words like he, she, his, and hers. There wouldn't be a guys' section and a girls' section at Old Navy.
There wouldn't be T-shirts that said,
"BOYS ARE STUPID ... THROW ROCKS AT THEM."
The history of how males and females relate to one another goes way back to the very beginning of time, to the moment in creation when God made a man and then made a woman. He didn't make a man and then another man. He didn't make a woman and then another woman.
He made a man. And then he made a woman. And they were very different right from the start. First, they were different because each was a unique individual. Maybe one liked strawberries, the other grapes. One might have preferred cats, the other dogs. Maybe he liked sunsets and she liked sunrises. Who knows? But certainly, they had personalities that were distinct and uniquely their own. Otherwise, why would God have created both of them? If they were intended to be the same, he could have created the man and then simply cloned him.
Second, since one was a male and one a female, they were different by virtue of their gender.
Gender is a hot topic in today's world. There are arguments about what it is, how it develops, and how it affects individuals. Scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists have all kinds of opinions about the subject. Some believe that gender is a real issue. Others believe that gender is simply a man-made topic. Some believe gender is part of a person from the time of birth (nature) while others believe it is determined by how a child is taught and raised (nurture).
So let's start by defining gender. Some people may define it differently, but for the sake of this book we'll agree that human gender is a classification based on whether a person is male or female.
If something has no gender or no defining characteristics, it is generic. That term is used mostly at the grocery store when we talk about generic brands, those items that don't come from a big-name, well-known, quality company. Name-brand items are often referred to as "the real thing," and many people, especially kids, claim that generic brands don't taste as good as the real thing. In some cases, like Cheerios(r) and Lucky Charms(r), I'd have to agree.
The same is true of human beings. God made human beings with different genders because it gives the world more flavor, more variety, more taste, and more zing. In his book Wild at Heart, John Eldredge writes, "God doesn't make generic people; he makes something very distinct-a man or a woman. In other words, there is a masculine heart and a feminine heart, which in their own ways reflect or portray to the world God's heart."
I agree with him. Males and females are distinct. Masculine and feminine traits are distinct. And they were both equally created in the image of God.
That's not to say that males have only masculine traits and females have only feminine traits. Since both of them reflect the image of God, then both of them are present in human beings. But males tend to have more masculine traits, and women tend to have more feminine traits.
Initially, we define a person's gender simply by the reproductive system. When a baby is born, the first question people ask is almost always, "Is it a boy or a girl?" And how does the doctor or the parents know the answer to the question? Simple: by looking between the baby's legs. End of discussion.
But gender is so much more than that. If we could see inside a baby's head at birth to see its brain, we'd probably be able to tell whether the baby was a boy or a girl. Why? Because male and female brains are different, even at birth. If we measured levels of hormones at birth, we'd be able to tell whether the baby was a boy or a girl. Why? Because male and female hormone levels are different, even at birth. You see, being male or female involves so much more than sexual organs. It involves the entire being ... how we think, how we develop physically, how we communicate, how we react, and how we behave. You are a female through and through. That's how God designed you and made you. And guys are males through and through. That's how God designed them and made them.
For a very long time, people recognized that there were differences between the two sexes (we'll talk about the differences later on). But they didn't stop there. They went on to say that, because of the differences, only men could and should do certain things, like becoming doctors, and only women could and should do certain things, like being teachers.
The people who believed this were wrong. Different or not, there is really only one thing that a woman is incapable of doing-being a dad. And there is really only one thing that a man is incapable of doing-being a mom.
About 60 years ago the tide shifted. People started saying that men and women weren't different at all (except for their reproductive organs). They went on to say that since they weren't different, then not only could men and women do the same things, but they also should do the same things. In other words, there should be an equal number of male and female soldiers, an equal number of female and male inventors, an equal amount of absolutely everything.
The people who believed this were wrong again. Just because men and women are capable of being doctors, lawyers, teachers, artists, and everything else doesn't mean that they are the same.
I think it's time for us to find some middle ground, don't you? I don't want to live in a world that tells me, "You can't do this because you're a female." Nor do I want to live in a world that tells me, "You must do this because you're a female." I want to be the best "me" that I can be.
And I truly believe that guys want the same thing. They don't want to be told that, because they're male, they can't cry. Nor do they want to be told that because they're male, they must be athletic and competitive all the time.
