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The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  733 ratings  ·  132 reviews
The author of The People Are Going to Rise Upon Your Shore turns his keen eye to our current crisis of masculinity using his upbringing in a rural, patriarchal home as an entry point to consider the personal and societal dangers of performative gender

Based on his provocative and popular New York Times op-ed, The Man They Wanted Me to Be is both memoir and cultural analysis
Kindle Edition, 266 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Counterpoint
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An essential book for destroying the patriarchy and creating better men for us all. In The Man They Wanted Me to Be, Jared Yates Sexton writes about his and his family's experience of toxic masculinity, the research showing toxic masculinity's negative health and relational consequences, and how toxic masculinity contributes to Trump and the rise of the alt-right. I loved how Sexton shares his personal story with us, how he started out as a soft, sensitive child and hardened after experiencing a ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
Or, for fuck's sake. People need to get a grip. There is no such thing as toxic masculinity, toxic femininity, toxic heterosexuality or toxic homosexuality or toxic asexuality or any other toxic sex feature!

Nothing of this kind is inherently toxic. It's what people sometimes do with all of it that is toxic. Nothing that some behavioural, cognitive or some other therapy can't address.

People should just stop inventing weird shit and stop shifting blame to patriarchal and/or matriarchal figures. I
First impressions: A more intellectually honest and self aware version of Hillbilly Elegy. I liked it alot!

4+ Stars

Listened to the audio book. The author Jared Yates Sexton was the narrator and was very good.
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I recommend women buy this book and then quietly place it upon the desk of any man or men in their life, no matter how she might believe that man is immured or not in toxic masculinity. And then serenade him with Born This Way ::
David Wineberg
Feb 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
American Macho is Toxic

The Man They Wanted Me To Be is a cathartic look at Jared’s Sexton’s life to date (He’s 38). It is a stinging condemnation of working-class white males and their attitudes. They control, berate and beat their wives and children, hate anything that doesn’t smack of white male supremacy, and are self-contained frustration bombs, ready to explode at any time.

Sexton was a chubby, asthmatic and emotional child, which infuriated a series of men – his father and several stepfathe
Jessica Sullivan
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As the mother of a baby boy being raised into a world of Donald Trumps and Brett Kavanaughs, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to raise him right, and to me that means ensuring that he rejects toxic masculinity, both for his own good and for the good of everyone in his life.

These days we see toxic masculinity everywhere: in the abundance of mass shootings that plague our country, the rise of “incels” and the alt-right, and—most notably—in the election of our current president, “the personifi
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
What's frustrating is the people who most need to read this, and would benefit from it, almost certainly won't.
Tammy V
Sep 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I got the book from the library for the "Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis o OUr Own Making" (not kindle). That part was covered in the first and last chapters. The whole middle was an autobiography.

Let me say that my review is colored by having been in a battering relationship for 17 years (17 - 34).
I have little sympathy for mother's who keep their kids in this kind of danger. His mother's first marriage (from whence he came) and her 2nd (was their a third? I can't remember now because the book
May 16, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm sympathetic to his viewpoint. But really this is mostly a memoir of the various ways the author and most of the men he knows are toxic in their masculinity. I think books like this are a little tricky, using your own personal experience as a paragon for commenting on global ills can sometimes read as being fraught with over-generalizations.
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Man They Wanted Me to Be is one of the most critical works of non-fiction to come out this year, and it should be required reading for every American male.

