cover image Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice

Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice

John Stoltenberg. Breitenbush Publications, $19.95 (225pp) ISBN 978-0-932576-73-6

Co-founder of Men Against Pornography, Stoltenberg considers himself a radical feminist. These 13 searching essays reflect his belief that male sexuality is an artificial, social-political construct, inextricably linked to widely held assumptions of men's ``natural'' superiority over women. Rape, wife-beating, casual humiliation of females and pornography all flow inevitably from this cultural bias, he maintains. Though the author sometimes pushes his rhetoric to extremes (``The idea of the male sex is like the idea of an Aryan race''), these bracing essays link feminist awareness to men's on-going struggle to achieve nonsexist self-definition. One piece invites men to consider the range of erotic possibilities available beyond a macho definition of maleness. Another views the nuclear arms race as an extension of male sadism. Stoltenberg is as critical of gay male sex films as he is of hetero porn; his call for antipornography legislation that would enable women to sue smut-purveyors for damages will no doubt rile First Amendment advocates. (May)