Books & Literature

Book Review: The Revolution of Man, by Philip Barker

A comprehensive and direct examination of becoming a man, being a man, and learning to be a better man.

Journalist Phil Barker unpacks the myth of the 'Man Box' and Australian masculinity.

The Revolution of Man is an interesting read for men as well as women. As a female reader, I found there was no information for mothers or women about how to support boys or men with forms of toxic masculinity, this actually makes the book more powerful, as it implicitly states that it is a man’s job and empowers men to take responsibility and do it themselves.

There are three main parts in this book. Part one is on becoming a man, part two being a man and part three, being a better man. It is important to note that the basis of Philip Barker’s research is in Australia and New Zealand so some of the themes may not resonate with all men.

Part one talks about boys not crying, the overuse or misuse and misunderstanding of porn, and the men that hate women. The statistics and stories are frank and without delicacy, making it an enjoyable and easy read, almost like having a direct conversation with the author. The most eye-opening chapter in this section is the attitudes and beliefs of the women-hating mens’ rights activist groups.

Part two is on suicide, domestic violence, and workplace culture. It also touches on the future role of men in all of these areas, preparing the reader for part three: being a better man.

The first chapter of part three is dedicated to the idea that men should all cook, and it goes so far as to include a recipe for men to follow. This was irksome as it was discordant with the entirety of the first two parts of the book, which is dedicated to freeing men from a ‘man-box’ and what skills define a man.  It would have been better if he stayed away from redefining and perhaps left out this chapter entirely. Perhaps Baker’s intention was to give men a different role to follow however it was not contextualised as such.

The remainder of part three reviews male friendships, fatherhood, male/female relationships, and gives advice on how to have or maintain these emotional connections.  Finally, an executive summary of all parts gives you the option to revisit all the themes, useful for ongoing implementation.

Phil Baker has over twenty years of media experience and his observations over time are evident with the many topics covered in this latest book. This book is a guide purely designed to instruct men on how to recognise, unpack and disassociate themselves and future generations from the man-box.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wu

Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: February 2019
RRP: $29.99

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