When does the Boy become the Man?

Many cultures have specific rites of passage that a boy must go through to become a man. Others are a bit less clearly defined, yet it happens all the same. Are there any common indicators though of when the change occurs? Is it merely age or physique, or something else?

Tags: 24, Day, Question, of, passage, rite

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Replies to This Discussion

Cultural rights of passage are the easiest to site (first car, high school graduation, first job, what have you), but a better way would be to make a comprehensive 2-column list of boyish qualities juxtaposed with manly ones, go down that list, and see how the percentages play out. if the person in question has most qualities in the boyish columns, then he is still a boy, and vice versa.

sample:
selfish - selfless
vengeful - forgiving
conceited - disarming/approachable
looks for immediate gratification - thinks long term
etc.

probably not a good exercise to do for today's American male, including myself, lest we find out how much we are still like boys. unless we very carefully manipulate the columns... ;)
Even in the US some of us do formal initiation, and it rocks. I wasn't a man until I did. YMMV.
I think it occurs at the point, when you finally realize: "it's not all about me". Some that immediately come to mind are:
• when you have the realization that her happiness means more than your own.
• while saying your marriage vows
• when you first hold your first-born
Yes, I'd agree, Bruce. When you accept the fact that the pendulum must swing from the capricous quality of boyhood to the more steadfast nature of manhood, that is a large part of it.
...and it's interesting that it doesn't swing at the same point for all of us. My daughters' fiance is 23, and in some ways he is more mature than guys I know who are TWICE his age! He takes pride in being responsible, and he doesn't seem to care whether he is "cool" or not. Simply, he knows what is right and wrong. And he takes full responsibility for his actions and decisions. We are lucky to have him as a family member.
Sounds like she found a good, respectable man. My congratulations to her, him, and your family, Bruce.
Thanks Oracle. Yes she did. I couldn't be happier with her choice.
Its responsibility. The moment that responsibility of more than just yourself is placed on a man's shoulders he is seen as a man.
All good responses here. In Gordon Dalbey's book "Healing the Masculine Soul", there is a lengthy discussion of what a North American-style initiation rite might look like. Dalbey's ideas have a decidedly Christian slant, but they could be adapted for any culture or faith. I think it is important for the boy's male role models to publicly acknowledge the transition, and that there must be a visible token of separation from boyhood. Dalbey uses an example from a tribal culture; the boy is literally called out from his mother's house by the men of the village. The boy must make the decision to leave with the men, and if he does, he is taken into the wilderness where he is exposed to teaching and testing in the responsibilities of manhood. Upon his return, he is finally seen as a man.

I think there are experiences which could substitute for this rite, but public acknowledgement puts the decision in the hands of the boy; he is expected to act like a man by his family and community in turn. We need to be active in calling out our boys to become men, even if you aren't the boy's father.
Isn't this a sociological question, not philosophical? I enjoy much of this groups topics, but many seem not to fall in the realm of philosophy. It's like, if a question can be debated, it get's posted. Just because you can frame it as a question doesn't make it a philosophical question.

Next it'll be: Big Question #X: Who will be the Next Superbowl Champions?

Well, maybe it's not that bad... but close!

But hey, I'll try to answer the question. A boy becomes a man when he becomes sexually able to reproduce. Biologically accurate. Any other definition brings cultural and sociological aspects into play.
In my interpretation, questions of philosophy are any that provoke people to think about the world around them. In this respect there are many varied topics that can be discussed under the umbrella of Philosophy. That being said, members are all welcome to post questions in the discussion forums, so I would be very pleased to see you take up the opportunity to demonstrate what you believe to be a True philosophical question by posting one of your own.
Thanks for clarifying the groups purpose. Hope I didn't offend. I'll try to take you up on your offer, sir.

And I'd like to add I think I found a flaw in my answer! (Shocking, I know.) If a male person cannot reproduce would that mean he's not a man? Yikes! I can't even find an answer for that on on biological terms, let alone cultural ones.

If I recall, philosophy is big on defining the terms.

So, what is a Man? If we answer, a male human of the age capable to reproduce, then I think my answer stands. But what is a Man seems to be the big, BIG question that this whole Art of Manliness attempts to face. There is not satisfying scientific answer to what is a Man, thus we attempt to delve into the Art of Manliness.

And Art is a deep topic in itself. Subjective and changing. The question of Art, like the question of Manhood, cannot be pinned down. I think has to be individually developed and pursued.

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