on December 5, 2014
I picked this book as one of my "optional" books for a graduate school course, but would choose a different book if I could go back in time and make that choice all over again. I was not impressed by this book. The author is female, and approaches male bodies from a very female/woman-centric point of view. I would much have preferred to read about how men themselves view their bodies in public and private, based on a male author's point of view, not an outsider's point of view. The author also uses a very media-focused lens in her examination of male bodies. This could be interesting...but the media she uses - especially the movies and tv shows - are all older movies and shows and I was not familiar with the majority of them. If she had given some sort of introduction about the plot and backgrounds of the media she discusses, perhaps I would have been able to follow her train of thought, but she did not. She just jumped right into discussing a particular character from a particular show without any exposition. I found myself skimming a lot of the book, trying to find any stories or information I could connect to, but found very little. I was also frustrated that her analyses of men and their bodies hinged so much on stereotypes of men and male bodies. This is where a male point of view would have been particularly helpful and interesting to hear, so someone might actually verify or discredit those stereotypes, rather than just reinforcing them with unfamiliar media references.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2013
An fascinating and in-depth investigation of the modern view of the male body, male stereotypes, and male portrayal in literature and film. Definitely worth a read for anyone interested in the subject of guys.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2010
I really found the book to be insightful and revealing in many ways. It was not condescending or feminist and gave a pretty well-rounded view of we men. I highly recommend it to every man to help understand why we are seen the way that we are by society, by women, by other men, and by ourselves.
The book does fall short in it's "contemporary" observations...from 1998. The constant references to Ally McBeal and other late 90's pop culture were at times difficult to take seriously, or remember for that fact. For anyone who was not an adult at that time those references might make cloudy the points she is trying to make. If you can see past that then you will read a great book.
on September 29, 2008
I buy all of my course books online, and like most others...the price of this one beat the bookstore!
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2008
With all the focus on the female body it was nice to see a writer focusing on the male for a change. A good book.
5 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2006
"The Male Body" is tedious and banal. Perhaps an undergraduate would find the book illuminating, but anyone who's given a few minutes thought to modern American portrayals of male sexuality will find nothing new here.
31 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2005
About me: 21 year old male, university student. (sciences/pre med)
I picked up this book some time ago while searching for books on a completely unrelated topic. It's become one of my absolute favorites. I've let at least 5 of my friends borrow it. (Or should I say I pushed it on them.)
Obviously, I'm not as serious a reviewer as some seem to be, so bear with me.
I caught this book a little late, a few years after it was originally published, but feel her comments are still dead on. I thought it was written very professionally, yet casual at the same time. I did not feel like I was being condescended upon, it felt like something "we" were discussing over a coffee.
She starts off with a candid retrospective of sorts on her father, then changes direction entirely with the opening sentence in the following chapter: "Becky Stone was the first of my friends to actually see one."
Other topics include an analysis on media images, women's bodies, and of course, men's. A few of my favorite passages in the book include: the whole section on "Public Images", as well as "Gentleman or Beast? The Double Bind of Masculinity", "The Sexual Harasser Is a Bully, not a Sex Fiend" and "Beautiful Girls, From Both Sides Now."
Remarkably insightful, with theories and analysis that are hard to argue, her comments hit home and make you think whether you agree or not. I suspect even the most chauvinistic reader would have a hard time "debating" or "disproving" some of her thoughts and theories behind media images and the like, in my opinion. Sometimes I may not have wanted to "hear" some of things she had written but couldn't think of any retaliation.
At certain times in the book, it felt as if she was poking around in my head, most of her thoughts about the male body and men in general congruent with my thoughts about myself!
An exciting topic by itself, I highly recommend this book for anyone curious about the male body. You will finish this book smiling, perhaps even with a change in the way you look at yourself, or the culture around you. (I constantly find myself looking deeper into what is given and shown to us than I did previously.) There will undoubtedly be times during reading where you will stop, needing to discuss what you've read with your friends! At least I did. :)
I don't think there are any bad parts to this book, but some might find certain parts uninteresting. That's a given! To me, that doesn't qualify as bad. I think everyone who decides to buy this book will be talking after they put it down, regardless of how much you loved it. 5 stars!
11 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2004
Bordo makes some good points, and the subject matter is fascinating, but the breezy chattiness of her prose is off-putting, and there is a condescending "wink, nudge" tone to this book that is annoying. If you can look past that, this is an intriguing and well-considered book.
6 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2003
The author has accurately characterized the perpetual dilemma of a nation at once embarrassed by its own sexual parts and unduly thrilled with having them revealed in pornography to the extent that neither males nor females are realistic about sex. Men are far more likely to be dependent upon the "ideal female sexuality" as exposed by media empires, at the not so subtle conditioning of Hefner and his Playboy editions over the years, while women are taking the "fast track" to the same attitudes, a unique opportunity to reveal sexual gender conditioning at work. While it might be possible to blame the Puritans for this "sordid affair," in reality, it has not been targeted so blatantly at men until recently, instead preferring to ignore their sexuality as evil and dirty owing to their own inability to exceed their inhibitions. All the while, women are challenged and encouraged to exceed theirs, the double bubble that fuels the taboo of pornography as well as realistic portrayals of gender differences. Sexless men often produce sexually aggressive women for some reason as women perhaps feel more comfortable to be revealing. Since there has never been a time when men were free to reference their sexuality or their sexual parts, it is as yet unknown whether a more accurate balance of propriety may eventually become the norm. Definitely it is a logical probability, however, based upon the attitudes of those in other countries who accept both their sexuality more easily, and are less brainwashed in their acceptance of the sexual diversity in gender as well as in the diverse physical characteristics of either gender that does not limit sexual ideals only to the plastic idealistic models of beauty so prevalent in the U.S., size wise, color wise, or in other aspects of appearance, certainly, a healthier approach to gender than defining beauty and sexual attraction only to the Kens and Barbies of the world. This would and does constitute sexual appearance selectivity and discrimination as presented and as applied.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2003
Bordo's effort is a perceptive and engaging overview of the convoluted representations of the male body active today and of their historical roots. She begins by tracing the evolution of representations of the body and of masculinity in film- with considerable insight and appreciation for the complexity of her subject- before moving on to a more polemical examination of "the double bind of masculinity" today: the incoherent standards that would have men be both 'primal' or 'brutal' and 'sensitive' or 'restrained', and the various reductionisms, biological or otherwise, that attempt to naturalize determinations of differences in gender roles. While her style is non-academic, her even-handed treatment and broad analysis make this book a good read for both gender theory buffs and general public consumption. I, personally, am considering buying a copy for my sixteen-year old brother, to help him make sense of the brutal tensions underlying the performance of masculinity in his public high school.