Category Archives: Familiar Men

Familiar Men in the Toxic Masculinity Conversation


Laurie and Debbie say:

The #metoo conversation, instead of disappearing, is expanding to cover many related topics. Discussing rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape culture demands a discussion of masculinity–the toxic masculinity that creates these disastrous stories, and an exploration of alternatives.

While Laurie was taking the photographs for Familiar Men: A Book of Nudes, Debbie and her collaborator Richard Dutcher were working on writing the text for the book. All three of us spent five years engaged in examining masculinity from a wide variety of perspectives. Fourteen years after the book was published, those conversations are finally showing up in the mainstream news:

The eyes are clear, focused, expressive. These men are there, present, alive. They engage with each other, they engage with the camera, and they engage with the viewer. These men are not merely their hardened shells; there is somebody home, they inhabit their bodies. These are men you could know, men whom you would want to know.

“That … is resistance to traditional norms. Thesei men invite you in to their world; they do not keep you out. They open doors; they don’t build fences.”

Michael Kimmel, from his introduction



Paul Kivel, in Men’s Work, encourages people to think about masculinity as a tightly constraining box. The rule of being masculine is to make sure that you always appear to fit inside the box, because everyone is always checking to make sure that nothing sticks out. Everything masculine is inside the box. Everything outside the box is one of three things: female, weak, and queer. … So many men spend an awful lot of time and energy keeping all of themselves inside the box.

–Debbie and Richard, from “To Be a Man,” in Familiar Men



No aspect of being male is more complex or, perhaps, more determined by the [masculinity box] than sexuality. Who you have sex with, when, and how, as well as who you tell, when, and how, all have very strict guidelines. The first of these seems to be that you aren’t supposed to even think directly about the guidelines; you learn them in your body by watching and copying other men and you defy them at your peril.— from “To Be a Man”



Power is based on the projection of power, and real male bodies unerringly repudiate that projection. I think novelist Dorothy Allison said it best when she remarked that she thought the penis was the original source of the literary concept of irony, that something so small and vulnerable could be accorded such impressive powers. To see a penis is to know that it couldn’t possibly be a phallus.

Jonathan D. Katz, quoted in “To Be a Man”

In the United States in the beginning of the 21st century, simply being a man is bad for your health and your lifespan. Women statistically live longer than men and stay healthy and functional for a longer percentage of their lives.

— from “To Be a Man”



As far back as I can remember, I’d always known that Real Men don’t have asses. They walk all seized up, or run the risk of being accused of being a wimp or a faggot. It made my back hurt and it made my soul hurt, just so I could try to be a Real Man. Real Men have strong arms and chests and maybe even legs, but they don’t have bodies. After all, you can’t have a body if you don’t have an ass.

I began to explore new ways to move. The roadblocks I had to get past were amazingly deep and subtle.

Charlie Glickman, quoted in “To Be a Man”


Grandfather and Grandson


Trans Day of Visibility


Debbie says:

What’s more appropriate for a day of visibility than pictures?

These three are Laurie’s photographs. The top image of is a trans woman from Laurie’s extended family. The lower two are her photograph of Kellan from Women En Large and a fortunate paired photograph of the same person, now Jerry, in Familiar Men.

And then a few other photos of various out transpeople, some famous and some not, some folks I know and some not.

Janet Mock

Kingston Joseph Faraday

Charlie Jane Anders

   Mars Ganito

Julia Serano

Trans people. Visible. Doing work, making change, living lives.