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Patriarchy Blues: Reflections on Manhood

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In this personal and poignant collection, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Black Friend examines the culture of masculinity through the lens of a Black man. What does it mean to be a man today? How does the pervasive yet elusive idea of "toxic masculinity" actually reflect men's experiences--particularly those of color--and how they navigate the world? In this In this personal and poignant collection, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Black Friend examines the culture of masculinity through the lens of a Black man. What does it mean to be a man today? How does the pervasive yet elusive idea of "toxic masculinity" actually reflect men's experiences--particularly those of color--and how they navigate the world? In this thought-provoking collection of essays, poems, and short reflections, Frederick Joseph contemplates these questions and more as he explores issues of masculinity and patriarchy from both a personal and cultural standpoint. From fatherhood, and "manning up" to abuse and therapy, he fearlessly and thoughtfully tackles the complex realities of men's lives today and their significance for society, lending his insights as a Black man. Written in Joseph's unique voice, with an intelligence and raw honesty that demonstrates both his vulnerability and compassion, Patriarchy Blues forces us to consider the joys, pains, and destructive nature of manhood and the stereotypes it engenders.


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In this personal and poignant collection, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Black Friend examines the culture of masculinity through the lens of a Black man. What does it mean to be a man today? How does the pervasive yet elusive idea of "toxic masculinity" actually reflect men's experiences--particularly those of color--and how they navigate the world? In this In this personal and poignant collection, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Black Friend examines the culture of masculinity through the lens of a Black man. What does it mean to be a man today? How does the pervasive yet elusive idea of "toxic masculinity" actually reflect men's experiences--particularly those of color--and how they navigate the world? In this thought-provoking collection of essays, poems, and short reflections, Frederick Joseph contemplates these questions and more as he explores issues of masculinity and patriarchy from both a personal and cultural standpoint. From fatherhood, and "manning up" to abuse and therapy, he fearlessly and thoughtfully tackles the complex realities of men's lives today and their significance for society, lending his insights as a Black man. Written in Joseph's unique voice, with an intelligence and raw honesty that demonstrates both his vulnerability and compassion, Patriarchy Blues forces us to consider the joys, pains, and destructive nature of manhood and the stereotypes it engenders.

30 review for Patriarchy Blues: Reflections on Manhood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Thank you Netgalley and ​​Harper Perennial and Paperbacks, Harper Perennial for the copy of this book. I don’t read much nonfiction, but will always read a book by Frederick Joseph because I enjoy his thoughtful take on things. It took me some time to get into this book because at first I was thrown off by the format of essays, poems, and short reflections. I soon got used to it and found this book a treasure trove of insights. I especially like the stories about what he learned from his mother. Thank you Netgalley and ​​Harper Perennial and Paperbacks, Harper Perennial for the copy of this book. I don’t read much nonfiction, but will always read a book by Frederick Joseph because I enjoy his thoughtful take on things. It took me some time to get into this book because at first I was thrown off by the format of essays, poems, and short reflections. I soon got used to it and found this book a treasure trove of insights. I especially like the stories about what he learned from his mother. If you want a thought-provoking book, this is perfect for you.

  2. 5 out of 5

    melbutnotgibson

    This was very interesting and had some great essays as well as perspective on the pressures and injustices of the patriarchal society. That being said, the writing felt more like someone ranting in a Facebook comment section, opposed to a educational and rational debate. This isn’t bad by any means, it just needs more time to be worked on. Because if someone was picking this up for the first time, while being ignorant of any gender study or knowledge of patriarchal discrimination, they would pro This was very interesting and had some great essays as well as perspective on the pressures and injustices of the patriarchal society. That being said, the writing felt more like someone ranting in a Facebook comment section, opposed to a educational and rational debate. This isn’t bad by any means, it just needs more time to be worked on. Because if someone was picking this up for the first time, while being ignorant of any gender study or knowledge of patriarchal discrimination, they would probably feel like they were being preached at. Which is NOT how to reach ignorant people. Thanks to Harper Collins Publisher for sending this ARC copy via my work at Underground Books.

