BOOK REVIEW: Brutal: Manhood and the Exploitation of Animals

Brutal: Manhood and the Exploitation of Animals

In cultures throughout the world, a great deal of the social construction of manhood revolves around brutalizing animals. This is terrain that has been explored before; most notably by authors Carol J. Adams and Jim Mason. However, in addition to familiar themes, Brian Luke brings some more essential observations to the table.

For example, he points out that the areas of animal exploitation in which humane activists have made the most progress are those most closely associated with women: namely, cosmetics testing and the fur fashion industry. The number of cosmetics companies using animals to test products and the sale of fur coats have fallen dramatically. In the meantime, activities most closely allied with men, such as hunting, have seen virtually no humane progress over the same time period.

The author also makes an interesting observation regarding personal care products: nearly all of the top manufacturers of women’s products do not test on animals; the numbers are the exact opposite when it comes to men’s products. In my own experience, I’ve also noticed that companies that do not test on animals are more likely to put “cruelty free” logos on their women’s product lines than on their men’s. Obviously this is because companies assume that women care about this issue and men do not.

Brutal is an important contribution to the discourse on animals, gender, and society.

(review originally appeared at


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