In this practical follow up to Refusing to be a Man, John Stoltenberg uses a combination of case studies, autobiography, checklists and discussion points, to speak directly to men about how the social construction of manhood operates in everyday relationships and to show how these same dynamics drive the behaviour of gangs, race-hate groups, and international imperialism. Readers will find here new perspectives on intimacy, gender, and violence and be pushed to re-examine their ideas of manhood and gender identity generally. Stoltenberg's new introduction sets the book in academic context, summarising the game theory of gender which underlies all his work.
Stoltenberg ( Refusing to Be a Man ) starts off his provocative book by drawing a sharp distinction between manhood and selfhood. The former he believes to be socially conditioned and based principally on fear, the latter, liberating and just. Presuming that all human beings seek to feel safe, sustained and connected, Stoltenberg concludes that these basic needs are often subverted by the requirements of such myths of masculinity as toughness, competitiveness, pride and single-mindedness. This personal behavioral identity, the author asserts, cannot exist with authentic and integrated selfhood, which demands above all a love of justice and a sense of conscience. Stoltenberg applies his theory to sexual relations, friendship, homosexuality, pornography and other areas. He ends with a call for selfhood, with its altruism and collectivism, and for a concomitant abandonment of what is conventionally called manhood.