Studying Masculinity

Posted: February 23, 2009 in Uncategorized

Take a look at this google book about gender from a male feminist perspective. It is a google book and contains the first 30 pages of the book. I highly recommend the preface and the introduction. I do not know if Kimmel identifies as male feminist, but I definitely consider it a continuation of the feminist project without the feminist gender essentialism that Butler analyzes in Gender Trouble. I have seen Kimmel’s work summarily dismissed by a couple of feminist theorist. But I think that anyone seriously interested in the social studies of gender needs to take a look at the work of Kimmel and his allies. Gender theory requires a nuanced theory of masculinity. This book is an attempt to frame a gender studies that studies both the both the social construction of masculinity and femininity. He claims that feminist inspired gender theory claims as its subject ‘woman’ and ignores the social construction of ‘man’. I find his project denaturalizes ‘man’ and begins to social construction of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ and its relations to ‘subordinated masculinities’ and the ‘female’ genders. In the introduction to the book linked above. He presents a way of thinking about myself and other male-sexed humans who have a deeply troubled relationship to hegemonic masculinity. He seems to be working in the ethnomethodological theory line social theory. He seems to totally be ignoring Foucault, Judith Butler and seems to assume the naturalness of heterosexuality. His work needs to be queered. Surely, this has already happened? He feels that our institutions gendered, and and organize social interaction reproduce hegemonic masculinity as a dominant discourse. It is interesting that he gets down to the nitty gritty of social interaction. For example, he critiques the essentialist view of man and woman communication styles differing. He feels that those differences are due to inequality and gendered power differentials within (straight)relationships. One of my delights from exploring relationship with my ex-lesbian girlfriend is that we are not gendering power. There is a back and forth, a give and take that she claims is part of lesbian relationship. Dominant genders are not constructed by these relationships.

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