The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Toxic masculinity, which Sexton calls out in this book, is not new to many of us; it is endemic in white men, an addiction and an obsessively choreographed, force-fed act. It robs men and anyone near them of their humanity and sometimes their lives. Sexton contextualizes toxicity with both political examples (conspiracy theories, racism, war) and with his own grueling struggle with masculine identity and a rash of male anti-role models. Filtered through his personal story, this is a great book to read if you’re interested in how and why the patriarchy still reigns, as well as the havoc it wreaks. -Cody

— From Summer Booknotes 2019


"By carefully and soberly examining his own story, Sexton deconstructs American life and gives many examples of how pervasive toxic masculinity is in our culture." --Henry Rollins, Los Angeles Times

"This book is critically important to our historical moment . . . C]rackles with intensity and absolutely refuses to allow the reader to look away for even a moment from the blight that toxic masculinity in America has wrought." --Nicholas Cannariato, NPR

The author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore turns his keen eye to our current crisis of masculinity using his upbringing in rural Indiana to examine the personal and societal dangers of the patriarchy

Based on his provocative and popular New York Times op-ed, The Man They Wanted Me to Be is both memoir and cultural analysis. Jared Yates Sexton alternates between an examination of his working-class upbringing and historical, psychological, and sociological sources that examine the genesis of toxic masculinity and its consequences for society.

As progressivism changes American society, and globalism shifts labor away from traditional manufacturing, the roles that have been prescribed to men since the Industrial Revolution have been rendered obsolete. Donald Trump's campaign successfully leveraged male resentment and entitlement, and now, with Trump as president and the rise of the #MeToo movement, it's clear that our current definitions of masculinity are outdated and even dangerous.

Deeply personal and thoroughly researched, The Man They Wanted Me to Be examines how we teach boys what's expected of men in America, and the long-term effects of that socialization--which include depression, shorter lives, misogyny, and suicide. Sexton turns his keen eye to the establishment of the racist patriarchal structure which has favored white men, and investigates the personal and societal dangers of such outdated definitions of manhood.

About the Author

JARED YATES SEXTON is the author of The People Are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore. His political writing has appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, and elsewhere. Sexton is also the author of three collections of fiction and a crime novel, and is an associate professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781640091818
ISBN-10: 1640091815
Publisher: Counterpoint LLC
Publication Date: May 7th, 2019
Pages: 288
Language: English