Review: Men and Feminism

(Published at XYOnline on August 14, 2010.)

[Shira Tarrant. Men and Feminism. Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2009.]

I sometimes find it hard to properly evaluate political books that are intended as introductory. Their goal — or, at least, the most reasonable articulation of what they can accomplish — is to stimulate new questions and new conversations among a public that has not previously encountered a particular field of critical ideas. As such, an important priority for such a book is to get people to start reading and keep reading, and to be able to provoke constructive reactions. The point is not to implant some sort of exact copy of a perfect platform in readers’ brains — that’s not how people work — but to get people talking. To a certain extent, then, the exact content is not always the most crucial part of this kind of text-as-intervention. At the same time, the difference between certain real people’s real struggles getting seen and illuminated by that content versus them being erased and further marginalized is a big deal — that’s not just those who are already initiated quibbling about details, it’s the central question. There are times when these two goals — being broadly inviting, particularly to people with privilege, and exhibiting radical clarity — are in tension with one another. I don’t accept that this is nearly as broad a phenomenon as it is sometimes portrayed, such as by producers or publishers or editors who are rejecting critical content or content that features the standpoint of women or men of colour or white women, but I think it is still an issue. One outcome of this for me is…

Read the rest at XYOnline.

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