I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

Rating: 3/5 stars

I'm Afraid

Pages: 96

Series: n/a

Genres: Nonfiction, Feminism, Autobiography, LGBTQ+

Reading Challenges: 1 (Asian Author: Indian); 3 (author identifies as Trans)

This book is a harder read as it focuses on the harder parts of realizing you identify as trans. It deals with the hard topics of not feeling masculine enough or feminine enough, of not feeling like you belong to either of the binary genders. It shows the good and the bad of identifying as Transgender as experienced by Shraya.

One thing that I found confusing about the book was that Shraya talked about her encounters by referring to the people involved as “you”. I found this hard to follow as she jumped from story to story, but I can appreciate that this is her way of coping with what happened. It’s also a way to protect the identity of those involved, which I appreciate as some of the stories discussed occurred when Shraya was a young boy.

As a white, cisgendered female, I found it very impactful to read about what it’s like for a person of colour to have to struggle with these issues. While I will never experience the terror or uncertainty that people like Shraya have had to/will go through, I hope that these issues become easier to deal with – or even non-existent – in the future.

I’m sorry that people still have to deal with this hatred and bigotry and I hope that one day these problems go away. I know that this will probably never happen, but stories such as Shraya’s go a long way in trying to break the stereotypes and stigmas associated with identifying as queer.

I found it important that Shraya touched on people who believe themselves to be allies yet still don’t fully understand what society has been doing wrong. As someone who considers myself to be an ally, I know it’s hard to imagine what Shraya and others like her go through on a daily basis because I have never been forced to deal with these issues.

I understand that the message gets across the best when allies and other people are forced to deal with actual situations head on, as Shraya mentions, but I wish it did not have to be this way. I wish that victims did not have to relive their trauma or recount the traumas of others in order to get “allies” to understand what is actually happening in the world.

I really do believe that everyone should read stories such as this one in order to fully understand the ordeal that Shraya and others like her have to go through. I would absolutely recommend this book to people, even if just as an entry point to understanding the struggles that people go through. Please, understand that what Shraya talks about is important and more people need to grasp the severity of this issue. If you have already read this story, why not talk about it or other stories like it with your friends and loved ones? Why not share Shraya’s story, lend the people you care about the book, so that they too may understand struggles that they might deal with but other do every day?

 

**edit**

For anyone who cares about the Beauty Guru drama that’s happening between James Charles and Tati Westbrook, books like this one show how harmful your actions can be to a person even of you don’t realize it. James Charles has said things that he believed he could get away with because he’s a member of the LGBTQ+ community. And those comments were not okay. The things that James has said recently about transgendered people touches on many of the same things that Shraya touches on in this hard hitting piece. No matter who you are, you need to be aware that the person you’re forcing to act a certain way or do certain things will be scarred by your actions, probably forever. RESPECT people and their decisions, don’t force them to do anything.

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