11 Books About Toxic Masculinity, Gender Norms And Feminism, Written By Men
In the months since Donald Trump has become president, more and more people have become inspired to join the Resistance — whether that means volunteering, campaigning, donating, making calls, educating themselves and others on the issues, or otherwise. Bustle's 31 Days of Reading Resistance takes a look at the role of literature and writing in the Resistance, both as a source of inspiration and as a tool for action.
Gender and feminism continues to play a hugely important role in the resistance for a myraid of reasons. Whether we're looking at issues of women's access to healthcare, or trans individuals right to their identity, or overcoming the dangers of toxic masculinity to benefit the lives and safety of all genders, we can't ignore the realities of gender disparity as we continue to fight back against injustice everywhere. Books, as always, play a huge role in bringing these important issues to light. But when you think of books about breaking down gender norms, fighting against the patriarchy, and working to redefine manhood, it's likely that most of those books are written by women.
This isn't necessarily surprising. After all, women stand to gain a lot from the breaking down of patriarchal idealogies, and are therefore the loudest voices in the cacophony of those speaking out against them. But men, too, are taking a look at modern masculinity, and speaking out about the importance of becoming feminist allies. The 11 books below take looks at many different aspects of the intersections of race, gender, and feminism, for enlightening and crucial resistance reads.
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching is an account of how, politically and culturally, the existing script for black manhood has been rewritten for the millennial generation. Young men of this age have watched as Barack Obama was elected president but have also witnessed the deaths of Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, and so many other young black men killed by police or vigilante violence. Chronicling his personal and political education, Smith narrates his own coming-of-age story. Part memoir, part political tract, this book is an unprecedented and intimate glimpse into what it means to be young, black, and male in America today.
In this funny and necessary book The Descent of Man, Grayson Perry looks at men with a clear eye and asks, what sort of men would make the world a better place, for everyone? What would happen if we rethought the old, macho, outdated version of manhood, and embraced a different idea of what makes a man? The real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships and more happiness. His thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, are shot through with honesty, tenderness and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, upgrading masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves.
I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son, both blistering and deeply personal, records Russell’s quest to understand, through his journalistic subjects, his own appetites and urges, his persistent alienation, and, above all, his knotty, volatile, vital relationship with his father. Through his travels to society’s ragged edges, the junctures between savagery and civilization, Russell gives us a haunting and unforgettable portrait of an America—and a paradigm of American malehood—we have never before seen.
In 1967, after a twin baby boy suffered a botched circumcision, his family agreed to a radical treatment that would alter his gender. The case would become one of the most famous in modern medicine—and a total failure. As Nature Made Him tells the extraordinary story of David Reimer, who, when finally informed of his medical history, made the decision to live as a male. A macabre tale of medical arrogance, it is first and foremost a human drama of one man's—and one family's—amazing survival in the face of terrible odds.
The Gender Knot, Allan Johnson's response to the pain and confusion that men and women experience by living with gender inequality, explains what patriarchy is and isn't, how it works, and what gets in the way of understanding and doing something about it. Johnson's simple yet powerful approach avoids the paralyzing trap of guilt, blame, anger, and defensive denial that often results from conversations about gender.
The Macho Paradox takes a look at the epidemic of violence against women and brings it to the fields where men reside: athletic teams, frat houses, the military and across the country to explain convincingly, rigorously and insightfully why and how men can, and should, become part of the solution. Katz also seeks to empower both men, and women, to work together to end the scourge of violent toxic masculinity through political discourse that can change lives, communities, and even the nation.
Based on life history interviews with men and women anti-violence activists aged 22 to 70, Some Men explores the strains and tensions of men's work as feminist allies. When feminist women began to mobilize against rape and domestic violence, setting up shelters and rape crisis centers, a few men asked what they could do to help. They were told to "talk to the men" with the goal of preventing future acts of violence. This is a book about men who took this charge seriously, committing themselves to working with boys and men to stop violence, and to change the definition of what it means to be a man.
This multilayered study of the representation of black masculinity in musical and cultural performance takes aim at the reduction of African American male culture to stereotypes of deviance, misogyny, and excess. Broadening the significance of hip-hop culture by linking it to other expressive forms within popular culture, Miles White examines how these representations have both encouraged the demonization of young black males in the United States and abroad and contributed to the construction of their identities.
Jack Urwin’s father died just before he turned 10. Being male, he never really learned to talk about this with any kind of sincerity. His grief stayed with him through his teens, slowly becoming depression. Now in his 20s, Urwin explores what it means to be a man now. He traces crises of masculinity from our grandfathers’ inability to deal with the horrors of war, to the mob mentality of football, and the disturbing rise of mental health problems among men today. Man Up is the start of an essential conversation for men, exploring why we have perpetuated the myth of masculinity–and how we can change it.
The End of Patriarchy asks one key question: what do we need to create stable and decent human communities that can thrive in a sustainable relationship with the larger living world? Robert Jensen’s answer is feminism and a critique of patriarchy. He calls for a radical feminist challenge to institutionalized male dominance; an uncompromising rejection of men’s assertion of a right to control women’s sexuality; and a demand for an end to the violence and coercion that are at the heart of all systems of domination and subordination. The End of Patriarchy argues that a socially just society requires a radical feminist overhaul of the dominant patriarchal structures.
In Voice Male: The Untold Story of the Profeminist Men’s Movement, readers will discover stories that chronicle the social transformation of masculinity, including its growing global dimensions. The book makes plain how the gender equality men’s movement is committed to both redefining masculinity and championing women’s rights. At a time when sexism and misogyny are touted at the White House—and many white males feel emboldened to try to subjugate women—Voice Male is a critical guide for anyone concerned about gender justice.
Follow along all month long for more Reading Resistance book recommendations.