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Masculinities and the Law

Masculinities and the Law: A Multidimensional Approach

Frank Rudy Cooper
Ann C. McGinley
Foreword by Michael Kimmel
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 315
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  • Book Info
    Masculinities and the Law
    Book Description:

    According to masculinities theory, masculinity is not a biological imperative but a social construction. Men engage in a constant struggle with other men to prove their masculinity.Masculinities and the Lawdevelops a multidimensional approach. It sees categories of identity - including various forms of raced, classed, and sex-oriented masculinities - as operating simultaneously and creating different effects in different contexts. By applying multidimensional masculinities theory to law, this cutting-edge collection both expands the field of masculinities and develops new thinking about important issues in feminist and critical race theories. The topics covered include how norms of masculinity influence the behavior of policemen, firefighters, and international soldiers on television and in the real world; employment discrimination against masculine cocktail waitresses and all transgendered employees; the legal treatment of fathers in the U.S. and the ways unauthorized migrant fathers use the dangers of border crossing to boost their masculine esteem; how Title IX fails to curtail the masculinity of sport; the racist assumptions behind the prison rape debate; the surprising roots of homophobia in Jamaican dancehall music; and the contradictions of the legal debate over women veiling in Turkey. Ultimately, the book argues that multidimensional masculinities theory can change how law is interpreted and applied.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-6404-6
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)

    Not so long ago, a volume on “Masculinities and Law” would have been a non sequiter. It wasn’t really until the 1960s that feminists began to question the exclusion of actual, real, corporeal women from the legal profession, and it took another decade until feminist legal theorists revealed that the relationship of gender and law was not merely a simple dynamic of discrimination or exclusion. Those earlier scholars had often assumed that gender was like property—a possession, something one either “had” or “acquired” through some mystical process called socialization, by which the values and norms of society were inscribed...

  5. INTRODUCTION: Masculinities, Multidimensionality, and Law: Why They Need One Another
    (pp. 1-22)

    This book engages the emergence of a new school of legal thought: multidimensional masculinities theory. As a critical theory of law, multidimensional masculinities theory assumes that law distributes power by relying upon assumptions about human behavior that reproduce preexisting social relations. Law and culture are co-constitutive (Nice 2000): cultural norms influence law and legal norms simultaneously influence culture. This book seeks to expand critical legal theory by considering a set of cultural and legal norms that have been under-explored: masculinities.

    Masculinities theory has already established itself in the social sciences (Connell 1995), and posits that “assumptions about the meaning of...


    • 1 Feminist Legal Theory Meets Masculinities Theory
      (pp. 25-50)

      Men and boys are gendered beings who operate in a gendered context and collectively experience both privilege and harm as a result of the social construction of what it means to be a boy or a man. Their collective privilege puts men as a group above women as a group, and infuses structures, culture, and policy with masculinities because men have historically held positions of power. At the same time, gender for men and boys does not operate uniformly, and is particularly affected by intersections with race, class, and sexual orientation. Within the collective of men and boys, there are...

    • 2 Masculinity by Law
      (pp. 51-77)

      This chapter argues that formal equality frameworks can produce and entrench normative masculinities at the level of both formal legal doctrine and civil rights advocacy. In advancing this claim, I do not mean to suggest that formal equality is per se problematic. Nor is it my claim that, in the context of gender relationships, formal equality always produces undesirable outcomes. I simply mean to mark some of the ways in which formal equality and masculinity interact to produce inequality. As I will show, these interactions are mediated by race. My hope is to expand our understanding of the sites in...

    • 3 The Multidimensional Turn: Revisiting Progressive Black Masculinities
      (pp. 78-95)

      This chapter revisits the theory of progressive masculinities as described in the collection entitledProgressive Black Masculinitiespublished by Routledge in 2006 and in particular the article “Theorizing Progressive Black Masculinities.” It does so through the lens of multidimensional theory, suggesting that developing progressive black masculinities is consistent with black men’s pursuit of racial justice.

      Multidimensional theory is and remains outsider jurisprudence (Matsuda 1989; Valdes 1997). That is, it is a theory, arising specifically in the study of law, that is situated in the experiences of and is predominately developed by those who are outside the intellectual mainstream of even...

    • 4 The King Stay the King: Multidimensional Masculinities and Capitalism in The Wire
      (pp. 96-116)

      The third episode of Home Box Office’s (HBO’s) critically acclaimed showThe Wireprovides the viewer with a metaphor for the cable police drama’s view of life on Baltimore streets during the war on drugs. In a key scene, mid-level drug dealer D’Angelo Barksdale sees his young assistants, “Wallace” and Preston Broadus (“Bodie”), playing checkers with chess pieces (Alvarez 2009).¹ He tries to convince them to play chess by analogizing the game of chess to what inner-city residents call “the game” of drug dealing (ibid. 77). He explains that, just as with individuals in the drug game, each chess piece...


    • 5 Rescue Me
      (pp. 119-135)

      InLetter to Ma, Merle Woo writes that when she was a child, she watched as two white cops humiliated her father and how that encounter led her to be embarrassed of her father, whom she began to see as womanly (1984). Reflecting on this experience years later made her realize that Asian American men, simultaneously racialized and emasculated, are victims of both racism and sexism (ibid.). This interplay of racism and sexism affects race and gender dynamics for Asian American men both within Asian American communities and more broadly. In this chapter, I argue that this interplay of race...

