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Refusing to be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice Paperback – June 23, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-1841420417 ISBN-10: 1841420417 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (June 23, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841420417
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841420417
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,475,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Co-founder of Men Against Pornography, Stoltenberg considers himself a radical feminist. These 13 searching essays reflect his belief that male sexuality is an artificial, social-political construct, inextricably linked to widely held assumptions of men's "natural" superiority over women. Rape, wife-beating, casual humiliation of females and pornography all flow inevitably from this cultural bias, he maintains. Though the author sometimes pushes his rhetoric to extremes ("The idea of the male sex is like the idea of an Aryan race"), these bracing essays link feminist awareness to men's on-going struggle to achieve nonsexist self-definition. One piece invites men to consider the range of erotic possibilities available beyond a macho definition of maleness. Another views the nuclear arms race as an extension of male sadism. Stoltenberg is as critical of gay male sex films as he is of hetero porn; his call for antipornography legislation that would enable women to sue smut-purveyors for damages will no doubt rile First Amendment advocates.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this collection of 13 essays, radical feminist Stoltenberg speaks openly and explicitly on male sexual identity and its interrelation with rape, war, abortion , homophobia, pornography, and injustice. His premise is that male sexual identity is a political and ethical construction connected to male supremacy. Based mostly on speeches delivered at colleges, community organizations, and regional and national conferences, his essays exhort individuals, especially men, to learn a new ethic and to examine their acts in view of the consequences for others. This book will enlighten, please, and anger readers.
- Jeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Lib., New Brunswick, N.J.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Many men will find this book uncomfortable to read.
James Kenney
It is a very positive book, useful for men to examine both how sexism harms women and themselves.
L. Marquise
We need to look at how men feel powerful in this country or powerless.
Concerned

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 87 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 21, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read Stoltenberg's book the same year I read Robert Bly's "Iron Yawn" (oops! I meant "Iron John"!) and frankly, I was shocked. Bly's book offended me by offering no real solutions to anything, whereas Stoltenberg not only provided creative and profound insights into the problem of gender ideology, he actually recognized and identified the real problem for what it is, something Bly seems incapable of doing. I was surprised, upon reading this book and seeing how strongly it resonated with my own experiences, to discover that I've been a "radical feminist" all my life. Like most men, I had used the "radical" label to demonize a straw man (or should that be "straw woman"?) version of feminism that no one anywhere actually espouses. It took reading this book for me to understand that I've been one of the radicals all along, and furthermore, that I shouldn't be ashamed of it. Stoltenberg's insightful, and often delightful, commentary on the idea of manhood and the social injustice required to meaningfully maintain it, forever altered my perceptions of the world around me. Goddess (or whoever) bless Stoltenberg! Find this book and read it as if your life depended on it, because it probably does.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James Kenney on March 15, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Many men will find this book uncomfortable to read. I am surprised and frankly disgusted at the vile tone of some of the reviews of this book, which is one of the most insightful commentaries on male violence and its relationship to the social construct, "Be a man!" I refuse to be that sort of man. I refuse to participate in a culture in which it is just fine for men to kill a woman they've raped on a bus, "because she didn't submit willingly" or in which a male judge in Italy acquits a rapist because the woman he raped was wearing tight jeans and so she had to have helped take them off...she was a willing participant. Every week now, we read about mass shootings, and guess what? They're all committed by men (nearly all). There is something deeply wrong with a culture that not only accepts this with a shrug, but secretly connives with it.
Our relationships with other men are all contaminated with this competitive thing we've got going. Where are the real "gentle"-men? The kind men? The men who listen? The men who will actually talk about their inner fears, hopes, dreams, doubts and anguishes?
And for you other male reviews (or readers), no, I'm not gay. But so what if I were? Would that make my point any less valid? Would it make ME any less valid?
This book gave me hope, for the first time, of the possibility of a community in which men don't have to fear each other, bully each other or establish who is "top gun."
Thank God for the early feminists and women-liberationists. Yes, they made me uncomfortable at first! No, I didn't like being excluded from their gatherings and discussions. Then I realized what I didn't like was getting a taste of my own medicine! And I learned that I could change.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ronald a strapason on November 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
My name is Collette Marie and I buy books from Amazon with Ron's help.

I reviewed John Stoltenberg's other book, The End of Manhood, and as I wrote much more under that review, I will keep this one short.

I love Stoltenberg's wonderfully insightful and compassionate books. I have nearly all his books, and have recommended them to many others over the years -- to men and women both.

John Stoltenberg is a man of TREMENDOUS courage, strength, and integrity. (Unfortunately, most men "sell out" and jump right on the bandwagon of Patriarchy's "status-quo" thinking and behavior, whereas John does not waver in the face of it.)

His insights into GENDER JUSTICE could save this world from patriarchal destruction and decay, if only men would listen.

I have always found it terribly ironic that women especially would find fault with Stoltenberg. He is like our BEST FRIEND -- if EVERY MAN was as caring and compassionate as Stoltenberg, wouldn't all patriarchal cruelties such as war, rape, battery of women, sexual harrassment, and serial murders of women END? (YES! To say the very least!) Better yet, wouldn't we always have someone to turn to that truly understood and cared about our deepest, existential pain and suffering as women, and who was always on our side?

After reading this book many years ago (this was the first book I read by Stoltenberg), I fervently wished with all my heart that many more men could be like John -- but it seems he is a rarity, in this world.

P.S. "Masculinity" as a concept and a practice brings a certain metaphor to mind: It makes me think of a man walking round and round in a house of mirrors, as in a maze -- he is hypnotically entranced with distorted images of himself.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Victor Ochoa on October 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stoltenberg's book is a brilliant reflection on masculine superiority and how it is actually weak and unnatural, to say the least, and thus needs to be socially reinforced over and over again to retain its "legitimacy." How violence against women is perpetuated by this sense of entitlement that men use to subordinate them in the first place. How the hatred of the "other," in women, extends to the hatred of the "other" made manifest in war the world over. Must-reading for the enlightened reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

GONERZ is John Stoltenberg's first novel. He first conceived it in conversations with Andrea Dworkin, his life partner of 31 years, and he drew on his earlier years as a playwright when the characters began to come alive.

"I really liked GONERZ. I was charmed by the narrator, by her friends, by the humor and spirit of the style. The book is very assured and I found it very readable, well-paced, a pleasure from page one. The language is alive and lively. I really liked the ending." --Acclaimed science fiction and fantasy novelist MICHAEL MOORCOCK

A long-time activist against sexual violence and a philosopher of gender and ethics, John Stoltenberg is the author of "Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice," "End of Manhood: Parables on Sex and Selfhood, and "What Makes Pornography 'Sexy'?," as well as numerous articles and essays in anthologies. Of "Refusing to Be a Man," Alice Walker said: "This is a book that can change the lives of millions of people. A book that can give hope to the coming generations.... Above all, this book feels true.... I am a better soul for having read it." The New York Times Book Review said of "The End of Manhood": "Stoltenberg's new male...is able to reach beyond gender differences into the humanizing depths of everyone's gender-free soul."

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