Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration by Robyn Ryle (Pine Forge Press / Sage)
Questioning Gender is a one-of-a-kind text designed to launch readers into a thoughtful encounter with gender issues. Rather than providing definitive answers about gender, the book, written by Robyn Ryle, associate professor of Sociology at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, exposes readers to new material that leads them to question their assumptions. Ryle uses both historical and cross-cultural approaches as well as a focus on intersectionality and transgender issues to help students understand the socially-constructed nature of gender. Debunking ideas of what is normal and abnormal, this book explores the core theories and topics, including the gender of sexuality, the gender of friendship and dating, the gender of media and popular culture, and the gender of politics and power.
Features of Questioning Gender include:
Questioning Gender is a book based on the premise that a good conversation about gender helps readers to connect all the complicated scholarship that has been conducted on gender to a thorough investigation of the role of gender in readers own lives, and for that reason readers find this book packed with questions. Each chapter title is a question, and there are question boxes inserted in each chapter, questions at the end of the cultural artifacts that help them think about the prevalence of gender in our everyday lives, and big questions at the end of each chapter to help readers make connections. For a wide range of topics related to gender, including socialization, sexuality, friendship and dating, bodies. marriage and families, work, media, and politics, Ryle uses a historical and cross-cultural perspective to question the things we might think we know about gender.
Questioning Gender unpacks many of the truths we take for granted about our social lives related to gender making basic concepts like sex, marriage, love, and friendship into moving targets with many potential meanings depending on who readers are and when and where they happened to be born. Ryle places the experiences of people who are usually at the margin of gender conversations (gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, women and men of color, women and men of the global South, and poor and working class women and men) at the center of the conversation because their experiences throw open the door on a whole new set of questions that need to be asked about gender.
There are several unique approaches in Questioning Gender that set it apart from other gender textbooks. First, the book takes a global approach. Examining gender in a global context also helps to demonstrate the social construction of gender and the persistence of gender inequality around the world. The book also uses an intersectional approach. Since women of color first brought attention to the ways in which gender intersects with race and ethnicity, those who study gender have become increasingly concerned with how to discuss gender while grounding it firmly within the complex web of identities such as race, class, sexuality, disability, religious background, and so on. Gender does not exist in a vacuum, and an intersectional approach helps to demonstrate that there is no normal experience of what it means to be gendered. Questioning Gender is also unique in incorporating the perspective of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender and queer theory throughout the textbook. Queer theory questions all categories of difference, and the experiences and perspectives of transgender individuals provide a vantage point for students to see beyond our dimorphic gender constructions. Questioning Gender also assumes that questions related to gender must be answered through a consideration of all people, and therefore includes the growing scholarship on the study of men and masculinity. All of these unique approaches to gender in the text help to create a textbook that resists the tendency to normalize certain understandings of gender while marginalizing others.
The final distinctive approach in Questioning Gender is the integration of theoretical perspectives throughout the text. In this book, theory is covered in early chapters but is also discussed throughout the book as each theory applies to different topics. This use of theory throughout the text is highlighted for students and instructors through "Theory Alerts." This approach reminds students of the importance of theory to our understanding of gender, and it models for them how different theories might be applied to different topics related to gender.
Questioning Gender is organized into three parts:
Part I: What Are the Important Questions to Ask About Gender?
The first three chapters set up the basic foundations for an exploration of gender. They introduce the main goals in learning about gender, the basic theories that help to understand gender, and the ways in which those theories will be used throughout the text. Chapter 1 introduces and defines basic concepts in the exploration of gender and discusses why the study of gender is a worthwhile pursuit. Chapter 2 explores the feminist background of many gender theories and outlines sociological theories of gender. Chapter 3 explores gender theories from disciplines outside of sociology, including psychology, anthropology, queer theory, development theory, and ecofeminist theories of gender.
Part II: How Are Our Lives Filled With Gender?
This section of Questioning Gender focuses on everyday aspects of gender using a more interactional, micro level approach to issues. Chapter 4 explores questions related to socialization and theories that explain how we learn to be gendered. The gender of sexuality is explored in Chapter 5, looking at the complicated ways in which sexuality and gender intersect. Chapter 6 explores the gender of friendship in dating, including the different ways in which attraction works on a global scale and how the gender of friendship has changed over time. Chapter 7 looks at the gender of bodies, including issues of body image and health.
