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Feminism for Men

Feminism for Men

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Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1297365
FEMINISM
FOR
MEN:
LEGAL
IDEOLOGY
AND
THE
CONSTRUCTION
OF
MALENESS
Nancy
Levits
INTRODUCTION
...............................................
1038
I.
FEMINISTLEGAL THEORYAND
THE TREATMENT
OF
MEN
.............
1041
A.
Liberal
Feminismor
Equal
Treatment
Theory:
Men
as
Objectsof
Analysis
....................................
1042
B.
Cultural
Feminism or
Difference
Theory:Men
as
Other
..........
1044
C.
Dominance
Theoryor Radical
Feminism:
Men
as
Oppressors
...........................................
1047
D.
Postmodem
Feminism:
Men
Omitted
.........................
1049
E.
Feminist
Legal
Theory
in
Perspective
.........................
1051
II.
THE
SOCIO-LEGALCONSTRUCTION
OF
GENDER
ROLES
DISADVANTAGESMENAS WELL ASWOMEN
......................
1054
A.
The
Legal
Architecture
of
Male
Aggression
...................
1055
B.
Suffering
in Silence
.....................................
1062
C.
The
Exclusion
of Men
from
Caring, Nurturing
Roles
.............
1073
Ill.
RECONSTRUCTING
IMAGES
OF
GENDER:
BLENDING
THEORY
AND
PRAXIS
........................................
1079
A.
Overcoming
the
Resistance
of
Feminism
to
Integration
...........
1079
1.
Abandonment
of the
Retributive
Approach
................
1079
2.
The
Distributional
Argument
..........................
1081
3.
Addressing
the
False
Consciousness
Problem
...............
1083
B.
Changing theConstruct
of Masculinity
......................
1085
1.
Encouraging
Recognition
of
Men's
Experiences
.............
1086
2.
Recognizing
Intertwined
Oppressions
.....................
1090
3.
Minimizing
the
Significance
of
the
Biological
Construct
..................................
1092
*
Associate
Professor,Missouri-Kansas
City School of
Law.
I
thank
Mary
Ann
Case,
Bob
Downs,
Tim
Geary,
Bob
Hayman,
Michael
Kimmel, Marty
Levit,
Doug
Linder,Joan Mahoney,Michael
Mello, DorisMendel, Frances
Olsen, and
Ray
Warner
for
their
insights,encouragement,and questions,and
Rebecca Schwartz
for
her
exceptional
research assistance.
Particular
thanksto
Sam
Marcosson, whose
thoughtful
suggestions
immeasurably
bettered
this
piece,and to
Rob
Verchick,
whoseengaging dialoguemade
the
writing
enjoyable.
This
Article
is
dedicated
to
Marty
Levit,
for
histireless
efforts
in promoting
feminist
causes
and
upholding
feministideals.
In
discussing"women," "men,""feminism," "masculinity,"and probably
a
number of
other
con-
cepts,
I
have
engaged
in
essentialismand reductionism;pleaseexcuse
that.
1037
 
