Manhood in the Making


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Cultural Concepts of Masculinity

David D. Gilmore

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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.

"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

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

"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

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

"In this cross-cultural investigation of manhood as an achieved, rather than innate, status, it is found that a culturally sanctioned stress on manliness, that is, on toughness and aggressiveness, stoicism and sexuality, is almost universal, profoundly ingrained in the consciousness of hunters and fisherman, workers and warriors, poets and peasants who otherwise have little else in common. Why this is the case is explored in terms of insights gained from anthropology, neo-Freudian ego psychology, and feminist research."—Sage Family Studies Abstracts

"Gilmore’s work, the first cross-cultural study on the process of becoming a man, surveys cultures from the South Pacific, aboriginal South America, New Guinea, and Africa, as well as from Spain, India, and Japan. . . . The book is both interesting and well written and, in view of the current widespread interest in sex and gender, it will be widely read both in and out of academic circles."—Choice

"A deeper search—Gilmore set out to examine the lives of workers and warriors, hunters and fishermen, poets and peasants from many cultures, to find what might be common to men everywhere."—Utne Reader

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

"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

"This volume raises questions about the cross-cultural qualities of the male sex and gender, whether there is a 'deep structure’ of manhood, or a global archetype of manliness."—Sage Family Abstracts & Studies

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

"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
ISBN: 9780300050769
Publication Date: July 24, 1991
272 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
Carnival and Culture

Sex, Symbol, and Status in Spain

David D. Gilmore

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