    • 6 Manliness’s Paradox
      (pp. 136-145)
      JOHN M. KANG

      You may be born male, but that doesn’t make you manly. Maleness is the random result of biology, but manliness is the work product of vigorous self-fashioning: nature makes you male; to become manly, you must strive. Such is at any rate a familiar story, and one that I will complicate in this Chapter (Gilmore 1990; Goldstein 2006).

      What does manliness mean, though? At its heart, it is courage. So tangled is the connection between manliness and courage that male body parts, or at least their vulgarisms, serve as emblems of courage. No less venerable a source than theOxford...

    • 7 Border-Crossing Stories and Masculinities
      (pp. 146-164)

      Immigration law, increasingly restrictive and punitive in its application to border crossers, is believed to have a deep effect on behavioral responses of migrants and on migration patterns into the United States. Policymakers expect that if immigration policy becomes more restrictive, migrants will stop coming (Hanson 2007; Espenshade 1994). Indeed, migration does slow down at times (Hanson 2007; Passel and Cohn 2010). Interestingly, however, the migration pattern does not change much over time (Durand, Massey, and Parrado 1999; Espenshade 1994; Donato, Durand, and Massey 1992). In other words, no matter how restrictive immigration policy becomes, it has thus far failed...


    • 8 Sex Segregation, Masculinities, and Gender-Variant Individuals
      (pp. 167-186)

      Dee Farmer was born a man but “underwent estrogen therapy, received silicone breast implants, and submitted to unsuccessful ‘black market’ testicle-removal surgery” in an effort to become a woman (Farmer v. Brennan1994, 829). When she was convicted of credit card fraud, the Federal Bureau of Prisons assigned her to the general male population, where she wore clothes “in a feminine manner” and projected “feminine characteristics” (ibid.). There, she was brutally raped and beaten (ibid.). Steven Kastl was also born a man and taught at the Maricopa County Community College. After being diagnosed with gender identity disorder, Steven began taking...

    • 9 E-race-ing Gender: The Racial Construction of Prison Rape
      (pp. 187-206)

      In men’s jails and prisons as elsewhere, sexual abuse is a form of gender violence. Institutional problems such as overcrowding, inadequate supervision, inappropriate security classification, and lackadaisical investigation contribute to sexual abuse, but prison rape¹ is greatly exacerbated by institutional practices that enforce the most harmful forms of masculinity. Many men’s prisons are plagued by homophobia, high rates of physical violence, and an institutional culture that requires inmates to prove their masculinity by fighting (Buchanan 2010; Sabo et al. 2001). Whether the perpetrators of sexual abuse are staff or other prisoners, they tend to target inmates who are less masculine:...

    • 10 Sport and Masculinity: The Promise and Limits of Title IX
      (pp. 207-228)

      Throughout history, sport has been a site where masculinity is learned, performed, and reproduced.¹ In the United States, sports were introduced into schools in response to fears that boys were being feminized by the shift from an agrarian to industrial labor force, leaving boys in the day-to-day care of their mothers. Boys today continue to learn lessons in masculinity from participation in sports. For boys who excel in sports, athletic achievement is a path to a celebrated, traditional masculinity. For boys who lack ability or interest in sport, they risk developing a more marginalized masculinity. So great is the connection...


    • 11 Masculinities and Child Soldiers in Post-Conflict Societies
      (pp. 231-251)

      A fairly substantial amount of literature has been generated over the years regarding the forms of masculinity that emerge in times of armed conflict and war (Goldstein 2001; Yuval-Davis 1997). This war-focused literature (which links to, among other things, masculinities studies) has drawn from broader theoretical research identifying an organic link between patriarchy, its contemporary manifestations, and various forms of masculinity as they arise within societies and institutions (Connell 2005; Cohen 2009). It builds on, and extends, the more general scholarship that has deepened our under-standing of how masculinities are constructed and differentiated (Chodorow 1994; Connell 1987; Dowd, Levit, and...

    • 12 Sexuality without Borders: Exploring the Paradoxical Connection between Dancehall and Colonial Law in Jamaica
      (pp. 252-269)

      At times it is difficult to conceive of art as doing work. One tends to contemplate art as beneficent, existing to entice, enthrall, entertain, and otherwise bring pleasure to our senses. This is true, but as cultural critic Edward Said explained, art is also potent. It has the power to construct and disseminate identitarian norms (Lawrence 1987). The most common interrogation of art focuses attention on the power of the visual to shape perspectives (Mercer 1994). But the audible aspects of art have received far less attention. This chapter explores one such art form, reggae music, a subset of which...

    • 13 Masculinities, Feminism, and the Turkish Headscarf Ban: Revisiting Şahin v. Turkey
      (pp. 270-290)

      Throughout history, the Islamic veil or headscarf has been a highly contested and politicized symbol, both in Muslim societies and the global political arena. Western colonialists seized upon the Islamic headscarf to symbolize the subordination of women under Islam, justifying colonial occupation as necessary to liberate women from the barbaric oppression of Muslim men. Following the events of 9/11 and the resulting “war on terror,” the United States has employed images of Afghani women in dark burqas and face veils to both signify and demonize political Islam. Several European nations, including France, have either banned or considered banning the headscarf...

    (pp. 291-294)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 295-298)