Article Title

Feminist Reclamations of Normative Masculinity: On Democratic Manhood, Feminist Masculinity, and Allyship Practices


‘Feminist masculinity’ might seem like a contradiction in terms. One might have assumed that we can embrace feminism or embrace masculinity, but not both. If traditional masculinity is contrary to feminist values, a pressing query for feminist men is whether repudiation of traditional masculinity should move one to reject normative masculinity entirely, or to reframe and reclaim it instead. bell hooks and Michael Kimmel each counsel against discarding manhood and masculinity. hooks envisions feminist masculinity as an alternative to patriarchal dominance, with masculinity to be reconstituted in terms of love, integrity, and mutuality; Kimmel advocates moving from immature and traditional masculinities toward justice and democratic manhood, with a new model of masculinity that identifies real men with adulthood and doing the right thing. Neither proposal provides a viable stance for feminist men without collapsing into androgyny or risking erasure of some men’s and women’s identities and experiences. Building on Alcoff’s work on anti-racist whiteness, I suggest that feminist allyship practices ground a normative model of masculinity compatible with, and informed by, feminist values. We may understand allyship masculinities as open-ended feminist approaches to manhood: masculinities predicated on recognizing and responding to, rather than ignoring or accepting, the privileges and expectations distinctive of men under patriarchy.

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