How Not To Be A Boy Book Summary By Robert Webb

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How Not To Be a Boy provides an interesting portrait of what it was like to grow up as a boy in rural England.

Robert Webb takes readers through his own personal story and illustrates how he pushed back on traditionally “manly” expectations — like being strong or appearing tough.

The themes in this book may be comic, yet Webb's insightful writing also reveals a deeper message for all audiences: it's okay to break away from society's norms and choose your own individual path.

It is both a heartfelt autobiography and an earnest examination of the pressures that boys can face growing up; How Not To Be a Boy will captivate readers from start to finish with its mix of heartwarming humor and introspection.

How Not To Be A Boy Book

Book Name: How Not To Be a Boy (A comedian's journey with masculinity and gender)

Author(s): Robert Webb

Rating: 3.8/5

Reading Time: 19 Minutes

Categories: Book Summaries

Author Bio

Robert Webb's book, "How Not To Be a Boy," is a heartfelt and candid memoir about Webb's journey of self-discovery.

He is a well-respected comedian and actor with many accolades; having starred in multiple award winning shows such as That Mitchell And Webb Look and Peep Show.

Throughout his life, Webb has learned valuable lessons about masculinity, acceptance, identity, and connectedness; lessons which he imparts upon the reader through the pages of this book.

His vulnerability forms a powerful narrative that can motivate readers to explore their own identities.

Robert Webb Shows Us That There Is No Such Thing As A “Male Brain” And That Traditional Expectations Of Men Are Outdated

Robert Webb

If you’re a fan of the hit British show Peep Show, then you’re familiar with the comedic genius of Robert Webb.

In his latest book, How Not To Be A Boy, he reveals an intimate look into his own life and explains why traditional expectations of what it means to be a male can be limiting and destructive.

Webb shares personal anecdotes from growing up in rural England, going to Cambridge University, and becoming a successful comedy writer and actor.

He argues that many so-called ‘typical’ behaviors associated with men can be traced back to outdated expectations that have been passed down for generations.

This book makes it clear; there’s no such thing as a ‘male brain’ that’s solely responsible for making men behave in traditional ways – proving that it is possible to break free of gender roles!

Through reading Webb’s memorable stories and experiences, we gain a more balanced insight into what being a boy looks like today.

How Social Biases Affect Parents Reinforcing Gender Stereotypes In Children

It is often assumed that certain gender-based behaviors are biologically predetermined and cannot be changed.

However, this is simply not the case.

Numerous studies have determined that most cognitive and behavioral gender differences are not, in fact, a result of biology.

A study published in Science magazine showed that, instead of there being a “male brain” or a “female brain”, all brains are unique – and can’t reasonably be categorized by gender.

Psychologist Cordelia Fine also noted this in her book Delusions of Gender.

Furthermore, she highlighted a study from the year 2000 which revealed how mothers had subconsciously biased expectations for their eleven-month-old toddlers based on their gender – expecting boys to climb steeper slopes than girls could manage.

These kinds of biases demonstrate how society shapes our perceptions of gender roles and behavior – with many behavioral differences among men and women being more about social expectations than about biology.

The Ridiculous Rigidity Of Gender Stereotypes In Clothing: A Story From The Playground

The strict dress code for boys is enforced by a culture of bullying and it starts at a very young age.

We can see this clearly when Webb, a 10-year-old, receives a pair of socks from his Aunt Tru that are deemed “too girly” because they have a pattern printed on them.

His playmate, Matthew Tellis, immediately ridicules him, and the other boys join in the fun.

This demonstrates the way boys are expected to adhere to certain norms when it comes to fashion and dress codes; any deviation from those norms will be met with ridicule and humiliation.

Boys also learn to defend themselves swiftly from these attacks which leads to more aggressive behaviour in order to avoid humiliation.

This can be seen in Webb’s clever deflection of attention onto an embarrassing incident that had happened with Matthew previously – using something that was meant as an insult against him as an effective tool of playground politics.

It’s clear that society puts the burden on young males (and many adults) to stick rigidly to masculine stereotypes when it comes to clothing and appearance – stereotypes that are outdated, unnecessary and even harmful.

Don’t Believe The Ridiculous Stereotype: Men Have An Emotional Side Too

Men Have An Emotional

People’s absurd stereotypes about gender have been around for far too long and don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Take things like, “Mark is like all boys, he can never sit quietly.” Or “What’s great about men is that they’re so straightforward and uncomplicated – none of those messy emotions to deal with.” These generalizations completely ignore the human experience and oversimplify gender roles.

Webb’s brother Mark is a prime example of how misguided these gender stereotypes are.

He was able to embody both traditional masculine traits – being tough, driving an Audi, and working in management – as well as compassionate characteristics such as taking the time to teach his brother how to sing and whistle, or babysitting him when his mother was busy.

Plus, on night Webb even remembers his brother kissing him goodnight – on the mouth!

These types of stereotypes aren’t just stupid; they’re dangerous.

They perpetuate outdated ideologies about gender roles that can negatively impact both men and women alike.

So let’s put an end to these preconceived notions once and for all.

The Problem Of Male Socialization: How Expectations Of Masculinity Do More Harm Than Good

It’s a well-known fact that boys are expected to behave and act a certain way.

One of these expectations is that boys should be rough, physical, and cocksure – rather than intellectual.

This belief stems from the idea that physical activities are seen as manly, while intellectual ones are deemed as wimpy and “unmanly”.

As Robert Webb writes in his memoir How Not To Be A Boy, this mentality was especially prevalent in Webb’s childhood home in rural England where he had two older brothers.

Every Tuesday afternoon they would have “ritual beatings” which essentially amounted to play-fighting with each other.

