cover image The End of Manhood: 2a Book for Men of Conscience

The End of Manhood: 2a Book for Men of Conscience

John Stoltenberg. Dutton Books, $21 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-525-93630-5

Stoltenberg ( Refusing to Be a Man ) starts off his provocative book by drawing a sharp distinction between manhood and selfhood. The former he believes to be socially conditioned and based principally on fear, the latter, liberating and just. Presuming that all human beings seek to feel safe, sustained and connected, Stoltenberg concludes that these basic needs are often subverted by the requirements of such myths of masculinity as toughness, competitiveness, pride and single-mindedness. This personal behavioral identity, the author asserts, cannot exist with authentic and integrated selfhood, which demands above all a love of justice and a sense of conscience. Stoltenberg applies his theory to sexual relations, friendship, homosexuality, pornography and other areas. He ends with a call for selfhood, with its altruism and collectivism, and for a concomitant abandonment of what is conventionally called manhood. (Oct.)