Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

I’m Afraid of Men [review]

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I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya
Published by Penguin Books Canada on August 28, 2018
my rating: ★★★★ (4 stars)
Goodreads avg:
4.28 (as of 2021-05-31)
Spoiler-free review

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In I’m Afraid of Men, Vivek Shraya reflects on her experiences from being “sensitive” and feminine boy who learns to perform masculinity through her adulthood as a transgender woman. She explores how her relationships to and perceptions of men have changed with a bluntness that is educational to those who may not have experienced the intersection of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia that she has faced. This is an incredibly compelling set of essays that force one to examine how they may be complicit in the ongoing oppression of others.

She describes how carefully her life must be navigated, how she often goes out in public dressed as a man to avoid violence, how she will remove her makeup before leaving a show she’s performed at, how her boyfriend sometimes accompanies her as a bodyguard of sorts. She reflects on how this anxiety, this terror, has weathered her body and her mind:

My fear of men… both protects my body… and erodes it… I have been stricken with numerous freak pains… that practitioners are unable to explain or cure. When they suspiciously ask me, ‘Are you sure nothing happened? You didn’t fall somewhere?’ I want to respond, ‘I live in fear.’

As she reflects on her experiences with men, she notes the women in the background. The girlfriend of the classmate who spit on her, who giggled instead of stopping him. A friend at a bar who told her she should be flattered when she was repeatedly groped. Cisgender women who dismiss her stories of transmisogyny, assuming the oppression they face is the same that she faces. Women with internalized misogyny who continue to tear down other women. As she recounts them, she adds “I’m also afraid of women.”

Shraya’s essays provide unique insight into how boys are socialized and how expectations of masculinity can be damaging, both to boys and men and the people they interact with. She also shares how dangerous life can be for men who do not adhere to our expectations for masculinity as well as for transgender women. This was a short, informative read that I highly recommend. I would love to see a full memoir from Shraya someday and will keep my eye out for more of her writing.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Policing the Black Man [review]

NOTE: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way impacts my review.

Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis book cover
Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis
To be published by Knopf Double Day Publishing Group on July 11, 2017
ARC eBook Edition, 336 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-101-87127-0

Policing the Black Man is a collection of essays detailing both the history of racism in the United States’ criminal justice system and the issues we face today. These essays were written by various criminal justice experts. The essays are strongly connected to modern issues, discussing recent killings of black men by police and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The essays are laid out in a common sense manner, beginning with the roots of racism in criminal justice and moving forward to where we are today. They are all extremely well-written and, for the most part, easily digestible by the layperson. Some of the material presented was things I already knew, but the details and additional statistics provided allowed me to more fully grasp what has been going on. A decent amount of the material provided was brand new to me–for instance, I had no idea to what extent prosecutors were involved in racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

This book was extremely eye-opening to me, particularly as a white woman of relative privilege. This book provided everything I look for in a non-fiction book, from good writing to fascinating content. I highlighted endlessly, whenever notable statistics or vital information came up. Its only downfall was that a handful of sections became a little too technical at times and I got lost in them. Otherwise, this was an incredibly important read that I recommend to all, particularly those with an interest in racial relations and/or the criminal justice system.

Rating: ✪✪✪✪

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