Problematizing contemporary Men/Masculinities theorizing: the contribution of Raewyn Connell and conceptual-terminological tensions today


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Critical studies of men and masculinities (CSMM) have burgeoned in recent times. For this reason, it seems to me a useful moment to reflect on what I see as some tensions, even contradictions, in these studies. In keeping with Chantal Mouffe's espousal of the advantages of agonism rather than consensus, I suggest that heterogeneous theoretical directions in scholarship attending to men/masculinities are by no means to be discouraged. However, the various theoretical tools employed in this scholarship may be incommensurable and thus produce a certain inconsistency or even incoherence. In this context, I suggest that in order to more clearly articulate current theoretical/terminological debates it is important to undertake analysis of key conceptual distinctions and widely used terms, such as notions of structure and patriarchy, gender identities/masculinities/men, hegemony and hegemonic masculinity, and relations between gender and sexuality, amongst others. The aim here is not to produce or require homogeneity in studies of men/masculinities but rather to provide an opportunity to consider the epistemological frameworks which inform the political intentions and goals of this sphere of scholarship.