Category: Books

TRANS/gressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media and Congress… and Won!

By Riki Wilchins Photos by Mariette Pathy Allen Before Caitlyn Jenner became America’s most famous transgender personality, Riki Wilchins was leading the fight for transgender rights. In the new first-person history-memoir TRANS/gressive: How Transgender Activists Took on Gay Rights, Feminism, the Media & Congress… and Won!, Wilchins recounts the long and winding road of trans rights from the early days of anti-trans rights in segments of the feminist movement, to the murder of transwomen such as Brandon Teena, through the fight to include trans rights in the “Gay and Lesbian” community. “This was a story that I thought might...

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Against the Tide: Profeminism in the Twenty-first Century

By Michael S. Kimmel The quotes that serve as the epigraphs for this book’s preface and initial chapter are separated by only about 60 years, yet they span the arc of a social movement: two moments defining the first two waves of feminist activism. Floyd Dell, the Greenwich Village bohemian writer, was among the founders of the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, a group of prominent public figures who led men’s contingents in the great suffrage parades and organized men’s support of women’s suffrage. Sixty years later, that message echoed across continents and decades, finding a new generation of men who saw in feminism an opportunity to live richer, fuller lives, animated by intimacy, emotional expressiveness, and equality. In a sense, this book chronicles that movement. Just as Against the Tide: Pro-feminist Men in the United States, 1776–1990 documented the history of men who had supported gender equality since the founding of the country, Voice Male chronicles the contemporary profeminist men’s movement, providing a documentary record of activism, engagement, and personal reflection. That first wave only glimpsed the ways that political activism and personal life were intertwined. If the watchwords of that first wave were the motto of The Revolution, the newspaper of the National Woman Suffrage Association— “Men their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights and nothing less”—the motto of that second wave was, and continues to...

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Excerpt from “A Short History of One of the Most Important Social Justice Movements You’ve Never Heard Of”

By Rob Okun Feminism is going to make it possible for the first time for men to be free. —Floyd Dell, 1914 Looking through the wall of windows behind the podium, I can sense spring coming to New England. On stage a group of male students hold banners that call for an end to violence against women. Flanking them like bookends are a male district attorney and male college president. The band of men surveys the large crowd assembled to commemorate International Women’s Day 2013 by celebrating the accomplishments of the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT), founded in 1976 and one of the oldest organizations in the region providing services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. From the stage Dave Sullivan, the Northwestern Massachusetts district attorney and Bob Pura, president of Greenfield Community College, are beginning a men’s pledge. I stand with the other men and recite the words the pair alternately lead us in, promising “never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls” and to be “part of the solution to ending all forms of this violence.” It is a poignant moment: men taking the White Ribbon Campaign pledge in the presence of a largely female audience at an International Women’s Day event. There was a time when it would have been unthinkable that even a single man...

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Five Traits that Drive Men’s Lives

By Charlie Donaldson And Randy Flood Not long ago we were having dinner with friends when the topic turned to the premise of our new book, Mascupathy: Understanding and Healing the Malaise of American Manhood. The turmoil in most men’s lives is a product of a socialized disorder we had dubbed mascupathy, where traits such as aggression and invulnerability are exaggerated, and those of openness and empathy are repressed. Not everyone at the table agreed. Michael said flatly that the turmoil of men’s lives was all about sex. Randy responded that it was all about male socialization: the lessons of the man-pact—the ancient code that defines what’s masculine—that’s enforced by the “man-pack,” the unorganized but immensely powerful alliance to which virtually all men knowingly or unwittingly belong. Charlie weighed in that although narcissism and sex may be drivers, they’re not the paramount factors in men’s lives that lead them to intimidate each other, distance themselves from their partners, drink, and work too much. For Charlie, it came down to one core observation: men are lost. The men around the table spent the next couple hours in a wideranging conversation, eventually agreeing on five traits that lead to the turmoil that so often typifies men’s lives.   1. Lost. In this time of seismic change in gender roles, men’s struggles have intensified as women increasingly take their rightful place in...

