I'm Afraid of Men

I'm Afraid of Men

"Emotional and painful but also layered with humour, I'm Afraid of Men will widen your lens on gender and challenge you to do better. This challenge is a necessary one—one we must all take up. It is a gift to dive into Vivek's heart and mind." —Rupi Kaur, bestselling author of The Sun and Her Flowers and Milk and Honey A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on...

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Title:I'm Afraid of Men
Author:Vivek Shraya
Rating:
Edition Language:English

I'm Afraid of Men Reviews

  • Beth

    I initially picked up this book hoping to see through the eyes of a trans woman and educate myself on what her path might look like.

    What I discovered was an insight into a very difficult journey but along with that I was challenged in my own perception of gender conformity. It made me think about our roles in society and I found that it gave me a little bit of strength and encouragement to explore my own feelings on the topic. My can of nonconforming worms has been well and truly opened.

    And fo

    I initially picked up this book hoping to see through the eyes of a trans woman and educate myself on what her path might look like.

    What I discovered was an insight into a very difficult journey but along with that I was challenged in my own perception of gender conformity. It made me think about our roles in society and I found that it gave me a little bit of strength and encouragement to explore my own feelings on the topic. My can of nonconforming worms has been well and truly opened.

    And for that I’m thankful that Vivek was able to so beautifully articulate her thoughts and share them with us all.

  • Thomas

    A vulnerable, powerful examination of gender and masculinity from trans artist Vivek Shraya.

    reminded me of

    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as Shraya uses her personal experiences of sexism and harassment to build a case for why we need to redefine and rebuild masculinity as well as gender overall. She shares her lived experience as a trans person of color with courage and incision, both the pain she has felt at the hands of men and misogynistic women

    A vulnerable, powerful examination of gender and masculinity from trans artist Vivek Shraya.

    reminded me of

    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as Shraya uses her personal experiences of sexism and harassment to build a case for why we need to redefine and rebuild masculinity as well as gender overall. She shares her lived experience as a trans person of color with courage and incision, both the pain she has felt at the hands of men and misogynistic women and how she wants us all to move forward to create a better world. A short paragraph in which she reflects on what she wishes she had learned growing up as a boy:

    "

    Though this book falls on the shorter side, Shraya shares many insights that I wish more people thought of. She discusses how our expectations for men are way too low, how the idea of a “good man” prevents us from positively reinforcing specific behaviors men should practice more, and how the gender binary makes us all feel afraid.

    has both intellectual and emotional honesty. As someone who has also felt afraid of men throughout his life because of how they have hurt me, I appreciated Shraya’s personal disclosures a lot and they made me feel connected and less alone, despite the differences in our social identities. Recommended to anyone who wants a succinct yet compelling exploration of gender, as well as for people who have a difficulty trusting men. I’ll end this review with another earnest passage toward the end of the book:

  • CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian

    4.5! Moving, accessible, important: that's what this book is! I loved it. My only complaint is that it was so short! Full review to come on my blog.

    "What if you were to challenge yourself every time you feel afraid of me, and all of us who are pushing against gendered expectations and restrictions? What if you cherished us as archetypes of realized potential? What if you were to surrender to sublime possibility, yours and mine? Might you then free me at last of my fear and of your own?"

  • Monika

    This was an incredible essay. In so few pages Vivek Shraya really drives her point home. It's as heart wrenching as it is illuminating. This is essential reading - for

    .

    Special thanks to NetGalley for the ARC! I'm Afraid of Men comes out August 28. Please pick up a copy. If you're only buying one book this year, let it be this one.

  • Krista

    As per her current author blurb, “Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, poetry, fiction, v

    As per her current author blurb, “Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, poetry, fiction, visual art, and film”, and in

    – truly more a long essay than a full-length book – she uses stories from her unusual life to illustrate her journey from being born a boy who was always accused of being too feminine, to coming out as a gay man – who was then accused of not being buff enough to fit into the gay culture – to eventually transitioning into a woman, who is now accused of not being feminine enough. Throughout this process of self-discovery, Shraya has learned to be afraid of men (and women, too) who would confront nonconformity with violence, and while some of her declarative statements weren't quite self-evident to me, I think that hers is an important voice to add to any conversation about gender or sexual nonconformity. Hearing stories about how other people live helps to move them into familiar territory; familiarity must lead to acceptance and safety; here's to a world in which Shraya is no longer afraid of men. (Note: I read an ARC and quotes may not be in their final forms.)

    I have to admit that it challenges me to have Shraya describe her time when she presented as a gay man – someone who was butch and buff, spoke in a low register, dressed in neutrals and plaid – and then say that she spent ten of those years in a relationship with a woman. Ultimately describing herself as “a queer trans girl”, Shraya was still presenting as this butch gay man when she met her current boyfriend, and was together with him for a while before she even realised she wanted to transition; it challenges me to think that this boyfriend would stay along for the ride as his male partner became a female (or rather, began to outwardly express that part of herself). Yet, I like being challenged in this thinking; who or how other people decide to love doesn't affect me at all. Even so, some of Shraya's most politically progressive statements made me raise an eyebrow:

    But again, I'd rather be challenged in my thinking than read only things that chime with what I already think I believe; and this book gives me plenty to think on. As for what solutions Shraya offers, that was challenging as well:

    Just as Shraya now appreciates the “chest hair – a black flame rising from my bra – more than I ever did when I was a boy who regularly waxed and trimmed to adhere to the '90s standard”, she can see a future where “gender creativity” is celebrated and everyone walks down the street, expressing themselves fluidly and without fear of violence. I don't know if I can quite see that future, but I do firmly believe that the first step in any cultural revolution is listening to the stories of others and embracing them as part of the larger human story. I wish for Shraya that fear-free future.

