Feminism and Masculinities

Feminism and Masculinities

Feminism and Masculinities

Feminism and Masculinities

Synopsis

This Reader provides an international mixture of the best classic foundational pieces and recent key works that investigate masculinity from a feminist perspective. The chapters examine a wide range of topics including gay liberation, the men's movement, black and working-class masculinities, homophobia and the Internet.

Excerpt

Male authors of pro-woman and pro-feminist works span at least twenty-five hundred years and represent a vitally rich tradition. While much has been written about the overwhelming number of misogynist male authors, and complaints have been lodged against histories of feminism dominated by a few male writers, an intellectual history of male authors who have supported women's rights and causes is long overdue.

This Introduction cannot, of course, provide such a wide-ranging history. Rather, my task here is to locate the essays in this collection within the broader context of that prolific heritage, even if this Introduction must, perforce, provide only an abridged overview of this critical tradition.

Men supporting women's rights begins at least as early as late fifth- and early fourth-century Greece when Aristophanes pens his play Lysistrata (411 BCE), and Plato writes the Republic (380 BCE). in both of these works, women assume roles of equality with men, and see themselves included in important political decisions and strategies. Lysistrata introduces the notion of women holding political power, and suggests that they would wield it more wisely and more judiciously than men have ever done, and in Book V of Plato's Republic, guardian women acquire the same education as men and are given equal opportunities to participate in the activities of the state. By introducing the idea that even some women could be educated, Plato initiates the subsequent and sustained debates over women being allowed an education, an issue that dominated feminist debate in the seventeenth century.

In the first century ce, Plutarch (46–120 CE) compiles his Mulierum virtutes (trans. The Virtues [or Bravery] of Women), which provides one of the earliest catalogues of women's achievments, a genre . . .

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