How Not To Be a Boy Book Summary - How Not To Be a Boy Book explained in key points
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How Not To Be a Boy summary

Robert Webb

A comedian's journey with masculinity and gender

3.5 (32 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

How Not To Be a Boy by Robert Webb is a memoir that explores the societal expectations surrounding masculinity and the negative impact they have on men. Webb reflects on his own experiences and provides insight into the toxic nature of traditional gender roles.

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    How Not To Be a Boy
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    Most behavioral gender differences aren’t biological; they’re shaped by social expectations.

    No one sets out to be a bad parent, but some of them can be appallingly stubborn in how they reinforce gender stereotypes. It’s common for a parent to say, “Oh, Sally is such a girl. One day, a boy tried to get her to play with an action figure, and she just put a dress on it and tucked it into bed!”

    What many parents don’t understand is that a child may adopt certain stereotypical behaviors, but that this doesn’t mean they’re biologically determined to behave this way.

    Whether parents want to admit it or not, most cognitive and behavioral traits are not biological or gender-related at all. In fact, there’s no such thing as a “male brain” or a “female brain.” In November of 2015, an article in Science magazine explained how neuroscientists determined that all brains are unique, and therefore can’t be categorized by gender.

    So, if a boy doesn’t want to wear a pink sweater, this isn´t because of biology. Chances are, any recognizable gender differences are the result of social expectations.

    In her book Delusions of Gender, psychologist Cordelia Fine points to a study from 2000 that shows just how biased society is about gender. In the study, mothers were asked to examine a sloped walkway that had an adjustable level for how steep it could be. Their task was to judge the steepness and try to determine whether their eleven-month-old toddler could succeed in climbing it.

    The results showed that mothers consistently underestimated the girls’ ability to successfully climb slopes that were quite steep. Conversely, the mothers routinely overestimated the ability of the boys, expecting them to be able to climb slopes that often proved to be too steep.

    With gender biases like these in society, is it any wonder that men and women will grow up to have different personalities?

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    What is How Not To Be a Boy about?

    How Not To Be a Boy (2017) is writer and actor Robert Webb’s personal account of what it was like to grow up as a boy in rural England. In particular, what it was like to be the kind of boy who wasn’t all that into typically “manly” stuff. Webb’s tale is both a heartfelt autobiography and a humorously critical assessment of the pressures society can put on young men.

    How Not To Be a Boy Review

    How Not To Be a Boy (2017) by Robert Webb is a thought-provoking exploration of traditional masculinity and its impact on individuals. Here's why this book is worth a read:

    • With honest, personal stories and reflections, it offers a fresh perspective on gender roles and the expectations placed on men.
    • By challenging societal norms and questioning traditional masculinity, the book encourages readers to examine and redefine their own identities.
    • Webb's humor and wit infuse the book, making it an enjoyable and engaging read while tackling serious and important topics.

    Best quote from How Not To Be a Boy

    The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football. - Terry Pratchett

    —Robert Webb
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    Who should read How Not To Be a Boy?

    • Readers who love a funny story
    • People opposed to gender stereotypes
    • Fans of Robert Webb and Peep Show

    About the Author

    Robert Webb is a comedian and actor. He’s starred in several award-winning shows, including That Mitchell And Webb Look and Peep Show.

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    How Not To Be a Boy FAQs 

    What is the main message of How Not To Be a Boy?

    To challenge gender stereotypes and explore the pressures boys face in society.

    How long does it take to read How Not To Be a Boy?

    The reading time for How Not To Be a Boy varies, but it can be finished in a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How Not To Be a Boy a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How Not To Be a Boy is worth reading as it provides a thought-provoking and insightful exploration of masculinity.

    Who is the author of How Not To Be a Boy?

    Robert Webb is the author of How Not To Be a Boy.

    What to read after How Not To Be a Boy?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How Not To Be a Boy, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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