Engaging Abrahamic Masculinity: Race, Religion, and the Measure of Manhood

By Neal, Ronald | Cross Currents, December 2011 | Go to article overview

Engaging Abrahamic Masculinity: Race, Religion, and the Measure of Manhood


Neal, Ronald, Cross Currents


Concerned with the humanization and transformation of masculinity, I want to share some preliminary thoughts that are part of a long-term project. I want to engage the racial, religious, and economic dimensions of masculinity in North America, an endeavor I call Masculine Work. As an intellectual and ethical enterprise, Masculine Work probes the fields of gender and cultural studies, philosophy, history, and religion. It offers new vistas for the analysis, critique, and transformation of gender in general and masculinity in particular. Masculine. Work is a kindred spirit of more than four decades of gender scholarship initiated by second-wave feminism, including race- and class-based gender scholarship as it is taken up by womanists in the field of religion. Masculine Work aims at addressing the most dominant and pervasive expressions of masculinity today as they are upheld and perpetuated by the monotheistic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Also known as Abrahamic religions, these traditions sustain an institutionalized expression of masculinity, which I call "Abrahamic masculinity." In the pages that follow, I want to sketch the contours of an Abrahamic masculinity as it affects African Americans. I return to the analytical and moral imperatives of Masculine Work at the end of this article.

Masculine Dominance

For more than four decades, feminists and womanists have engaged in a categorical critique of masculinity in America. In their writings, male domination and supremacy have been treated as characteristic conduct of all men, inseparably connected to sexism, misogyny, and homophobia. The feminist and womanist critique of patriarchy challenged such an American masculinity. However necessary, their critique seemed to select specific populations of men, and it is specifically African Americans who have come to be seen as the most sexist, misogynist, and homophobic men in the United States. (1) This can be attributed to the longstanding, historically negative perceptions of black men and to their high visibility in the American media as a crisis population. In the past as well as our mass-mediated present, black masculinity has been interpreted in criminal terms. (2) Consequently, African American men play a prominent place in discussions about male dominance and supremacy in America. Because African American men are perceived as exercising these traits with greater intensity than other men, there is a need to revisit the categorical critique of masculinity initiated by feminists and womanists. To this end, a historical, global, and culturally specific analysis is indispensable for any critique of masculinity in racial and ethnic contexts.

The Religious, Historical, and Global Heritage of Abrahamic Masculinity

We should note, of course, that the forms of masculinity that black men are chided for cut across race, class, and ethnicity. Asian and Latino males, Irish and Middle Eastern males, Indian and Italian males, or, for that matter, from any other ethnic groups share and display, in some way or another, sexist, misogynistic, violent, and homophobic tendencies and behavior. Because feminism has made limited forays into most of these cultures, our knowledge of the depth of sexism, misogyny, and homophobia is limited. The same can be said about the various ethnic groups in this country, which, with their particular immigrant roots, have been shaped by religious and cultural traditions that extol the dominance of men over women. This is especially true for those groups that originate from a shared religious and cultural source of masculine ideals, such as Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam. Though diverse in many ways, they also share a dominant form of masculinity, which I suggest to call Abrahamic masculinity. (3)

The ancient Near Eastern legend of Abraham constitutes a pillar and ideal form of masculinity that dominates the world and American society, including the black community. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Engaging Abrahamic Masculinity: Race, Religion, and the Measure of Manhood
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.