Boys’ Secrets and Men’s Loves: A Memoir
by David A.J. Richards

"The truth about our natures is that the gender binary and hierarchy—the heart of patriarchy—are false and destructively false because they cut us off from loving relationships based on freedom and equality."

Much more than the memoir of an eminent gay law professor, this title is a seminal treatise on the history of hierarchical patriarchy and its corrosive effect upon both men and women in every stratum of contemporary American society. The author “joins reflections on my own struggles with manhood and love with the insights of writers, who across the ages, have illuminated the trauma of patriarchal manhood, although their works have not usually been read in this light.”

Richards deftly examines the literature of both gay and straight males and females, including Shakespeare, Dickens, Santayana, Joyce, Twain, Hawthorne, Melville, James, Woolf, Faulkner, Roth, Baldwin, and many others. The interdisciplinary volume also explores the work of American psychiatrist and student of male violence, Dr. James Gilligan, anthropologist Ruth Benedict, and experts of both genders and all sexual identities in many other fields who analyze the perpetuation of shame, guilt, and violent ideology through patriarchal repression.

The timely, thoughtful, and well-written study notes the lack of articulate public debate about the patriarchal tendencies at the core of many American national dilemmas. The current erosion of democracy under the Trump administration, Richards argues, is indicative of the ongoing harm patriarchy inflicts on both females and males. He sheds light on several attributes that distinguish America from other Western democracies, including the historical influence of patriarchal Puritan religion. Patriarchal demands perpetuate a culture of shame or guilt by quashing feminine, empathetic attributes in young males, instilling a false acceptance of emotional dysfunction, misogyny, homophobia, narcissism, racism, and violence. Readers interested in the artistic resistance of patriarchy will be especially pleased with Richards’ detailed discussions of the role that literature, philosophy, and arts have played in challenging patriarchal suppression of liberty and the glorification of violence in America.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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