Cover image for Manhood in the making : cultural concepts of masculinity
Manhood in the making : cultural concepts of masculinity
Gilmore, David D., 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven, Conn. : Yale University Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
xiii, 258 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


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BF692.5 .G55 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In the first cross-cultural study of manhood as an achieved status, anthropologist David D. Gilmore finds that a culturally sanctioned stress on manliness--on toughness and aggressiveness, stoicism and sexuality--is almost universal, deeply ingrained in the consciousness of hunters and fishermen, workers and warriors, poets and peasants who have little else in common.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In most societies, asserts anthropologist Gilmore, professor at State University of New York, being accepted as a ``real man'' involves tests of action, proofs of individual worth. For Andalusians of Spain, machismo is earned by procreating offspring and financially providing for dependents. In New Guinea, the village ``Big Man'' is ideal warrior and pillar of social cohesion. Yet some cultures contradict the general rule that manhood is a prize to be won. In India and China, for example, cooperation and deference soften virile, sexist gender roles. And among the gentle, androgynous Polynesian Tahitians or the Semai of Malaysia, the notion of masculinity as a test is virtually absent. In a provocative, rewarding cross-cultural survey, Gilmore concludes that men are not so innately different from women: it takes culturally enforced norms of manhood to prod males into assertiveness. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Gilmore's work, the first cross-cultural study on the process of becoming a man, surveys cultures from the South Pacific, aboriginal South America, New Guinea, and Africa, as well as from Spain, India, and Japan. He finds that in all of these societies, and in most others, manhood is an achieved status that must be won and maintained by demonstrating some combination of aggressiveness and toughness. Achieving womanhood is a much more natural process not requiring the amount of stress that most cultures apply, formally and informally, to shape men's attitudes and behavior. Using theory from psychology and feminist studies as well as theory from anthropology, Gilmore concludes that, for most cultures, this emphasis on "manliness" has had survival value, even though the fact that it is entirely absent in at least two cultures prevents easy generalization. The book is both interesting and well written and, in view of the current widespread interest in sex and gender, it will be widely read both in and out of academic circles. Undergraduates and up. -H. L. Harris, Western Washington University