'Menaissance' a reaction to fear of lost masculinity, education researcher says

Concerns expressed by some commentators that feminism and queer politics is emasculating men and creating a new generation of sissies is resulting in a “Menaissance,” according to a Faculty of Education professor.

The phenomenon is characterized by males trying to recapture their lost masculinity, however the fear that men are becoming increasingly effeminate is nothing new, says Chris Greig.

“The same sorts of arguments came up around the turn of the twentieth century and following the Second World War,” says Dr. Greig, who will appear on CJAM today to discuss the recurring trend. “But the solutions that are offered up to this perceived crisis in masculinity are often very simplistic and misguided approaches.”

Along with colleague and Western University professor Wayne Martino, Greig has edited a new collection of essays called Canadian Men and Masculinities: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Greig wrote one of the book’s essays and co-authored another.

One chapter analyzes the responses to this perceived crisis in masculinity found in everything from popular literature to mass marketing campaigns, while the other examines how the education system responds boys’ underachievement in school.

Efforts that involve men getting in touch with their inner masculine essence are misguided, the authors argue, because there has never been a “monolithic, universal, ahistorical masculinity.” In fact, they say, masculinity has always been “unstable, shifting, contested, fluid, and in a constant process of being made and unmade.”

“The book came out of a concern around the way popular commentators, educators and popular psychologists have been discussing issues of gender, in particular when it comes to men and boys,” explains Greig.  “In the popular press, in popular magazines and mainstream texts there’s often a concern expressed that men’s identity has been undermined and that it needs to be shored up. This is a response and a critical interrogation of those ideas.”

Greig will appear today on Research Matters, a weekly talk show that showcases the work of University of Windsor faculty and student researchers and airs every Thursday at 4:30 p.m. on CJAM 99.1 FM.


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