The man they wanted me to be Toxic masculinity and a crisis of our own making

Jared Sexton

Book - 2019

"Based on his provocative and popular New York Times op-ed, The Man They Wanted Me to Be is both memoir and cultural analysis. Jared Yates Sexton alternates between an examination of his working class upbringing and historical, psychological, and sociological sources that examine the genesis of toxic masculinity and its consequences for society. As progressivism changes American society, and globalism shifts labor away from traditional manufacturing, the roles that have been prescribed to m...en since the Industrial Revolution have been rendered as obsolete. Donald Trump's campaign successfully leveraged male resentment and entitlement, and now, with Trump as president and the rise of the #MeToo movement, it's clearer than ever what a problem performative masculinity is. Deeply personal and thoroughly researched, The Man They Wanted Me to Be examines how we teach boys what's expected of men in America, and the long term effects of that socialization--which include depression, suicide, misogyny, and, ultimately, shorter lives. Sexton turns his keen eye to the establishment of the racist patriarchal structure which has favored white men, and investigates the personal and societal dangers of such outdated definitions of manhood"--

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Subjects
Genres
Autobiographies
Published
Berkeley, California : Counterpoint 2019.
Edition
First hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
254 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9781640091818
1640091815
Main Author
Jared Sexton (author)
  • A hard, small cage
  • My father's son
  • A crisis of our own making.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Sexton takes a deep dive into masculinity in America, with an intense focus on its most toxic aspects: aggression, anger, violence, control, abuse, and misogyny. He begins his fascinating, exceedingly well-researched study with a brisk survey of the evolution of toxic masculinity from the wake of the Civil War to 2018, and then offers a more measured and discursive examination of his subject in the context of his own life. As a boy—as a result of his sensitivity, creativity, and intelligence—he was regarded as "different" and was, thus, the victim of violent abuse from his father and two stepfathers, and relentlessly bullied by the "masculine" boys at school. As an adult, he gives considerable attention to his evolving relationship with his erstwhile abusive father and his own ironic descent into toxic masculinity. Recovering from that, he sees hope for a more civil masculinity in the millennial population. His combination of dramatically realized memoir and sociological analysis provides an effective, readable, and incisive examination of a timely subject. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Sexton (The People Are Going To Rise Like the Waters on Your Shore) wrote about toxic masculinity in the New York Times, and his impoverished, rural upbringing in Salon. This book weaves these threads, describing Sexton's relationships with his parents and the damage toxic masculinity causes to families and society. Acknowledging his privilege and the complexities of the problem, while calling for the dismantling of hegemonic patriarchy, Sexton argues that men must acknowledge their vulnerabilities, which they deny to the point of shortening their lives. Leading by example, the author lays out, like a raw nerve, the vulnerabilities of his relationship with his father and both their attempts to find meaning in a world steeped in toxicity. Their poignant final meeting elicits both sorrow for what is lost and hope for the growth of those caught in society's unrealistic expectations of masculinity. Beautifully written storytelling, research pathways, and nuanced viewpoints create a roadmap to a better way of being, a new hero's journey, and a promising glimpse at the future. VERDICT A powerfully written call to join an impending cultural revolution, one in which we raise one another up in healthy and worthwhile ways. Highly recommended.—Melissa Engleman, Univ. of Tennessee at Martin Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by PW Annex Reviews

