Cover image for Masculinity & morality
Masculinity & morality
May, Larry.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
x, 188 pages ; 24 cm
Reading Level:
1510 Lexile.

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HQ1090 .M385 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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What does it mean to be a morally responsible man? Psychology and the law have offered reasons to excuse men for acting aggressively. In these philosophically reflective essays, Larry May argues against standard accounts of traditional male behavior, discussing male anger, paternity, pornography, rape, sexual harassment, the exclusion of women, and what he terms the myth of uncontrollable male sexuality. While refuting the platitudes of the popular men's movement, his book challenges men to reassess and change behavior that has had detrimental effects on the lives of women and of men.

In May's view, the key to solving many problems is to understand how individual actions may combine to produce large-scale, harmful consequences. May is eager to reconceptualize male roles in ways that build on men's strength rather than rendering them androgynous. Each chapter in his book suggests strategies to effect changes based on May's views on the nature of moral responsibility.

Examining separatism and the socialization of youth in athletics and the military, specifically at Virginia Military Institute and the Citadel, May analyzes the moral implications of the way all-male environments are constructed. Rejecting the standard arguments for them, he speculates about the positive ways they might be used to transform the socialization of young men.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

May (philosophy, Washington Univ., St. Louis) addresses several gender-related issues from a "group-oriented" point of view. In obvious sympathy with feminist philosophy, he contends that men need to alter their behavior toward women, rejecting the position that innate qualities or badgering compel them to behave as they do. To May, men's sins are many and various. Men are collectively responsible for rape, and certain types of pornography harm women through their cumulative effect. May assumes more consensus on his goals than seems justified, but he provides a well-articulated account of a distinctive stance on major issues. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.¬ĎDavid Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ., Ohio (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

May (Washington Univ., St. Louis) writes about masculinity from a "progressive standpoint" that acknowledges the harm to women caused by traditional male roles, accepts personal responsibility for participating in and benefiting from a sexist system, and attempts to promote personal as well as societal change. Discussions range from conceptual investigations of masculinity and collective responsibility to analysis of such gender-related ethical issues as pornography, rape, paternity, and sexual harassment, and include practical proposals for the resocialization of men. A number of May's conclusions are grounded in his views of collective responsibility and group harm, in which under certain conditions individuals can be at least partially responsible for harms that their group has visited on members of another group, even though these individuals may not have directly participated in their commission. An important consequence of May's view of responsibility (which undoubtedly will be resisted by some) is that even those men who have not raped are partially responsible for such acts because they contribute to and in various ways benefit from the "culture of rape." All levels. G. Pech College of St. Catherine

Table of Contents

acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 Anger, Desire, and Moral Responsibilityp. 8
2 Paternity and Commitmentp. 24
3 Sexuality and Confessionp. 42
4 Pornography and Pollutionp. 58
5 Rape and Collective Responsibilityp. 79
6 Sexual Harassment and Solidarityp. 98
8 A Progressive Male Standpointp. 135
Notesp. 153
Bibliographyp. 175
Indexp. 183