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Notes: Masculinity Past questions: Why does masculinity always seem to be in crisis?
Is political power essentially masculine?
Why have so many societies been patriarchal?
Are gender identities always unstable?
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------General things: In what ways has masculinity (as both represented and experienced) been defined as a concept and deployed as an analytical category by historians?
What methodologies have been employed by historians of masculinity, and how have different approaches influenced narratives of change?
Third, how does masculinity mediate relations of power and agency between men and between men and women, and, in particular, what is the relationship of masculinity to other determinants of status such as age, sexuality, ethnicity, and class?
Patriarchy undoubtedly privileged maleness over femaleness and most men above most women. However, given the complex interaction of gender with other determinants of status (age, class, marital status, sexuality, ethnicity), patriarchal dividends were by no means evenly available to all men. o Nor were they entirely unavailable to some women. (Consider both performativity and 'Other') o Patriarchy involved complex axes of domination and subordination that could transcend or cut across distinctions of sex. Therefore, while patriarchal imperatives privileged most men above most women, they also privileged several men above many others. o Just as historians are beginning to accept that in certain circumstances certain women might have benefitted from patriarchal norms (albeit to a different degree and in very different ways from men), so it is important to recognize that men as well as women actively resisted patriarchal norms and also pursued alternative codes of manhood. o Connell distinguishes between four types of masculinity. The dominant form is hegemonic, and, as a result, the other three categories of masculinity—complicit, subordinate, and marginalized—are largely determined in a dialectic with hegemonic masculinity
patriarchal: closely linked to the house-holding status associated with marriage and middle age and more obliquely linked to the social status of middling groups and elites.
subordinate - conform to codes of deference expected of them. antpatriarchal - apprentices, youths, etc. Involved exclusion of women but also defined against patriarchy.
The study of patriarchy as a historical phenomenon
(1) Patriarchy originally denoted the legal powers of a father over his wife, children, and other dependants, and is still used by some historians in this sense. o Adrienne Rich: Patriarchy is a familial-social, ideological, political system in which men - by force, direct pressure, or through ritual, tradition, law, and language, customs etiquette, education, and the division of labour, determine what part women shall or shall not play, and in which the female is everywhere subsumed under the male. o Historians should accept the semantic development in the meaning of patriarchy. (2) Patriarchy has been misrepresented as a transhistorical, fatalistic term which implies that women's oppression is unchanging, natural and inevitable.
However, patriarchy has existed in many forms and varieties and its history will be a history of many different historical patriarchies.
(3) Patriarchy has been maligned as an offensively antimale term.
(4) Patriarchy has been rejected as a term that falsely applies modern feminist assumptions to the past.
Yet, we can certainly study the underlying reality of historical patriarchy without looking everywhere for female anger, female resistance, even female awareness of the systems through which women were oppressed.
It is the business of historians to try to understand the past not only on its own terms but also through the prism of the present - doing so necessitates the interpretation of the past with words and concepts unknown at the time (i.e. 'renaissance').
(5) Patriarchy highlights the pervasiveness and durability of women's oppression, without denying the differences generated by other oppressions (imperialism, racism, feudalism, etc). The term is useful in describing systems with multifaceted and varying forms.
(2) A concern about over-emphasizing the 'origins' of patriarchy.
The search for origins has been motivated in part by the desire to prove that patriarchy is neither ahistorical nor timeless.
This is a doomed endeavour.
We do not need to find the origin of patriarchy to establish its historicity.
Patriarchy has clearly existed in many different manifestations in many past societies, and these different manifestations constitute a history.
(3) A deliberate decision on the part of some historians of women to focus less on women's oppression and more on women's agency.
The study of patriarchy is of a history which potentially focuses more on men than women, or of women's collusion in their own oppression.
The division between women as victims and women as agents is a false one. We will never know where and when patriarchy began, but we can reconstruct how it has adapted, changed and survived over time and place. We must likewise examine women's support - the motivations of women who have colluded in their own oppression. We must examine the patriarchal ideologies and realities that have assured women that there is safety in protected subordination and danger in vulnerable freedom.
It is Marc Bloch who we most closely associate with outlining the premises of comparative history: o '...to choose from one or several social situations, two or more phenomena which appear at first to offer certain analogies between them; then to trace their line of evolution, to note the likenesses and the differences, and as far as possible explain them.' o We must trace similarity and dissimilarity. But how then, do we explain the striking number of societies throughout history that have been dominated by patriarchal structures of organisation?
