Italian American Law Professor and Gay Rights Pioneer Releases New Memoir

Jan 08, 2020 201

BY: Leslie Standridge

Boys’ Secrets and Men’s Loves” is a poignant, timely memoir by David A. J. Richards that sheds light on the trauma that patriarchy inflicts on men. Drawing from his own life and experiences, Richards explains how patriarchal norms harm boys and men, forcing them to forgo their authentic, emotional selves in order to conform to the rigid stereotypes of masculinity.

He also reflects on how his  culture and Roman Catholic upbringing have contributed to his own traumatic experiences with patriarchy. 

About the book 

In his transition from boyhood to manhood, Richards experienced a shift in behavior and emotional expression. Unconsciously, he began to pick up on societal clues that informed him which behaviors and interests were acceptable for men and which were not, repressing the unfavorable qualities, including his homosexuality. Richards refers to this process as patriarchal initiation, explaining how the pressure on boys and men to act masculine forces them to repress and isolate innate parts of their humanity into secret selves and develops in them a deep-seated need to defend and uphold such boundaries in themselves and others. He points to unjust wars, racism, sexism and homophobia as grand scale examples of how this behavior can manifest into larger social problems, arguing that only through recognizing and resisting the gender hierarchy can men begin to heal from this trauma and nurture a society based on freedom and equality. 

About David A. J. Richards 

David A. J. Richards is an Edwin D. Webb Professor of Law at New York University, where he has taught Constitutional Law and Criminal Law for 45 years. He also founded NYU’s Program for the Study of Law, Philosophy, and Social Theory. He has authored over 20 books on moral philosophy and the basic rights of American constitutionalism, including two books with Carol Gilligan “The Deepening Darkness: Patriarchy, Resistance, and Democracy’s Future” and “Darkness Now Visible: Patriarchy’s Resurgence and Feminist Resistance,” and his work was cited by the Supreme Court of India in their landmark decision to overturn criminalization of same-sex relationships.

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