"Manhood in the Making" by David D.              Gilmore

Manhood in the Making Cultural Concepts of Masculinity David D. Gilmore

Publication date:
24 Jul 1991
Yale University Press
272 pages: 210 x 140mm

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What does it mean to "be a man" in different cultures around the world? Anthropologist David D. Gilmore explores this question in "a provocative, rewarding cross-cultural survey." (Publishers Weekly)

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.

"The news in this anthropological study is not that so many societies in which the men formerly hunted, fished, performed manual labor and warred have developed rigid codes of masculinity, in which aggression toward other males and possessiveness toward women are rewarded. Rather, it is that there are societies—on Tahiti and in Malaysia, for two—in which men are encouraged to be passive, to allow women easy 'eroticism,’ to eschew sporting competitions because they produce bad feelings. All of which, the author observes, causes consternation among Freudians (not to mention apostles of machismo), who have an investment in believing that fear of castration has engendered universal male anxiety over masculinity as something to be earned and steadfastly maintained."—Washington Post Book World

"A scholarly overview suggesting that ’manhood’ in the form of toughness, aggression and stoicism is nearly universal."—Phil McCombs, Washington Post

"Colourful and fascinating stuff, painstakingly researched and feelingly described. . . . An absorbing, well-argued, and finely written study."—Nicola Shulman, Sunday Times

"Gilmore's subtle and illuminating inversion of ordinary understandings—his insight that male sterness, toughness, acquisitiveness, and aggressiveness serve, in circumstances of threat and scarcity, the same social ends as female tenderness and gentleness—has been suggested elsewhere, but never stated so completely nor in so unmistakably masculine a voice. . . . A signal service."—Beryl Lieff Benderly, New York Times Book Review

"This is a superb and necessary text for clinicians and theorists interested in the psychological world of the male. . . . By reviewing the manner in which maleness is manifested around the world, [Gilmore] concludes that the vast majority of cultures perpetuate a male role with three main functions—to impregnate, provide, and protect. . . . With the rapid growth of a new male psychology, this book is essential reading for all psychiatrists and psychotherapists who work with men of any age."—Richard Martinez, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

"Very fascinating and significant, because it gives us a holistic image of what in means to be a man."—Maeda Toshiko, Asian Folklore Studies

"Provocative and absorbing, this book is essential to both academic and general libraries."—Library Journal

"A provocative, rewarding cross-cultural survey."—Publishers Weekly

"The great virtue of this textbook is to demonstrate clearly that there is nothing natural or inevitable about gender polarity."—Robert Brain, Times Literary Supplement

"While many of the recent discussions of men and masculinity have arisen out of the more-or-less direct challenges laid down by feminism, Gilmore’s book would seem to arise much more out of his anthropological fieldwork experiences in Andalusia. It is here that he begins his wide-ranging comparative study of the problems of being a proper man in a variety of different societies. . . . This lively and well-written book will prove to be an excellent source-book and overall survey which may help to overcome some of the ethnocentrism that limits many recent discussions of men and masculinities."—David H. J. Morgan, Journal of Gender Studies

"A well-written, accessible, provocative study that raises a wide range of challenging issues and covers a rich variety of ethnographic cases."—Michael Herzfeld, Indiana University