Shira Tarrant

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Shira Tarrant
Shira cropped.jpg
Occupation Author, Professor, Feminist
Notable works Men and Feminism
When Sex Became Gender
Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power

Shira Tarrant is an American writer on gender politics, feminism, sexuality, pop culture, and masculinity.[1] Tarrant's books include When Sex Became Gender, Men and Feminism, Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power, Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style, and the forthcoming New Views on Pornography". She is known as an unconventional feminist redefining gender rights.[2]


Tarrant grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, attended Olney Friends School, and lives in Los Angeles. She has a PhD in political science from UCLA.[3]

In 2010, Tarrant was selected by Progressive Women's Voices for its media and leadership training program, and was named a Woman to Watch by the Women's Media Center.[4] In 2012, she was awarded the Glidden Visiting Professorship at Ohio University.[5] She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

A frequent speaker at college campuses and public venues across the country, Tarrant is quoted widely in print, radio, television, and online media.[6][7][8]


Shira Tarrant is the author of Men and Feminism (Seal Press), When Sex Became Gender (Routledge) and editor of the anthology Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power (Routledge). Her most recent book, Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style, with Marjorie Jolles, was published in 2012 (SUNY Press). A second edition of Men Speak Out is forthcoming in 2013 from Routledge and New Views on Pornography will be released in 2014 (Praeger, co-edited with Lynn Comella).

Within Tarrant’s Men and Feminism, the first chapter titled “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” introduces the issues of modern feminism, its growing inclusivity and relevance to male identified people (described from this point on as men). The chapter prefaces the book by defining feminism as “a movement for ending all forms of oppression, including gender based oppression” [9] and explains the fundamental principles of the movement which include the necessity of confronting patriarchal, racist and binary thinking. While emphasizing how feminism applies to men (as the system of patriarchy also restricts men’s roles), it highlights how by accepting and working within the framework of feminism, men can use their own gender privilege to stand up and better the lives of those oppressed in our current societal system. Relying on quotes and anecdotes, the first chapter of Men and Feminism provides insight to a growing demographic of men who consider egalitarian views and social responsibility to be common sense in today’s world and persuades the reader to ponder “what men can offer feminism and what feminism can offer men”.[10]

In true third wave feminism style, the chapter does not offer one single avenue for which the movement is driven by but instead discusses the multiple ways in which all men can commit to acting as proponents for equality. The examples range from deconstructing traditional gender roles to calling out racist or sexist jokes, ultimately stressing the importance of “examining our own place in various systems of domination - how we benefit and how we’re held back” [11] in order to generate social and political transformation. The chapter also introduces key aspects of feminism such as the importance of understanding intersectionality and refuting essentialism, effectively laying down the ground rules that are required when learning to think critically about all forms of oppression and the perspectives needed when working to mitigate them. By recognizing the fact that some forms of feminism have been unwelcoming of men’s engagement within the movement historically, chapter one also proves that there is room for men today and invites them to be “comrades in struggle”.[12] Furthermore, while the chapter acknowledges the politics inherent in labeling oneself a feminist, it recommends that men need not fear the term and emphasizes that the success of an effective and well received ally ultimately depends on their actions and level of commitment.

In addition to providing real life examples of men working through the lens of feminism and acknowledging opportunities for progress in daily life, the book is written in a clear and straightforward style, making it accessible to not only academics but also the target audience of young males. Overall, Tarrant’s “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” provides an informative overview of the movement’s evolution and brings the reader to understand that in true bell hooks fashion, feminism is indeed for everybody.

Tarrant's writing has appeared in Bitch, Bust, Ms. blog, and other mainstream and academic outlets. She is currently at work on the book 21st Century Sex: Contemporary Issues in Pleasure and Safety.



  • When Sex Became Gender (Routledge 2006) [13]
  • Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex and Power (editor) (Routledge 2008; 2013)
  • Men and Feminism (Seal Press 2009)[14]
  • Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style (with Marjorie Jolles) (SUNY Press 2012)

Articles and essays[edit]

  • “Women, Sex and S&M: Mainstream Media Totally Wrong About Female Desire — Again.” AlterNet, April 16, 2012
  • “It’s a Dress, Not a Yes,” Ms. Magazine Blog, November 4, 2011
  • “Why Are Conservatives Obsessed With the Sex Lives of College Kids?” AlterNet, April 17, 2011
  • “The Silence Around a Fraternity Sexual Assault Case,”, December 9, 2010
  • "Pornography 101: Why College Kids Need Porn Literacy Training", AlterNet, September 15, 2010
  • "Is Pornography Racist?", Ms. Blog, August 16, 2010
  • "Porn: Pleasure or Profit? Ms. Interviews Gail Dines, Part III", Ms. Blog, August 6, 2010
  • "Getting Down About Hooking Up", Ms. Blog, March 24, 2010
  • "Judge Orders Rape Survivors to Take Lie-Detection Test", Ms. Blog, March 19, 2010
  • "What's 'The Scoop' About Groping?", Ms. Blog, March 12, 2010
  • "The Hurt Locker Blows Up More Than Bombs", The Huffington Post, March 2, 2010
  • "California College: Up In Smoke?", The Huffington Post, June 19, 2009
  • "Sonia Sotomayor: The Answer Rhymes With 'Fender'", The Huffington Post, May 29, 2009
  • "Hip to Strip? Or Is it Time for Men to Stop Watching?", The Huffington Post, May 8, 2009
  • "Guy Trouble", Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Popular Culture, Spring 2009
  • "The Great Cover-Up: Can High Necklines Cure Low Morals?", Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Popular Culture, Winter 2008
  • "Men Speak Out on Gender, Sex and Power", Voice Male, Spring 2007
  • "The Little FemBlog That Wasn't", Barnard College Scholar & Feminist Online, Vol. 5 no. 2, Spring 2007
  • "When Sex Became Gender: Mirra Komarovsky's Feminism of the Fifties", Women's Studies Quarterly Vol. 33 nos. 3 & 4, 2005
  • "Who's Accountable for the Abuse at Abu Ghraib?", Off Our Backs. September–October 2004


External links[edit]