Cover image for I'm afraid of men / Vivek Shraya.
Title:
I'm afraid of men / Vivek Shraya.
Title Variants:
I am afraid of men
ISBN:
9780735235939
Publication Information:
[Toronto] : Penguin, 2018.

©2018
Physical Description:
85 pages ; 19 cm
Abstract:
"A powerful meditation on the damaging effects of masculinity from a trans girl--a writer with celebrated indie roots and a knack for dismantling assumptions and challenging the status quo. Toxic masculinity takes many insidious forms, from misogyny and sexual harassment to homophobia, transphobia, and bullying. Vivek Shraya has firsthand experience with nearly all of them. As a boy, Vivek exhibited "feminine" qualities. The men in her life immediately and violently disapproved. They taught her to fear the word girl by turning it into a weapon used to hurt her. They taught her to hate her femininity, to destroy the best parts of herself. In order to survive, Vivek had to learn to convincingly perform masculinity. As a girl, she's still afraid. Having spent years undoing the damage and salvaging her lost girlhood, she is haunted by the violence of men, seldom dressing the way she wants in public. As a result she is often still perceived as male, stirring feelings of guilt and self-doubt: Am I not feminine enough? Is this my fault for striving to be the perfect man and excelling at it? I'm Afraid of Men is a culmination of the years Vivek spent observing men and creating her own version of manhood. Through deeply personal reflection, she offers a rare and multifaceted perspective on gender and a hopeful reimagining of masculinity at a time when it's needed more than ever."-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

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.


Author Notes

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 Mountains. Shraya is one half of the music duo Too Attached and founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books. She teaches creative writing at the University of Calgary.


Excerpts

Excerpts

I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me fear. I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the word girl by turning it into a weapon they used to hurt me. I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me to hate and eventually destroy my femininity. I'm afraid of men because it was men who taught me to fear the extraordinary parts of myself. My fear was so acute that it took almost two decades to undo the damage of rejecting my femininity, to salvage and reclaim my girlhood. Even now, after coming out as a trans girl, I am more afraid than ever. This fear governs many of the choices I make, from the beginning of my day to the end. In the morning, as I get ready for work, I avoid choosing clothes or accessories that will highlight my femininity and draw unwanted attention. On the hierarchy of harassment, staring is the least violent consequence for my gender nonconformity that I could hope for. And yet the experience of repeatedly being stared at has slowly mutated me into an alien. If I decide to wear tight pants, I walk quickly to my bus stop to avoid being seen by the construction workers outside my building, who might shout at me as they have on other mornings. When I'm on a packed bus or streetcar, I avoid making eye contact with men, so that no man will think I might be attracted to him and won't be able to resist the urge to act upon this attraction. I squeeze my shoulders inward if a man sits next to me, so that I don't accidentally touch him. If I open Twitter or Facebook on the way to work, I brace myself for news reports of violence against women and gender-nonconforming people, whether it's a story about another trans woman of colour who has been murdered, or the missing and murdered Indigenous women, or sexual assault. As important as it is to make these incidents visible by reporting them, sensationalizing and digesting these stories is also a form of social control, a reminder that I need to be afraid and to try to be as invisible as possible. Excerpted from I'm Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.