Part III: How Is Gender an Important Part of the Way Our Society Works?
This portion of Questioning Gender moves toward a focus on how gender permeates various institutions in society. Chapter 8 examines the important intersections between gender, marriage, and families, taking a historical look at how marriage as an institution has changed over time and how this has affected ideas about gender. Chapter 9 looks at how the institution of the workplace has gendered implications, including a consideration of sex segregation and the gender wage gap. The unique intersections between gender and the media as an institution are examined in Chapter 10. Finally, Chapter 11 explores gender in the realm of states and governments through a consideration of the politics of gender.
Questioning Gender, a unique and provocative book with vivid case studies, resists the tendency to normalize certain understandings of gender while marginalizing others. Readers will finish the book with more questions about gender than they started with at the beginning. The primary course this text is aimed at is sociology of gender. It is ideal for upper-class undergraduate students, though it is cast at a level that would make it accessible to lower-class undergraduates as well. The text is firmly grounded within a sociological approach to gender, with a focus on sociological theories related to gender and research within social science disciplines, also addressing theories from outside of sociology, such as feminist theories and queer theory. Because of this interdisciplinary approach, Questioning Gender is also appropriate for introductory courses in women's studies and gender studies.
The Gendered Unconscious: Can Gender Discourses Subvert Psychoanalysis? by Louise Gyler
(Routledge)Feminist interventions in psychoanalysis have often attempted
either to subvert or re-frame the masculinist and phallocentric
biases of Freud's psychoanalysis. This book investigates the nature
of these interventions by comparing the status and treatment of
women in two different psychoanalytic models: the Kleinian and the
feminist models. It argues that, in fact, these interventions have
historically tended to reinforce such biases by collapsing the
distinction between the gendered minds of individuals and theories
This investigation is framed by two steps. First, in assessing the position of women and the feminine in psychoanalysis, The Gendered Unconscious explores not only the ways they are represented in theory, but also how these representations function in practice. Secondly, this book uses a framework of a comparative dialogue to highlight the assumptions and values that underpin the theory and clinical practice in the two psychoanalytic models. This comparative critique concludes with the counter-intuitive claim that contemporary Kleinian theory may, in practice, hold more radical possibilities for the interests of women than the practices derived from contemporary psychoanalytic gender theory.
This book is of significant interest to those studying the psychology of women, psychoanalytic studies, health psychology, sociology, gender studies and cultural studies. It will also be of interest to clinicians and candidates of professional psychotherapy and psychoanalytic training programmes.
The relationship between theory, clinical practice and technique has always been a troublesome one for psychoanalysis. The outgrowth of this "trouble" has been the development of numerous theoretical and technical frameworks. The exponents of these various models sometimes engage in generative dialogues to advance understanding, and, at other times, fiercely compete to assert the ascendancy of their claims. Psychoanalytic knowledge is usually advanced through the simultaneous process of describing richly layered and complex clinical material to build theory, and of interpreting clinical material through the lens of theory to render it meaningful. The limitations of this inductive methodology, with the absence of a deductive tie between theoretical models and technical propositions, represent an area of well-worn concern for psychoanalytic scholars (Fonagy and Target, 2003). In this book, I will focus on the relationship between psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice, illustrating this relationship with mostly published case material. My aim, however, is not to join the project of explicating and developing transparent and congruent evidential links between theory and practice. Rather, I assume that theory and practice do not map together in one-to-one ways in psychoanalysis and that it is not necessarily generative for them to do so (Fonagy, 2003; Smith, 2003). This means that practice can implicate notions of subjectivity that the theory itself may not suggest.
If the relationship between theoretical frameworks and technique is, at best, tenuous then a series of questions arises in relation to Kleinian psychoanalysis and contemporary psychoanalytic gender theory. Importantly for feminism, how successful are the contemporary gender theorists in translating their values into practice? Do the more recent accounts in relation to sex, gender and women, which are consciously and self-reflectively feminist, shift the psychoanalytic paradigm? Or are they caught in an inescapable reiteration of the inherent values and assumptions, albeit in slightly modified or different versions? Is Irigaray's statement well-founded? Or is Flax's more positive and optimistic appraisal relevant? In what ways do these competing claims reflect the foundational explanatory concepts, values and assumptions that function in psychoanalytic theory and practice?
