French philosopher & sociologist Raphael Liogier
responds to #MeToo with “incisive critique
of the Western cultural construct of maleness”
Philosopher and sociologist Raphaël Liogier has closely followed the staggering outpouring of accounts of sexual harassment and rape from the many women’s voices that comprise the #MeToo movement. Compelled by the movement’s importance, and fueled by a personal sense of disgust and dismay, Liogier draws on his academic expertise to lay bare the pernicious and disturbing logics at the core of gender in equality in HEART OF MALENESS: An Exploration (Other Press Paperback Original; On-Sale January 28, 2020). In the brazenness of Donald Trump, who brags about groping women, in the hypocrisy of outspoken progressives whose private behavior belies their so-called feminist ideals, and even occasionally in the good intentions of men such as Liogier who strive to be allies, we discover the influence of a deep-seated fantasy of male dominance. Conscious of his position as a white, affluent, heterosexual, cisgender male, Liogier does not engage with #MeToo through the privilege of a false sense of distance nor does he attempt to speak for women. Instead, Liogier uses his own distress, self-questioning, and academic training to dissect the contradictions guiding men’s perceptions of women. HEART OF MALENESS anatomizes the cultural imagination that shapes misogyny, demonstrating how stunning inequalities are sustained through common perceptions and everyday behaviors that rest on long histories.
With candor and sharp-edged clarity, Liogier demonstrates how the archetypal Prince Charming and a serial predator like Harvey Weinstein are two sides of the same coin – products of a worldview that not only places men’s desires above women’s, but also fundamentally doubts that women are even capable of knowing what they want. From the heroes of fairy tales and epic quests that “rescue” passive women, to the public catcallers and men who feel justified in pursuing women who have turned them down, the fantasy of male dominance recurs over and over again as a denial of women as free subjects in the philosophical sense. Liogier makes visible the contemporary influence and damaging impact of the powerful and prevalent fiction that the free will of women is somehow incomplete, that their modes of expressing their will are always somehow deficient, and that their own desires remain a mystery to them.
Recent years have witnessed significant progress toward gender equality, from the ousting of prominent men accused of sexual misconduct to the unprecedented popularity of the 2019 Women’s World Cup. HEART OF MALENESS maps out the crucial work still to be done, first and foremost by addressing the core male fantasy about women’s bodies and minds.
HEART OF MALENESS: An Exploration
By Raphaël Liogier; Translated by Antony Shugaar
Other Press Paperback Original • ISBN: 9781635429930
On Sale Date: January 28, 2020 • Price: $14.99
“What Liogier has done here is to begin the long and arduous process of unknotting generations’ worth of thought, experience, and manipulation that have created a system of power and inequality that endangers all of us. It’s no easy task, but as Heart of Maleness shows, the dangerous and profoundly unfair status quo of gender must be reassessed, reexamined, and deconstructed, and ultimately replaced. This is an incredibly important beginning.”
— Jared Yates Sexton, author of The Man They Wanted Me to Be: Toxic Masculinity and a Crisis of Our Own Making