The background of studies on men and masculinities in early feminism, gender research (including gay and lesbian studies), and the marxism of the 1960’ s are discussed. The importance of power, and the specific conception of this (so evident in the framework of R. W. Connell), is related to this development. Although Connells theory of the existence of several different masculinities, hierarchially ordered around a dominant hegemonic masculinity, has many advantages over former conceptions of men and manliness, it has also limitations. Holter points out that Connells theory offers a quiet pessimistic opinion about men and gives little space for a change. Seidler critizes the conception of hegemonic masculinity for its rationalistic universialism, as well as for the neglect of emotional life and contradictions in men’s lives, but also many mens own discontent with the patriarchal order. Regarding the great complexity of gender formation and gender relations, this article propose the use of the concept of unmanliness in the studies of men and masculinities. As demonstrated by historian Jonas Liliequist different conceptions of unmanliness are formulated and used to confirm certain dominant masculinities, and to marginalize those men that diverge from the standard. But the fear of demasculinization also works as an inner guardian against improper behaviour in every single man. The advantage of this perspective is that it allows both a study of power and hierarchies of men over women, between different groups of men, but also makes possible a consideration of the personal and existential costs a certain gender order have for men.
masculitity studies, gender studies, masculinity, unmanliness, feminism, marxism, power, R.W. Connell, Jonas Liliequist