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The Broad Brushstrokes

  In his new book, When the War Came Home (Levellers Press), Bill Newman, a noted ACLU attorney, shows how the idealism of the anti–Vietnam War movement still lives—most importantly in the lives of the children of that generation. The title of the book refers to the spring day 44 years ago when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on anti-war protesters at Kent State University, killing four. Following is an excerpt from Newman’s book that looks at fathering, and raising daughters. He wrote it in the summer of 1998. The painting consisted of two waveshaped watercolor brushstrokes—one a spectrum of purple—orchid or thistle melding into mulberry, then to lilac and violet; and below it, a second brushstroke consisting of a continuum of blue, from light to dark—turquoise and teal morphing into cerulean and cornflower and ending with the thinnest hint of midnight. Underneath, graceful calligraphy said, “The only things that parents should give children are roots and wings.” For five years that painting, a present from our friend Lynn to celebrate Jo’s birth, hung in the doorway to Jo’s bedroom. Ultimately the picture turned into part of a pile of ashes after our nook-filled Victorian home burned down, a fire in which, blessedly, no one was hurt. We rebuilt the house much as it was, and for years afterward, when I’d walk past the place where that painting...

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Love & Fury

Prize-winning poet, essayist, and fiction writer Richard Hoffman is the author of Half the House, a memoir about coming to terms with the childhood rape he suffered at the hands of his baseball coach. In his new memoir, Love & Fury (Beacon Press, June, 2014) Hoffman grapples with the legacy of his boomer-generation boyhood in a rustbelt Pennsylvania town. Along the way, he explores the often unspoken values men inherit and draw upon as they navigate their roles as husbands, sons, fathers, and grandfathers. Tracing five generations of his family’s history, focusing particularly on his complicated relationship with his father, “a man given to extremes of grief and rage, to violent turns of emotion,” Hoffman asks difficult questions about how poverty and shame, faith and disillusionment, and sex and exploitation, affect men’s daily lives. Hoffman’s meditations on his family, past and present, are touched off during a tense time in his home life:  “The house was a stressful chamber of unspoken worries, recriminations, angers, misunderstandings and fears,” he writes.  “And although the house I’d grown up in was filled with angers more chronic, tensions more constant, the two situations made a rhyme I wished I could erase.” Taking readers back to that Allentown home, where his father and brother lived, Hoffman writes of his father’s decline and eventual death from a bone-marrow disorder.  He recalls his blue-collar upbringing, during...

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Profeminist Men’s Work: The Early Days

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, small groups of men began to mobilize, joining the women-led movement to end violence against women. The sociopolitical climate in which the battered women’s movement gained momentum, had been powerfully influenced by the social justice movements that had simmered and exploded during the preceding decades. There were major struggles including the fight for human rights for men and women of color, women in general, gays and lesbians, and survivors of poverty and war, among others. They were struggles in which members of different marginalized groups would sometimes unite to confront their common oppressors—and, sometimes, succumb to the divide-and-conquer tactics of those same oppressors, fighting amongst themselves. For the relatively few men who attended the biannual meetings of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the voice and soul of the battered women’s movement, it was alarming and enlightening to hear women tell the “herstories” of their brutal and widespread subjection to the wanton violence of men. The truth-telling was powerful, not only for its eloquence but for its stark revelations of the ways that race, gender, and class were used by men to both oppress and divide women in their efforts to unite against men’s violence. So, for example, women of color not only had to deal with the sexism of their brothers of color, they had to deal with the racism of...

