Book Review: The Macho Paradox -- By: Steven R. Tracy
Book Review: The Macho Paradox
STEVEN R. TRACY is Professor of Theology and Ethics at Phoenix Seminary and director of Research and Curriculum for Mending the Soul Ministries. He is the author of Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Zondervan) as well as numerous journal articles on abuse and gender.
Violence against women is an ugly reality in our fallen world. And the more one studies this subject and the more one listens to women, the uglier it gets. This makes The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help a particularly welcome addition to the literature on male violence against women. Jackson Katz, a well-respected “anti-sexist male activist” and national leader in gender violence prevention, tackles this subject with candor, yet hope. His thesis is clear and well supported throughout the book: “If we are going to bring down dramatically the rates of violence against women . . . we will need a far-reaching cultural revolution. At its heart, this revolution must be about changing the sexist social norms in male culture” (8). Katz furthermore argues that such a culture revolution will require the participation of a lot more men at all levels of influence. His approach to the subject is quite balanced and solution-oriented. He does not focus on hardened rapists and batterers, but appeals to the large number of “good guys” he believes can and should be part of the solution when they are given the proper education and motivation. Katz also evidences authenticity. The writing style of The Macho Paradox demonstrates the very qualities that Katz argues reflect healthy masculinity: a willingness to listen to and learn from women, letting go of the need to control, the courage to look inward and admit one’s failures, and willingness to become involved and be part of the solution.
Katz’s cultural analysis is powerfully and painfully astute. He analyzes popular culture to show that we really do have a “rape culture.” Chapter nine, entitled “it takes a village to rape a woman,” is worth the price of the book. His chapter on pornography and prostitution is also painfully insightful in showing how deeply misogynistic our culture is and how this contributes to gender violence. Some of Katz’s greatest contributions lie in his careful analysis of language. By deconstructing common media descriptions of violence, Katz shows that our language evidences our unwillingness to embrace the truth that most violence against women is perpetrated by men. In other words, we are “stuck in gender neutral,” yet violence against women is not gender neutral. Evangelical gender hierarchists have been quite reluctant to acknowledge a connection between p...
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