VISIBLE MAN: A True Story of Postracist America by George Glider

VISIBLE MAN: A True Story of Postracist America

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There is no denying a certain pornographic lure to Gilder's tender concern for endangered male virility. Continuing on with the theme of Sexual Suicide and Naked Nomads, Gilder spins the story of Sam Brewer, a tale designed to show how the ""lust for male identity"" must not be undermined lest it break down into casual violence that destroys the social order. Sam's an Albany, N.Y., black man of the streets accused of raping a white woman, and Gilder, it soon turns out, is in Sam's corner all the way. In the first place, he ""raped"" an alleged lesbian, made her feel like a ""natural woman"" (so his behavior is at worst morally ambiguous). In the second place, Gilder argues that feminist Susan Brownmiller (one of two chief targets--the other being the welfare system) didn't really understand rape, which in the context of Sam's street-scene was often a mutually satisfying experience. As Gilder sees it, in the cushy world of welfare, where Sam lives more or less as an ""unrelated individual,"" ADC mothers hold all the aces; the men are dispensable, redundant, subject to ""the Catch-22 of American manhood. Although a man might need a woman and children most when he is moneyless and dejected, it is precisely such a man, at those times, who is barred from all durable access to family life."" Sam, tossed out by his self-sufficient ADC girlfriend, Bev, pseudorapes a ""lezzie."" Only natural. The moral is, again, that women must be subject to men, or else male revenge will be terrible and civilization will crumble. If we must dismantle the welfare rolls to make a man feel more like a man, do it. Like Gilder's past stuff, it's an insidious and nasty book.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1978
Publisher: Basic Books