Critical studies on men and masculinities, the interdisciplinary field that investigates men and masculinities in alliance with feminist and/or LGBTQ schools of critical studies, is a relatively young and growing field of study in social sciences and humanities. Since its academic debut in late 1970s, it demonstrated quite a promising development. In the powerful wave of the opposing movements of the period, feminist and LGBTQ theories, ideas, activisms, talks and consciousness raising activities unsettled and awakened the men in academia as well as in activist groups. The pioneers of masculinity studies realized that it was almost always the men who were the main actors, the major beneficiaries, and initiators of the heteronormative gender order. They also envisioned that patriarchal power networks severely abuse men as well as women and LGBTQ actors. And they also stressed that the roles attributed to men in patriarchal order were often regarded as unethical, which, consequently, initiated a critical investigation of heteronormative and patriarchal gender order and eventually paved the way for critical studies of men and masculinities in late 1970s in the academia as well as the critical men’s movements in the Western countries.
Initially, criticism of men’s roles, and raising gender awareness towards masculinity grew in light of feminist debates at that time. The forerunners of critical studies on men and masculinities largely supported feminist and LGBTQ debates and struggles, and remained indebted to already established realms of gender studies to a great extent. Only after 1980s did the original debates and researches begin to emerge in the field of men and masculinities, thanks to the pioneering studies of authors such as Raewyn Connell, Michael Kimmel, Jeff Hearn, David Morgan, Harry Brod, Victor Seidler, and John Stoltenberg among many others, which definitely empowered the development of critical studies of men and masculinities.
From the very onset of its establishment, critical studies of men and masculinities aimed to investigate “men” and “masculinities” as primary agents and beneficiaries of patriarchy, criticising the roles of men and masculinities that construct socially and culturally disadvantaged positions for women and LGBTQs, and focus on a vast array of issues, including (but not limited to) identities, experiences, subjectivities, discourses, representations, sexualities, bodies, power, emotions, politics, cultures, social relations, intimacies, socializations, childhood, youth, fatherhood, elderliness, families, violences, literature, films, media, and so on and so forth.
The critical inquiry of men and masculinities started to gain worldwide acceptance progressively in the 1980s and inspired valuable contributions, detailed studies and attentive discussions, which affirmed the vital need for a criticism of patriarchal masculinities. The first examples of such investigations started in Turkey with 1990s where the debates on men and masculinities achieved an increasing popularity for the last two decades both in academic circles and among activist groups. In the patriarchal social, cultural and historical background of the Middle East, as well as being situated within the conflict-creating tensions of the West and the East, Turkey has a history in which women and LGBTQs (and the men) have been severely oppressed by the male dominated gender order. In this context, the necessity to criticise and investigate the men and the masculinities was so evident that it won’t be wrong to state that debates on men and masculinities presented a rapid growth in the last two decades both in the academia and the activism. In the context of the 2010’s, this shouldn’t be considered as a bolt out of the blue.
Global capitalism and patriarchy are strengthening alongside with new forms of resistance. In Turkey, conservatism is becoming more widespread than ever. Women in Turkey have seemingly been imprisoned to domestic spheres as mothers and housewives. A woman working outside her home, unveiled, single, free without the company of a male relative is simply unwelcome. The Prime Minister of Turkey has repeatedly expressed his desire that women should give birth to at least three children. Abortion as well as caesarean delivery is still legal but made extremely troublesome. Women in Turkey are widely kept away from waged labour and when they do have a career opportunity, they are far from achieving equal pay for equal work. Women are traditionally forced to marry in earlier ages and child brides still pose a problem in contemporary Turkey. Violence against women is very common: women are murdered, beaten, raped and abused, and they experience sexual and verbal harassment ever so often. Similarly, LGBTQs are extensively marginalized and they are excommunicated from social and cultural life being treated as people stricken with plague that need medical attention. They are rarely able to make a living except sex trade. The parliamentary representation of the LGBTQs is literally none while that of the women is even far too limited. Despite all these drawbacks and obstacles, the feminist movement and the LGBTQ movements in Turkey have gained widespread acceptance and strength. The contemporary feminist struggle deals with all aspects of women’s lives in the country with the support of an increasing number of gender and women’s studies departments, NGO’s, the consciousness-raising groups and street activism. LGBTQ movements have contributed a lot to the increasing visibility of lesbians, gays, trans and queer people. LGBTQ and feminist groups were in the front lines of the Gezi Resistance in summer 2013 and gained public visibility as one of the principal actors of the resistance. Profeminist men’s groups started to question themselves and their roles in patriarchy, leading to the formation of the first profeminist and proqueer groups of men in fin de siècle Turkey like Men against Sexism and Men Talk.
