I’ve been meaning to read Vivek Shraya’s I’m Afraid of Men ever since the book came out in 2018. I almost met Shraya when she was named one of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2017 (almost, because there were, like, hundreds of people involved in the meeting), and then again at a Calgary Institute for the Humanities shindig (similar scenario, although perhaps not hundreds of people), and I’m just blown away by her articulateness (that’s a word, right?) and beauty.
You will be too.
SOME REASONS TO READ THIS BOOK (from the publisher):
Named a Best Book by: The Globe and Mail, Indigo, Out Magazine, Audible, CBC, Apple, Quill & Quire, Kirkus Reviews, Brooklyn Public Library, Writers’ Trust of Canada, Autostraddle, Bitch, and BookRiot.
Finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Award, Transgender Nonfiction
Nominated for the 2019 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award
Winner of the 2018 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design – Prose Non-Fiction
“Cultural rocket fuel.” —Vanity Fair
“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 her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century.
Vivek Shraya has reason to be afraid. Throughout her life she’s endured acts of cruelty and aggression for being too feminine as a boy and not feminine enough as a girl. In order to survive childhood, she had to learn to convincingly perform masculinity. As an adult, she makes daily compromises to steel herself against everything from verbal attacks to heartbreak.
Now, with raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate. I’m Afraid of Men is a journey from camouflage to a riot of colour and a blueprint for how we might cherish all that makes us different and conquer all that makes us afraid.
THE MAIN REASON TO READ THIS BOOK (from Jane):
“Out of this fear comes a desire not only to reimagine masculinity but to blur gendered boundaries altogether and celebrate gender creativity. It’s not enough to let go of the misplaced hope for a good or better man. It’s not enough to honour femininity. Both of hese options might offer a momentary respite from the dangers of masculinity, but in the end they only perpetuate a binary and the pressure that bears down when we live at different ends of the spectrum.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
VIVEK SHRAYA is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, poetry, fiction, visual art, and film. A Publishing Triangle AWard winner, her books include even this page is white, The Boy & the Bindi, and She of the Moutains. Shraya is one half of the music duo Too Attached and founder of the Imprint VS Books (at Arsenal Pulp Press). She teaches creative writing at the University of Calgary.
I intermittently get advice from mainstream authors and advisers in the romance community to keep queer content off my blog and out of my newsletter, and my queerness to myself, because, “you know, it might alienate some readers.”
I’d rather that homophobes, transphones, misogynists and racists didn’t read my books. They wouldn’t like them anyway.
And also, I’d rather be myself.
How about you?