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Misframing Men

Misframing Men: The Politics of Contemporary Masculinities

Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Misframing Men
    Book Description:

    Misframing Men, a collection of Michael Kimmel's commentaries on contemporary debates about masculinity, argues that the media have largely misframed this debate.Kimmel, among the world's best-known scholars in gender studies, discusses political moments, takes on antifeminists as the real male bashers, questions the unsubstantiated assertions that men suffer from domestic violence to the same degree as women, and examines the claims made by those who want to rescue boys from the "misandrous" reforms initiated by feminism. In writings both solidly grounded and forcefully argued, he pushes the boundaries of today's modern conversation about men and masculinity.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4975-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. Introduction: Misframing Men
    (pp. 1-12)

    This past decade has witnessed an extraordinary transformation in men’s lives. For decades, wave after wave of the women’s movement, a movement that reshaped every aspect of American life, produced nary a ripple among men. But suddenly men are in the spotlight.

    Yet the public discussions often seem strained, silly, and sometimes flat-out wrong. The spotlight itself seems to obscure as much as it illuminates. Old tired clichés about men’s resistance to romantic commitment or reluctance to be led to the marriage altar seem perennially recyclable in advice books and on TV talk shows, but these days the laughter feels...

  5. PART ONE Reframings

    • 1 Has “A Manʹs World” Become “A Womanʹs Nation”?: Menʹs Responses to Womenʹs Increased Equality in the Twenty-first Century
      (pp. 15-37)

      “This is a man’s world,” sang James Brown in 1964, with a voice both defiantly assertive and painfully anguished. He starts off proudly, with a litany of men’s accomplishments: men made the cars, the trains, the electric lights, and the boats that carried the loads and took us out of the dark. Men even made the toys that children play with. But lest he encourage a bit of smug self-satisfaction, Brown changes course at the end of the song. “But it would be nothing … without a woman or a girl.” Without women, Brown ends, men are “lost in the...

    • 2 The Childrenʹs Hour: Masculine Redemption in Contemporary Film
      (pp. 38-49)

      During her reign as resident feminist on the op-ed page of theNew York Times, Anna Quindlen once asked her women readers which man they’d prefer for a mate: a short, thin, reedy man, careful, committed, and chivalrous, always sexually faithful; or a dark, roguishly handsome self-interested scoundrel, who would never be faithful. Readers, of course, chose the former (though when the question was posed to our students, several women always note that they wouldn’t mind having sex with the latter before they got married).

      But what if, Quindlen asked, you gave them names. Call the first one Ashley Wilkes,...

    • 3 Reconciliation, Appropriation, Inspiration, and Conversation: Four Strategies of Racial Healing among White Men
      (pp. 50-64)

      Racial inequality is one of America’s most persistent and pervasive social problems. Its effects have generally been examined by social scientists in terms of its institutional structure—the institutional and ideological apparatuses that create, legitimate, and reproduce inequality—and by social and behavioral scientists in terms of its corrosive effects on the identities of and relations among those who are adversely affected by it. This is, of course, how it should be—that is, we need to understand the effects of structured social inequality in order to understand the context for the formation of identity, ideologies of masculinity and femininity,...

  6. PART TWO Reversals

    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 65-68)

      When women said they wanted to go to work, they were accused of being anti-motherhood.

      When women said they wanted men to become more involved as fathers, they were accused of being anti-male.

      When women said they wanted to create positive programs for girls in schools, they were accused of being anti-boy.

      When women said they were pro-motherhood, and wanted to enable women to be able to be both workers and mothers, they were accused of being selfish and wanting to “have it all.”

      When women said they wanted the violence to stop, that they wanted to live free of...

    • 4 Who Are the Real Male Bashers?
      (pp. 69-91)

      Ask a group of college women these days if any among them is a feminist. No one will volunteer. The predictable litany then begins. “I like being a woman.” “I’m not a lesbian.” “I want to be attractive.” And, most telling, “I don’t hate men. Feminists are all male bashers.”

      This is the other side of “I’m not a feminist but …”—which these same women also utter. After all, an overwhelming majority of college women support what would be the key policy issues of feminism—the right to choose, the right to enter any school, occupation, or profession they...

    • 5 A War against Boys?
      (pp. 92-98)

      By now, you’ve probably heard there’s a “war against boys” in America. The latest heavily hyped right-wing fusillade against feminism, led by Christina Hoff Sommers’s book of that title, claims that men have become “the second sex” and that boys—not girls—are the ones who are in serious trouble, the “victims” of “misguided” feminist efforts to protect and promote girls’ development. At the same time, best-selling books by therapists, like William Pollack’sReal Boysand Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson’sRaising Cain, also sound the same tocsin, warning of alarming levels of depression and suicide, and describing boys’ interior...

    • 6 “Gender Symmetry” in Domestic Violence
      (pp. 99-122)

      Domestic violence has emerged as one of the world’s most pressing problems. The United Nations estimates that between 20 percent and 50 percent of all women worldwide have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner or family member. In the United States, more than one million cases of “intimate partner violence” are reported to police each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. One of the major platforms for action adopted at the World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 was “the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.”

      Efforts to prevent domestic...

