men, masculinities and gender politics

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Bringing men into the light? Women's Studies and the 'problem' of men

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Men can be a ‘problem’ for women’s studies in at least three ways: as objects of feminist scholarship, as students of feminist scholarship, and as agents of this scholarship. First, studying men is an established and desirable aspect of feminist research. But to what extent does the emergent literature on men and masculinities extend or undermine the insights of feminist theory? Second, what issues does male students’ participation in Women’s Studies classes raise for feminist pedagogy? Third, can men themselves produce and teach feminist theory? While “Men’s Studies” has failed to engage with the complexities of feminism, I argue that men can develop pro-feminist or anti-patriarchal knowledges. I explore these issues with reference to my qualitative research on young heterosexual men’s understandings and practices of safe and unsafe sex, and my experience as a student and teacher in Women’s Studies.

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