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Manhood in the Making: Cultural Concepts of Masculinity Revised ed. Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300050769
ISBN-10: 0300050763
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spanish Andalusians require that ``real men'' produce offspring, and New Guineans value warriors; however, in India and China, cooperation softens sexist gender roles. ``In a provocative, rewarding cross-cultural survey, Gilmore concludes that men are not so innately different from women: it takes culturally enforced norms of manhood to prod males into assertiveness,'' said PW.

Copyright 1991 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

In the first cross-cultural study of manhood as an achieved status, anthropologist David D. Gilmore finds that a culturally sanctioned stress on manliness--on toughness and aggressiveness, stoicism and sexuality--is almost universal, deeply ingrained in the consciousness of hunters and fishermen, workers and warriors, poets and peasants who have little else in common.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Revised ed. edition (July 24, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300050763
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300050769
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on October 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
Here, an anthropologist looks at the way masculinity is defined and created in various ways and various cultures around the globe. What we find is that just about every trait now vilified in America is highly valued around the world, in both "primitive" and "advanced" societies. This book seems to be about what our country has forgotten (or is in serious denial about), at its own peril -- that men are constructive, generous, sacrificing, loving, supportive of their families, hard working, etc... Why they are that way is what the book explains.
Unlike women, who automatically get to go from being girls to being women when they first menstruate, men face a much less definite transition in going from boys to men -- a state which has to be earned and is constantly tested. Femininity is a biological fact; masculinity is largely a cultural construct. This is why we have the term "real man", while it would be ludicrous to say someone was not a "real" woman or implore her to be one. Being a man is provisional, not permanent. It's something which is always in question.
This book is a definite tonic for anyone who thinks men's lives are some walk down a flower-strewn path. Also a good complement or counter-balance to all the deterministic evolutionary socio-biology out recently. The bibliography goes on for pages (thus satisfying the other experts in the field), yet the book is for the most part quite readable to the motivated layperson. Sure to provide one with new perspectives on familiar aspects of everyday life even if it's not an analysis of modern industrial life.
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Format: Paperback
This book explores the ways in which manhood is defined. It does so by investigating a series of fascinating case studies. To take but two of these, we see that the Truk of Micronesia have a pattern of adolescent drinking and brawling that can be seen as both a holdover of a more bellicose past and a stage through which to pass into marital and parental life; furthermore, we find that Tahitian manhood is subdued, probably reflecting the relative ease and cooperative nature of their subsistence basis (fishing and agriculture) as well as an absence of intergroup aggression. The ways by which males achieve status across cultural contexts vary with respect to the social and ecological conditions faced by a given society. Where warfare prevails, for example, a society's warriors earn high status, and are typically favored by women as mates. Common to many societies, men must "impregnate women, protect dependents from danger, and provision kith and kin (p. 223)." Such provocative conclusions, attention to ethnographic detail and clear writing make this a book difficult to put down. The main drawback rests with some of the interpretation of the cultural and universal patterns of manhood. The Freudian interpretations commonly make little sense and the group selection arguments need re-couching in terms of individual selection; otherwise, most interpretations seem sensible. Overall, this book does a great job of addressing manhood in the making.
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Format: Paperback
Most of the book consists of Gilmore's summary of anthropological studies of "primitive" cultures, and these accounts are reasonably interesting in themselves, and good background for readers interested in subjects like evolutionary psychology. I respect the author as being objective. I also accept his conclusion, that most of the traditional values associated with manhood had their genesis in the needs of society, e.g. for protection. I presume he writes about the Mediterranean ideals of machismo (in one of the less interesting chapters) rather than Middle Eastern ideals because he was more comfortable with them, but it does not take a feminist to believe some of the concepts of manhood were used to oppress women. Gilmore does not sufficiently distinguish between the origin of values, and their functionality within changed environments, or between the core values and their subsequent distortion. Most provocative were the two studies of cultures in which all the "normal" concepts of manhood are lacking: does this really show there is no genetic basis for gender differences, or that neither genetics or environment by itself determines behavior?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For a while now, as a young man growing up, I pondered "what does it mean to be a man?". As far as I've read, this is a great book. It explains how cultures across the world who have never heard of one another have very similar rites of passages for young boys to be considered men.

If you are a man who wants to understand how we as men naturally expect strength, bravery, and honor from one another, read this book.
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