The Man They Wanted Me To Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making

Counterpoint. May 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781640091818. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781640091825. SOC SCI
OrangeReviewStarSexton (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.

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