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In Are Men Animals? How Modern Masculinity Sells Men Short (Basic Books, 2019), Matthew Gutmann examines how cultural expectations viewing men as violent and sex driven becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Dubious interpretations of the scientific study of the effects of testosterone, comparisons to the animal kingdom and the persistence of sex segregation reinforces ideas about what is natural. The idea that masculinity is the result of biology allows the “boys will be boys” excuse and reinforces patriarchal values harmful to women and setting false limits for male behavior. Presenting a cross-cultural survey Gutmann demonstrates how the variations across culture from Mexico to China contradict notions of a fixed masculinity. Seeing masculinity as a product of culture and malleable allows us to reimagine fathering, who is capable of leadership and offers new possibilities for how men and women will relate to each other.

Matthew Gutmann is professor of anthropology at Brown University.

Lilian Calles Barger,, is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her most recent book is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology (Oxford University Press, 2018). Her current writing project is on the intellectual history of feminism seen through the emblematic life and work of Simone de Beauvoir.

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