Why Masculinity?


Note: The posts that appear here also appear in their original context at my blog Critical Masculinities - and as I've just started posting here, for a little while I'll be reposting older entries from Critical Masculinities, until the content catches up. 

My interest in masculinity does not come from a 'rights' based background. In the way that The Fathers for Justice in the UK or Australia's very own Blackshirts - with their advocating for redress of perceived inequalities & a general loss of privilege wrought by 'feminism.' Rather my interest is in looking at the meanings, politics and power of gender.

Because of my own position and privilege, (in that I am male, amongst other things) I am more comfortable writing about issues of gender from an explicitly masculine viewpoint or perspective, and it feels 'right' for me to be analysing men and masculinity, as opposed to other genders.

This is far from saying that I am interested exclusively, or even primarily, in issues relating to masculinities. But rather, I am interested in the interactions and power relationships between genders, and what understandings of say, a particular masculine identity means for other gendered (and sexual) identities; in the way that definition and understanding of a thing comes from its (often oppositional, in a binary sense) 'other.'

Another common refrain heard around issues of masculinity, and one that I imagine will be a bit of a touch stone here, is that it is in some form of crisis. Broadly speaking modern western masculinity has been in some form of crisis since the middle of last century, or before. On the whole I think this is a bit of a crock. Men, specifically men of privilege, still overwhelmingly possess that privilege. It is misleading, or disingenuous to say that because external factors are challenging dominant understandings of male identity, that identity, and the ideological underpinnings of it, are in crisis. However I think it is fair to say that some men on the socio-cultural margins are challenged in their masculine identity, where their actual circumstances and their understandings of masculine identity fail to meet, or conflict with those of the broader community. But these interesting and changing edges of masculine identity do not constitute a broad and sweeping crisis in masculine identity.

I apologise if this post comes across as being mainly about myself (again), but I'm still finding my feet with this, and fleshing out my foundations before I come up with any sort of substantive (read: interesting) content.