Theorizing Masculinities


Edited by: Harry Brod & Michael Kaufman

  • Citations
  • Add to My List
  • Text Size

  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Research on Men and Masculinities Series

    Series Editor:


    Contemporary research on men and masculinity, informed by recent feminist thought and intellectual breakthroughs of women's studies and the women's movement, treats masculinity not as a normative referent but as a problematic gender construct. This series of interdisciplinary, edited volumes attempts to understand men and masculinity through this lens, providing a comprehensive understanding of gender and gender relationships in the contemporary world. Published in cooperation with the Men's Studies Association, a Task Group of the National Organization for Men Against Sexism.


    • Maxine Baca Zinn
    • Robert Brannon
    • Cynthia Cockburn
    • Jeff Hearn
    • Martin P. Levine
    • William Marsiglio
    • David Morgan
    • Joseph H. Pleck
    • Robert Staples
    • Bob Blauner
    • Harry Brod
    • R. W. Connell
    • Clyde Franklin II
    • Gregory Herek
    • Robert A. Lewis
    • Michael A. Messner

    Volumes in this Series

    • Steve Craig (ed.)
    • Peter M. Nardi (ed.)
    • Christine L. Williams (ed.)
      • DOING WOMEN'S WORK: Men in Nontraditional Occupations
    • Jane C. Hood (ed.)
    • Harry Brod and Michael Kaufman (eds.)
    • Edward H. Thompson, Jr. (ed.)
    • William Marsiglio (ed.)
    • Donald Sabo and David Frederick Gordon (eds.)
    • Cliff Cheng (ed.)
    • Lee H. Bowker (ed.)


    View Copyright Page


    “Hate between men comes from cutting ourselves off from each other,” wrote the great Viennese philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1980, p. 46). “Because we don't want anyone else to look inside us, since it's not such a pretty sight in there.” This fifth volume in the Sage Series on Research on Men and Masculinities invites us to look “in there,” inside the definitions of masculinity. The essays in this volume tell us less about what to think about masculinity and more about how to think about it.

    Ironically, virtually all the authors are, themselves, men. For decades, it was feminist women who had been theorizing about the meanings of masculinity—and with good reason: Men's efforts to live up to some vaguely defined notions of masculinity had some disastrous consequences for women. Institutionally, women lived in a world in which men held virtually all the positions of power. Interpersonally, individual women felt powerless to effect the kinds of changes in their lives they wanted.

    Feminism thus proposed a syllogism: Women were not in power and did not feel powerful; men were in power and therefore must feel powerful. But this symmetry between women's powerlessness at the aggregate, social level and at the individual, interpersonal level, however, was not matched by an equally symmetrical relationship for men to the idea of power. Sure, it was empirically quite true that men occupied virtually all positions of power, and thus it could be accurately said that men were inpower. But this power did not translate to a feeling of being powerful at the individual level.

    In fact, when the feminist analysis was presented to men, they often would respond as if the speaker were from another planet. “What do you mean men are in power?” they would ask incredulously. “I have no power at all. My wife bosses me around, my kids boss me around, my boss bosses me around. I'm completely powerless!”

    This helps to explain why many men seem to be looking for power rather than reveling in their experience of it—the enormous resonance among men of those disingenuous antifeminist arguments for “men's rights”; the lure of contemporary men's retreats that provide men an encounter with deep, powerful masculinity through ritual, drumming, and chanting; or even those Wall Street yuppies eating power breakfasts in their power ties.

    This volume brings to interested readers a new generation of theorists of masculinity, thinkers who theorize masculinities from the inside, as it were, from that disjunction between the aggregate social power of men and men's individual experiences of powerlessness. To be sure, they do not legitimate those individual experiences as somehow empirically true because they are truly felt. Individual experience must always be placed within its appropriate social and historical context. But these theorists take the disjunction as a starting point, and often a framing device, for theorizing about men.

    In so doing, they raise inevitable questions. Questions such as “which men” are to be theorized? A wide variety of the essays deal with different configurations of masculinity based on differing social locations. What analytic perspectives shed the most revealing light on the construction of masculinities? Some authors theorize masculinities from the center and others theorize from the margins. Some theorize from the relations between or among men, some from the relationship between women and men, and still others in the specific relationships between heterosexual men and homosexual men. Some utilize Marxian or Freudian themes, while others employ distinctly postmodern analytic principles to make men sensible.

    By creating these new lenses through which to view masculinities the editors of this volume invite us to fashion a new angle of vision on the construction and meanings of masculinities. They join in the wider feminist project of making masculinities visible—even, at times, to men themselves. In this way they contribute to the project outlined by James Baldwin (1962, p. 21), himself no stranger to feeling marginalized by traditional configurations of masculine power: “We, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.”

