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I'm Afraid of Men

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4.33  ·  Rating details ·  2,040 ratings  ·  290 reviews
"Emotional and painful but also layered with humour, I'm Afraid of Men will widen your lens on gender and challenge you to do better. This challenge is a necessary one—one we must all take up. It is a gift to dive into Vivek's heart and mind."
—Rupi Kaur, bestselling author of The Sun and Her Flowers and Milk and Honey


A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on
...more
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Penguin Books Canada
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4.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,040 ratings  ·  290 reviews


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Lola
Sometimes I read 300 or more-page books and I wonder if I read anything at all. Not everything I stumble across has to make me look at the world differently or teach me over and over, but I want something memorable because it’s more much valuable than a book that provides you with the kind of instant pleasure and happiness that you’ll forget about two days later.

This very short book, not even 100 pages long, had my mind pausing on some of the interactions I have had with guys. So much of what V
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Thomas
A vulnerable, powerful examination of gender and masculinity from trans artist Vivek Shraya. I’m Afraid of Men reminded me of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as Shraya uses her personal experiences of sexism and harassment to build a case for why we need to redefine and rebuild masculinity as well as gender overall. She shares her lived experience as a trans person of color with courage and incision, both the pain she has felt at the hands of men and misogynistic women ...more
CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
4.5! Moving, accessible, important: that's what this book is! I loved it. My only complaint is that it was so short! Full review to come on my blog.

"What if you were to challenge yourself every time you feel afraid of me, and all of us who are pushing against gendered expectations and restrictions? What if you cherished us as archetypes of realized potential? What if you were to surrender to sublime possibility, yours and mine? Might you then free me at last of my fear and of your own?"
Catherine
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I would be lying if I said that the title didn’t have a huge influence on my intrigue in this initially, however, this book ended up giving me way more insight than I could have ever guessed. Exploring masculinity from the perspective of a trans woman through her experiences both pre and post transition, Vivek Shraya delivers a very raw take on how misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia has impacted her life.

A particularly insightful part in this for me was Shraya’s take on the ‘good man’:

In sp
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Krista
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me fear.

I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the word
girl by turning it into a weapon they used to hurt me. I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me to hate and eventually destroy my femininity. I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the extraordinary parts of myself.

As per her current author blurb, “Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, poetry, fiction, v
...more
l.
Tbh Vivek just isn’t in command of her material here. The way Vivek continually conflates femininity and women is extremely irritating and I’m fed up of trans writers doing this. I’m tried of people substituting the word feminine for female - which Vivek does repeatedly. They’re not interchangeable. If you can discuss male privilege and behaviours, you can acknowledge that female people exist. We are not just non-males.

Really the book’s biggest problem is that it claims to be about misogyny but
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Matthew Sciarappa
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2019
Required Reading.
Kiki
Aug 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
How to describe this book? It's essentially an almanac of whining. Shraya, born into privilege and now a university professor after struggling for many years to achieve fame as a pop star, enumerates the ways in which she's felt oppressed, or even made slightly uncomfortable, by men (and women -- basically everyone) through the years. I was excited for something substantive, but this was insufferable.
Monika
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
This was an incredible essay. In so few pages Vivek Shraya really drives her point home. It's as heart wrenching as it is illuminating. This is essential reading - for everyone.

Special thanks to NetGalley for the ARC! I'm Afraid of Men comes out August 28. Please pick up a copy. If you're only buying one book this year, let it be this one.
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This slim volume is a longish essay about the author’s experiences as a bisexual teen and then later as a trans woman. There aren’t any insights here that anyone up on contemporary feminism would find surprising, but the deeply personal aspect of the essays makes it a compelling read nonetheless. 3.5⭐ ...more
Lydia
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I used to work for an LGBTQ+ non-profit, and part of my job was reading and researching books, journals and other forms of media.

It was exhausting. It killed my ability to read for pleasure. I was tired, often, of reading the same statistics, experiencing the same pain the community experiences in such a volume.

I read everything from more recent, modern texts to memoirs from the 80's, historical documents, comics, personal anecdotes. Largely, many of the ways we experience queerphobia and tran
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Beth
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I initially picked up this book hoping to see through the eyes of a trans woman and educate myself on what her path might look like.

What I discovered was an insight into a very difficult journey but along with that I was challenged in my own perception of gender conformity. It made me think about our roles in society and I found that it gave me a little bit of strength and encouragement to explore my own feelings on the topic. My can of nonconforming worms has been well and truly opened.

And fo
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Jackie
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some will be afraid of this book and that’s exactly why they - and you - should read it. It makes you think, it makes you nod in agreement and shake your head at the behaviour of some and most importantly forces you to consider yourself.
chantel nouseforaname
This was a hard and very instigating read for me that I could and couldn’t relate to on LEVELS. I have many issues with so many concepts in this book and they mainly stem from the pointed questions, relating to her own experience, that Vivek uses to paint cis-gendered woman in this almost-as-bad as men sort of dynamic, towards the end..which may be true in some cases, but to have it depicted that way.. you know, it’s alienating. Maybe, that’s what she wants, to shake shit up, but I didn’t like i ...more
Elisabeth Manley
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Make yourself smaller, invisible, don’t take up too much space, don’t accidentally rub arms with the man next to you on the subway. Don’t make eye contact, or smile, don’t accidentally show an interest that could be seen as “asking for it”, whatever “it” may be. Vivek Shraya speaks to the little things we do every day out of fear, whether we notice we do them or not. She doesn’t only limit this to men, this fear also extends to women; women who encourage these men, women who do not support each ...more
Jennie Chantal
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This long essay was more memoir than I expected, which is no disappointment! I finished it in just two hours and will be recommending it all around. I do wish it was longer, although I have the sense it’s one I’ll read again and again.
Dylan
*I've chosen to try to no longer rate memoirs unless I find it problematic/harmful or is a five star read.

