Manhood in America by Michael Kimmel

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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 But just as Terman's categories and questions seem outdated to us, so will our own standards seem temporary to our successors.

About Michael Kimmel

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Michael S. Kimmel is Professor of Sociology at SUNY at Stony Brook. His books include "Changing Men" (1987), "Men Confront Pornography" (1990), "Men s Lives" (4th edition, 1997), "Against the Tide: Profeminist Men in the United States", "1776-1990" (1992), "The Politics of Manhood" (1996), and "Manhood: A Cultural History" (1996). In addition to the journal Men and Masculinities, he also edits a book series on Men and Masculinity at the University of California Press, and the Sage Series on Men and Masculinities. He is the Spokesperson for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) and lectures extensively on campuses in the U.S. and abroad.
Published November 10, 1996 by Free Press. 560 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, History, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

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Rejecting the idea that almost every history book is about the male experience, Kimmel writes not about what men ``actually did'' since the birth of the republic, but what they were ``supposed to do, feel, and think.'' This is not advocacy of poor, embattled white males, but a scholarly and detai...

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In a startling, original study, Kimmel, a professor of sociology at the State University of New York, makes a persuasive case that manhood has been a constantly changing social construct in American c

Oct 30 1995 | Read Full Review of Manhood in America

Publishers Weekly

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Men today, observes Kimmel, spout angry antifeminist rhetoric in men's rights groups, or beat a defensive retreat via the men's movement's embrace of cosmic archetypes.

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