  3. 5 out of 5

    JO

    “Patriarchy Blues: reflections on manhood” by Frederick Joseph ★★★★★ I hope that this reflection helps you to understand why I love this book so much, and also why I implore you to all pick it up when it is released this May, the 17 (in the US)… but also, as I said in my insta-stories when I finished it, this book does not need my “approval”. Frederick Joseph is such a thoughtful, hard working, insightful and passionate human being and doing so much more than we deserve. From the moment I saw this “Patriarchy Blues: reflections on manhood” by Frederick Joseph ★★★★★ I hope that this reflection helps you to understand why I love this book so much, and also why I implore you to all pick it up when it is released this May, the 17 (in the US)… but also, as I said in my insta-stories when I finished it, this book does not need my “approval”. Frederick Joseph is such a thoughtful, hard working, insightful and passionate human being and doing so much more than we deserve. From the moment I saw this was coming out I knew I needed to read it. A book about patriarchy, by a man… I was familiar with Mr. Joseph’s presence and the work he was doing, and I valued his thoughts on this. I have always found two major things lacking in mainstream feminism; intersectionality and discussion surrounding the toll patriarchy takes on men and boys. For a long time I hesitated to call myself a feminist. White feminism is so rooted in throw away claims of “girl power” and man-bashing and - quite frankly - white supremacy ableism and class discrimination. White feminism, and mainstream feminism has not been kind to me (as a survivor of rape, domestic violence, living most of my life in poverty) and in many ways it’s been more directly hurtful than the more abstract effects of the patriarchy. I wasn’t sure where this book would go. But it certainly went all the important places. I found his love and passion for Black women to be profoundly moving. I found myself reflecting and recognizing that in my most alone or terrified moments it was a Black woman extending kindness and protection to me more times than not. I have never felt more intersectional empowerment extended anywhere than from Black women. Some of the history Mr. Joseph highlights is sickening. I’m disgusted that I did not already know it. I felt seen reading this collection of essays, reflections, and poetry. I felt validated and comforted. But I was also called to attention, reminded of my privilege, reminded of the person I MUST be. Reminded of who I do not want to be. Exceptional. In every way.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael B.

    I was only casually familiar with Frederick Joseph from his social media presence. I didn't think our political views were fully aligned, but I respected his approach to expressing his views as such an aware young cat. I've also maintained an appreciation for his philanthropy and genuine compassion for others. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this title release and expected it to be engaging. It did not disappoint. Quite beautifully written, I found Joseph's writing to be highly relatable, I was only casually familiar with Frederick Joseph from his social media presence. I didn't think our political views were fully aligned, but I respected his approach to expressing his views as such an aware young cat. I've also maintained an appreciation for his philanthropy and genuine compassion for others. I was pleasantly surprised to discover this title release and expected it to be engaging. It did not disappoint. Quite beautifully written, I found Joseph's writing to be highly relatable, vastly insightful and deeply moving. It encouraged me as a Black man to honestly evaluate my life and interactions with others and inspires me to do better. The impact of this book should prove invaluable to many. Joseph's presence is invaluable to the world.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura Voss

    A Must-Read!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Treutle

    You should absolutely read this book. Man, woman, non binary, everyone, but especially white women. Read it. Sit with it. Be convicted. "... find out not just what we are -- but what we may become." You should absolutely read this book. Man, woman, non binary, everyone, but especially white women. Read it. Sit with it. Be convicted. "... find out not just what we are -- but what we may become."

