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A vital and sweeping examination of
modern boyhood and masculinity.

One of the Globe and Mail’s best books of 2018.


Whether they’re being urged to “man up” or warned that “boys don’t cry,” young men are subjected to damaging messages about manliness.

In her critically acclaimed Boys: What It Means to Become a Man, Rachel Giese examines how these toxic rules can hinder boys’ emotional and social development. More importantly, she provides ample evidence for a powerful counter-narrative: Given space and safety to explore their identities, boys are happy to escape the “man box.”

With lively reportage and clear-eyed analysis, Giese reveals that the movement for gender equality has the potential to liberate us all.


Praise for Boys:

 “An educated and empathetic non-fiction book that grapples with the damaging lessons that boys are taught about how to be ‘a man.’ It’s written with incisive reporting and personal experience that looks at every facet of how boys are taught to be in the world and how we can start to dismantle those expectations for everyone’s betterment. Plus, a book about gender norms that also looks at sexual orientation and race? Imagine!”
—Scaachi Koul, author of One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter

 “Boys gives us hope that busting apart ‘The Man Box’ will ultimately lead to fuller, more rewarding lives not just for boys, but for all of us.”
—The Toronto Star

 “A broad, readable take on the limits of modern-day masculinity, and how to push its boundaries to better serve our children and ourselves. It’s full of love but unsentimental, with new tidbits for scholars of gender, race and identify, and valuable insight for parents of little boys, like me.”
—Denise Balkissoon, Globe and Mail columnist

 Boys is a multifaceted exploration of masculinity by one of Canada's most talented journalists. Rachel Giese's vision of boyhood — and therefore manhood —is an enlarging, humane one. This is a beautifully reasoned work that should be required reading for anyone interested in detoxifying masculinity.”
—Michael Redhill, author of the Giller-winning novel Bellevue Square

 “Giese looks at the challenges she, her wife, and their son face, exploring (most satisfyingly) big questions like what it means to be a man and how we raise boys to conform or reject these ideals…  She looks at masculinity with a surprisingly heartfelt curiosity.”
—Literary Review of Canada

“Deeply researched, but also deeply considered, Boys is something quite rare in the pages of non-fiction, a page-turner. This is a must read for everyone who loves boys.”
Tabatha Southey, author and Maclean’s columnist

“These are not good times to be or raise a boy. The toxic expectations of traditional masculinity block and distort healthy, humane development and communications, while many social institutions seem to go out of their way to help girls get ahead, not boys. But in this compassionately written, carefully researched book, Rachel Giese presents a critical but ultimately encouraging view of the possibilities for affirming change. It’s both hopeful and helpful.”
—Bruce Kidd, Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education, University of Toronto