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Masculinities and the Law

A Multidimensional Approach

Frank Rudy Cooper

Publication Year: 2012

According to masculinities theory, masculinity is not a biological imperative but a social construction. Men engage in a constant struggle with other men to prove their masculinity. Masculinities and the Law develops a multidimensional approach. It sees categories of identity—including various forms of raced, classed, and sex-oriented masculinities—as operating simultaneously and creating different effects in different contexts.


By applying multidimensional masculinities theory to law, this cutting-edge collection both expands the field of masculinities and develops new thinking about important issues in feminist and critical race theories. The topics covered include how norms of masculinity influence the behavior of policemen, firefighters, and international soldiers on television and in the real world; employment discrimination against masculine cocktail waitresses and all transgendered employees; the legal treatment of fathers in the U.S. and the ways unauthorized migrant fathers use the dangers of border crossing to boost their masculine esteem; how Title IX fails to curtail the masculinity of sport; the racist assumptions behind the prison rape debate; the surprising roots of homophobia in Jamaican dancehall music; and the contradictions of the legal debate over women veiling in Turkey. Ultimately, the book argues that multidimensional masculinities theory can change how law is interpreted and applied.

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

First of all, we wish to acknowledge our extreme gratitude for the work of Rick Buckingham. The Suffolk University Law School Moakley Law Library Electronic Services/Legal Reference Librarian, Rick served as the Citation and Formatting Czar for this whole book. His fingerprints are on every chapter. ...

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pp. xiii-xvii

Not so long ago, a volume on “Masculinities and Law” would have been a non sequiter. It wasn’t really until the 1960s that feminists began to question the exclusion of actual, real, corporeal women from the legal profession, and it took another decade until feminist legal theorists revealed that the relationship of gender and law ...

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Introduction: Masculinities, Multidimensionality, and Law: Why They Need One Another

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pp. 1-22

This book engages the emergence of a new school of legal thought: multidimensional masculinities theory. As a critical theory of law, multidimensional masculinities theory assumes that law distributes power by relying upon assumptions about human behavior that reproduce preexisting social relations. ...

Part I. Theorizing Multidimensional Masculinities

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1. Feminist Legal Theory Meets Masculinities Theory

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pp. 25-50

Men and boys are gendered beings who operate in a gendered context and collectively experience both privilege and harm as a result of the social construction of what it means to be a boy or a man. Their collective privilege puts men as a group above women as a group, and infuses structures, culture, and policy with masculinities ...

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2. Masculinity by Law

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pp. 51-77

This chapter argues that formal equality frameworks can produce and entrench normative masculinities at the level of both formal legal doctrine and civil rights advocacy. In advancing this claim, I do not mean to suggest that formal equality is per se problematic. Nor is it my claim that, in the context of gender relationships, ...

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3. The Multidimensional Turn: Revisiting Progressive Black Masculinities

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pp. 78-95

This chapter revisits the theory of progressive masculinities as described in the collection entitled Progressive Black Masculinities published by Routledge in 2006 and in particular the article “Theorizing Progressive Black Masculinities.” It does so through the lens of multidimensional theory, ...

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4. The King Stay the King: Multidimensional Masculinities and Capitalism in The Wire

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pp. 96-116

The third episode of Home Box Office’s (HBO’s) critically acclaimed show The Wire provides the viewer with a metaphor for the cable police drama’s view of life on Baltimore streets during the war on drugs. In a key scene, mid-level drug dealer D’Angelo Barksdale sees his young assistants, “Wallace” and Preston Broadus (“Bodie”), ...

Part II. Telling Stories about (Heroic) Masculinities

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5. Rescue Me

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pp. 119-135

In Letter to Ma, Merle Woo writes that when she was a child, she watched as two white cops humiliated her father and how that encounter led her to be embarrassed of her father, whom she began to see as womanly (1984). Reflecting on this experience years later made her realize that Asian American Men, ...

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6. Manliness’s Paradox

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pp. 136-145

You may be born male, but that doesn’t make you manly. Maleness is the random result of biology, but manliness is the work product of vigorous self-fashioning: nature makes you male; to become manly, you must strive. Such is at any rate a familiar story, and one that I will complicate in this Chapter (Gilmore 1990; Goldstein 2006). ...

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7. Border-Crossing Stories and Masculinities

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pp. 146-164

Immigration law, increasingly restrictive and punitive in its application to border crossers, is believed to have a deep effect on behavioral responses of migrants and on migration patterns into the United States. Policymakers expect that if immigration policy becomes more restrictive, migrants will stop coming (Hanson 2007; Espenshade 1994). ...

Part III. Questioning Segregation in Masculine Spaces

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8. Sex Segregation, Masculinities, and Gender-Variant Individuals

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pp. 167-186

Dee Farmer was born a man but “underwent estrogen therapy, received silicone breast implants, and submitted to unsuccessful ‘black market’ testicleremoval surgery” in an effort to become a woman (Farmer v. Brennan 1994, 829). When she was convicted of credit card fraud, the Federal Bureau of Prisons assigned her to the general male population, ...

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9. E-race-ing Gender: The Racial Construction of Prison Rape

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pp. 187-206

In men’s jails and prisons as elsewhere, sexual abuse is a form of gender violence. Institutional problems such as overcrowding, inadequate supervision, inappropriate security classification, and lackadaisical investigation contribute to sexual abuse, but prison rape1 is greatly exacerbated by institutional practices that enforce the most harmful forms of masculinity. ...

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10. Sport and Masculinity: The Promise and Limits of Title IX

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pp. 207-228

Throughout history, sport has been a site where masculinity is learned, performed, and reproduced.1 In the United States, sports were introduced into schools in response to fears that boys were being feminized by the shift from an agrarian to industrial labor force, leaving boys in the day-to-day care of their mothers. ...

Part IV. Constructing Masculinities in the Global Context

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11. Masculinities and Child Soldiers in Post-Conflict Societies

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pp. 231-251

A fairly substantial amount of literature has been generated over the years regarding the forms of masculinity that emerge in times of armed conflict and war (Goldstein 2001; Yuval-Davis 1997). This war-focused literature (which links to, among other things, masculinities studies) has drawn from broader theoretical research ...

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12. Sexuality without Borders: Exploring the Paradoxical Connection between Dancehall and Colonial Law in Jamaica

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pp. 252-269

At times it is difficult to conceive of art as doing work. One tends to contemplate art as beneficent, existing to entice, enthrall, entertain, and otherwise bring pleasure to our senses. This is true, but as cultural critic Edward Said explained, art is also potent. It has the power to construct and disseminate identitarian norms (Lawrence 1987). ...

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13. Masculinities, Feminism, and the Turkish Headscarf Ban: Revisiting Şahin v. Turkey

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pp. 270-290

Throughout history, the Islamic veil or headscarf has been a highly contested and politicized symbol, both in Muslim societies and the global political arena. Western colonialists seized upon the Islamic headscarf to symbolize the subordination of women under Islam, justifying colonial occupation as necessary to liberate women ...

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About the Contributors

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pp. 291-294

Deborah L. Brake is Distinguished Faculty Scholar and Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She is the author of Getting in the Game: Title IX and the Women’s Sports Revolution (NYU Press, 2010). ...


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pp. 295-298

E-ISBN-13: 9780814764046
E-ISBN-10: 0814764037
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814764039
Print-ISBN-10: 0814764037

Page Count: 315
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Masculinity.
  • Feminist theory.
  • Race.
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