Masculinities Journal was born in such an attempt to develop a critical reading of men and masculinities. The common incentive was to bring everyone with a critical perspective towards men and masculinities together, to compile publications, studies and researches, to collaborate with organizations, scholars, activists, NGO members, which resulted in incorporating a study group, Initiative for Critical Studies on Masculinities (Eleştirel Erkeklik İncelemeleri İnisiyatifi) in early 2013. The group is composed of scholars and activists from different disciplines and different parts of the country. They are organizing workshops around Turkey and an international symposium to be held in Izmir in September 2014 on men and masculinities as well as publishing Masculinities Journal, the first journal on men and masculinities in Turkey with a hope to contribute to flourish and broaden the critical debates in this field.
Welcome to the first issue of Masculinities Journal, the very first offspring of our humble efforts. Masculinities Journal is a peer-reviewed academic journal and it aims to become an essential source for scholars, researchers, activists and anyone who wish to follow contemporary debates in critical studies on men and masculinities. We are planning to provide a critical platform to bring together critical discussions on men and masculinities from a wide range of disciplines in social sciences and humanities. We hope that the journal may establish and maintain an academic standard and it will be recognized as one of the leading journals on men and masculinities in the shortest time possible. As well as original articles, essays and book reviews, we are incorporating news on the activities and NGO works on men and masculinities. Masculinities Journal is going to be published biannually, in February and August, and the journal will be published bilingually, in English and in Turkish, incorporating and encouraging contributions in both languages.
In this issue, you are going to find many valuable contributions.
Aneta Stepien wrote about cultural functioning of male shame. Her article, “Understanding Male Shame”, concentrates on Steve McQueen’s film “Shame”, and she argues that shame, as an emotion, has the potential of emasculating men, stripping them of male power, leaving them effeminate and vulnerable. In “Proustian Desire and the Queering of Masculinity in Gay Cinematic Romance”, Anna Fahraeus investigates twenty five gay romantic dramas from the United States, Europe, Israel and Argentina. She emphasizes that the common motif in gay romances is that the straight men eventually realize their being homosexuals, or intrinsically embody homosexual desire, within a neo-traditional romantic framework. Jessica L. Tinklenberg and Jeremy L. Schnieder discuss the relation between sports and masculinities. Their article entitled “Active Changes in Monolithic Manliness: The Case of the 2004 NHL Lockout” presents a discussion of the consequences of the surging patriarchal qualities and expressions of masculinities after 2004-2005 National Hockey League Lockout. Tinklenberg and Schneider argue the inadequacy of hegemonic masculinity perspective and propose using activity theory in their research on male roles, codes of masculinity and homosocial relations. In “Some Disputes Surrounding Masculinity as a Legitimate Category of Historical Inquiry in the Study of Late Antiquity”, Michael Edward Stewart investigates the considerations of masculinity in the late antiquity. Criticising the poverty of the mainstream use of the concept, the author argues that the ideologies encompassing different representations of masculinities can be a tool for understanding some of the disputes surrounding the ancient Roman and early Byzantium. Sandra Slater deals with problems around various forms of masculinities in Canadian fur trade in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Slater discusses in “Fur Traders, Voyageurs, and Coureurs des Bois: Economic Masculinities in French Canadian Fur Trade Society, 1635-1754” that different actors of fur trading produced different types of masculinities that competed with others. There are two book reviews in this issue both of which focus on media and movies. Saayan Chattopadhyay reviews Spectacles of Blood: A Study of Masculinity and Violence in Postcolonial Films edited by Swaralipi Nandi and Esha Chatterjee while Clifton Evers reviews The Media and Models of Masculinity of Mark Moss.
We hope you enjoy Masculinities Journal. We are looking forward to having your contributions in our forthcoming issues.
Mehmet Bozok, PhD
On behalf of the editorial board of the Masculinities Journal