Manhood in America: A Cultural History
Free Press, 1996 - 544 pages
In a time when psychologists are rediscovering Darwin, and much of our social behavioral is being reduced to ancient, hard-wired patterns, Michael Kimmel's history of manhood in America comes as a much needed reminder that our behavior as men and women is anything but stable and fixed. Kimmel's authoritative, entertaining, and wide-ranging history of men in America demonstrates that manhood has meant very different things in different eras. Drawing on advice books, magazines, political pamphlets, and popular novels and films, he makes two surprising claims: First, manhood is homosocial - that is, men need to prove themselves to each other, not to women. Second, definitions of manliness have evolved in response to women's movements. When women act, men react. Originally, manliness was an internal virtue and a democratic ideal - British men were viewed as fops, and American men had to be independent, honest, and responsible. By the 1890s, however, manhood changed to masculinity, something that had to be constantly proven through the new explosion of sports, fraternities, and fashion. Finally, in 1936, Lewis Terman, the creator of the IQ test, developed an "M-F" test to analyze adolescents' masculinity and femininity. Until well into the 1960s, the test penalized boys who preferred to draw flowers instead of forests, or who knew that a teacup was used for drinking tea. But just as Terman's categories and questions seem outdated to us, so will our own standards seem temporary to our successors.
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One solution, as we've seen, was to colonize the home, to find a small corner that
could be unmistakably "his," like the den or the study in the nineteenth century or
the basement, the workshop, the garage, or even the backyard barbecue pit ...
See also Alexander Saxton, The Rise and Fall of the White Republic: Class
Politics and Mass Culture in Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Verso,
1990), pp. 110-113. 2. Tyler, The Contrast, 1, 1, p. 27. 3. Ibid., I, 2, p. 35. 4. Ibid., 1,
Village Voice, 15 November 1976. Rosen, Ruth. The Lost Sisterhood: Prostitution
in America, 1900-1918. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982.
Rosenberg, Charles. "Sexuality, Class and Role in Nineteenth-Century America.
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MANHOOD IN AMERICA: A Cultural HistoryUser Review - Kirkus
Kimmel (Sociology/SUNY, Stony Brook) applies the methodology of feminist history to the experience of being male in America. Rejecting the idea that almost every history book is about the male ... Read full review
Manhood in America: a cultural historyUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Kimmel, a noted men's studies authority, coeditor of Against the Tide (LJ 2/1/92), and editor of The Politics of Manhood, reviewed below, presents in his own words the first cultural history of men in ... Read full review
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