Furthermore, any time Robert sat alone at the kitchen table, his brother would come up behind him and push his head into his cereal bowl – something done more out of affection than anything else.

This kind of behavior is also reflected in schools all across the country.

There is a stigma attached to intelligence and learning – braininess is seen as strictly uncool, so those students who strive for excellence aren’t highly regarded by their peers.

In fact, it’s quite common for boys who excel academically to be bullied or ostracized since it goes against this accepted notion of male behavior.

So while boys are encouraged to engage in vigorous physical activities such as sports or ritual beatings with brothers, they’re not supposed to prefer intelligent pursuits or put much effort into academic endeavors because showing a genuine desire to learn isn’t seen as masculine behavior.

Ultimately, this faulty logic has detrimental effects on young men’s education since it discourages them from striving for excellence in their studies.

The Cost Of Not Teaching Boys To Communicate: Avoidance And Isolation

All too often, boys don’t learn the skills necessary to become adept at talking and resolving conflicts.

They are not encouraged to develop social skills, and so they get stuck trying to figure out how to handle difficult conversations in awkward situations.

An example of this can be seen in the story of Robert Webb, author of “How Not To Be a Boy”, who was even faced with such scenarios during his school days.

One day he was approached by his classmate Gareth to play a game of chess.

But Gareth’s puzzle-like opening move did’t adhere to any of the rules – Webb knew it right away but couldn’t bring himself to tell him that it was an invalid move.

As this story plays out, it’s easy to see just how little boys are supposed to know about respectful conversations with each other.

This type of behavior eventually carries over into adulthood as well; Webb later spoke with a male friend who told him about neighbors who were illegally using his trash cans for their own waste disposal…

but instead of having a conversation to resolve the conflict, he decided (without hesitation) the most reasonable escaped route waspacking up and moving away!

In conclusion, since boys are not adequately taught how and when to use their social skills, This leaves adult men tragically ill-equipped for successful communication and understanding in any situation that calls for it – leading them down paths that only involve avoidance as opposed to finding constructive resolutions.

The Consequences Of Male Uncommunicativeness: Bad Boyfriends Who Can’t Even End Relationships Properly

Bad Boyfriends

It is no secret that male socialization often makes for bad boyfriends.

In the case of Webb, a 17 year-old boy, he exhibited many signs of a bad boyfriend such as ignoring his girlfriend at school, being overly critical of her friends and never asking questions about her life.

His behavior went beyond simply bad boyfriend behavior when he was presented with a heartfelt love letter from Isabel – his first girlfriend – asking him if their relationship had any meaning to him; yet instead of breaking up politely as an emotionally intelligent person should do, Webb responded with a love letter of his own and Isabel believed him.

This situation is common amongst male teenagers: being in relationships they don’t care about but getting no real guidance on how to end it properly.

Rather than facing the issue head-on, Webb decided to wait for unfortunately fed up Isabel to break up with him so he neither had to figure out how to make the relationship work nor give up the regular sex.

All in all, male socialization often results in creating bad boyfriends that won’t even be bothered to dump their girlfriends.

Men Can Cry And Engage In Homosexuality Without Compromising Their Masculinity

It is normal and natural for men to cry, and it’s true that even heterosexual men can have a sexual relationship.

This was demonstrated in the book How Not To Be a Boy by the author Robert Webb.

Webb described an emotional experience where he was crying in bed with his friend Will and weeping over the death of his mother.

Surprisingly, Will did not flee from the situation but actually held Webb’s hand to comfort him – showing that it is okay for mean to express emotion in such a way.

Furthermore, when Webb touched Will in a sexual way, he allowed it and for them to engage in an intimate experience that went beyond just physical intimacy.

It is alright for heterosexual men to show affection and explore their sexuality with another man and although the two are no longer together, they remain friends and can reflect fondly on their unique connection.

Therefore, one can see through this example of opening up emotionally when feeling safe while sharing a strong friendship that it is absolutely normal for men to cry, have a romantic/sexual relationship with another person regardless of gender identity or orientation and still maintain close ties afterwards.

The Power Of A Genuine Expression: Understanding How Men Communicate Emotions And Bonding With Fathers

Genuine Expression

Men have long been stereotyped as being bad communicators when it comes to their emotions, and this was certainly proven true in the case of author Robert Webb and his father Derek.

When Derek was faced with Robert leaving his home, he didn’t communicate what he was feeling but instead tried to make Robert feel guilty by saying his mother would have wanted him to stay.

It wasn’t just Derek that had issues communicating his emotions either; Webb’s biological father was no better.

In fact, he was obsessively organized, pushing for endless chores around the house and a spotless bathtub after every bath!

His angry words and slamming doors became almost routine interactions between them.

So while some men struggle with expressing emotion, others can become tyrannically overorganized, leading to conflict instead of communication.

This is a lesson that Robert learned well during his life, going on to become the writer and father we know today—proof positive that men don’t need to be bad communicators!

Wrap Up

How Not to Be a Boy by Robert Webb offers up a new idea of masculinity – one where men don’t feel the pressure to fit into society’s rigid conceptions of masculinity.

Instead, they are free to embrace their emotions and feelings and be honest about them.

Robert also encourages men to be aware of physical disparities when it comes to flirting, particularly when those involved have different strengths.

This book is an call for change in the way we view and discuss masculinity – both among males, but also within society at large.

It reminds us that sometimes our idea of masculinity needs an upgrade, and helps us do that by offering up tips on being honest about our feelings and respectful with potential romantic partners.

So make sure you keep this final summary in mind: above all else, it’s ok for men not to fit into traditionally “male” molds.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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