ABOUT MEN: A Psycho-Sexual Meditation by Phyllis Chesler

ABOUT MEN: A Psycho-Sexual Meditation

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Given the inflammatory nature of the subject, the obligatory notice of Chesler's name, and the advance superlatives from a coterie of admirers (Steinem, Jong, Pogrebin, Piercy), this unbounded exploration of men and their experience is assured of broad attention, some of it deserved. Although intending at the outset a male counterpart to Women and Madness (1972), Chesler has drawn on art, history, and personal experience to pursue her several themes--attitudes toward fathers, mothers, children, sex and fantasy, bonding, with particular scrutiny of such generally ignored issues as paternal infanticide and cannibalism. Much like Adrienne Rich's Of Woman Born, the work is strongest when closest to home: the central section of autobiographical portraits (of her father, first husband, colleagues, lovers) is a firm, impressionistic gallery. The first section, a series of pictures organized according to shared facets (fathers and sons, phallic sexuality) and linked by enlarging captions, dramatic asides, and occasional excerpts, examines male images in classic Greek works, Bible stories, Renaissance paintings, and modern offerings (Dali, Oldenburg, Sylvia Sleigh). And the last part, the most provocative, is a highly quotable essay (""Male bonding is about the lengths to which men are willing to go to gain male approval, or rather, to avoid male violence""), which builds on slippery ""most men"" or ""many men"" generalizations guaranteed to agitate and ricochet (and which, incidentally, bear little resemblance to the recent Pietropinto findings). Expect outsized commendations (""brilliant,"" ""brave,"" ""unflinchingly honest"") and equally passionate and impelling refutations.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1978
Publisher: Simon & Schuster