    Michael S.Kimmel, Series Editor
    Baldwin, J. (1962). The fire next time. New York: Dell.
    Wittgenstein, L. (1980). Culture and value. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Name Index

    About the Contributors

    Harry Brod is a part-time teacher of gender-related courses at the University of Southern California, the University of California at Los Angeles, and Antioch University at Los Angeles and of Philosophy for Children through the Los Angeles Unified School District. He is the editor of The Making of Masculinities: The New Men's Studies, A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity, and the forthcoming Can(n) ons of Masculinity: The Hidden History of Masculinities in Western Political Theory. He is the author of Hegel's Philosophy of Politics: Idealism, Identity, and Modernity.

    David L. Collinson is Lecturer in Industrial Relations and Organizational Behavior, University of Warwick, U.K. He is the author of Managing to Discriminate (with David Knights and Margaret Collinson) and Managing the Shopfloor and coeditor of Job Redesign.

    Scott Coltrane is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. His research on gender, families, and social change has appeared in Sociological Perspectives, American Journal of Sociology, Social Problems, Gender & Society, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Journal of Family Issues, and Men's Studies Review. He is coauthor (with Randall Collins) of Sociology of Marriage and the Family: Gender, Love, and Property (3rd edition). His forthcoming book Family Man focuses on the changing role of fathers and the implications of domestic labor sharing for gender equity.

    R. W. Connell is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His books include Gender & Power, Schools and Social Justice, and Class Structure in Australian History. His recent research focuses on poverty and education, AIDS prevention and gay sexuality, changes in masculinity, and historicity and politics in social theory.

    Don Conway-Long has taught courses on men and masculinity in the Women's Studies Program at Washington State University since the early 1980s. He is now pursuing a doctorate in anthropology. He spent the 1992–1993 year in Morocco on a Fulbright grant studying masculinity patterns and beliefs among men in Rabat.

    Arthur Flannigan-Saint-Aubin teaches French at Occidental College. His articles on race, gender, and sexuality have appeared in The Journal of the History of Sexuality, Callaloo, The French Review, and L'Esprit Createur. He is author of Mme de Villedieu's Les Desordres de L'Amour: History, Literature, and the Nouvelle Historique.

    David S. Gutterman is a graduate student in Political Science at Rutgers University. His current research interests include investigating concepts of courage in the work of Nietzsche and analyzing social change and the “politics of ambiguity.”

    Jeff Hearn is a Reader in Sociology and Critical Studies on Men and Co-Convenor of the Research Unit on Violence, Abuse, and Gender Relations, University of Bradford, U.K. He is the coauthor of “SexatWork” (with Wendy Parkin), The Gender of Oppression, and Men in the Public Eye, and he is coeditor of The Sexuality of Organizations, Taking Child Abuse Seriously, and Men, Masculinities, and Social Theory (with David H. J. Morgan).

    Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California. Her forthcoming book is Gendered Transitions: The Lives of Mexican Undocumented Immigrants in a California Community.

    Michael Kaufman lives in Toronto, Canada, and since the early 1980s has been active working with men to challenge sexism and to redefine masculinity. His books include Jamaica Under Manley: Dilemmas of Socialism and Democracy (1985), Beyond Patriarchy: Essays by Men on Pleasure, Power, and Change (1987), Cracking the Armour: Power, Pain, and the Lives of Men (1993), and Community Power and Grass-Roots Democracy (coedited with Haroldo Dilla, in press). Previously he held the position of deputy director of the Centre for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean at York University in Toronto. He is a founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, which works to end men's violence against women. He taught from 1979 to 1992 at York University and now works full-time writing and doing educational and training work on gender issues.

    Michael S. Kimmel is Associate Professor of Sociology at SUNY at Stony Brook and the editor of the Sage Series on Research on Men and Masculinities. His books include Men Confront Pornography (1990), Men's Lives (coedited with Michael A. Messner, 1990, 3rd edition in press), Against the Tide: Pro-feminist Men in the United States, 1776–1990, with Tom Mosmiller (1992), and the forthcoming Manhood: The American Quest, a history of the idea of manhood in America. As a Visiting Professor, Kimmel was voted “Best Professor” by the students at University of California at Berkeley.

    Mairtin Mac an Ghaill teaches in the Department of Education at the University of Birmingham, U.K. He is author of Young, Gifted, and Black: Student-Teacher Relations in the Schooling of Black Youth. He is presently preparing a book for publication titled Acting Like Men: Masculinities, Sexualities, and Schooling.

    Michael A. Messner is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society at the University of Southern California. He is coeditor (with Michael S. Kimmel) of Men's Lives and (with Donald F. Sabo) Sport, Men, and the Gender Order: Critical Feminist Perspectives. He is author of Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity.

    David H. J. Morgan is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Manchester, U.K., where he has been more or less continuously since 1962. He is the author of Discovering Men and is the coeditor (with Jeff Hearn) of Men, Masculinities and Social Theory and (with Sue Scott) of Body Matters. He has been an active member of the British Sociological Association and is currently joint editor of its journal Sociology.

    • Loading...
Back to Top

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website