  7. 5 out of 5

    lisa

    Sometimes it's hard to judge a book of essays because there will be some that are great, and some that are bad, and many that are just so-so, as was the case with this book. Many of the essays are extremely short, and many seem to rehash ideas that we have heard over and over again. The entire book feels like reading an impossibly long Twitter thread, one that keeps going until you leave it in pure impatience. However, just like a Twitter thread there was a good idea or two buried in the bluster Sometimes it's hard to judge a book of essays because there will be some that are great, and some that are bad, and many that are just so-so, as was the case with this book. Many of the essays are extremely short, and many seem to rehash ideas that we have heard over and over again. The entire book feels like reading an impossibly long Twitter thread, one that keeps going until you leave it in pure impatience. However, just like a Twitter thread there was a good idea or two buried in the blustery pontification. "Expectations and Shadows", "What Does a Black Person Owe This Country?", and "In the End (Letting Go Of Our Fathers)" were amazing pieces of writing I would recommend to anyone. The rest of the writing was ok, but it didn't feel necessary or interesting. Read it if you have the time, but I would recommend This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins, Thick by Tressie McMillan Cottom, or Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, before I would recommend this books. These books are better written, with fresher ideas, more interesting lives, and oh yeah, talk about patriarchy from a woman's perspective.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is composed of essays, poems, and letters that detail the complex, difficult, and nuanced experiences of the author’s interactions with the patriarchy. There is no topic uncovered. It might be hard for some to read since it confronts the truths we (generally, as a society) don’t like to talk about. But there will never be resolution or dismantling of the patriarchy if we don’t talk about these truths. Dismantling the patriarchy is like rolling a rock uphill; incredibly frustrating and This book is composed of essays, poems, and letters that detail the complex, difficult, and nuanced experiences of the author’s interactions with the patriarchy. There is no topic uncovered. It might be hard for some to read since it confronts the truths we (generally, as a society) don’t like to talk about. But there will never be resolution or dismantling of the patriarchy if we don’t talk about these truths. Dismantling the patriarchy is like rolling a rock uphill; incredibly frustrating and harder to do alone. It is up to us to decide if we will help push the rock, or if we will grease the hill ahead. Frederick Joseph poses challenging questions to all of us. How can we afford not to listen?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Saira Rao

    Patriarchy Blues is equal parts beautiful, poignant and smart as hell. My husband is reading it now - and I have more copies on the way that I plan to give to every dude I know. Can't recommend this book highly enough. Patriarchy Blues is equal parts beautiful, poignant and smart as hell. My husband is reading it now - and I have more copies on the way that I plan to give to every dude I know. Can't recommend this book highly enough.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

    I've been following Fred Joseph on social media for quite a few years now and I always turn to him when something happens to get his take because no matter how hard I try, I can never put myself in a Black persons shoes. I can only keep learning, keep listening and actively trying to do better. This book is written in a set of essays, letters and poems. He credits a lot of his understanding of the world to how his mother raised him, stand up for Black women and break the cycle that Black men may I've been following Fred Joseph on social media for quite a few years now and I always turn to him when something happens to get his take because no matter how hard I try, I can never put myself in a Black persons shoes. I can only keep learning, keep listening and actively trying to do better. This book is written in a set of essays, letters and poems. He credits a lot of his understanding of the world to how his mother raised him, stand up for Black women and break the cycle that Black men may unknowingly perpetuate. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for an early read of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Darren Dubose

