We ask every intern who passes through our not-so-hallowed halls to choose a book and write a review of it. Adam Lujan, who’s been cheerfully and diligently applying himself to the mysteries of marketing data, climbing the mountain of learning effective product photography, and navigating the vast seas of spreadsheets that make up our publishing empire, chose a book near to our hearts… last year’s Manspressions: Decoding Men’s Behavior. Here’s his review!
Joe Biel and Elly Blue’s Manspressions offers a vital cultural message in a digestible, tongue-in-cheek way. The book – featuring clever and, at times, laugh out loud illustrations by Meggyn Pomerleau – is a dictionary of terms associated with men’s behaviors. Topics range from work to dating to everyday interactions; Manspressions covers it all.
There’s mansgressions, mansclusion, manstalgia – to name a few. It’s an inventive, accurate assembly of terms meant to highlight and poke fun at the nuances of masculinity evident in everyday life. Its brilliance is in its simplicity. Taking behaviors and interactions many of us have faced – either performing or witnessing them – and exposing it in such a relatable fashion makes Manspressions successful and important.
There’s something for everyone in this book. It can be a wake-up call for some – beware of frightening moments of “do I do that?” – or a solidarity battle-cry for others. Because masculinity is hegemonic, so widespread, seeping into every crack of society, it’s hard not to relate to or recognize at least some of the manspressions laid bare in this book.
While Manspressions seeks to highlight these behaviors, to examine the eccentricities of masculinity, it’s all with good humor. And that’s what makes it so digestible – not to mention it’s a quick read and pocket-friendly. Biel and Blue understand the importance humor and self-awareness play in the long game of leveling out the gender playing field. And they also understand no one is perfect, no one is immune to performing these manspressions. As they so poignantly note, we’re all sometimes guilty of these displays of overt, toxic masculinity. And indeed it is quite toxic.
Isn’t it troubling that half of the human race is imprisoned by a set of social rules and standards that reduce them to nothing more than emotionless, power-hungry, phallic-obsessed walking manspressions? What sort of world does that create? What sort of people does that create?
Masculinity is the law of the land, it’s what pillars every major society on Earth – a patriarchy that roots itself deep in the world’s history. And that’s a beast of a system to dismantle or even examine. Recognizing it, laughing at it, and talking about it are all important first steps.
Often, individuals feel powerless to make a difference. How could I, as just one person, change the world? Especially now – with a baffling presidential candidate discussing his penis size at a national debate and a record company and justice system supporting a rapist over his victim – the immensity of the task can be overwhelming and bleak. And it may seem small, it may seem inconsequential or simple, but the answer is merely to change your world, to make those changes in your life.
Manspressions offers just that. It gives the terms, it gives the laughs, it opens up the conversation in a relatable way. It recognizes that we’re all products of the patriarchy and sometimes that seeps into how we behave. But there’s always hope, there’s always the possibility of change. And that is, as Biel and Blue put it, “priceless.”