Mr. Sexton articulately captures the root problem for so many issues that plague society today: American culture has created a mythical masculinity that is unobtainable, and men will step over everyone and everything in pursuit of this unreachable standard. Throughout his book, Sexton details his own experiences growing up in a culture ro
Alex Kudera
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The strength of the book lies in the touching and meaningful memoir sections.
Kathryn Gainey
Jun 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was magnificent! I could have devoured this in one sitting and actually had to convince myself to slow down so I could enjoy it for a few more days. This book provided countless facts and examples of toxic masculinity in our culture and at times also served as a memoir. I especially appreciate that Jared gave women so much credit and expressed the importance of women in our society. I will be sharing this book with all the men in my life. Jared did a spectacular job with this book.
Jarrett Neal
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, if uneven and diffuse book. If you're like me--a non-white, non-straight, highy-educated person living in Western culture--you are not the target audience for this book. Pretty much ninety-five percent of what Jared Yates Sexton conveys in The Man They Wanted Me to Be is well-known to those of us who don't classify as SWGs (straight white guys). After the election of Trump, the details of this book are pretty much wallpaper to our angry, traumatized minds. But redundancy, in this case, ...more
Leah Angstman
I went into this book a little skeptical on the subject matter being told from a white male perspective, but I came out of it believing that we might be able to make better men and to change the culture that is so ingrained in the clay of this country; really, who better to talk to white men than a white man? This book is universal and personal, sad and hopeful, honest and self-aware, beautiful and harsh. I want to slip it casually onto my brother's nightstand, but he hasn't read a book since Ha ...more
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jared Yates Sexton does a hauntingly good job at telling us his story coupled along with research on masculinity. His honesty and empathy make this book captivating.

“Society and culture have been molded to fit the whims of men and perpetuate the lie of gender, and it requires constant work and exhaustive effort to look between the lines and understand the energies that influence behavior. Beginning to tackle my own shortcomings was a start, but the fight’s never over because, for men, it’s the
Jun 12, 2019 rated it it was ok's a slog and no mistake. I respect that the author had a very difficult upbringing and the lessons that he took from it about men were come by honestly.

Still...I don't believe in toxic masculinity. It's just jargon to describe the effects of poverty, substance abuse, PTSD/depression, and other factors on men vs how they influence women. It's kind of silly to label any inherent trait as toxic.

The switch from talking about sociology to politics also tried my patience. Again, poverty and
[F]or men, it’s the simplest thing in the world to sit back and watch the patriarchy work in your favor. That privilege is strong and to our benefit, but it comes with great cost. It harms ourselves and the people we love, holds society back from its true potential, and, in many cases, destroys us. (185)

Jared Yates Sexton was born and raised in Indiana factory towns, by a line of men (his father and stepfathers) who viewed him as "soft" and "not quite right." Riddled with anxiety and depression
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jared Sexton had one very difficult life. This book will make you think and (unfortunately) churn your stomach. If the chance ever presents itself to see Jared live again, I want to go. What respect I have for this man.
Thank you Jared for opening my tired (old) eyes with fresh perspective.
Tyler Jones
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: personal-library
Sexton's approach to modern day toxic masculinity in America consists of personal stories through a feminist and phenomenological lens. These stories contain emotional and physical abuse, struggles with disordered eating habits, and suicide attempts. IF YOU ARE IN A PLACE WHERE THOSE STORIES CAN TRIGGER DANGEROUS BEHAVIORS, PLEASE AVOID THIS BOOK FOR NOW. While the narrative is often specific to the authors experience, he does draw conclusions that most men can relate to. This book taught me tha ...more
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a vital, important, potentially world-changing book I want everyone I know to read. How to write a book that will be read by the people who desperately need it because an identity is doing them harm but might be resistant to its message because to admit such harm would be a threat to that identity? Be from inside that world and write it as a sneaky half-memoir. Yates, brought up in a blue-collar family in Indiana, writes about the problems with (primarily) straight white American masculi ...more
Tamara Dahling
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
The book traces Sexton’s life in small town Indiana, raised by his mother and a string of men who exhibit their masculinity with violence, bullying, anger. And Sexton explains why, which is the heart of his book. Having grown up in a similar environment, I can verify that he knows what he’s talking about.
Although the first part of the book is a bit disjointed, stay for the last few chapters as they are excellent and give superb context into the current political and social environment. Highly r
Zoe Nissen
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5, really--only a half taken off because the last chapter doesn't really acknowledge the young alt-right movement happening in the US & makes some assumptions about millennials that aren't really true. But overall this is required reading for cis men and strongly recommended for everyone else. ...more
Feb 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More memoir than I expected, but even so, I thought Sexton did a great job of using his own life and experiences to frame his in-depth discussion of toxic masculinity.
Peter Colclasure
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Book I Wanted This To Be

I expected this to be a work of social psychology, and discovered instead that it's primarily a memoir. I was expecting Dan Ariely, and I got Jennette Walls (with a penis). That's okay. It's a good memoir. One that I can relate to, somewhat, having grown up in the rural Midwest. However, his corner of rural Indiana seemed ideologically extreme compared to my Wisconsin hometown, which had an even split between liberals and conservatives. Growing up, I recall plenty of
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every now and then I read a book that leaves me saying, “Yeah! That’s it! That’s exactly right.” This is one of those.