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    This slim volume is a longish essay about the author’s experiences as a bisexual teen and then later as a trans woman. There aren’t any insights here that anyone up on contemporary feminism would find surprising, but the deeply personal aspect of the essays makes it a compelling read nonetheless. 3.5⭐

    This slim volume is a longish essay about the author’s experiences as a bisexual teen and then later as a trans woman. There aren’t any insights here that anyone up on contemporary feminism would find surprising, but the deeply personal aspect of the essays makes it a compelling read nonetheless. 3.5⭐️

  • Lola

    Sometimes I read 300 or more-page books and I wonder if I read anything at all. Not everything I stumble across has to make me look at the world differently or teach me over and over, but I want something memorable because it’s more much valuable than a book that provides you with the kind of instant pleasure and happiness that you’ll forget about two days later.

    This very short book, not even 100 pages long, had my mind pausing on some of the interactions I have had with guys. So much of what V

    Sometimes I read 300 or more-page books and I wonder if I read anything at all. Not everything I stumble across has to make me look at the world differently or teach me over and over, but I want something memorable because it’s more much valuable than a book that provides you with the kind of instant pleasure and happiness that you’ll forget about two days later.

    This very short book, not even 100 pages long, had my mind pausing on some of the interactions I have had with guys. So much of what Vivek Shraya shares in here is a punch in the heart because it’s oh so true. She chose carefully which episodes from her life she wanted to share, but these episodes are meaningful and raw and provide comfort at times.

    Two months ago, I was hanging out with this guy I liked. We had fun conversations online and I met him three years before. So I thought we could try hanging out in real life to see if we connect. He seemed so sweet online and through the phone. So we did that. Turns out he was a nice person to be around and I started to like his real life version a lot quickly because of our previous conversations. But the moment I let him know I found him attractive and allowed him to touch me, our interactions went from friendly to… something I didn’t really understand. Until, you know, he said he wanted to be friends with benefits. Did not see it coming.

    That and Shraya made me realize that once a guy is aware that he is attractive to you, he feels as though he is permitted to touch you or flirt with you or even say vulgar things like, ‘‘If you want a guy to believe in butterflies in the stomach, suck his d*…’’ Other times, they don’t even need that confirmation… Obviously I’m not sharing everything… But I have to say that I overlooked a lot of the things this guy said to me because I liked his attention and he seemed to care. Did he really care? Probably not. I also participated in the flirting because he liked it a lot but now I wish I had behaved more like Shraya and refused to flirt back because although some of those conversations were exciting… they often left me feeling a bit empty inside. And being over-sexualized over and over is not the best feeling in the world.

    But, well, you learn. And you slowly start thinking about what YOUR needs are and what YOU deserve and makes YOU feel good. You know what the saddest part is? Even though I found that guy attractive and he let me know he didn’t want a girlfriend, I was okay with being just friends. But the flirting continued… and continued… and what’s the point? It’s not meaningful. It’s not going anywhere.

    So, I guess, I’m afraid of men too sometimes because I don’t know what’s in their heads and I don’t know what they mean and don’t mean. I don’t know if they’re interested in me because I have a refreshing point of view to them or because they like my body. I feel like I never will know these things until I ask or until I stop overlooking. If something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Although Shraya is over suspicious, I think she is right to be so aware in the world and be careful and ready to bolt if a situation starts going downhill because the opposite—being too trusting and caring too fast and wanting to fix things that have no business being fixed—is much, much worse.

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  • Kiki

    How to describe this book? It's essentially an almanac of whining. Shraya, born into privilege and now a university professor after struggling for many years to achieve fame as a pop star, enumerates the ways in which she's felt oppressed, or even made slightly uncomfortable, by men (and women -- basically everyone) through the years. I was excited for something substantive, but this was insufferable.

  • l.

    Tbh Vivek just isn’t in command of her material here. The way Vivek continually conflates femininity and women is extremely irritating and I’m fed up of trans writers doing this. I’m tried of people substituting the word feminine for female - which Vivek does repeatedly. They’re not interchangeable. If you can discuss male privilege and behaviours, you can acknowledge that female people exist. We are not just non-males.

    Really the book’s biggest problem is that it claims to be about misogyny but

    Tbh Vivek just isn’t in command of her material here. The way Vivek continually conflates femininity and women is extremely irritating and I’m fed up of trans writers doing this. I’m tried of people substituting the word feminine for female - which Vivek does repeatedly. They’re not interchangeable. If you can discuss male privilege and behaviours, you can acknowledge that female people exist. We are not just non-males.

    Really the book’s biggest problem is that it claims to be about misogyny but really it’s on toxic masculinity. I don’t believe that toxic masculinity is a useful concept but that is what this book is about. For example, calling gay men groping gay men in a gay bar misogyny.... it’s not. Also, the whole homophobia is just misogyny point is one I find irritating. Maybe homophobia is based in misogyny, but how is saying that helpful, how is it clarifying. How is calling men shaming other men for not being muscular misogyny helpful?

    Here, it comes across as an attempt to argue that male people - including cis men - suffer from misogyny just as much as women. An attempt by Vivek to wrap up a bunch of their negative experiences by labelling them all the product of misogyny. Pass. Being a gender non conforming person is scary and lonely and hard but this analysis is Just Bad.

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