Author of the Month: March 2009Published: March 16, 2009
Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power
Shira Tarrant, Assistant Professor, Women’s Studies
Published in January 2008 by Routledge, Men Speak Out is a collection of essays written by and about feminist and anti-sexist men. In the essays, which feature original and accessible prose, these men make sense of their gendered experiences in today’s culture. The lively collection of first-person perspectives on sexuality, identity and positive change asks sharp questions about negotiating what Tarrant calls “the masculinity trap.” “I’m really excited about Men Speak Out because it is the first book of its kind,” said Tarrant, who joined the university in 2006. “There are other books about critical masculinity but they tend to be written more exclusively for an academic audience. Men Speak Out includes essays by men who are looking at critical perspectives and who write in an everyday voice.” Tarrant traces her interest in men and feminism to her instruction at Baltimore’s Goucher College where she first encountered a rising male enrollment in her women’s studies classes. “Up to then, the feminist communities I hung out with were primarily composed of women,” she said. “All of a sudden, a world of feminist-minded men began to open up worldwide. I was really blown away.” One reason Tarrant wrote Men Speak Out is the idea that there is strength in numbers. “As a political scientist, it was my strategic thought to invite more people to participate in the feminist movement,” she said. “This is not the kind of book that coddles men by telling them ‘Oh, we’re so excited you’re here.’ But it does say no one group can promote feminism alone. Just like white people need to actively interrogate our own prejudice and skin privilege in order to end racism, men need to step up and question masculine privilege and misogyny to end sexism.” Tarrant earned her B.A. in political science in 1989 from CSULB and her M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from UCLA in 2001. Tarrant’s work has appeared in Bitch magazine, Genre, Women’s Studies Quarterly, the UCLA Historical Journal, Girlistic.com, The International Encyclopedia of Political Science (forthcoming), The Women’s Movement Today: An Encyclopedia of Third-Wave Feminism, the Journal of Intercultural Studies, and Barnard College’s Scholar and Feminist Online. Her next book, Men and Feminism (Seal Press) will be on the shelves in spring 2009.