Many of us heard phrases like, “be a man,” and “stop throwing like a girl,” when we were growing up. These casual admonitions of gender non-conforming behavior in children allow us to see how permeated our culture and world are by ideas of acceptable and unacceptable masculinity. Nonetheless, no two people experience or embody masculinity in the same way, in the same place, or at the same time. So what exactly does it mean to “be a man,” or simply to be “masculine” in today’s world? And how do our understandings of masculinity—and gender norms more broadly—inform notions of appropriate femininity?
In this course we will learn to think critically about masculinity—and gender more broadly—by engaging with ethnographic texts produced across a variety of national and cultural contexts, under different political and religious systems, and at disparate historical moments. We will also learn how to apply these analyses to our own diverse contexts.