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Outlines

Writing October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard has been a long journey, one that took me over 11 years and began with a terrible coincidence. My journey began October 12, 1998, the day I flew across the country to give a speech about the controversy over my children’s book, Heather Has Two Mommies at the University of Wyoming, in celebration of National Coming Out Day. It was entitled “Heather’s Mommy Speaks Out: Homophobia, Censorship, and Family Values” and focused on the difficulties I had in getting my book Heather Has Two Mommies published, and how important it is for every child to see a family like his or hers reflected in a piece of literature. That was the day the world found out about the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, the gay Wyoming college student killed in the most visible anti-gay hate crime in American history. I imagined Matt Shepard, whose picture had been splashed all over the newspapers, sitting in the front row of the auditorium listening to my speech. I knew he had planned on coming to my lecture. I knew he had attended a meeting of the school’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Association to finish planning Gay Awareness Week the night he was attacked. I knew he had been robbed, kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a fence, where he remained undiscovered for 18 hours, all...

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Protected: Books

Hard to Get: 20-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom   By Leslie C. Bell University of California Press, 2013 262 pages, hardcover, $29.95   “We could have had it all,” Adele muses on her album 21, which she recorded at just that age. Can young women? For more than a generation, young women have been talking about the difficulties of trying to construct love, relationships, and sex, but few have listened to them. Feminist sociologist and psychotherapist Leslie C. Bell has now given them voice in her new book, Hard to Get: 20-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom, a window into the lives of these women that is reminiscent of Lillian Rubin’s Worlds of Pain. The women in Bell’s book have more freedom than their mothers and grandmothers, but they are also living with mixed messages about motherhood, sex, careers, and marriage. Managing these freedoms, messages, and their own desires can be decidedly difficult. Bell takes us movingly through the lives of women in their twenties, college graduates and childless, from a variety of cultural and ethnic backgrounds and an assortment of sexual orientations. These are the women born after 1972 for whom Title IX, affirmative action, and Roe v. Wade helped to shape their consciousness and, in turn, hopes for their liberation. Bell reports that college-educated women now marry on average at 27, and...

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A Practical Guide to Yes Means Yes

Books by Jane Fleishman What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety by Jaclyn Friedman is a wonderful antidote to all the magazines that try to convince young, straight women that their “Six Tips to Please Your Man” will actually work. Friedman’s book takes a radically different tack: encouraging young women of all sexual orientations to discover and communicate their own sexual desires. Going far beyond most popular sex ed books, the book invites readers to dig deep to contemplate and articulate her feelings about her body, presenting numerous exercises. In the chapter “Shame, Blame, and Fear,” Friedman asks readers to list five things that are sexually taboo and five that they enjoy. Then, she urges, write a letter to someone who put you down and another to someone who valued you for who you are. She is most concerned about allowing women to be who they are without hurting anyone or allowing anyone to hurt them. As coeditor of the groundbreaking anthology, Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape (with Jessica Valenti), Friedman offers a sexual violence prevention perspective. The genesis of the new book came from a journalist who asked her: Given all the conflicting messages from the media, religion, school, family, friends, among others, how would any woman know what she wants to say...

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The Guy’s Guide to Feminism

S is for Sports, Not for Men Only by Michael Kaufman and Michael Kimmel The Guys Guide to Feminism (Seal Press, 2011) is a witty, politically savvy, entertaining primer on a topic many men still struggle with—how accepting feminism actually can improve guys’ lives. An A-Z guide, the book features facts, faux interviews, and history. The authors, both Voice Male national advisory board members, have been addressing issues related to men and masculinity for decades. Each has spoken at scores of colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada and are the authors of a number of books including The Possibility of Dreaming on a Night Without Stars (Kaufman) and Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men (Kimmel). Michael: I’m here today with Michael K. Michael: Hey man, great to be on your show again. Michael: You got pretty roughed up last week. Michael: (Grins) Just a scratch, man, just a scratch. (Cut to slow motion of Michael K getting totally creamed so audience can be dazzled by his toughness.) Michael: You’re one tough dude. Michael: Which is why you don’t see no women playing football. Michael: Wait a minute now, Michael. Where’re you coming from, dude? Michael: Planet Earth, man. I mean, why do men make more money playing sports than women? It’s because we’re more athletic. Michael: What would you say if I told you it’s...

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Fall 2016

Books

Voice Male: the Book