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Publisher's Summary

A straight white girl can kiss a girl, like it, and still call herself straight - her boyfriend may even encourage her. But can straight white guys experience the same easy sexual fluidity, or would kissing a guy just mean that they are really gay?

Not Gay thrusts deep into a world where straight guy-on-guy action is not a myth but a reality: There's fraternity and military hazing rituals, where new recruits are made to grab each other's penises and stick fingers up their fellow members' anuses; online personal ads, where straight men seek other straight men to masturbate with; and, last but not least, the long and clandestine history of straight men frequenting public restrooms for sexual encounters with other men. For Jane Ward, these sexual practices reveal a unique social space where straight white men can - and do - have sex with other straight white men; in fact, she argues, to do so reaffirms rather than challenges their gender and racial identity.

Ward illustrates that sex between straight white men allows them to leverage whiteness and masculinity to authenticate their heterosexuality in the context of sex with men. By understanding their same-sex sexual practices as meaningless, accidental, or even necessary, straight white men can perform homosexual contact in heterosexual ways. These sex acts are not slippages into a queer way of being or expressions of a desired but unarticulated gay identity. Instead, Ward argues, they reveal the fluidity and complexity that characterizes all human sexual desire. In the end, Ward's analysis offers a new way to think about heterosexuality - not as the opposite or absence of homosexuality but as its own unique mode of engaging in homosexual sex, a mode characterized by pretense, disidentification, and racial and heterosexual privilege.

Daring, insightful, and brimming with wit, Not Gay is a fascinating new take on the complexities of heterosexuality in the modern era.

©2015 New York University (P)2015 Audible, Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Insightful sociology

Surprising, insightful and entertaining. The author takes you on a journey though a subject that is unfortunately taboo. she dares to hit the head of the nail with the hammer and call out years of repression of sexual fluidity.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Essential gender and sexually studies reading

I hadn't heard of this book when I came across it at an anthropology conference book sale but it was worth every penny. Although I am usually off put by social science and humanities research that is not based in original primary research, the studies discussed throughout this book were obscure enough to me to prevent the book from feeling merely theoretical. The author poses a fascinating challenge to our rigid thinking about male same sex sexual acts while also highlighting the role of race in American cultural constructions of male heterosexual it and homosexuality. By highlighting instances of same sex sexual acts between heterosexual men the author is able to constructively complicate our understanding of sexuality, masculinity and whiteness, all of which are rarely and inadequately theorized in the vast majority of gender studies literature in particular and the social sciences in general. Although it frequently felt like I was listening to a jargon laden conference talk, I believe this book can serve as excellent reading material for upper level undergraduates.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Fun, Informative and Thought-Provoking

The audio version of this book is adorable: a wry wink of a read, rather like having Amy Poehler cast as a smart and funny, women studies professor. Dara Rosenberg does a great job with Jane Ward's cheeky (yet academic) text, to craft an engaging listen.

I first heard Dr Ward interviewed on Tristan Taormino's podcast back in August, and was surprised to hear how much sex "straight" guys were allegedly having with each other through Craig's List and other such venues. When the audio version came out, I got it mostly from curiosity about that, but came to enjoy the gender theory and other insights Ward brings to the subject, particularly her insights about the way that hegemonic masculinity conflates sexism and racism in a way which preserves its own sense of entitlement and exceptionalism. This is not just hypocrisy, but beyond that toward psychosis.

A bit academic at times, the audio version was still quite enjoyable, and has me thinking about sexual orientation and political performance differently than I did before. Fun, informative and thought-provoking.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Extreme Feminism and Liberalism

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Liberal, feminist women

Has Not Gay turned you off from other books in this genre?

Yes

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Reader was clear and made the content as interesting as possible

What character would you cut from Not Gay?

The writer

Any additional comments?

I gave this book an honest try. I suffered through over 4 hours. I just gave up. Ward goes on and on about feminist ideas and it's just so distracting from the actual subject of the book. She spends more time discussing lesbian thoughts than that of gay men. There was some value in discussing the different times and categories of straight men that have gay encounters. However, her rants about black oppression and homophobia were just too distracting. The phrase "straight white male" must have been used hundreds of times which became monotonous. Might be great from a feminazi point of view, but not from a gay guy that has had sex with several straight identifying men. There is just too much fluff and not enough meaningful content. Almost as if it was a school paper that was lengthed because there was only a page of good content and the requirement was 10 pages and the student just started going off on meaningless tangents to fill up space. Highly do not recommend, I will be getting a refund.