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Refusing to be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice 2nd Edition

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1841420417
ISBN-10: 1841420417
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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.

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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 (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,411,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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."

Customer Reviews

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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23 of 33 people found the following review helpful By bluetango22 on March 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
John Stoltenberg is a brave man. He shines a light into the murky waters of mens' unconscious fears and desires exposing the fragility of masculinity and the injustice that underpins it.

There is a black and white argument to this book which will discomfort many men; but I believe there are some fundamental truths, many of which form so much part of the fabric of our society, we can no longer see them critically.

At least (most) men.

I don't believe Stoltenberg is trying to deny or repress sexuality, quite the reverse, he is trying to expose the ways in which it is only mens' view of sexuality that is expressed through pornography and the media, and he is critical of it.

For it depicts a type of sexuality which is about domination and subordination and does not uphold any principles of justice or ethics;

'It is now assumed that by giving eroticised domination and subordination free expression, is the fullest flowering of sexual freedom'. Why should this be the norm?

If you are of the persuasion that men are 'naturally' this way, then you will despise this book.

But if you believe that sexuality is more of a spectrum, then you will take this book for what it is; an opportunity for men to critically look at their role in propagating a type of sexual injustice that objectifies and demeans women whilst stereotyping and patronising men.

This book is NOT about demonising men, this book is about highlighting, debating and freeing us from the above.

It is above all about the potential to change an outmoded, unjust, narrow and frankly dysfunctional perspective of sexuality, which does little to foster positive and healthy sexual attitudes between the sexes- if of course that should be of any interest to men!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jerermy Kirk on January 9, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Negative reviews of this text say more about the reviewers' own ideological perspectives than about the quality of this book. Whether or not the reader agrees with Stoltenberg's assessment or conclusions, this is an excellent text for anyone to read who is interested in exploring male feminist allyhood. Stoltenberg masterfully combines arguments for men taking feminism seriously both for the sake of women and themselves. There is no hate for men in this book. Rather, the book gives an excellent critique of the prevailing destructive culture of masculinity that leads to the harm of both women and men and then points to a liberated and healthy manhood that men should strive to achieve for everyone's sake. If you want information on how to be a feminist ally, this is the book for you. If you are anti-feminist and want to wrestle with one of the best texts on male feminism, these are the arguments you need to confront to better make your argument.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ivan Boothe on March 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Although Stoltenberg's affiliation with Andrea Dworkin and his views on pornography might turn off some readers, his essays on feminism and the ways sexism and masculinity negatively impact men's lives were tremendously important to my understanding of issues of gender, sex and sexuality. While you may not agree with every piece in the book, Stoltenberg's objective -- to formulate a theory of liberation for men that will also liberate women -- is a welcome radical exploration and excavation of men's lives.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
It’s a commonplace, these days, to be told that gender and sexuality are social constructs. This book was one of the earliest to argue this; the first fully argued liberation theory for men that will also liberate women. He argues that male sexual identity is entirely a political and ethical construction whose advantages grow out of injustice. His thesis is, however, ultimately one of hope - that precisely because masculinity is so constructed, it is possible to refuse it, to act against it and to change.

I remember telling a trans person that he didn’t need an operation in order to conform to society’s view of male/female. I am embarrassed now that I did so but this book was part of the thinking behind my ill-judged comment.

Stoltenberg was life partner to anti-pornography campaigner Andrea Dworkin for thirty-one years (eventually marrying), although he considers himself gay. He is a lapsed Lutheran, of German and Norwegian descent.

Instead of getting back to what a 'real man' is, he argues, we need to get PAST gender to diversity.

He asks - what makes you a man?

Some say prenatal hormones determine gender specific behaviour. Or is it the way you are brought up (cf. bouncing blue baby and cuddling pink).

Aristotle noted masculine traits thus: unfailing belief in own goodness regardless of others' thoughts; rigorous adherence to male behaviours; belief in one's own consistency

Females are characterised by hesitancy, qualms, uncertain she is doing right. In rape, then man is certain that he is right and women wonders if she led him on.

Biology proves that it’s much more complex. It’s amazing that male and female genitals come from same tissue. Are their two sexes? Or as many sexes as there are people?
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