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Arch Sex Behav (2008) 37:354355

DOI 10.1007/s10508-007-9299-4


Medicalized Masculinities
Edited by Dana Rosenfeld and Christopher A. Faircloth. Temple University Press,
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2006, 263 pp., $24.95.

Emily Wentzell

Published online: 7 February 2008

Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

While the medicalization of masculinity has become increas- the small but important body of work that does exist on med-
ingly apparent in daily life, as in the recent flood of spam icalized masculinity, mostly concerning sexual dysfunction
e-mails selling male sexual enhancement, this phenomenon has and heart disease.
been largely ignored in academic investigations of gendered The chapters are generally as clear and accessible as the
health and medicalization. This volume is thus a timely and introduction. The contributors use a variety of methods, from
much-needed collection that uses the perspective of qualitative ethnography to content analysis, to investigate particular
sociology to investigate eight key U.S. sites in which medical instances of medicalized masculinity in the U.S. context. The
ways of thinking are increasingly brought to bear on manliness: strongest chapters in this collection both compellingly dem-
Viagra use, Cialis and Levitra marketing, forensic analysis of onstrate the linkages between changing notions of masculinity
semen, andropause and balding, medical anatomy texts, and new medical possibility or mediation, and ground these
ADHD, black masculinity, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder changes in social and historical context. For instance, Hart
therapy. et al. painstakingly analyze all the available statistics on child
The introduction to the volume, written by the editors, ADHD medication use to demonstrate that, as opposed to the
makes a particularly useful foray into this field by examining conventional wisdom that poor, urban boys are most subject to
why social scientific studies of medicalization, masculinity, and medicalization of hyperactive behavior, the disorder is most
the sociology of the body have generally excluded medicalized highly treated in boys in affluent communities where children
masculinity as an object of study. In a clear and lucid style, score higher than average on national standardized tests. Hart
Faircloth and Rosenfeld provide overviews of these fields and et al. ground this analysis in a discussion of changing gender
demonstrate how omission of medicalized masculinity is a roles and parenting tactics, arguing that Ritalin is a drug for
result of disciplinary correlation between studies of medical- gendered child socialization in social contexts where parents
ized femininity with gendered medicalization as a whole, focus seek high child achievement, in part through medical tech-
on the medical control of underrepresented groups that exclu- niques of child socialization.
ded men as a category of analysis, an understanding of In another particularly strong chapter, Smith uses ethno-
masculinity as a health risk that precluded study of medicines graphic data from research in Post-Tramautic Stress Disorder
pathologization of men, and a general lack of intersection therapy groups in a V.A. hospital to demonstrate the use of
between Foucauldian investigation of the surveillance and refashioned masculinity as a therapeutic tool. Understanding
discipline of bodies and embodiment in everyday life. This masculinity as a social process that can be brought to bear in
introduction is also an excellent resource that brings together mental health treatment, Smith shows that therapy leaders
encourage self-conscious adoption of new ideals of masculin-
ity, based in various contexts on military, religious, and scien-
tific discourses, that facilitate particular stages of therapeutic
treatment. Smith deftly reveals the ways that masculinities
E. Wentzell (&)
function as medical tools as well as objects of medicalization.
Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann
Arbor, MI 48109-1107, USA Other chapters, as early forays into the study of medicalized
e-mail: masculinities, make important but more partial contributions to

Arch Sex Behav (2008) 37:354355 355

the field. For instance, Moore and Durkin provide a fascinating chapter deals with American men, the volume is framed as a
description of the ways forensic analysis reduces masculinity to general discussion of medicalized masculinities, problemati-
semen, which they argue comes to stand in for both mens and cally making an implicit, and certainly unintentional, claim to
womens legal testimony. However, they ground this com- generality. While some chapters deal with this issue, the vol-
pelling thesis in a long and somewhat digressive history of ume as a whole misses the chance to discuss the ways the
forensic science, which leaves them without space to explore cultural specifics of American men and medicine, as well as the
more fully the social consequences of semen analysis sup- divisions within these broad categories, influence masculinity
planting testimony as proof of sexualized crime. Similarly, and medicalization. Further, the volume omits references to
Hickey uses the example of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment medicalized masculinity in non-Western contexts (e.g., the
to illustrate the key point that medicalization, race, sexuality, large body of work on medical interventions into gendered sex
and masculinity intersect to shape black mens embodied practices geared toward HIV/AIDS prevention), while this
experience. While Hickeys call to account for race in studies would not be a concern for a book explicitly concerned with
of gendered medicalization is an important one, it would be American masculinities, it is a significant oversight for a gen-
strengthened by a clearer discussion of the ways racialized eral work on the topic.
medicalization of masculinity is at work today. When understood as a volume focused on the U.S., however,
When read as a whole, this generally excellent volume this volume is an excellent collection that will be required
suffers from two main weaknesses. First, many chapters con- reading for scholars interested in gender and health. Its clear
tain literature reviews of medicalization scholarship; while and lively writing, the wealth of background information in the
these discussions may be useful to those reading only one or introduction, and its contributors compelling identification and
two chapters, readers of the entire work will find them repeti- analysis of key sites for the medicalization of masculinity in
tive, particularly as this topic is thoroughly covered in the America today make it a pivotal addition to the fields of med-
introduction. Second, and more importantly, the volume fails to icalization and gender research. Its accessibility and topicality
ground itself in place, lacking an explicit discussion of the will also make it an excellent teaching resource.
American context of the phenomena discussed. While each