Life is one long journey, and men and women take different approaches to the adventure. Best-selling author Gail Sheehy takes us along for part of the trip from a man's point of view, with her new book, Understanding Men's Passages. Sheehy demonstrates how the trek of life has changed for men in the past few years with the development of new social conditions and medical advances.
"Most men as they approach 40 or later ages will run into passages for which they were never prepared," writes Sheehy. As traditional roles of men and women become more or less a thing of the past, men find themselves more confused than ever as they approach middle age. Sheehy reveals that the stereotypes of men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are just not accurate anymore. In hundreds of extensive interviews with men from all over the country, men talk about their concerns about the effects of aging: loss of physical stamina, sex drive, prestige. As baby boomers approach "middle age," Sheehy finds that aside from changes here and there most still consider themselves the same person they were when they were 25 or 30. Interestingly, for those in their 50s, 60s, and beyond, there are ways in which this seems to be true. "Retirement is an obsolete concept for boomers," reports Sheehy, who talked to a number of men in the midst of post-retirement careers. "Male menopause" is a subject few have dared talk about, but Sheehy forges ahead, prompting discussions on hormone treatments, impotency, virility, family matters, staying active, and examining the comments of men who have experienced this "change of life." Every reader will gain something from Understanding Men's Passages; men can see themselves and women can see their husbands, fathers, significant others, and friends. Sheehy's detailed research and straightforward style helps to unveil this silent topic, and aims to enable men to prepare and endure the passages of life and, hopefully, learn something about themselves in the process.
Reviewed by Paul Ladd.