Boys Weren't Always Girl Crazy
- We Boys Together: Teenagers in Love Before Girl-Craziness
Teenage boys are wild about girls. When their hormones kick in at puberty, they can think of nothing else, and that"s the way it has always been-- right? Wrong. Before World War II, only sissies liked girls. Masculine, red-blooded, all-American boys were supposed to ignore girls until they were 18 or 19. Instead, parents, teachers, psychiatrists, and especially the mass media encouraged them to form passionate, intense, romantic bonds with each other. This book explores romantic relationships between teenage boys as they were portrayed before, during, and immediately after World War II. The author takes the reader through a rich landscape of media -- sci fi pulps, comics, adventure stories, tales of teen sleuths, boys' serial novels, wartime bestsellers, and movies populated by many types of male adolescents: Boys Next Door, Adventure Boys, Jungle Boys, and Lost Boys. In Hollywood movies, Boys Next Door like Jackie Cooper, Ronald Sinclair, and Jimmy Lydon were constantly falling in love, but not with girls. In serial novels, Jungle Boys like Bomba, Sorak, and Og Son of Fire swung through the trees to rescue teenage boys, not teenage girls. In comic strips and on the radio, Adventure Boys like Don Study, Jack Armstrong, and Tim Tyler formed lasting romantic partnerships with other boys or men. Lost Boys like Frankie Darro, Leo Gorcey, and Billy Halop starred in dozens of movies about pairs of poor urban teenagers sticking together, with never a girl in sight.
It is so very 3000. Fascinating though. I had no idea.
son of parnas
July 24th, 2007 12:06pm
Eww, I think.
It sounds like a 2007 re-interpretation of 1950's fiction. With a lot of homo-eroticism implied.
I understood that Football was originally introduced as a brutal game, so that young men would have something to do that was "manly" without actually having to fight each other.
America has long mis-understood the difference between Love and Sex. American males particularly tend to confuse the two. I believe at an earlier time, it was possible for a "band of brothers" to love each other, without implying they were having sex with each other. If that's what the book is saying, then more power to it.
Since Freud, I suppose it became common to see Sex in everything, and "band of brothers" love becomes immediately suspect. If THAT'S what the book is saying, then it's simply continuing to blur the distinction.
July 24th, 2007 12:16pm
You reaction sounds more like a 2007 reaction to a different time and culture.
son of parnas
July 24th, 2007 12:21pm
Having re-read the entry, I think what's setting me off is that idea of a "Romantic relationship" between men.
I don't think of "band of brothers" love as "Romantic". I think of "Romantic" as wine and flowers with a nice dinner -- not something I associate with other men. I think "Romance" does put love and sex (and children, and committed relationship) all in the same boat.
But perhaps that's just me. As I said, it depends on what point of view the book takes. It may simply be that my understanding of "Romance" is different from the book's.
July 24th, 2007 12:25pm
someone ha sben reading/watching "women in love" a bit much.
July 24th, 2007 12:27pm
>In serial novels, Jungle Boys like Bomba, Sorak, and Og Son of Fire swung through the trees to rescue teenage boys
I always thought it was about friendship. It's pretty normal to rescue a friend, is it not? why everything should be about love? Silly me...
July 24th, 2007 1:02pm
> I think of "Romantic" as wine and flowers with a nice dinner -
That is also a very 20th century notion. The past was different.
son of parnas
July 24th, 2007 1:04pm
The future will be different, too, and they will look at our present and say "the past was different".
July 24th, 2007 1:12pm
> Instead, parents, teachers, psychiatrists, and especially the mass media encouraged them to form passionate, intense, romantic bonds with each other.
More young girls for the older men this way. Seriously. Cui bono. (Also wasn't puberty happening a little later?)
July 24th, 2007 1:16pm
romantic = able to apply a strong emotional context to.
you'll see a similar concept in modern fiction, except that it applies to men (young and old).
it's difficult to write boys in a romantic context because people easily mistake it for a sexual kind of romanticism. people were much more innocent back before ww2...
July 24th, 2007 1:41pm
You guys don't think Tom Sawyer or Daniel Beard were romantic with their boyfriends? At least in the sense this author means?
(Daniel Beard was my favorite adventure boy who was something like Daniel Boone)
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." ~John 15:13
July 24th, 2007 2:12pm
Thank you, Rick. I'll assume you aren't volunteering, yourself.
July 24th, 2007 2:21pm
A quick survey of the 60-90 yr olds I know proves that the premise of that book is nonsense.
Not to say that they didn't encourage boys to bond in all male english boarding schools, they did (and gay sex was the result), but in the real world, boys and girls started dating age 12-16. Girls often married by 16 back then.
July 24th, 2007 3:40pm
> A quick survey of the 60-90 yr olds I know proves that the premise of that book is nonsense.
Very scientific. But I knows it's the truth because you are telling it like it is.
son of parnas
July 24th, 2007 3:51pm
>>A quick survey of the 60-90 yr olds I know proves that the premise of that book is nonsense.
of course they're going to deny it. that's a pretty homophobic age group. you have to phrase your question in a way that won't offend them.
July 24th, 2007 5:05pm
> you have to phrase your question in a way that won't offend them.
Not PE. He knows the truth. Don't even bother.
son of parnas
July 24th, 2007 5:09pm
Nothing sinister. Understand that there was a serious girl drought in teenage society as girls stayed home with their mothers and boys were kicked outside to find mischief.
Boys became as screwed-up girlcrazy as (say) Italy.
July 24th, 2007 10:18pm
Wow, I have the original 1957 1st edition of that book. I never thought much about it, much less expected that it would have ever been reprinted!
July 24th, 2007 10:52pm
There was no such thing as a teenager before the 1950s, as James May so ably explained last night.
man on the stair
July 25th, 2007 3:14am