Manhood Acts: Gender and the Practices of Domination, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Manhood Acts

Gender and the Practices of Domination, 1st Edition

By Michael Schwalbe


224 pages

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In Manhood Acts Michael Schwalbe offers a new perspective on the social construction of manhood and its relationship to male domination. Schwalbe argues that study of masculinity has lost touch with its feminist roots and has been seduced by the politically safe notion of 'multiple masculinities'. Manhood Acts delineates the practices males use to construct 'women' and 'men' as unequal categories. Schwalbe reclaims the radical feminist insights that gender is a field of domination, not a field of play, and that manhood is fundamentally about exerting or resisting control. Manhood Acts arrives at the conclusion that abolishing gender as a system of oppression will require more than transgressive self-presentation. It will be necessary to end the exploitive economic relationships that necessitate manhood itself.


"Schwalbe (North Carolina State Univ.) sets out to illustrate the mutually constitutive nature of masculinity and a range of social and economic forms of domination[.] He introduces a new concept—"manhood acts"—to fill theoretical gaps in men's studies literature and, simultaneously, facilitate an analysis of the relationship between masculinity and various social phenomena…This book pushes for a deeper understanding of what gender is so that people may collectively begin to imagine a world without it…Summing up: Recommended. Most levels/libraries.


“Manhood Acts is a must-read for students and scholars in men’s studies. Michael

Schwalbe presents a valuable sociological analysis of masculinity and manhood. He uses

critical gender theory to deconstruct masculinity and its destructive outcomes, from

Auschwitz to ‘drone morality.’ Taking issue with the current focus in men’s studies on

‘multiple masculinities,’ Schwalbe argues that masculinity, as part of the hierarchical

gender order, is based on domination of women and less-valued men. He ends with a

radical feminist call for a gender-free society.”

—Judith Lorber, Professor Emerita, Graduate Center and Brooklyn College,

CUNY, author of Breaking the Bowls: Degendering and Feminist Change

“In Manhood Acts, Michael Schwalbe develops a brave and compelling theory of manhood

in all its manifestations, from relations between women and men to the dynamics

of global capitalism. He offers an indispensable guide both to understanding patriarchy

in its present form and to envisioning meaningful change.”

—Allan Johnson, author of The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy

“Michael Schwalbe has made the feminist case against male dominance with such

clarity that any man reading, honestly, will flinch with self-recognition. But however

uncomfortable this important book may make us, we owe him thanks for such a

compelling analysis. With scholarly precision and political courage—conveyed in plain

language—Schwalbe makes it clear that our collective future depends on transcending

the pathological values of patriarchy. Linking masculinity to other forms of domination,

he demonstrates why attention to gender is not a matter of ‘identity politics’ but of


—Robert Jensen, Professor of Journalism, University of Texas–Austin,

author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General