    To live in a world as a cisgender heterosexual man is to need to reinvent oneself. You see, I grew up not knowing love from any man outside of my uncle Juice and always looking to take from others to become safe. My life in a white supremacy world has been the epitome of chaos. I used to have a sharp sense of gratitude for being a man. Being excited to take girls undies, being upset to get whatever I desires and angrily fussing at my mom. Patriarchy Blues illustrates the damage that patriarchy h To live in a world as a cisgender heterosexual man is to need to reinvent oneself. You see, I grew up not knowing love from any man outside of my uncle Juice and always looking to take from others to become safe. My life in a white supremacy world has been the epitome of chaos. I used to have a sharp sense of gratitude for being a man. Being excited to take girls undies, being upset to get whatever I desires and angrily fussing at my mom. Patriarchy Blues illustrates the damage that patriarchy has created in my life yet the world and the personal work that is necessary to become more than the the status quo. Thank you, Fred for sharing the ways patriarch impacts everyone from the interpersonal, to Black women, and the ways that others exacerbate poison. Everyone should read this book as everyone is guilty for the ways that patriarchy implodes our world!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    I was super excited to read this book and almost bought it at the store. Then a few weeks later I saw it at the library’s new titles shelf and was so pumped. Unfortunately, this book really misses the mark for me. I guess I should have known that it is targeted towards men, but I’m really interested in the idea of men’s studies and feminism / anti patriarchy when it comes to ideas of masculinity. Unfortunately this reads like feminism 101 (or even less than that), convincing men to wade into the I was super excited to read this book and almost bought it at the store. Then a few weeks later I saw it at the library’s new titles shelf and was so pumped. Unfortunately, this book really misses the mark for me. I guess I should have known that it is targeted towards men, but I’m really interested in the idea of men’s studies and feminism / anti patriarchy when it comes to ideas of masculinity. Unfortunately this reads like feminism 101 (or even less than that), convincing men to wade into the waters of feminism. I didn’t find it rigorous or visionary as the blurb promises. Probably a good book for a certain audience but at that point just read bell hooks. That’s what I’ll be doing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shelby McCarty

    I won’t be rating this book. I loved Fredrick Joseph’s first book, but this one did not resonate with me the same. That’s not to take away any value from his words, because they were honest, empathetic, and vulnerable. However, in a way I wish he would have gone deeper and brought more stated research into this work, mostly due to an expectation that he would. His purpose for writing this was surely to use it as he states in the title, reflections, and that it was. Worth a read, just not my favo I won’t be rating this book. I loved Fredrick Joseph’s first book, but this one did not resonate with me the same. That’s not to take away any value from his words, because they were honest, empathetic, and vulnerable. However, in a way I wish he would have gone deeper and brought more stated research into this work, mostly due to an expectation that he would. His purpose for writing this was surely to use it as he states in the title, reflections, and that it was. Worth a read, just not my favorite!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Boss

    5✨ must read Fred Joseph put his whole heart out there for us in this collection of writing and essays, and it is beautiful. it’s insightful and thoughtful and introspective and important. when is the last time you read a critique of the patriarchy by a cis heterosexual man??? i’m looking at never. thankful to Joseph for sharing his insights as a Black man. for i’ll be returning to this one over and over “the pulse of change grows louder with every person who decides to imagine something more tha 5✨ must read Fred Joseph put his whole heart out there for us in this collection of writing and essays, and it is beautiful. it’s insightful and thoughtful and introspective and important. when is the last time you read a critique of the patriarchy by a cis heterosexual man??? i’m looking at never. thankful to Joseph for sharing his insights as a Black man. for i’ll be returning to this one over and over “the pulse of change grows louder with every person who decides to imagine something more than the patriarchy and its binaries, shackles, and violence.”

  15. 5 out of 5

    Samuel Saul Richardson

    I won this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. What an amazing book. It pushes men to become more than what society expects of them. It highlights that everyone, men and women alike, have a lot of work to do to make our society more just. Although I was unsure about a book that is a collection of essays with some letters and poetry thrown in I never wanted to put it down, other than for points the author made that needed additional reflection. He writes letters like I wish that I could. I high I won this book as part of a Goodreads Giveaway. What an amazing book. It pushes men to become more than what society expects of them. It highlights that everyone, men and women alike, have a lot of work to do to make our society more just. Although I was unsure about a book that is a collection of essays with some letters and poetry thrown in I never wanted to put it down, other than for points the author made that needed additional reflection. He writes letters like I wish that I could. I highly recommend to everyone.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Abra Kurt

