Familiar and expected gender patterns help us to understand boys but often constrict our understanding of any given boy. Writing in a wonderfully robust and engaging voice, Ken Corbett argues for a new psychology of masculinity, one that is not strictly dependent on normative expectation. As he writes in his introduction, “no two boys, no two boyhoods are the same.” In Boy Hoods Corbett seeks to release boys from the grip of expectation as Mary Pipher did for girls in Reviving Ophelia.
Corbett grounds his understanding of masculinity in his clinical practice and in a dynamic reading of feminist and queer theories. New social ideals are being articulated. New possibilities for recognition are in play. How is a boy made between the body, the family, and the culture? Does a boy grow by identifying with his father, or by separating from his mother? Can we continue to presume that masculinity is made at home? Corbett uses case studies to defy stereotypes, depicting masculinity as various and complex. He examines the roles that parental and cultural anxiety play in development, and he argues for a more nuanced approach to cross-gendered fantasy and experience, one that does not mistake social consensus for well-being. Corbett challenges us at last to a fresh consideration of gender, with profound implications for understanding all boys.
--- from the publisher
"Ken Corbett has not needed to tell a new story about masculinity because he has so many new stories to tell. Weaving together clinical experience and diversely illuminating theoretical approaches Corbett has managed to do justice to the singularity of each boy's experience of growing up, without having to give up on the generalities of developmental theory. There has never been a book, written from a psychoanalytic perspective, so amused and amusing and subtle about gender. The masculinities described in Boy Hoods, and the way Corbett has found to write about the subject, will radically change how we talk about boys growing up."—Adam Phillips, Psychoanalyst
“In Boyhoods, Ken Corbett teaches us how to think gender again, as if for the first time. With exceptional sensitivity and lucidity, his deft readings of texts and case studies together constitute a terrific literary achievement. Corbett is a writer of enormous heart, an extraordinary capacity to listen and to tell, one whose patience and care becomes a new methodology for thinking through how gender is formed, performed, and made anew. For "boys" who live to the side of the norm, or as its very underside, there is a desire to know whether finally there is someone there, who can see, play, listen, and offer safe company for fantasy and aliveness. Corbett tells and listens in a way from which we all might learn something crucial about how to be there for others in the midst of such vulnerable, passionate, and confusing scenes of gender emergence.”—Judith Butler, author of Gender Trouble (1990), Bodies that Matter (1993), and
Undoing Gender (2004)
“Boy Hoods is a magnificently articulate guide not for the perplexed but rather towards perplexity, towards the curiosity, the intellectual exploration, and, perhaps most importantly, the respect without which understanding human psychology and sexuality is impossible. Through a critical examination of psychoanalytic literature and theory, starting with a brilliant reconsideration of Freud’s Little Hans; through superbly rendered, incisively considered case histories from his own practice as an analyst and child psychologist, Corbett offers new possibilities of theorizing, analyzing and imagining masculinity. He writes with gentle, unassailable reason, marvelous empathy, playful, subversive wit, and scrupulous self-examination and courage. This is a beautiful contribution to the all-import ant work of undoing the monadic, ‘fossilized’ version of masculinity which lamentably remains our social and therapeutic norm, to the task of recognizing, treating and conceptualizing boy’s and men’s capacity for affectional attachment.”—Tony Kushner
‘Corbett’s responses are interesting, clever and compelling…Corbett writes especially well about “femininity” in boys…this is a complicated area, which touches upon much more than masculinity and femininity, and Corbett steers his readers through it with insight and aplomb…a useful and provocative addition to the literature on boyhood.’—Scope
"In this impressive and ground-breaking book, Ken Corbett suggests new ways of theorizing about the meaning of masculine embodiments. In addition, through his stories of boyhoods and his personal reflections on the masculine energies encountered in his work with boys, Corbett brings us to the flesh experiences of developing masculinity."—Susan McKenzie, Jung Journal: Culture and Psyche
About the Author:
Ken Corbett is Clinical Assistant Professor at the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis and an analyst in practice with adults and children in New York City. He lives in New York.