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1297365
1038
43
UCLA
LAW
REVIEW
1037
(1996)
4.
Encouraging
the
Crossing
of
Traditional Gender
Lines
by
Creating
Awareness
of Subtle Stereotypes
...............
1098
C.
Drawing
Men to Feminism
................................
1105
IV.
CONCLUSION:
LEGAL
IDEOLOGY
AND
MASCULINITY
..................
1113
INTRODUCTION
[If
the
imagination
is
to
transcend
and transformexperience
it
hastoquestion,to
challenge,
to
conceive
ofalternatives,
perhaps
to
the
verylife
you are
livingat
the moment.
1
It
may
seem
a
little
odd
to
suggest
that
feministtheory
has
overlooked
men.
In
varying
ways,
liberalfeminism, difference
theory,
dominance
theory, and postmodern
feminism
have
analyzed,
objectified,vilified,
anddeconstructed men
as
a
population,
male
as
a
gender
and
constellation
of
role
expectations
and typical
behaviors,and
men
as
historical
crafters
of
doctrine,
theory,
and
language.
Yet,
in
several
important
respects, apart
from
the
crucial role of
culprit,
men
have
been
largely
omitted
from femi-
nism.Feminist
legal
theorists
have paid
mild
attention
towhethermen
couldembrace
feminist
objectives-the
"Can
men
be
feminists?"
question.
This
issue
is
treated
as
a
relatively
unimportant
one,
usually
relegated
to
foot-
notes.
2
Legal
literature
has
given relatively modestand
incidental
atten-tion
to
how
a
wide
variety
of
gender rolestereotypes
harm
men,
and
how
legal
constructs
perpetuate
these
stereotypes.
3
The
negative
effectgender
1.
Adrienne
Rich,
When
We Dead Awaken:
Writing
as
Re-Vision, in
ON
LIES,
SECRETS,AND
SILENCE
43
(1979).
2.
While
some
feminist
legal
theoristshave
specifically
disavowed
the
possibility
of
menembracing feministobjectives,
others have been
cautiously
optimistic
andmorewelcoming.
Compare
Christine
A.
Littleton,
ReconstructingSexual
Equality,
75
CAL.
L.
REV.
1279,
1294
n.91
(1987)
(stating
that
while
"[p]ro-feminist
men
play
an
important
role
in disseminating and
imple-
menting
feminist
ideas,"
they
do
not
share
women's
experiences
and thus
cannot
claim
to
be
feminists)
and
Suzanna Sherry,
Civic
Virtue
and
the
Feminine
Voice
in
Constitutional
Adjudication,
72
VA.
L.
REV.
543,
584
n.172
(1986) ("[Professor
Kenneth]
Karst
is
correctto
disclaim
the
ability
of
a
male to explore
a
feminineparadigm
.... ")
with
Katharine
T.
Bartlett,
Feminist
Legal
Methods,
103
HARV.
L.
REV.
829,
833
n.7
(1990)
(favoring
"a
definition
of'feminist'
that
allows
men,
as
well
as
women, tomake
this choice")
and
Patricia
A.
Cain,
Feminist
Legal
Scholarship,
77 IOWA L.
REV.
19,
39
(1991)
(urgingfeministscholars to
reach
out
to
those
who
are
not
currently
feminists,
and stating
"I
hope
my
male colleagues
will
listen
and
jointhe
conversation")
and
Ruth
Colker,
Feminist
Consciousness
and
the
State:
A
Basis
for Cautious
Optimism,
90
COLUM.
L.
REV.
1146,
1162
(1990) (suggesting
that
"men
are
capable
of
empathizing
with women's
situation
in
society
if
they
are
informed
concretely about
the
conditions of women's
lives").
3.
Notable exceptions
are
BrianBendig,
Images
of
Men
in
Feminist
Legal
Theory,
20
PEPP.
L.
REV.
991
(1993)
(analyzing
the
"andric
imagery"
used by
feminists
Marie
Ashe,
Kenneth
Karst,
Catharine
MacKinnon,
Suzanna Sherry,
Robin West,
and Frances Olsen);
Mary
AnneC.
Case,
Disaggregating
Gender
from
Sex
andOrientation
or
the
Effeminate
Man
in
the
Law
and
Feminist
Juris-
 
