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

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,221,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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