In 2013, I read a selection from The Myth of Male power, titled “Man as Nigger,” at a ‘Freedom To Read’ event at a local coffee shop. The purpose of the event was to read from banned and controversial texts at the open mic. Other participants read from texts that were once controversial but are no longer (mostly feminist, some anti-war), and throughout each of those readings, the audience remained respectfully silent.
I chose to read Farrell’s “Man as Nigger” because it was controversial at the very time of the reading. Feminists had recently been attacking Warren Farrell for appearing at the University of Toronto a few hundred miles away.
As I took the stage for my turn and began to read “Man as Nigger,” a large portion of the audience tried to drown me out — but not too overtly, as they were conscious of their own hypocrisy. They shuffled and scraped their chairs across the floor constantly. They talked loudly among themselves. Even the hostess participated in this passive-aggressive effort to censor my reading at her own free speech event, by loudly greeting someone at the door and continuing to talk to them the whole time I was on stage. When I later approached her to ensure there was no ill will between us, she made some excuse and practically ran away, leaving me to have a long and amicable conversation with her husband. As far as I am aware, there has not been a ‘Freedom to Read’ event in my city since.
Much like reading The Myth of Male Power, this was a very enlightening experience. “Man as Nigger” remains one of the best argumentative essays I’ve ever read. (Read it here.) Despite any expectations created by his use of the word “nigger” in an essay title, Farrell doesn’t seem to possess grain of ill will in his entire person. His claims are heavily evidenced and fair, and are argued compassionately. I don’t know how a clear-headed person could finish this book without finding Farrell to be a kind, intelligent, fair, admirable and wise fellow. I have bought multiple copies of this book to give to friends.