Feminism
for
Men
1039
role
stereotypes
have
on
men
is
typically
subsidiary
to the main
focus
of
feminist
legal
literature, which
has
concentrated
on
documenting
the
pat-
terns of
subordination
ofwomen.
4
Inquiry
in
feminist
legal
theory
has
focused
instead
on
questionsof feminist
ideology,
epistemology,
and
poli-tical
philosophy.
Theoristsin
disciplines
other
than
law
have
demonstrated
significantly
more
interestin
constructs
of
masculinity.
5
Perhaps
most
significantly,
though,
men
have
been
omitted
as
participants in
the
recon-structiveproject.
6
The
primarypurpose of
this
Article
is
to
suggest
that
feminist
legal
theory
needs
to
turn
its
attention
to
issues
of
relational
justice:
avoiding
gender role stereotyping
in
both
directions.
To
this end,
the Article
evalu-
ateshow
the
different
strands of
feminist
legal
theory
treat men. Over
the
course
of
the
development
of
equal
treatment
theory,
special
treatment
theory,
radical feminism, andpostmodernfeminism,
men
have
beentreated
prudence,
105
YALE
L.J.
1
(1995)
(a
systematic
exploration
ofhowgender
and
sex
have becomeconflated
and how
this
impacts
the
legal
treatment
of
effeminate men); Joan
C.
Williams,
Decon-
structing Gender,
87 MICH. L.
REV.
797
(1989)
(critiquing
difference feminism
and
evaluating
women's and
men's traditional
life
style
patterns).
Seealso
Francisco Valdes,
Queers,
Sissies,
Dykes,
and
Tomboys:
Deconstructing
the
Conflation
of
"Sex,"
"Gender,"
and
."Sexual
Orientation"
in
Euro-American
Law
and
Society,
83
CAL.
L.
REV.
1
(1995).
A
number of
articles
have
discussed
how men
fare
in discrete
issue
areas.
See,
e.g.,
Judith
Bond
Jennison,
The
Search
for
Equality
in
a
Woman's
World:
Fathers'
Rights to
Child
Custody,
43
RUTGERS
L.
REV.
1141
(1991);
Kenneth
L.
Karst,
The
Pursuitof
Manhood
and
the
Desegregation
of
the
Armed
Forces,
38
UCLA
L.
REV.
499
(1991);
N.
Morrison
Torrey,
Indirect Discrimination
UnderTitleVII: Expanding Male
Standing
to
Sue
for
Injuries
Received
as
a
Result
of.
mployer
Discrimination
Against
Females,
64
WASH.
L.
REV.
365 (1989);
Note,
Invisible
Man:
Black
and
Male
UnderTitle
VII,
104
HARV.
L.
REV.
749
(1991).
4.
See,
e.g.,
Lucinda
M.
Finley,
Choice
and
Freedom:
Elusive
Issues
in
the
Search
for
Gender
Justice,
96
YALE
L.J.
914,
935
n.99
(1987)
(reviewing
DAVID
L.
KIRP
ET
AL.,
GENDER
JUSTICE
(1986))
("Men,
of
course,
are
forced
into
masculine
roles
by
the
process
of
socialization
and
the
obligationsof
social and economic
dominance.").
5.
See,
e.g.,
EUGENE
R.
AUGUST,
MEN'S
STUDIES:
A
SELECTED
AND
ANNOTATED
INTER-
DISCIPLINARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
(1985);
ARTHUR
BRITTAN,
MASCULINITY
AND
POWER
(1989);
KENNETH CLATTERBAUGH,
CONTEMPORARYPERSPECTIVES
ON MASCULINITY:MEN,
WOMEN,
AND POLITICS
IN
MODERN
SOCIETY
(1990);
WILLIAM
G.
DOTY,
MYTHSOF
MASCULINITY
(1993);
DAVID
D.
GILMORE,
MANHOOD
IN
THE
MAKING:CULTURAL CONCEPTS
OF
MASCULINITY
(1990);
THE
MAKING
OF MASCULINITIES:
THE
NEW
MEN'S
STUDIES
(Harry
Brod
ed.,1987);
THE
MASCULINE
MASQUERADE:
MASCULINITY
AND
REPRESENTATION
(Andrew Perchuk
&
Helaine
Posner
eds.,
1995);
MEN,MASCULINITY, AND
THE
MEDIA
(Steve
Craig
ed.,
1992);
VICTOR
J.
SEIDLER,
REDISCOVERING
MASCULINITY: REASON,
LANGUAGE
AND
SEXUALITY
(1989).
6.
Menwho
do
undertake action in
support
of
feminism
are
not
in
for
an
easy
ride.
They
are
likely to
be
met with antagonism
and
derision
from
other
men,
picturing
them
as
eunuchs,
queers or sell-outs to
"political
correctness."
They
will
not
necessarily get
warm
support
from
feminists-some
of whom
are
deeply
suspicious
of
all
men, most
of
whom
are wary
of
men's
power, and
all
of whom
make
a
primary
commitment
to solidarity withwomen.
R.W. Connell,
Men
and
the
Women's
Movement,
SO.
POL'Y,
Summer
1993,
at
72,
73.

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