Each guy, just like each girl, is a uniquely designed and created individual. Each guy, just like each girl, has certain characteristics that are created in the image of God. Each guy, just like each girl, is deeply loved by Jesus Christ.
Guys and girls are not only unique as individuals. They are also unique as a whole group, meaning that guys as a whole are different in many ways from girls as a whole. And that's where gender comes in again. Male and female. Both created by God. Both loved by God. Both pursued by God.
And both different from each other.
Even very young children know this is true. Here are two lists, one written by a four-year-old boy and the other by a four-year-old girl, of the top 10 ways that boys and girls are different. Both of these children are from families that believe in giving their children all kinds of opportunities. The little boy was allowed to play with dolls if he wanted. The little girl was allowed to play with trucks if she wanted. They weren't told they could only do certain things because of being a boy or girl. Neither one had been taught that boys are one way and girls are another.
They were just two typical four-year-olds who had observed certain things about boys and girls in their short lives.
BOYS ARE DIFFERENT FROM GIRLS Compiled by Linni, age four, Atlanta
1. Boys like to play with trucks more than girls.
2. Boys like to eat more than girls.
3. Boys like dinosaurs more than girls.
4. Boys are bigger than girls.
5. Boys have shorter hair than girls.
6. Boys don't wear dresses.
7. Boys don't wear their coats when it's cold outside.
8. Boys are taller than girls.
9. Boys can be daddies, but girls can't.
10. Boys have tails. [Think about it for a second and you'll understand!]
TOP 10 WAYS GIRLS ARE DIFFERENT FROM BOYS Compiled by Austen, age four, San Diego
1. Girls wear dresses.
2. Boys wear underwear; girls wear panties.
3. Girls leave the seat down.
4. Girls have long hair.
5. Girls don't play baseball.
6. Girls don't have pee-pees.
7. Daddies have hairy bodies.
8. Girls like dolls.
9. Mommies use makeup instead of shaving cream.
10. Girls scream; boys roar.
Not only are their lists different, but the way they created their lists was also different. Linni sat at her kitchen table coloring a picture while dictating her list to her mom. It only took her a few minutes. Austen, on the other hand, needed almost four days to put his list together. He was too busy doing other things, like running through the house with his cars and trucks. When he finally got to number four on his list, he ran past his mom while making loud engine noises and said, "Mom, can't you just do it for me?"
So were Linni and Austen brainwashed by the world to believe that boys and girls are different? Or were they honest and childlike enough to recognize and admit what most of us already know-that boys and girls are, in fact, different?
I don't think they were brainwashed. I think they're smart. And I think they are lucky to have parents who let them be who they are. Austen likes trucks. His mom and dad never said, "Now, Austen, in order to be a well-rounded, sensitive male you must spend as much time playing with dolls as with trucks." Linni likes to color. Her mom and dad never said, "Now, Linni, in order to be a strong, assertive female you must spend as much time jumping on the furniture as you do coloring." On the other hand if Austen did like to play with dolls, his mom and dad wouldn't stop him, and if Linni liked jumping on the furniture, her mom and dad wouldn't stop her. Wait ... I take that back. They probably would stop her. But if she liked playing with trucks, they wouldn't stop her.
All of this is to say that the reason you're reading this book is not because guys are just like you. If they were, you wouldn't have any questions about them. You're reading this book because most guys aren't like you, and as a result you're confused, bothered, and even annoyed by them. At the same time, you want to understand them better rather than go through life being confused, bothered, and annoyed.
After surveying hundreds of teens from across the country, I found that most girls have the same questions about guys.
Excerpted from What's Up with Boys by Crystal Kirgiss Copyright © 2004 by Youth Specialties. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
P.S. . . . . 11
1 The T-Shirt . . . . . 17
2 The Battle of the Sexes. . . . . 33
3 Boys Will Be Boys . . . . . 49
4 Brain Matters. . . . . 65
The Top Five ”Guy Things”
5 Bravado, Brawn, and BulliesGuys and Toughness . . . . . 81
6 Boogers, Belches, and BugsGuys and Grossness . . . . . 97
7 Babble, Banter, and BallyhooGuys and Words. . . . . 113
8 Bumps, Bruises, and BluesGuys and Emotions. . . . . 127
9 Birds, Bees, and BabesGuys and Sex. . . . . 141
10 Senior Knights of the Round Table. . . . . 157
P.P.S . . . . . 169