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By Stephen Tomsen, Mike Donaldson
now a familiar observation that notions of Australian identity have
been almost entirely constructed around images of men--the convict
shaking his shackled fist; the heroic explorer facing inland; the
bushman plodding down a dusty track; the digger scrambling up the
slopes of Gallipoli; Bradman and McCabe facing the bodyline attack;
Midget Farrelly swooping down the wave-face; front bars, shearing
sheds, the Glenrowan Hotel. There are not many women in this world;.
But there are very definite ideas about masculinity." (R. W. Connell,
Male Trouble: Looking at Australian Masculinities
is an antidote to all the drum-beating of traditional Australian
maleness, offering the best current sociological research on
masculinities through a diverse range of essays. It works from the
premise that the trouble with the so-called men's movement and the
self-help groups that seek to reconcile men to their 'natural
masculinity' is that they ignore masculine power and how it is grounded
in social institutions, collective practices and shared histories. Men
have behaved differently in different times and places, and it's wrong
to believe in an essential male sex role or identity.
subjects as various as male car culture, 'protest masculinity' among
Lebanese youth, violence against women and other men, homophobia, and
male identity in military culture and in sport, Male Trouble deploys
tools from feminist, queer and critical Left perspectives to analyse
gender and sexuality and reflect on the importance of political reality
in shaping maleness. It combines lucid ethnographic accounts of
masculinities with discussion of the cultural and political complexity
of gender relations in contemporary Australia.
Stephen Tomsen is
a senior lecturer in social sciences at the University of Newcastle. He
has conducted studies on masculinity, crime and violence, and recently
authored Hatred, Murder and Male Honour: Anti-homosexual Killings in
New South Wales, 1980-2000 (Australian Institute of Criminology, 2002).
Donaldson was formerly head of sociology at Wollongong University and
is currently New South Wales State Secretary of the National Tertiary
Education Union. He has conducted research on gender and social class
and (with Scott Poynting) is completing a book on masculinity and men
from ruling-class backgrounds.