The Politics of Manhood

Profeminist Men Respond to the Mythopoetic Men's Movement
(And the Mythopoetic Leaders Answer)

Edited by Michael S. Kimmel
Book Cover

PB: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-366-9
Publication: Nov 95

HC: $86.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-365-2
Publication: Nov 95

Ebook: $30.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-0146-5

400 pages
6 x 9

A much-needed, often startling debate on the personal and political dimensions of masculinity


These essays by profeminist men critique the surface ideals and underlying messages promoted by the men's movement. Is it a backlash against feminism or does it respond to men's real needs independent of feminism? What does the movement say about the appropriate models of masculinity?

While the movement may be more than a bunch of white middle-aged men in war-paint, chanting and grunting in the forest, the profeminist men writing here express their explicit concern with both the surface ideals and the underlying messages promoted by the movement. Essays by several of the leaders of the mythopoetic men's movement, including Robert Bly, respond to the profeminist criticisms, opening a provocative dialogue among men about the politics of the contemporary men's movement, the "crisis" of masculinity, and where to go from here.


"...a watershed in the national conversation on masculinity that has emerged over the past few years....(T)his book represents not only an extremely interesting text and an historically important document, but also an intervention that will likely change the nature of discourse about men's lives." Ronald F. Levant, co-author of Masculinity Reconstructed

"Kimmel leads the field! First a documentary history of profeminist men, now a collection of their responses to the mythopoetic men's movement. Kimmel senses what American culture wants to know about gender and delivers it. Valuable reading for activist, scholar, and student—for every man and woman in America." Jean O'Barr, Director of Women's Studies, Duke University

"Can men learn to use male privilege with integrity, on behalf of gender justice? Perhaps—if they are willing to challenge each other with respect, to educate each other with compassion, and to call each other into accountability with love. The often-startling debate documented in The Politics of Manhood offers a powerful model for such crucial discourse among men. In collecting these passionate voices, Michael Kimmel thwarts media attempts to caricature the mythopoets, disappear the pro-feminists, and dismiss progressive efforts to scrutinize masculinity altogether. This book provides a much-needed dimensionality to a movement-in-progress, and insight into the complexity of men's work—both personal and political—for gender justice." Kay Leigh Hagan, author of Fugitive Information: Essays from a Feminist Hothead and editor of Women Respond to the Men's Movement: A Feminist Collection

Table of Contents

Publication Information
Introduction – Michael S. Kimmel

Part I: Conceptual Critiques
1. Weekend Warriors: Robert Bly and the Politics of Masculine Retreat – Michael S. Kimmel and Michael Kaufman
2. Mythopoetic Foundations and New Age Patriarchy – Ken Clatterbaugh
3. Gazing into Men's Middles: Sam Keen's Fire in the Belly – Don Sabo

Part II: The Personal is Political: The Mythopoetic Men's Movement as a Social Movement
4. Men at Bay: The Men's Movement and Its Newest Bestsellers – R.W. Connell
5. The Politics of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement – Harry Brod
6. "Changing Men" and Feminist Politics in the United States – Michael A. Messner

Part III: The Personal is Intellectual
7. Born to Run: Nineteenth Century Fantasies of Masculine Retreat and Recreation (or The Historical Rust on Iron John) – Michael S. Kimmel
8. Deep Masculinity as Social Control: Foucault, Bly and Masculinity – Tim Beneke
9. A Woman for Every Wild Man: Robert Bly and His Reaffirmation of Masculinity – David Gutterman
10. Renewal as Retreat: The Battle for Men's Souls – Timothy Nonn
11. Mythopoetic Men's Work as a Search for Communitas – Michael Schwalbe

Part IV: The Personal is Personal: The Politics of the Masculinist Therapeutic
12. Homophobia in Robert Bly's Iron John – Gordon Murray
13. The Shadow of Iron John – Paul Wolf-Light
14. Soft Males and Mama's Boys: A Critique of Bly – Terry A Kupers
15. Psyche, Society, and the Men's Movement – Chris Bullock
16. Cultural Daddy-ism and Male Hysteria, – David M. Weed
17. Iron Clint: Queer Weddings in Robert Bly's Iron John and Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven – Mark Simpson

Part V: The Struggle for Men's Souls: Mythopoetic Men Respond to the Pro Feminist Critique
18. Thoughts on Reading This Book – Robert Bly
19. The Post-Feminist Men's Movement – Aaron Kipnis
20. Healing, Community and Justice in the Men's Movement: Towards a Socially Responsible Model of Masculinity – Onaje Benjamin
21. Mythopoetic Men's Movements – Shepherd Bliss
22. We've Come a Long Way Too, Baby. And We've Still Got a Ways to Go. So Give Us a Break! – Marvin Allen
23. 25 Years in the Men's Movement – Jed Diamond

Part VI: Conclusion: Can We All Get Along?
24. Why Mythopoetic Men Don't Flock to NOMAS – Michael Schwalbe
25. In Defense of the Men's Movements – Don Shewey
26. Betwixt and Between in the Men's Movement – Mike Dash

Afterword: Tame Questions of Wild Men – Michael S. Kimmel

About the Author(s)

Spokesperson for the National Organization for Men Against Sexism, Michael S. Kimmel is Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, and editor of masculinities, a scholarly journal. His books include Men's Lives, Men Confront Pornography, and Manhood in America: A History.