Many other middle class strategies of remak ing manhood during these years

Many other middle class strategies of remak ing

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like "sissy" and "masculinity." Many other middle-class strategies of remak- ing manhood during these years could be discussed as well. 81 This study, however, will focus on only one type of strategy-the ways middle-class men and women worked to re-define manhood in terms of racial domi- nance, especially in terms of "civilization." Constructing Male Dominance through Racial Dominance: An Ongoing Strategy As the middle class worked to remake manhood, many turned from gender to a related category-one which, like gender, also linked bodies, identities, and power. That category was race. 82 In a variety of ways, Americans who were trying to reformulate gender explained their ideas about manhood by drawing connections between male power and white supremacy, as we have already seen with white men's hysterical response to Jack Johnson's heavy- weight championship. In itself, linking whiteness to male power was nothing new. White Ameri- cans had long associated powerful manhood with white supremacy. For ex- ample, during the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, American citizenship rights had been construed as "manhood" rights which inhered to white males, only. Framers of state constitutions in sixteen northern and western states explicitly placed African American men in the same category as women, as "dependents." 83 Negro males, whether free or slave, were for- bidden to exercise "manhood" rights-forbidden to vote, hold electoral of- fice, serve on juries, or join the military. Similarly, white working men insisted that, as men , they had a claim to manly independence that women and Negro men lacked.8 4 The conclusion was implicit but widely under- stood: Negro males, unlike white males, were less than men. Conversely, African American men understood that their purported lack of manhood legitimized their social and political disfranchisement. They therefore protested that they were, indeed, men. Male slaves agitating for their freedom demanded their "manhood rights." 85 Frederick Douglass said that his first overt resistance to a whipping, as a sixteen-year-old slave, "re- vived within me a sense of my own manhood. "86 David Walker complained in 1828 that "all the inhabitants of the earth, (except, howev er, the sons of Africa) are called men, and of course are, and ought to be free. But we (col- ored people) and our children are brutes!! and of course are, and ought to be SLAVES .. . . Ohl my col or ed br e thr en, when shall we arise from this death- RE M A K I NG MAN H OO D 21 li ke apathy! -and be men!! "B 7 Duri ng the Civil War, 180,000 black men enlisted in the U nion . Army, despite unequal and offensive treatment, be- cause they understood that enlisting was their most potent tool to claim t ha t they were men and sh ould have the same rights and privileges as all Ameri- can men . 88 These A fr ican Americans all understood that the on ly way to ob- ta in civic power was through gender-by proving that the y, too, were men .
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  • Summer '14
  • White people, manhood, Jack Johnson, middle-class men

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