TheJackJohnson controversy then simply exemplifies one of man y ways

Thejackjohnson controversy then simply exemplifies

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TheJackJohnson controversy, then, simply exemplifies one of man y ways Progressive Era men used ideas about white supremacy to produce a racially based ideology of male power. Hazel Carby has called fo r "more feminist wo rk that interrogates sexual ideologies for their racial sp ecificity and ac- knowledges whiteness, not just blackness, as a racial categorization. "23 This .., , udy attempts precisely that task. In order to understand why turn-of-the-century midd le-class American were so int erested in using race to remake manhood, we need to outline a larger historical an d analytical context. Thus, the rest of this c hapt er wil l 1 on sider three points. First, it will consider a question which is not as scif- rv id e nt as it appears: precisely what do we mean by "ma nhood ," and how do wr study its history? Second, it will outline what was happen in g to middle- ( 1 :tss manhood at the turn of the century, and wh y the m id dle class be li eved 111 : 1nh ood nee ded to be remade. Finall y, it will introduce a central set of ideas 1 I ,: 11 turn-of-the-century Americans frequently used to tie male power to ra 1 1: tl dominan ce-the discourse of "civilization." "Manhood": What Is It, and How Does It Work? W lt : 11 do we mean by manhood? This question is n ot as si mp leminded :is 11 .ipprars. Although most peo pl e can eas il y iden ti fy certain humnn h · in gs :t :-, 111 11 , manhood ha been dc rin ed qu ite differen tl y in clif ~ re n1 1i111 es, pla cr . , , 111d co n1 rx1 s.1 ' 1 Mo r ov r, hi 1ori , 111 s of Am ricnn manhood ha ve ba s rd 1 l1t ·1 1 . 111 : il y :-. !' S Olt very di s p,1ntl l' ass 11111p1 io n :-, ab o1 11 1hc meaning ol 111:i11lt ood,
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6 CHAPTER ONE which has led to confusion and misunderstanding. (I am purposely using the term "manhood" instead of "masculinity" here because, as we will see, the noun "masculinity" was only beginning to be widely adopted by 1890 and had very specific connotations which have been largely forgotten today.) Many historians have simply assumed that manhood is an unproblematic identity-an unchanging essence-inherent in all male-bodied humans. These historians see manhood as a normal aspect of human nature, transpar- ent and self-evident, which simply needs to be expressed without inhibiting factors like "anxiety." Although they recognize that manhood might be ex- pressed differently at different times, they nonetheless assume that its under- lying meaning remains basically the same. Historians using th is sort of theoretical approach have tended to write about what men have done, his- torically, to express their manhood. For example, they have written fine accounts of men's activities in fraternal organizations and in the Boy Scouts. Moreover, these historians, by raising such questions as whether the Pro- gressives experienced a "masculinity crisis," were among the first to identify male gender issues as proper subjects of historical analysis-in itself, a ma- jor contribution. However, their approach has the drawback of assuming what it ought to investigate. What did "masculinity" mean to men in organi- zations like the Boy Scouts? Why was it so important to them?
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  • Summer '14
  • White people, manhood, Jack Johnson, middle-class men

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