Jared Sexton puts into words exactly the things I’ve seen unfold around me my entire life. I struggled with it for a while when I was young, eventually more-or-less saw it for what it was and walked away from it. Of course, I never got rid of it completely. That stuff has real clinging power. I expect that I'll be scraping it off my shoes for a long time to come.

Misguided, wrong
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
This book was a good mix of data driven nonfiction and memoir. Using research to explain his own life (or the other way around?) Good discussion on toxic masculinity, drug abuse, physical and emotional abuse, cycles of abuse, privilege, and the political landscape today. I usually don't like to think, read, or hear about Trump, but this book was okay with me. I think the way he wrote it helped that in some way.

My only minor gripe is that he uses the word homosexual a lot? Like just say gay. Not
Mariela Martinez
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was such an intimate and honest telling of the male experience. As a feminist it’s so often easy for me to simply be angry and unwilling to understand the origins and causes of toxic masculinity especially during the era of Trump, however this book offered a window into the experiences of a white conservative male. I feel more aware and conscious of toxic masculinity, why people sympathize with Trump and how I can help change this status quo. Thank you.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's everywhere when you know how to look for it. It's in the bullying, xenophobic power-grabs of old men in politics, in American government's negligent treatment of war veterans, even in some young men's reluctance to take AP classes in school for fear of being teased by their male peers. It's behind the increase in hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, and every horror story of alcoholic fathers who abused his wife and children -- sons of which all too often went on to drink and abuse fami ...more
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book should be essential reading for all men, especially in today's times.

In "The Man They Wanted Me to Be," Jared Yates Sexton writes about his and his family's experiences throughout a lifetime legacy of toxic masculinity. Much of the first section focuses on the personal experience of the author and the negative consequences of sexism and violence, which he witnesses first hand through his abusive father. Jared, a sensitive child raised by a single mother in rural Indiana, eventually ha
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is intense and honestly more than a little frightening. Structured as part sociological essay and part memoir of a 'good ole Indiana boy', it's a brutal look at toxic masculinity and the white male culture of entitlement, as told by someone living it and benefiting from it, but also studying it.

A lot of the story focuses on the American election of the ultimate toxic sludge that is tr*mp, breaking down his support base in a way that is helpful for us non-Americans watching in horror. B
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Jared Yates Sexton is a born-and-bred Hoosier living and working in The South as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University. His work has appeared in publications around the world and his first short story collection, An End To All Things, is available from Atticus Books. His latest book, The Hook and The Haymaker, was released by Split Lip Press in January 2015. For ...more

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  Justin A. Reynolds burst onto the YA scene last year with his debut book Opposite of Always, a heartfelt novel about love and friendship...
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“In the digital age, the troll is essentially a caricature and embodiment of all the worst traits associated with masculinity. They’re culturally and intellectually shallow. Angry. Violent. Aggressive. And, after years of wading through graphic images, postmodern stew, racist propaganda, and disgusting and misogynistic pornography, they have grown into nihilists with no other purpose besides punishing the world while laughing to prove they’re stronger than their humanity.” 0 likes
“With a start that I realized the paranoid fantasies I’d been hearing the men around me tell my entire life had found purchase in the zeitgeist. Just as we’d all stood around a truck full of guns years earlier, here we were, out in public, discussing international conspiracies meant to inspire racial and societal unrest. Black people were in on it. Immigrants were in on it. Academics like myself were in on it. Even white women were in on it. Everyone, that is, except white men who would either have to stop the plot before it was realized or else die in a blaze of fire defending their homes and families.” 0 likes
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