Stephen Mitchell (1996) argues that the analyst's attitude to questions of gender and sexuality has an important impact on the analytic process. His framework for conceptualizing the analyst's participation has three aspects. These are: the analyst's "programmatic intent"; the analyst's unconscious, preconscious biases, preferences and implicit judgements; and the analyst's sense of the analytic process. Programmatic intent refers to explicit and implicit theories and concepts that are held by the analyst. This leads the analyst to interpret the patient's associations and actions from various vantage points. Along a similar line, Purcell (2004) argues that the analyst's working theory impacts clinically on his countertransference and, therefore, influences the nature of the analytic process; and Smith writes "it would seem essential for us to know not only what our theory is thinking, but also where and how it thinks" (2003, p. 5).
Taking Stephen Mitchell's framework, I argue that these elements do not interact in simple ways. Further, I argue that, while Kleinian psychoanalysis may be scaffolded in theoretical accounts of sexual development that are conservative (in the sense that they re-inscribe social norms and patriarchal authority), the account of subjectivity that emerges from clinical accounts is unstable, dispersed and subversive in relation to notions of hegemonic femininity. Counterpoised against this, the contemporary psychoanalytic theorists, such as Benjamin, have theoretical frameworks that challenge ideas concerning normative social developmental trajectories. Paradoxically, as we will see, some theoretical developments may appear to translate disappointingly into practice.
The starting point for this investigation recognizes that a masculinist bias is structured into psychoanalytic discourse. At the same time, psychoanalysis, with its conceptions of desire, transference and identification, is also a critical methodology with the capacity to analyze (some) ways that gender and sexuality function in the human psyche. This investigation juxtaposes the critical approaches of Kleinian psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic feminism in order to highlight the specific blind spots and preconceived notions embedded in each model. In Chapter 2, Freud's ideas about sexuality, gender and subjectivity are set out. This is followed by discussion of Klein's revised account of sexual development as well as her conceptual framework of positions. The accounts of Freud and Klein introduce central debates in psychoanalytic theory about the nature of femininity: is it a primary phenomenon (pre-given/pre-existing) or a secondary construction? The Freudian account privileges the phallus (and what the penis represents) and constructs femininity as secondary. Klein and others (Jones, 1935; Homey, 1925) conceptualize femininity as primary, that is, this position emphasizes the role of the maternal and the awareness of the vagina (and what it represents) as foundational in the development of female sexual identity. The contrast between Freud and Klein concerning female sexuality is part of the so-called Freud—Jones debate of the 1920s and the implications of this debate are of ongoing relevance to contemporary psychoanalysis (for example, see the infant observation example above). In Chapter 2, I also outline some of the underlying assumptions and claims that feminist writers find contentious and that are deconstructed and reconstructed in psychoanalytic theories of gender.
In Chapters 3 and 4, I move my focus to considering the critiques, deconstructions and reconstructions of classic psychoanalytic theory undertaken by feminist psychoanalytic theorists. I begin with an outline of the early "second wave" theoretical interventions of Juliet Mitchell and Nancy Chodorow. I then discuss the contemporary relationally oriented feminists' deconstruction and reconstruction of the oedipal and gendered assumptions that legitimate masculine claims for authority and power, as well as the polarized hierarchical categories of gender which represent gender as trans-historical, coherent and unified. In this work, the gender polarity is conceived as representing a false binary, a "compromise formation" (Goldner, 2003), a "necessary fiction" (Harris, 1991) which is "a kind of 'softly assembled' set of behavioural attractors, stable or unstable depending on the task and the environment and forming complex multidimensional systems of particular task in a particular context" (Harris, 2005, p. 43). These critiques assist us in questioning the historically and socially sanctioned sexual and gender constructions that can be disadvantageous to freedom of expression and representation. These theorists (and in this book, I especially emphasize the work of Jessica Benjamin) reconstruct the traditional developmental narratives by advancing ideals, such as mutual recognition, identificatory love and gender over-inclusiveness. This discussion suggests some key questions: do the revised psychoanalytic theories of gender break new ground with "fresh" evaluations of women based on different assumptions and values or are they "new" editions of longstanding prejudices and values? Do any new theoretical developments engender new approaches to clinical practice and, if so, in what directions? In Chapter 4, the clinical technical developments arising from the theoretical move to reposition relational ideals such as connectedness, sameness and mutual regulation and understanding associated with the feminine and the maternal are assessed. From the clinical standpoint, the intersubjective relational moment in which each subject in the relationship both recognizes the other and feels recognized by the other is crucial. This capacity for mutual recognition holds the potential to disrupt the doer—done to complementarity, that is, the prototypical domination and submission dynamic, enabling an opening for other forms of representational spaces for women and men.
