Grapples with the thrall of masculinity, examining its frailty and its attendant anxieties even as it focuses on its erotic potential. Masculinity, Betancourt suggests, isn't suddenly ripe for deconstruction—or even outright destruction—amid so much talk about its inherent toxicity. Looking back over decades' worth of pop culture's attempts to codify and reframe what men can be, wear, do, and desire, this book establishes that to gaze at men is still a subversive act.
A smart, refreshing essay collection on the subject, and deals directly and honestly with the paradoxes surrounding the topic of men ... Each essay in The Male Gazed intertwines stories from Betancourt’s own life with a consideration of a facet of masculinity, contending with the idea’s enduring allure and its suffocating anxieties ... Betancourt’s analysis, even (or especially) when he turns a critical lens on himself, feels like a deft appropriation of the props and behaviors of conventional masculinity, repurposed for his own ends. The Male Gazed is at its weakest when Betancourt apologizes for his own desires ... What seems like a playful, self-deprecating joke has the effect of undercutting his own voice, intimating that his desires are rooted in some moral shortcoming ... All in all, though, The Male Gazed provides a welcome perspective on a thorny, timely subject. Readers are sure to leave with a useful lens through which they can give masculinity a second look.