I really appreciated this and Vivek's experiences being a trans queer woman, but I just feel like this book is too short. She would start to talk about her experiences and I could tell that there was more but it was edited down to be a shorter book.
Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)
I don't know how to rate this, so I won't at the moment. There were several passages that were thought provoking, but was not the uncomfortable or confronting read I was expecting. Particularly the (very relatable) concept of wanting to be seen/desired, but also be invisible at the same time. I'm the same age as Shraya, and live in the same part of the country, but I'm white and cis. And right now, I am becoming invisible. Pushing 40, no longer desirable. But for someone who's trans, gender non- ...more
Emy
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, lgbt
A short essay, highlighting Sharaya's experience of abuse, cruelty of society, misogyny, the hurtful fact that how common these experiences are :( how violence affects the self-esteem, and therefore: happiness!
The book started with “I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me fear. I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the word girl by turning it into a weapon they used to hurt me.” and in the last chapter, she mentioned that she was afraid of women too "I'm afraid o
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Basma
One of those books that I’m finding it hard to review so I’m just going to let it go..
Jane
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jane by: 154
This book is a necessary antidote to cisgender, white perspectives of feminism in a post-#MeToo era (whatever that even means anymore!). What I found particularly powerful about Shraya's theorizing of masculinity is all the love and hope the narrator (and younger selves) gives the men who hurt her that, throughout the telling, violently gets thwarted and betrayed. We become, then, all the more aware of how the narrator is providing that love and hope herself, how that capacity remains even amids ...more
Prakash
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After reading "even this page is white" I never thought I would see my experience as a (gender)queer South Asian person living in Canada so acutely expressed in literature. But "I'm Afraid of Men" has done just that. Vivek Shraya so succinctly and devastatingly recounts how the systemic violence of a forced gender binary robs us of the ability to both be safe and be ourselves.

I really hope everyone who has ever cared about me reads this book so they can understand what I mean when I too say, "I
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Lisa H
Sep 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Honestly, everyone should read this book. Shraya examines how masculinity has effected her life, she was too feminine as a boy, and is not feminine enough as a girl. It brings up tough questions about gender and asks us to reconsider what it means to be a "good" man. How do we make good less nebulous? In what ways does the way we think about gender need to change? This books asks hard questions but they are exactly the discussions we need to be having right now.
Liz Laurin
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this book is incredible but I feel the need to consider my review better as a queer white cis woman.

I underlined many passages and felt it very deeply.
Charlotte (charandbooks)
This was a conflicting read for me. I felt that the intersectional comments and her experience were so valuable but was thrown off when her arguments fell into the trap of confined socially assigned gender roles (like being afraid of “too masculine” and “dominating women at dinner parties”). She says at one point that she is afraid that her “story is not unusually and probably mild compared to others”. Sadly I would have to agree with that statement and was then rubbed the wrong way when she sai ...more
Leah Horlick
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading for anyone new to language about micro-aggressions, and - I think, most importantly, essential reading for folks new to the queer community and not yet disenchanted with the myth of a monolithic queer utopia. When Vivek draws the distinction between queerness and having no boundaries, I wanted to cheer/sob.
Sarah
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book more than I did. I think as a memoir it succeeds, but it has the flavour of a manifesto, and I guess that's where I stumbled with it. In summary--I don't think women or anyone assigned female at birth (AFAB) would find any of her experiences surprising. Distressing, of course, but not surprising. I think any woman or AFAB person has lots of similar experiences.
Again, it's memoir and it's hard to questions another person's experiences. The entire first section, where s
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Brandon Forsyth
Sep 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Vivek Shraya's writing is undeniably important: direct and powerful, a voice that should be heard more widely. It certainly forced me to examine the ways in which my masculinity has been programmed (why don't I own any dress shirts that aren't black, blue, or white?) and may be threatening to those around me (why do I walk so aggressively?). Coupled with Vivek's deeply moving personal story and bravery in talking about some of her deepest relationships, there's a lot here in under 100 pages, but ...more
Chihoe Ho
Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Visceral, personal, thought-provoking, comforting, truthful, painful, eye-opening, raw, poignant... not any single adjective can properly capture the meaning and emotions of Vivek Shraya's and many other trans experiences but I'm Afraid of Men takes that step to inform, to challenge, and to just have a dialogue on sexuality, gender, and individuality. It's not the only representative of the trans experience but it should be one of the many we all need to read, and be open and honest about.
Jennifer Stansbury
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For such a quick read this book has impact. I understood how she felt but also saw my privilege as a cis woman. Everyone should read this. Not everyone will like it because it will make many people ( especially men) uncomfortable. But, that’s whole point.
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Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, poetry, fiction, visual art, and film. A Publishing Triangle Award winner, her books include I'm Afraid of Men, even this page is white, The Boy & The Bindi, and She of the Mountains. Shraya is one half of music duo Too Attached and founder of publishing imprint VS. Books. She teaches creative writing at the Univer ...more
“Queerness is associated with freedom from boundaries.” 5 likes
“I have always been disturbed by this transition, by the reality that often the only way to capture someone’s attention and to encourage them to recognize their own internal biases (and to work to alter them) is to confront them with sensational stories of suffering. Why is my humanity only seen or cared about when I share the ways in which I have been victimized and violated?” 5 likes
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