Book Review: Hung: A Meditation on the Measure of Black Men in America
Publication Date: Oct 25, 2005
List Price: $22.95
Format: Hardcover, 224 pages
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC
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Book Reviewed by Kam Williams
’The place: Providence, Rhode Island. The time, Spring 1986, my sophomore year in college’ I'm a little new to this, this meeting a strange girl and getting some. I'm also new to sex with white girls.
we're done, and we're lying there, she reaches down and says, ’I thought you'd be bigger than you are, because you're black.’ I didn't know what to say to her. I felt this sudden explosion of self-doubt partly because I didn't measure up to expectations.
This was the beginning of an education for me, an education in the twisted ways in which race and sex rage through American culture. Through all the lessons I'd learned up to then, there had never been an intersection of race and sex before I'd lain down with the white chick in Providence.
Somehow, I figured out that even if I didn't have the huge black penis
of her fantasy, it was more a matter of its color than its size. The discovery
that I could be affected by someone else's devotion to culturally prescribed
mythology- this was my sexual revolution. It was everything I'd gone to
’Excerpted from Chapter 1
Does size matter? What about if you're black? Does it matter more? This is the issue intimately explored in Hung by Scott Poulson-Bryant, a founder of Vibe Magazine and frequent contributor to such publications as Essence, Spin, Rolling Stone and The New York Times.
Though this Brown University alum went on to make a name for himself as a nationally-known music maven, he has long harbored an interest in understanding the roots of America's deep-seated fixation with black endowment. Surprisingly, he asserts that the obsession is primarily a male concern, ’Because, for so many men, it's the very definition of not only who they are, but why and where they are’ Men measure. Bigger is better.’
As proof, in a revealing chapter entitled Hip-Hop Hooray, he likens gangsta videos to porn movies but with a glaring difference. For he contends that one reason for all the misogyny in the music has to do with the rise in 1992 of what he refers to as the ’Homo Thug.’ Apparently, gay gangstas won’t come out of the closet for fear of alienating their fan base, given their ultra-macho personas.
Hung does mix in some historical evidence of the development of the black man as stud stereotype, but this tome is essentially comprised of anecdotal evidence accumulated to support the author's contention that black male identity is all wrapped up in the myth of their sexual superiority. Despite sharing some of the steamy details of his own straight and gay encounters, along with the opinions of some sisters and his relatives, and of his conquests and other assorted acquaintances, sex-obsessed Scott ultimately only convinced me that his interactions with the world are substantially defined by proof of genital prowess.
Unfortunately, Hung relies far too heavily on hearsay, innuendo and pseudonyms attributed to uncorroborated showbiz sources, pro athletes and other sources to be taken at face value. Still, it's an entertaining enough read, if not convincing that brothers have been both blessed and cursed by leveraging the double-edge sword which suggests that size determines destiny.