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Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Social Justice

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  171 Ratings  ·  24 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)
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Sep 02, 2011 Antiloquax rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender
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
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
Oct 11, 2011 Umi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is should read by any men who live in the world. John has been really honest with the chosen words... great book.
X Colton X
Mar 08, 2016 X Colton X rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book profoundly changed me for the better.
Jun 17, 2016 Olga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Not only explains many things I couldn't understand about how men behave to me in my early years but also helped me understand that no matter what there is an perpetual undertone of male supremacy in our social interactions. The author is not at all apologetic or trying to inspire pity and avoids to fall into premises such as 'but men are also oppressed'. On the contrary, the author proposes men to become responsible of their actions and what they ...more
Sep 24, 2015 Camille rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Toi, tu m'as bien eue, avec ton titre et ta couverture violette : j'ai cru que tu serais un livre sur l'objectification sexiste d'un point de vue masculin. Grand bien m'en a fait, c'était bien plus intéressant que prévu.
Sur les chemins du féminisme radical, John Stoltenberg questionne l'identité masculine comme conditionnée à l'humiliation et au viol (métaphorique ou non) féminin.
La dernière partie de l'ouvrage, prenant position contre la pornographie dans la lignée de Dworkin, fait évidemment
Dec 19, 2012 Tara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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 the book 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 everybody should have to address.
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.
Ronald Lett
Jun 29, 2016 Ronald Lett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: gender-studies
This is another text (in addition to Intercourse), that should be in the library of every high school and be read by every male-identified student before they can call themselves properly educated and prepared for the modern world. Every chapter and paragraph of this book is important to forming a healthy modern psyche that deconstructs the unfortunately male supremacist ideology that surrounds us in the most common push media sources. A fresh, fully realized vision, important questions are rais ...more
Dec 26, 2015 Annie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Les différents essais sont parfois légèrement répétitifs, mais deux moments valent largement le détour :

- l'introduction et le parallèle dressé entre le genre et la race. Stoltenberg rappelle à raison que le féminisme radical américain diffère fortement de ses équivalents européens. Il a été nourri des luttes contre le racisme, contre la ségrégation et donc contre tout rapport de domination sur des corps. Le féminisme européen, qui s'inscrit dans la tradition ouverte par la Révolution française
I'm surprised this book isn't more widely read. Sure, there's a little woo factor, but it's definitely still relevant today.
Dec 25, 2013 Drexel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nov 10, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Dated and on the self-congratulatory side but a time and a place i suppose
Jun 03, 2013 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jan 30, 2016 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ouch. When I first read this book several years ago I was utterly enthralled. I guess I hadn't read many good books. Most of these are essays from the '80s, and reading it back today they haven't aged well. At all. Stoltenberg & Dworkin mean well, of course, but perhaps see the world in black and white.
Very heavy reading. These essays are hard hitting and is sort of the "gotta hear both sides" of masculinity. Delves into patriarchy in ways I'd have never thought, but still in an easy to follow manner that even the simplest meninist can follow (or not)
Nov 04, 2010 Eli rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sex-n-gender
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
Sep 17, 2012 Molly Octopus rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Disjointed. Old ideas. Plus, his writing style pissed me off.
Dec 20, 2014 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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...

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“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
“If you look at all the variables in nature that are said
to determine human “sex,” you can’t possibly find one that will unequivocally split the species into two. Each of the so-called criteria of sexedness is itself a continuum—including chromosomal variables, genital and gonadal variations,
reproductive capacities, endocrinological proportions, and any other criterion you could think of. Any or all of these different variables may line up in any number of ways, and all of the variables may vary independently of one another.”
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