In Chapters 5 and 6, I return to thinking about the ideas of Klein and contemporary Kleinian psychoanalysis, especially the conceptualization of the structuring of inner and outer reality with its links to the meaning of gendered subjectivity. I suggest that, on the one hand, Kleinian psychoanalysis relies on a socially normative gendered theoretical framework
(Chapter 2) and on the other, the conceptual and clinical importance placed on the integration of conventional masculine and feminine qualities, along with the psychological capacity to experience different states of mind, can destabilize stereotypical social and psychological positioning. This leads me to argue that Kleinian psychoanalysts, such as Ron Britton (1998), can be read against themselves to weaken these associative inferences linked to the classic oedipal model which privileges the masculine. At the same time, the conceptual language employed to explicate human experience is often depicted in a rather concrete form which re-inscribes normative fictions of gender. In Chapter 6, the clinical extensions of Klein's thinking are explored, particularly the implications of the inherently disruptive effects of negativity, anxiety and otherness for stable and self-knowledgeable (gendered) subjectivity. In addition, I discuss the ways that the concept of projective identification reconfigures the clinical encounter and the implications of the potential transformational axis of symbol usage, symbolization and the capacity for thought. I also discuss the ways that some contemporary feminist writers draw on Kleinian ideas.
Finally, in Chapter 7, I turn to the question about what we learn from this comparative dialogue between Kleinian psychoanalysis and contemporary feminist psychoanalysis. I ask a series of questions: Do feminist gender discourses subvert psychoanalysis? Or, are they caught in an inescapable reiteration of earlier interests and values? Do recent accounts of psychoanalytic feminism shift the psychoanalytic paradigm; and if so, in what ways? As would be anticipated, the answers to these questions are not straightforward, but I propose the responses can be framed around three central concerns: the mental structuring function that supports the individuation—separation process and permits the recognition of self and other; identificatory love/defensive sameness and the revaluing of the symbolic feminine; and the meaning of aggression, negativity and anxiety in the constitution of subjectivity along with the role of radical otherness.
Sapphistries: A Global History of Love between Women by Leila J. Rupp (Intersections: Transdisciplinary Perspectives on Genders and Sexualities Series: NYU Press) From the ancient poet Sappho to tombois in contemporary Indonesia, women throughout history and around the globe have desired, loved, and had sex with other women. In beautiful prose, Sapphistries tells their stories, capturing the multitude of ways that diverse societies have shaped female same-sex sexuality across time and place. More
Am I a Woman? A Skeptic's Guide to Gender
by Cynthia Eller (Beacon)
an accessible and provocative look at how we decide
who is a woman—and why we find it important.
Let’s face it: we live in a time that is highly ambivalent, if not downright schizophrenic, about what it means to be a woman. On the one hand, most women claim to be committed to sexual equality. On the other, feminism has become the new f-word, we venerate the impossible domestic vision of Martha Stewart, and the government invests our tax dollars in science aimed at discovering intrinsic biological differences between men and women.
In Am I a Woman?, a smart, intimate, and conversational book, Cynthia Eller, Assistant Professor of women and religion at Montclair State University, New Jersey, asks what it is that really makes a woman a woman.
A self-defined “normal” woman, she
mines her own experiences as length, from the carpools to the fashion crises.
Eller argues that human sexual dimorphism (the belief that anatomy defines women
and men) is law, but that all the nasty little rules that go along with the
labels "man" and "woman" are limiting. Eller’s answers demonstrate that the
whole business of deciding who is a woman and who is not—and why—is far more
complicated than it at first appears.
