Men's studies, also known as masculinity studies, is an academic field relating to masculinity, gender, men and politics. The field of men's studies was developed mainly in response to the growing and rising men's rights movement, which was formed in response to the active feminist movement and women's political action groups. The success of the women's movement was the impetus for the creation of the men's movement and men's studies. Courses in men's studies have been offered in universities since the mid-1970s and are taught in conjunction with women's studies or as part of a gender studies program which encompasses the study of both genders.
Men's studies courses and programs center mainly around the psychology of masculinity and various other aspects of masculinity. However, they also include more modern discussions and discourses about masculism, men's rights, patriarchy, matriarchy, queer theory and feminist theory. Also included is the study of the historical, cultural and social composition of virility and men.
Men's studies are part of a larger scope of study called gender study and an important part of study within many other disciplines. They are closely related to film theory, literary theory, performance theory, anthropology, sociology, contemporary art history, psychoanalysis and psychology. Although all these fields of study concentrate on gender studies, their approach to the subject, and why and how they study gender, is different. For example, when studying psychology, anthropology and sociology, gender studies are most often discussed within a discipline or subject; however, in the other more cultural studies the discussions on gender are examined and evaluated more closely. Gender studies can be used as a stepping stone and include methods and means for many other disciplines.
Gender studies is a field centering on the study of both genders as well as their relationships with each other. Besides studying the relationship with each other, it focuses on how gender interaction meshes and converges with cultural, social and ethnic differences. It is for these reasons that gender studies produce more exact knowledge. Gender studies analyze past relations as well as present and future relations and try to advance a deeper understanding of the social evolution that takes place in society. Gender studies help in the understanding of the differences and problems facing the genders and try to contribute answers and solutions to the dilemmas facing society.
The importance of gender studies can be argued in both educational/personal and also occupational realms. First, in order to better serve both boys and girls in school, it is important that their educational capabilities and requirements are continuously researched from a perspective of gender. Second, men and women suffer from similar dilemmas. It is not only women who have problems balancing home, work and family, but men or fathers are confronting the same difficulties. In today's society of single parents, that includes single fathers, the problem is becoming more blatant and common. Society must recognize that in many of these problems, men and women are equal.
Moving to the industrial realm, manufacturing companies must take into consideration the gender specific consumer market research as well as the differences in gender buying and preferences in buying habits. Those companies that are tuned in to gender buying will be able to access new markets and expand their sales. And in the same realm, women work at identical jobs to men yet are paid less. Women also have greater difficulty in getting managerial and leading positions than men. Men, however, have great difficulty obtaining jobs in positions that are generally reserved for women.
The popularity of men's studies has led to the creation of the American Men's Studies Association (AMSA) which advances the study of masculinity and the critical study of men. It encourages the advancement and development of clinical practice, research and teaching of men's studies which will help gain a better understanding of the problems facing men in terms of society and their sexuality. The American Men's Studies Association is an organization that provides the forum from which researchers, practitioners, teachers and students can discuss and exchange information about their work on masculinity and men.