Book review: “I’m afraid of men,” by Vivek Shraya

Shraya, Vivek. I’m afraid of men. Penguin Canada. 2018. $16.00. 96p. HC. ISBN: 9780735235939.

Cover of I'm afraid of men, by Vivek ShrayaVivek Shraya analyses her past and present to examine the effects of toxic masculinity on our society through the lens of her life as a queer trans girl. Shraya examines her childhood, her pre-transition relationship with a woman, as well as her relationship with a man during her transition to explore the ways in which she was influenced by society’s unhealthy conceptions of gender.

As a trans woman of colour, Shraya has a lot to say about intersectionality, and she illustrates it by sharing vulnerable moments from her life. She does not shy away from sharing self-incriminating anecdotes as well. She puts herself in the same boat as the rest of us, bumbling our way through a patriarchal society that hurts all of us even as we inflict it on each other. In 85 pages, she covers more ground than most academic theses, all while maintaining an easy relatability.

For those familiar with intersectionality discourse, the perspectives shared in I’m Afraid of Men will likely not blow your mind, but it is still a revelation to read something so nuanced and carefully articulated, even if you already get her point. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to glance into our society’s gender hang-ups with the patience or curiosity to examine it through deeply personal stories.

Ashley Dunne

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