I'm A Man: Sex, Gods and Rock 'n' Roll by Ruth Padel - review by Thomas Hodgkinson

Thomas Hodgkinson

Say It In Greek

I'm A Man: Sex, Gods and Rock 'n' Roll


Faber & Faber 382pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

Rock music is like religion: it’s something you grow out of. And then later, wiser maybe, you grow back into it. Guys take it very seriously, like religion (think ‘Clapton is God’, scrawled on the walls of the London Underground). Ruth Padel grew into it late and takes it seriously. As a young woman she played chamber music with her family, studied Classics, wrote poetry – and so her stance in this study of white rock and its relation to black music and Western masculinity is that of the cultured outsider. 

‘I’m a Man’, Padel confides in her title, but she isn’t and that’s a bit of a problem. Many of her ideas about maleness are built on the ideas of other women about maleness (Greer, de Beauvoir, Froma Zeitlin). She says:

Men hide behind shiny desks, shiny cars, Armani suits, swaggery rhetoric,

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