On the “Crisis” of Masculinity

An excerpt from one of my class readings for Patriarchy, Sex, and Gender in Early Modern Europe. I got some mileage out of this for my notes, so I thought I’d share:

Despite the literature [on the “crisis” of masculinity and on male gender expectations]’s sometimes intensive interest in the privileges of whiteness, in the co-making of racial and gender identities, and in the marginalisation of class, sexual and racial others, the privileged men in these texts often come across as fragile, yearning and self-divided to the point of pathology. It is a wonder they ever got out of bed in the morning, and yet they constructed to their own benefit urban, industrial economies and imposed imperial systems straddling the globe at enormous cost to others.

As others have observed, something is wrong with this picture. At its most extreme, attentiveness to the social construction of gender identities and to their labile qualities elides the operations of power and creates false equivalences. One gets the impression that the planter’s lament about the responsibilities of mastery has the same weight as the burdens borne by the men and women labouring in the fields; or that the CEO’s fretfulness about the legal shenanigans of his corporation’s subsidiaries and the auditing of his expense accounts is somehow comparable to the troubles of workers laid off in Flint, Michigan of toiling in the sweat-shops of export zones. It is also typically assumed that violence against women, racial minorities and homosexuals signals a crisis in masculinity– that it is always, in effect, the response of insecure bullies defending their turf. But such violence is not necessarily a defensive response to crisis. It can be, instead, one of the sanctioned, if uglier techniques that some men routinely use to maintain their gendered privileges over women and other men.”

The New Men’s History and the Peculiar Absence of Gendered Power: Some Remedies from Early American Gender History by Toby L. Ditz, 2004

In short: if a man complains that modern feminism doesn’t focus enough on the fact that patriarchy’s real victims are men themselves, spit on him.

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About Mary Rose

A student blogger with a passion for travel, tea, and the art world. I’m also a published short fiction and poetry writer, an amateur photographer, and a burgeoning wine snob.
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One Response to On the “Crisis” of Masculinity

  1. Pingback: 1/10 -Snapshots | Mary Marvels

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