Am I a Woman?, bright,
conversational, written from the perspective of stereotypical femaleness – this
is a book you can give your sister or cousin who never really got the whole
Gender Across Languages: The Linguistic Representation of Women and Men Volume 1 edited by Marlis Hellinger and Hadumod Bussmann Gender Across Languages: The Linguistic Representation of Women and Men, Volume 2 edited by Marlis Hellinger and Hadumod Bussmann; Gender Across Languages: The Linguistic Representation of Women and Men volume 3 edited by Marlis Hellinger and Hadumod Bussmann (Impact, Studies in Language and Society: John Benjamins Publishing Company) This three-volume comprehensive reference work, Gender Across Languages, provides systematic descriptions of various categories of gender (grammatical, lexical, referential, social) in 30 languages of diverse genetic, typological and socio-cultural backgrounds. All chapters are original contributions and follow a common general outline developed by the editors. The book contains rich bibliographical and indexical material.
Among the issues discussed for each language are
Gender Across Languages: Volume 1 include: Arabic, Belizean Creole,
Eastern Maroon Creole, English, Hebrew, Indonesian, Romanian, Russian, Turkish.
The English section includes English – gender in a global language, A
corpus-based view of gender in
Gender Across Languages: Volume 2 include: Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin), Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Welsh. The Chinese section includes In Chinese men and women are equal – or – women and men are equal?, Gender –related use of sentence-final particles in Cantonese, Reality and representation: Social control and gender relations in Mandarin Chinese proverbs.
Gender Across Languages Volume 3
include: Czech, Danish, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Oriya, Polish, Serbian,
Swahili, Swedish. The French section includes Gender in French: Structural
properties, incongruences and asymmetries and Gender and language politics in
These three volumes of
Gender Across Languages provide the much-needed basis for explicit and
detailed comparative analyses of the ways in which gender is treated across and
among the 31 languages examined.
Rethinking Gender and Therapy: Inner World, Outer World, and the
Developing Identity of Women edited by Susannah Izzard and Nicola Barden (Open
University Press) How can women forge an identity for
themselves against the backdrop of changing definitions of gender and sexuality?
What has psychoanalytic thought to offer understandings of gender development?
Can therapists draw upon a fuller picture of women's internal and external
Rethinking Gender and Therapy brings together the contributions of psychoanalytic theory and sociological analysis to explore the interrelationship between the inner and outer worlds which impact on a woman's identity.
How a woman's experience is depicted by and perceived by the society of which she is a part profoundly affects how she experiences herself. This book seeks to explore that dynamic in relation to key life stages (such as infancy, adolescence and older age) and in terms of key issues such as relationships, work and family. Rethinking Gender and Therapy moves beyond those past divisions between psychotherapy and sociological, gender and cultural studies that have fractured our understanding of the development of a personal gender identity. It will help therapists in their practices to draw upon a well-rounded and deeper analysis of women's inner and outer worlds.
Rethinking Gender and Therapy could be an important resource for all trainee and practicing therapists and counselors, for all students of gender, women's studies, counseling psychology, and psychotherapy, and for those involved in helping women across the caring professions.
Sexuality and Gender edited by Christine Williams and Arlene Stein (Blackwell Readers in Sociology: Blackwell) There is probably no area of social life today that is more explosive than sexuality. Every day seems to bring new questions about the meaning and place of sexuality in our lives. Open any newspaper or magazine and you are likely to encounter heated debates about teen pregnancy, sex education, pornography, abortion, AIDS, lesbian/gay rights, sexual harassment, and the adulterous affairs of politicians. Tabloid talk shows and popular "reality" programs like Temptation Island and MTV's The Real World regularly push the limits of socially acceptable sexual expression.
Our public preoccupation with sexual diversity is a relatively new phenomenon. Until quite recently in Western history, most people believed that human sexuality came in only one flavor: adult heterosexuality, in marriage, for reproductive purposes. Anything else was considered deviant, sick, antisocial, immoral, or criminal. Today, however, the norm of the heterosexual married couple is no longer quite so taken for granted.
We are clearly living in a time of rapid social change regarding sexuality. What society considers reasonable or tolerable regarding sexual practices is undergoing remarkable transformation. Sociologists are today trying to understand these changes in the context of changes in the wider society.
In this volume we have gathered together some of the best articles about sexuality from a sociological perspective. The sociology of sexuality is an emerging area of research and courses on this topic are growing in popularity. Unlike courses entitled "Sexuality" or "Human Sexuality," which have been taught for years in psychology and human development departments, the sociology of sexuality does not focus on biological and developmental processes, sexual behavior, and sexual function and dysfunction. Instead, sociologists are interested in how society shapes the expression of sexual desire through cultural images and social institutions. We seek to understand how organizations like the family, religion, and the state shape and encourage some forms of sexual behavior and not others. We examine how society privileges or discriminates against members of different groups on the basis of their sexual practices, and also how groups defend, resist, and/or challenge their treatment. Sociologists are particularly interested in how a person's race, gender, and social class are related to their beliefs and values relating to sexuality. Finally, we are interested in how and why norms about appropriate and inappropriate sexual behavior change over time.