In this moving memoir of growing up steeped in the toxic masculinity of 1980s working-class rural Indiana, Sexton (The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore) gives an emotionally intimate demonstration of the thesis that "men have actively overcompensated for their insecurities, so much so that they have endangered themselves, the people they love, and their society as a whole." His father violently stalked his mother after an ugly divorce caused by his cheating, and subsequent father figures were abusive, reckless, or prone to forcing idealized masculine behavior on him; Sexton's most secure relationship was with his grandfather, a WWII veteran who drowned PTSD in alcohol and was only given "the benefit of the doubt" for being "sensitive" by his family because of his established identity as a war hero. Sexton partially reconciled with his father as an adult; both men were grappling with the unhealthy behaviors they developed to cope with gendered expectations. The final section gives Sexton's psychosociological analysis of attendees of Donald Trump's 2016 rallies, whom he depicts as people compelled to "double down" on antiquated masculine ideals. This thoughtful and powerful consideration of the damage done by traditional masculinity to its ostensible beneficiaries will reward readers' attention. (May) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly Annex.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A writer at Salon examines the outdated and dangerous current definitions of masculinity and the long-term effects of this socialization which include depression, shorter life spans, misogyny and suicide while examining his own working-class upbringing in the rural Midwest.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Based on his provocative and popular New York Times op-ed, The Man They Wanted Me to Be is both memoir and cultural analysis. Jared Yates Sexton alternates between an examination of his working class upbringing and historical, psychological, and sociological sources that examine the genesis of toxic masculinity and its consequences for society. As progressivism changes American society, and globalism shifts labor away from traditional manufacturing, the roles that have been prescribed to men since the Industrial Revolution have been rendered as obsolete. Donald Trump's campaign successfully leveraged male resentment and entitlement, and now, with Trump as president and the rise of the #MeToo movement, it's clearer than ever what a problem performative masculinity is. Deeply personal and thoroughly researched, The Man They Wanted Me to Be examines how we teach boys what's expected of men in America, and the long term effects of that socialization--which include depression, suicide, misogyny, and, ultimately, shorter lives. Sexton turns his keen eye to the establishment of the racist patriarchal structure which has favored white men, and investigates the personal and societal dangers of such outdated definitions of manhood"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Based on the provocative and popular New York Times op-ed, this memoir alternates between the examination of a working-class upbringing and a cultural analysis of the historical, psychological, and sociological sources that make up the roots of toxic masculinity and its impact on society.As progressivism changes American society, and globalism shifts labor away from traditional manufacturing, the roles that have been prescribed to men since the Industrial Revolution have been rendered obsolete. Donald Trump's campaign successfully leveraged male resentment and entitlement, and now, with Trump as president and the rise of the #MeToo movement, it’s clear that our current definitions of masculinity are outdated and even dangerous.Deeply personal and thoroughly researched, the author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore has turned his keen eye to our current crisis of masculinity using his upbringing in rural Indiana to examine the personal and societal dangers of the patriarchy. The Man They Wanted Me to Be examines how we teach boys what’s expected of men in America, and the long-term effects of that socialization?which include depression, shorter lives, misogyny, and suicide. Sexton turns his keen eye to the establishment of the racist patriarchal structure which has favored white men, and investigates the personal and societal dangers of such outdated definitions of manhood."By carefully and soberly examining his own story, Sexton deconstructs American life and gives many examples of how pervasive toxic masculinity is in our culture." ?Henry Rollins, Los Angeles Times"This book is critically important to our historical moment . . . Crackles with intensity and absolutely refuses to allow the reader to look away for even a moment from the blight that toxic masculinity in America has wrought." ?Nicholas Cannariato, NPR

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Based on the provocative and popular New York Times op–ed, this memoir alternates between the examination of a working–class upbringing and a cultural analysis of the historical, psychological, and sociological sources that make up the roots of toxic masculinity and its impact on society.As progressivism changes American society, and globalism shifts labor away from traditional manufacturing, the roles that have been prescribed to men since the Industrial Revolution have been rendered obsolete. Donald Trump's campaign successfully leveraged male resentment and entitlement, and now, with Trump as president and the rise of the #MeToo movement, it’s clear that our current definitions of masculinity are outdated and even dangerous.Deeply personal and thoroughly researched, the author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore has turned his keen eye to our current crisis of masculinity using his upbringing in rural Indiana to examine the personal and societal dangers of the patriarchy. The Man They Wanted Me to Be examines how we teach boys what’s expected of men in America, and the long–term effects of that socialization'which include depression, shorter lives, misogyny, and suicide. Sexton turns his keen eye to the establishment of the racist patriarchal structure which has favored white men, and investigates the personal and societal dangers of such outdated definitions of manhood."By carefully and soberly examining his own story, Sexton deconstructs American life and gives many examples of how pervasive toxic masculinity is in our culture." 'Henry Rollins, Los Angeles Times"This book is critically important to our historical moment . . . Crackles with intensity and absolutely refuses to allow the reader to look away for even a moment from the blight that toxic masculinity in America has wrought." 'Nicholas Cannariato, NPR