Thursday, July 7, 2011

R.W. Connell – "Masculinities": The History of Masculinity: Modern changes

Over the past 200 years hegemonic masculinity has giving way to new varying forms of masculinity, this is due, according to R.W. Connell to challenges on the patriarchal order posed by women, the logic of the gendered accumulation process of industrialized capitalism and changes in imperial power relations.

The rise of modern professional armies tied violence with rationality and bureaucratic organization. Fascism was for Connell the bare imposing of masculine domination in societies that were moving towards women's liberation, and its defeat at WW2 closed the lid on this type of hegemonic masculinity.

Technological and economical development brought technical skill and knowledge to the forefront and created a new tension between control based masculinity and skill based masculinity. With metropolitan masculinities going through a process of rationalization, violence was slowly pushed aside to the colonies. Men at the front were very different from men in the city.

The late 19th century saw a sexual cleansing of masculinity, with homosexuality defined, medically and legally, as a social type.

Industrialism separated the domestic space from the workplace and accompanied with the dominant role of wage changed the institution of family, with a new type of masculinity arranged around earning abilities. A massive continental relocation of workforce had for Connell an important implication on the formation of modern masculinities. With black masculinity viewed by white masculinity as a social and sexual threat, a harsh gendered and racial regime was enforced in these places. Relocated white working-class workforce, encountering massive hardships, formed a new development in the history of masculinity which was now again based on solidarity and not individualism and competition.

Colonial power, according to Connell, played an important role in the history of masculinity in colonial states, creating types of local masculinities in India, South America and Africa.

R.W. Connell concludes her survey of the history of masculinity in modern time with the assertion that that the history of masculinity is not linear but rather a complex process of interacting masculinities with dominant hegemonic masculinities, subjected and marginalized masculinities all constantly interacting.

see also:

suggested reading:
Staging Masculinities: History, Gender, Performance