  7. PART THREE Restorations

    • [PART THREE Introduction]
      (pp. 123-130)

      In his bookColumbine(2009), published on the tenth anniversary of that tragic day, journalist Dave Cullen jettisons a birdʹs-eye view of that school shooting in favor of an extreme close-up psychological portrait of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. As in a pointillist painting, each dot of color is rendered in excruciating detail, as we read about Harrisʹs deep-seated psychopathologies and Kleboldʹs pathetic eagerness to be accepted by his sociopathic friend and mentor.

      Heʹs right, of course, as right as any analyst of those tiny dots of color can be. I suppose that any event, looked at closely enough, ceases...

    • 7 Profiling School Shooters and Shootersʹ Schools: The Cultural Contexts of Aggrieved Entitlement and Restorative Masculinity
      (pp. 131-142)

      In the aftermath of Seung-Hui Cho’s horrific massacre of thirty-two of his classmates and professors at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, pundits from all over the political spectrum weighed into the national grief and confusion over what could have led this young man to commit such a vicious, murderous act.

      When I watched the redacted portions of the enraged tirade that Cho left as his Last Will and Testament, I kept hearing the words of those other two, now infamous, school shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. As they began their shooting...

    • 8 Globalization and Its Mal(e)contents: Masculinity on the Extreme Right
      (pp. 143-162)

      Globalization changes masculinities—reshaping the arena in which national and local masculinities are articulated, and transforming the shape of men’s lives. Globalization disrupts and reconfigures traditional, neocolonial, or other national, regional, or local economic, political, and cultural arrangements. In so doing, globalization transforms both domestic and public patriarchy (see Connell 1998). Globalization includes the gradual proletarianization of local peasantries, as market criteria replace subsistence and survival. Local small craft producers, small farmers, and independent peasants traditionally stake their notions of masculinity in ownership of land and economic autonomy in their work; these are increasingly transferred upward in the class hierarchy...

    • 9 Promise Keepers: Patriarchyʹs Second Coming as Masculine Renewal
      (pp. 163-172)

      It is Shea Stadium in late September [1996] after all, so a crowd of 35,000 men chanting, whooping, hollering, and high-fiving each other isn’t all that unusual. But the Mets attract barely half that number late in their woeful season. And there are no women in the stands. That is unusual. And besides, the Mets are on the road.

      On this day Shea is the setting for the latest rally by Promise Keepers, a Christian organization that seeks to revitalize men through a mass-based evangelical ministry. The dramatic growth and continuing appeal of Promise Keepers indicate that the movement of...

    • 10 Saving the Males at VMI and Citadel
      (pp. 173-196)

      It is still dark and the courtyard at the center of the barracks is as quiet as the surrounding foothills of the Shenandoah Valley, dark and frost-covered. The late October air is cold and crisp. Dressed in a suit and tie, I am huddling under a balcony for warmth. “What the hell am I doing here?” I ask myself.

      Suddenly, a siren goes off and a group of men start running along the top floor (called a stoop) of the courtyard. Doors fly open and nearly 300 young bleary-faced men come stumbling out of their rooms, all dressed in yellow...

    • 11 Janey Got Her Gun: A VMI Postscript
      (pp. 197-206)

      Meet Erin Claunch. A high school honor student and cross-country runner from Round Hill, Virginia, Claunch enrolled at Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in 1997 “to test my limits and see how far I can go.” A physics major, Claunch is preparing for a commission with the air force upon graduation, and she aspires to become an astronaut. She ranks fifteenth in her class of 298 and easily surpassed the uniform gender-neutral physical fitness standards: Sixty sit-ups in two minutes, five pull-ups, and a one-mile run in less than twelve minutes. (She did eighty-four sit-ups, fifteen pull-ups, and ran the course...

  8. PART FOUR Resistance

    • [PART FOUR Introduction]
      (pp. 207-208)

      Everywhere there are signs of change. Young men today assume that they will be equally involved parents with their wives and partners, that they will share parenting responsibilities and even, perhaps, increase their share of housework. In U.S. workplaces, some men are getting used to—and even enjoying—the equal presence of women. On campuses men are organizing around issues of gender equality, straight women and men are organizing gay-straight alliances, and U.S. youth are becoming increasingly accustomed to identities, practices, and ideas that might make their parents squirm.

      Thatʹs not to be Pollyanna about this: the other side is...

    • 12 Whoʹs Afraid of Men Doing Feminism?
      (pp. 209-219)

      Can men “do” feminism? Ought men to do it? What happens when they do? These are questions with which I am constantly confronted, in my pedagogy, and in both my public and private lives.

      Each year, I’m invited to give about twenty or more lectures at colleges and universities all over the country. Usually, the invitation comes from a coalition of women’s studies faculty, sociologists, and the occasional student organization that has actually heard of NOMAS (The National Organization for Men Against Sexism, of which I am National Spokesperson) or my work. (On rare occasions, the funding comes from both...

    • 13 Profeminist Men: The “Other” Menʹs Movement
      (pp. 220-230)

      Cory Sherb didn’t go to Duke to become a feminist. He was going to be a doctor, covering his bets with a double major in engineering and pre-med. But his experiences with both organic chemistry and feminist women conspired to lead this affable and earnest twenty-year-old Detroit native in a different direction. Now in his junior year, he still has a double major—Women’s Studies and French. And he works with a group of men to raise awareness about sexual assault and date rape.

      Eric Freedman wasn’t a feminist either, when he arrived at Swarthmore three years ago. A twenty-year-old...

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 231-242)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 243-243)