Even when women experienced power or engaged more fully in a patriarchal society, we can note that discourses surrounding such incidences attempted to convey them either as 'other' or in androgynous or masculine terms. o 'I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.' This most famous of lines, delivered by Elizabeth at Tilbury as the spectre of the Spanish armada loomed, serves to encapsulate the central contradictions of being a woman sovereign. Tudor queens were divinely consigned to the acceptance of a patriarchal order, but were simultaneously elevated to the highest position in the polity. The 'Virgin queen' exploited her image in order to deftly manoeuvre through the maledominated world of high court and politics. o Consider also Ecaterina Teodoroiu, - a soldier, fought alongside Romanian troops in the First World War.
Teodoroiu died in September 1917 during an attack, a truly extraordinary example of a female transgressing all gender boundaries. Representations continued to reinforce her gender and the incompatibility between women and war service. After her death, she was commemorated as the 'virgin hero'. Reports and accounts stressed her androgynous features - her flat chest, her short hair and eyeglasses. What are the variables here? Both portrayed as virgins both represent their country, but expected to conform to these nebulous 'masculine' ideals. Patriarchies dictate power, but how? Performativity and definition against 'femininity.'
So why was this the case? One compelling way in which we can attempt to offer an explanation is by referring to Raewyn Connell's notion of 'hegemonic masculinities'. o In any historical context, specific meanings of manhood may become dominant. o Gender historians use the term 'hegemonic' in referring to these dominant cultural constructions because it suggests not only the pre-eminence of a particular code of masculine attributes, but also that these ways of being a man are contested. o Critically, the ones that are dominant or hegemonic seem 'natural'. They appear permanent, although they are in fact 'contingent, fluid, socially and historically constructed, changeable and constantly changing' (Connell). o Societies define other groups as 'feminine' or 'Other' against narrow, hegemonic elites that constitute the patriarchy. o At any one time, the hegemonic form is "culturally exalted" and exists in tension with subordinate, marginalized, and—to a lesser degree—complicit masculinities.
At its narrowest (and perhaps affording the greatest empirical precision) i demarcates "the masculine norms and practices which are most valued by the politically dominant class and which help to maintain its authority" rather than functioning as a blanket term to refer to the gender norms to which most men subscribe.
Yet at the heart of hegemonic masculinity are the processes that serve to maintain patriarchy, both in relation to deviant and cadet masculinities but primarily in relation to women, and it is this dimension that has often taken center stage in historical analysis. The concept of hegemonic masculinity also involves wider analysis of the degree to which men beyond the political elite were complicit in hegemonic codes, thereby indirectly upholding them, and this remains important to testing the social reach of dominant masculinities
Toby Ditz: in many societies, men have access to the institutions and resources that confer power, whereas women do not.
Therefore, 'the gender order is about the way that masculinity and femininity, in conjunction with other categories of social difference, differentially position men and women in relation to claims on these resources and institutions.' A move from 'performative' masculinity in predodern societies to something more 'essentialised' in the modern era. Still 'performative' in dependent on displaying independence Needs an 'Other' to define against the norm.
The way in which these differentiated positions are legitimated can change, adapt, and be contested from society to society, and from period to period. o Masculinity is an unstable formation, exhibiting contradictory traits and supposedly perennial characteristics. But these cultural practices, which have many dimensions to them religious, racial, sexual - prove remarkably adaptable. To employ the term 'hegemonic masculinities' is not to suggest that the way in which patriarchy dominated society did not vary from period to period, or from civilisation to civilisation - but it certainly goes some way in explaining the near-ubiquity of patriarchal forms of organisation throughout history. o How does this impact on the belief that masculinity always been crisis ridden? Lynne Segal suggests that because men and the traits attributed to them have been so closely associated with power, social, economic and political changes, they are consistently tenuous and never totally dominant.
Need to consider the way masculinity and femininity, in conjunction with other categories of social difference, situate persons so that men have access on advantageous terms to women's sexuality, reproductive capacities, labour and/or their kinfolk's resources and social networks.
Also pertinent when considering marginalised groups of other males - constructed as 'feminine.
All works together. Performative, resource access, categorisation of the Other (valour, rationality, etc). The persistence of patriarchy and its ubiquity as a framework within which to dominate the lower stratums of society validate notions of 'hegemonic masculinities.' Not essentialist; just acknowledges how resilient these paradigms can be. Performative to internalised, this essay will look at. Always defined against 'Other.'
Nevertheless: question also requires us to think about what we mean by 'crisis'. Critical junctures - turning points. Masculinity has to adapt, but is ever really under threat? In fact, its historical durability is somewhat remarkable.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------Performative - who can act?
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