Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Social Justice” as Want to Read:
Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Social Justice
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Social Justice

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  17 reviews
Since its original publication in 1989, Refusing to be a Man has been acclaimed as a classic, and is widely cited in gender studies literature. The publication consists of thirteen eloquent essays on liberation theory.
ebook, 240 pages
Published December 2nd 1999 by Routledge (first published 1989)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Refusing to Be a Man, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Refusing to Be a Man

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 492)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Essential reading for all humans-with-a-penis.
Rob Little
After the first 2/3 of the book, I was kind of ready to write it off as a loss. The author starts off with some very interesting premises for his essays, but almost uniformly ends of supporting his arguments with so many phallic examples it would do Freud proud (I'm probably more Jungian in outlook, so that may be why I had a harder time with that approach). If I was going to give a review strictly on the first 2/3's, it would get only 1 or 2 stars.
However, in the final third (and for me particu
Duncan Robertson
Refusing to be a Man is an assortment of stark, fascinating essays wrapped in a blanket of self-conscious angst. Stoltenberg provides great insights into the mechanics of male domination, which I found extremely helpful in my ongoing quest to love justice more than manhood (his words). However, this is not a book for a man new to feminist ideas. Shocking imagery is employed unnecessarily, and confusion between the concepts of biological sex and gender makes some passages seem needlessly nonsensi ...more
I picked this book up because I thought it would provide a frank assessment of the often-overlooked harm that prescribed gender roles do to boys.

Instead I found an author who not only fails to cite sources when necessary, but doesn't even acknowledge the difference between sex and gender. Throughout the book he refers to sexual identity as "socially constructed". Then, at the end, came an explanation for this unbelievable oversight when he (finally) cited the following sentence by Andrea Dworki
Abdullah Alhomoud
I'm not sure what to think about this book. I found some essays very well argued and supported with sufficient evidence, making anyone who wants to argue against them faced with a difficult task. John Stoltenberg, for instance, argues that women's rights are not respected in practice, providing plenty of evidence that U.S. courts have historically deemed porn to fall under the First Amendment even when it involves the sexual assault and rape of women.

On the other hand, however, I found some of h
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 m ...more
Clare Scott
The first feminist text I have read that's written by a male author. I thought that there was a lot of focus on the problem and not a lot on what the solution may look like. A lot of the section on pornography made me feel really bad, like I wanted to read a children's story afterwards to try to reclaim my innocence. Interesting read if a little depressing and definitely still relevant despite its age, sadly.
This book is should read by any men who live in the world. John has been really honest with the chosen words... great book.
I'm surprised this book isn't more widely read. Sure, there's a little woo factor, but it's definitely still relevant today.
un bouquin que tout individu avec un pénis devrait lire...
Like many of the other reviewers, I found many insights about the intersections between sex, gender, and masculinity, but did not agree with everything the (self-proclaimed) radically feminist author wrote.
Dated and on the self-congratulatory side but a time and a place i suppose
Matthew Trevino
While Stoltenberg's rhetoric can occasionally be a strong deterrent to reading, and some of his essays exhibit this much more prominently than others, I think that this is definitely worth the read and that there are some very important insights to be gleaned from it. His proposition that sexual justice is incompatible with the contemporary conception of sexual liberation is strong and one that everybody should have to address.
Excellent. In such a clearly defined masculine/feminine, male/female gender role society, this book turns those stereotypes of how men are essentially raised to act and behave completely on their heads. Stoltenberg tackles topics of the masculine man to the rape culture that exists and challenges everything that is stereotypical of what society has come to expect a man to be.
looking back I really likes it at the time but now I feel like its kind of overwrought. worth another skim if not read
Molly Octopus
Disjointed. Old ideas. Plus, his writing style pissed me off.
I first read this about 1990, in a highly politicized history department. I was coming to terms with feminist critiques of a variety of social relationships, and needed some mental fodder for juxtaposition. As I remember them, the essays in "Refusing to Be a Man" were personal and polemical, and helpful in providing a strong point of view from which I could triangulate into my own thoughts. It's worth a read if you are interested in the concept of masculinity, and understand the value of a polem ...more
Vilma Hämäläinen
Vilma Hämäläinen marked it as to-read
Jul 27, 2015
Megan marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2015
Amanda marked it as to-read
Jul 22, 2015
David marked it as to-read
Jul 21, 2015
Kirby marked it as to-read
Jul 14, 2015
Yomainbitch marked it as to-read
Jul 13, 2015
Olivia is currently reading it
Jun 30, 2015
Eric Herod
Eric Herod marked it as to-read
Jun 30, 2015
Jay marked it as to-read
Jun 26, 2015
Ben marked it as to-read
Jun 23, 2015
Michelle marked it as to-read
Jun 22, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 16 17 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Beauty and Misogyny: Harmful Cultural Practices in the West
  • Pornography: Men Possessing Women
  • Only Words
  • Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity
  • The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
  • Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality
  • Femininity
  • One Dimensional Woman
  • Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation
  • A Chorus of Stones: The Private Life of War
  • The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy
  • The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help
  • Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale: Women in the International Division of Labour
  • Transforming a Rape Culture
John Stoltenberg is the radical feminist author of Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice (rev. edn, London and New York: UCL Press, 2000), The End of Manhood: Parables on Sex and Selfhood (rev. edn, London and New York: UCL Press, 2000), and What Makes Pornography “Sexy” ?(Minneapolis, Minnesota: Milkweed Editions, 1994). He is cofounder of Men Against Pornography ( ...more
More about John Stoltenberg...
The End of Manhood: A Book for Men of Conscience What Makes Pornography "Sexy"? GONERZ How Men Have (a) Sex Just Sex: Students Rewrite the Rules on Sex, Violence, Equality and Activism

Share This Book

“Penises and ejaculate and prostate glands occur in nature, but the notion that these anatomical traits comprise a sex—a discrete class, separate and distinct, metaphysically divisible from some other sex, the “other sex” —is simply that: a notion, an idea. The penises exist; the male sex does not. The male sex is socially constructed. It is a political entity that flourishes only through acts of force and sexual terrorism. Apart from the global inferiorization and subordination of those who are defined as “nonmale,” the idea of personal membership in the male sex class would have no recognizable meaning. It would make no sense. No one could be a member of it and no one would think they should be a member of it. There would be no male sex to belong to. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t still be penises and ejaculate and prostate glands and such. It simply means that the center of our selfhood would not be required to reside inside an utterly fictitious category—a category that only seems real to the extent that those outside it are put down.” 0 likes
More quotes…