With The Male Gazed: On Hunks, Heartthrobs, and What Pop Culture Taught Me About (Desiring) Men, queer writer and film critic Manuel Betancourt fuses memoir and cultural criticism to deconstruct the myth of conventional masculinity. Growing up in Bogotá, Colombia, Betancourt didn’t think he was “man enough” by society’s standards. He was obsessed with telenovela stars, Disney princes, and Ricky Martin, and often found himself asking: “Do I want him or do I want to be him?” In this delightful collection of personal essays, he explores portrayals of masculinity to rethink what it means to be a man. In “Wrestling Heartthrobs,” he uses his infatuation with Mario Lopez’s unitard-wearing Saved By the Bell character A.C. Slater to grapple with his attraction to the high-school jock archetype. What Betancourt discovers through the witty and probing analysis of his own desires is that masculinity is a concept that has always been too inflexible for its own good. In freeing himself from its constraints, he encourages others to do the same. —Shannon Carlin

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