    As someone who also does organizational consulting work for a gender violence prevention organization, the themes in Patriarchy Blues were familiar and resonant. I appreciated the author's honesty, introspection, and self-awareness - and his ability to reflect on his contribution to the problems associated with toxic masculinity while recognizing his role in helping to overcome and eradicate it. The layers of creativity add additional depth, nuance, and artistry here. I received a digital galley As someone who also does organizational consulting work for a gender violence prevention organization, the themes in Patriarchy Blues were familiar and resonant. I appreciated the author's honesty, introspection, and self-awareness - and his ability to reflect on his contribution to the problems associated with toxic masculinity while recognizing his role in helping to overcome and eradicate it. The layers of creativity add additional depth, nuance, and artistry here. I received a digital galley of this book in exchange for an honest review and will recommend it to colleagues.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Carolee Eubanks

    Really enjoyed this! I love that there’s a sort of cubist image on the cover, because this book feels cubist in the same way — a collection of thoughts, which, taken together, paint a picture of a single human life as well as a reflection on humanity (primarily American) on a larger scale. There are poems, letters, essays, and storytelling, all strung together in small, easily-consumed chapters that create a fascinating mosaic when the reader steps back. I will spend time thinking about what I le Really enjoyed this! I love that there’s a sort of cubist image on the cover, because this book feels cubist in the same way — a collection of thoughts, which, taken together, paint a picture of a single human life as well as a reflection on humanity (primarily American) on a larger scale. There are poems, letters, essays, and storytelling, all strung together in small, easily-consumed chapters that create a fascinating mosaic when the reader steps back. I will spend time thinking about what I learned, and then acting on it. I thank Mr. Joseph for his time in sharing himself with us.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christina Wahi

    5 ⭐ An excellent follow up to The Black Friend; Patriarchy Blues delves into the intersections of race, gender & sexuality. Contrary to some reviews, I don't believe the author comes across as pontificating, but rather provides an honest discussion of their lived experiences, including their complicity in the patriarchy, the impact of toxic masculinity, and the work required to dismantle systems of oppression. Would highly recommend! 5 ⭐ An excellent follow up to The Black Friend; Patriarchy Blues delves into the intersections of race, gender & sexuality. Contrary to some reviews, I don't believe the author comes across as pontificating, but rather provides an honest discussion of their lived experiences, including their complicity in the patriarchy, the impact of toxic masculinity, and the work required to dismantle systems of oppression. Would highly recommend!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Tibbitts

    ** I won this book through GoodReads Giveaways for my honest opinion ** Any well written book that speaks the truths deserves 5 stars...any book that makes you stop and think about your impacts on others deserves 5 stars. I especially like how there are poems and articles through the book also.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Harmonie Dingui

    The book is a profound and personal reflection. At times it is whiny and long winded. Initially the book depressed me, but the author boldly presents ideas that need to be laid bare. He encourages us to think critically.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Insightful, thought-provoking and so well written. I enjoyed the format and the different styles of writing. I am a Frederick Joseph fan and am so glad I recommended this book to my book club. It’s a must read!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Soto

    Can’t wait to read it 😀

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    A must-read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    This book is a must read! Fantastic collection of essays looking at patriarchy from different angles, including looking at misogynoir, homophobia, and white women's tears. This book is a must read! Fantastic collection of essays looking at patriarchy from different angles, including looking at misogynoir, homophobia, and white women's tears.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Annie McKavett

    This was broad-ranging and soul-baring...deeply appreciated the poetry and the words. White women especially, pick this one up.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Diana Frazier

    Wow. Achingly beautiful and so important.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Antosy

    A bit disjointed but excellent content. I’d love for Fred to delve even deeper into each topic. The United States could never have too many of these conversations.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Marlisse A.

    A book every human needs to read. Vulnerable, honest, necessary. A mix of essays, poems, and letters, Frederick put his soul into this book and it shows in every word. Masterful work. Bravo!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    Very important book of essays and poems. Highly recommend for white people. Uncomfortable and necessary.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Drake

    I appreciated the author’s honesty and confrontation. And his writing prompted me to do my own reflecting. I’m glad I own a copy. It is headed right to my classroom.

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