The tremendous volatility of the subject matter makes the sociology of sexuality an exciting field for research, but it also presents several challenges. Since the very meaning of sexuality is debated today, basic terminology is often difficult to define. In general, the term "sexuality" refers to sexual behavior (what people do) and sexual desire (what people want to do and what they fantasize about doing). The term "sexual" in everyday speech refers almost exclusively to genital activity and its associated fantasies, but it can include any sensual experience that has erotic meaning for the individual. "Sex" can refer to two things: (1) sexual behavior, consisting of the acts that people engage in to achieve pleasure. (2) Sex also refers to the anatomical and reproductive differences that men and women are born with, or develop. Thus, people often talk about "sex differences" referring to the typically dimorphous characteristics of our biology; men's penises and testicles; women's vaginas and ovaries. As many of the articles in this collection suggest, however, our understanding of sex differences is shaped in part by "gender." Gender refers to the cultural meanings, social roles, and personality traits associated with sex differences. This is the social (as opposed to the biological) aspect of being a man or a woman. Our society traditionally has insisted that there are only two "sexes" ‑ male and female ‑ and only two corresponding "genders" ‑ masculine and feminine. Today, however, there is a greater recognition tha these terms (sex and gender) do not necessarily overlap in reality. Men can be feminine and women can be masculine, and most people do not conform entirely to eithe designation. Nevertheless our expectatio that men should be masculine and wome feminine sometimes obscures the variatio that occurs in nature, and limits our collect ive ability to recognize and imagine alterntive possibilities.
The final term important for the soci logical study of sexuality is "sexual orientation," sometimes called sexual identity. This refers to a person's preferred sexual partner: a man or a woman, or either. The terms homosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and heterosexual all refer to categories of sexual identity. Not surprisingly, these are also contested terms. They each have different meanings, historical connotations, and political implications. Some people argue that sexual identity is a fixed feature of our personality, and others maintain that it is more fluid and changeable. Exploring the‑ connections between sexual identity and gender identity is one of the central goals of this book,The articles in this collection explore these themes from a variety of perspectives, but they all share a common respect for tolerance and diversity. Society will always shape sexuality, but we hope that greater awareness of the patterning of sexual life will inspire efforts to achieve more equality and social justice in our collective pursuit of sexual happiness.
The Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender Role by Robert F. Bornstein, Joseph M. Masling (American Psychological Association) Few aspects of psychoanalytic theory are as misunderstood as psychoanalytic models of gender and gender role. The theory has evolved considerably since Freud's time, and contemporary object‑relations and self‑psychology perspectives contrast sharply with earlier work in this area. Chapters in The Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender Role, the final volume in the Empirical Studies in Psychoanalytic Theories series, review cutting‑edge empirical research on psychoanalytic theories of child development, defense and coping, unconscious mental processing, normal personality functioning, and psychopathology. These elegant, integrative essays not only summarize a tremendous amount of research on this topic but also set the stage for a reinvigorated psychoanalytic understanding of gender and gender roles during the first decades of the 21st century.
Studs, Tools, and the Family Jewels: Metaphors Men Live by by Peter F. Murphy (University of Wisconsin Press) reveals the insidious effects of the language men use to speak about manhood.
Peter F. Murphy's purpose in this book is not to shock but rather to educate, provoke discussion, and engender change. Looking at the sexual metaphors that are so pervasive in American culture--jock, tool, shooting blanks, gang bang, and others even more explicit--he argues that men are trapped and damaged by language that constantly intertwines sexuality and friendship with images of war, machinery, sports, and work.These metaphors men live by, Murphy contends, reinforce the view that relationships are tactical encounters that must be won, because the alternative is the loss of manhood. The macho language with which men cover their fear of weakness is a way of bonding with other men. The implicit or explicit attacks on women and gay men that underlie this language translate, in their most extreme forms, into actual violence. Murphy also believes, however, that awareness of these metaphorical power plays is the basis for behavioral change: "How we talk about ourselves as men can alter the way we live as men."