Masculinities and the Law

A Multidimensional Approach

315 pages

2 tables, 2 figures

August, 2012

ISBN: 9780814769690



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Frank Rudy Cooper is Professor of Law at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts. 

All books by Frank Rudy Cooper

Ann C. McGinley is William S. Boyd Professor of Law at the William S. Boyd School of Law of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

All books by Ann C. McGinley

Michael S. Kimmel is Professor of Sociology at SUNY, Stony Brook and author of Manhood in America.

All books by Michael Kimmel

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.


  • "This progressive collection is a must read for  both beginners and experts. The cutting edge contributors are to be congratulated for taking a multidimensional approach to masculinity theory and the law on the national and global levels. Going beyond male bashing, the volume provides the nuanced analysis necessary for a twenty-first century  understanding of  the complexities of gender."

    —Adrien Katherine Wing, Bessie Dutton Murray Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law

  • “McGinley and Cooper’s smartly organized anthology shows how masculinities theory is key to the development of a new legal feminism. The book critically examines what lies beneath a range of masculine veneers, from elite corporate types, to hypermasculine working-class men to the 'cool pose' of inner city teenagers. By giving equal time to race, sexuality, class and gender the book practices what it preaches: a commitment to a multidimensional concept of identity that constantly changes perspective to confront pressing social issues in full context. With attention to law, policy, and civil rights advocacy, the book takes on domestic debates about racial profiling, single-sex schools, rape in prison, grooming codes, and women in sports before moving to dissect gender controversies around the globe. Critical scholars will especially appreciate the book’s sophisticated take on performance theory, intersectionality and privilege.”

    —Martha Chamallas, Robert J. Lynn Chair in Law, The Ohio State University

  • "Exciting, sophisticated, and provocative, the essays in this book illustrate the full range and power of masculinities theory as it comes of age in legal scholarship. While resisting the urge to claim a 'theory of everything,' the contributors make clear that familiarity with masculinities studies is a must for all those doing work in the intersections of gender, class, race, citizenship, sexuality, and law. This book successfully transcends disciplinary boundaries, resists the demonization of feminism, and points the way toward a truly counter-disciplinary and liberatory conversation about the fetters conventional masculinity places on us all."

    —Angela P. Harris, UC Davis School of Law

  • "A stirring array of essays on the causes and consequences of 'hegemonic masculinity' as a pervasive socio-legal system. While centering the role of law in this hegemony, the authors deploy multidimensional theory and analysis to show its power in varied contexts or local economies. This compelling collection takes masculinities studies to the next level."

    —Francisco Valdes, University of Miami

  • "This should be a useful book for social scientists as well as legal scholars...The study of masculinities and the law is currently attracting considerable interest."

    —Judith Kegan Gardiner, Sex Roles

  • "In this compelling collection of essays, leading scholars bring new insights to longstanding questions about the role and meaning of masculinity. From a variety of theoretical perspectives, these authors explore the ways that gender influences conceptions of manhood, and how they differ by race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Masculinities and the Law offers a breadth and depth of analysis that reshapes our understanding of gender roles and relationships."

    —Deborah L. Rhode, Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law, Stanford Law School