Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Social Justice
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Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Social Justice

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  118 ratings  ·  13 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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Essential reading for all humans-with-a-penis.
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
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...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
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.
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...more
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.
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.
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 masculinity, and understand the value of a polemic...more
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  • Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity
  • Intercourse
  • The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution
  • One Dimensional Woman
  • The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help
  • Toward a Feminist Theory of the State
  • Transforming a Rape Culture
  • Beyond God the Father: Toward a Philosophy of Women's Liberation
  • Homophobia: A Weapon Of Sexism
  • Femininity
  • The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy
  • The Equality Illusion: The Truth About Women And Men Today
  • Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, or the Opposite Sex
  • That's Revolting!: Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation
  • The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private
  • Sexual Politics
  • Men and Feminism: Seal Studies
  • The Creation of Patriarchy
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 about John Stoltenberg...
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