counter create hit Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917

Availability: Ready to download

When former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement on the fourth of July, 1910 to fight current black heavywight champion Jack Johnson in Reno, Nevada, he boasted that he was doing it "for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro." Jeffries, though, was trounced. Whites everywhere rioted. The furor, Gail Bederman demonstrates, w When former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement on the fourth of July, 1910 to fight current black heavywight champion Jack Johnson in Reno, Nevada, he boasted that he was doing it "for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro." Jeffries, though, was trounced. Whites everywhere rioted. The furor, Gail Bederman demonstrates, was part of two fundamental and volatile national obsessions: manhood and racial dominance. In turn-of-the-century America, cultural ideals of manhood changed profoundly, as Victorian notions of self-restrained, moral manliness were challenged by ideals of an aggressive, overtly sexualized masculinity. Bederman traces this shift in values and shows how it brought together two seemingly contradictory ideals: the unfettered virility of racially "primitive" men and the refined superiority of "civilized" white men. Focusing on the lives and works of four very different Americans—Theodore Roosevelt, educator G. Stanley Hall, Ida B. Wells, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman—she illuminates the ideological, cultural, and social interests these ideals came to serve.


Compare
Ads Banner

When former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement on the fourth of July, 1910 to fight current black heavywight champion Jack Johnson in Reno, Nevada, he boasted that he was doing it "for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro." Jeffries, though, was trounced. Whites everywhere rioted. The furor, Gail Bederman demonstrates, w When former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement on the fourth of July, 1910 to fight current black heavywight champion Jack Johnson in Reno, Nevada, he boasted that he was doing it "for the sole purpose of proving that a white man is better than a negro." Jeffries, though, was trounced. Whites everywhere rioted. The furor, Gail Bederman demonstrates, was part of two fundamental and volatile national obsessions: manhood and racial dominance. In turn-of-the-century America, cultural ideals of manhood changed profoundly, as Victorian notions of self-restrained, moral manliness were challenged by ideals of an aggressive, overtly sexualized masculinity. Bederman traces this shift in values and shows how it brought together two seemingly contradictory ideals: the unfettered virility of racially "primitive" men and the refined superiority of "civilized" white men. Focusing on the lives and works of four very different Americans—Theodore Roosevelt, educator G. Stanley Hall, Ida B. Wells, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman—she illuminates the ideological, cultural, and social interests these ideals came to serve.

30 review for Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alok Vaid-Menon

    Gender and sex are colonial monuments. In the context of US empire, anatomy became sutured to identity by the rhetoric of civilization which framed white Americans as the ultimate, divine-ordained nation. Bederman traces the shift from Victorian manhood to American masculinity revealing how white people defined gender norms for the advancement of the race. Policing sex became essential to advance racial evolution and stave off the threat of racial decay (“primitive” gender non-conformity). Europ Gender and sex are colonial monuments. In the context of US empire, anatomy became sutured to identity by the rhetoric of civilization which framed white Americans as the ultimate, divine-ordained nation. Bederman traces the shift from Victorian manhood to American masculinity revealing how white people defined gender norms for the advancement of the race. Policing sex became essential to advance racial evolution and stave off the threat of racial decay (“primitive” gender non-conformity). Europeans understood manhood as a civilizational achievement, a form of racial genius which created the capacity for self-government, unlike “savages,” who were not seen as advanced enough to be sexually differentiated. In the early 20th century doctors developed a diagnosis called “neurasthenia,” to describe a cultural weakness that came from being over-civilized. There was an anxiety that civilization was actually making white men too delicate and effeminate and that they needed to be revitalized in order to achieve greatness. Eugenicists resolved this by redefining “civilized” and “savage” from dualism to developmentalism. Instead of being defined against primitivity, the new model of masculinity re-casted primitivity as an essential component of white masculinity that had to be exercised as youth in order to achieve white adult manhood. They argued that men had an inherent “genocidal urge” that needed to be expressed. (Teddy Roosevelt believed that white men had to invade foreign lands in order to evolve to the greatest manhood.) In other words: they redefined gender norms to facilitate racial conquest. White women also manipulated the rhetoric of civilization. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, one of the most prolific feminist voices, argued that white society should end sexism because it would unify the race to work together to advance civilization. She maintained that Black people were not “developed” enough to have sexual equality and that Black women were not yet worthy of women’s rights. This book is so valuable, useful, pertinent. The primary sources make explicit so many dynamics which I had long perceived, but now could really unpack their material histories. This emphasis on "civilization" as a container to hold the interconnectedness of gender-sex-sexuality-race is really helpful, because it brings a needed emphasis on geography and time, which are so often absented from contemporary discussions of identity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Fascinating historical study of the use of the discourses of manliness (think hegemonic masculinity), masculinity, and civilization (ie, whiteness) by four different historical figures: Ida B Wells (anti-lynching activist), G Stanley Hall (the psychologist who came up with the developmental concept of adolescence), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Teddy Roosevelt. The more I read about this time period, the more I realize how everything that is happening now has happened before. Totally fascinating Fascinating historical study of the use of the discourses of manliness (think hegemonic masculinity), masculinity, and civilization (ie, whiteness) by four different historical figures: Ida B Wells (anti-lynching activist), G Stanley Hall (the psychologist who came up with the developmental concept of adolescence), Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Teddy Roosevelt. The more I read about this time period, the more I realize how everything that is happening now has happened before. Totally fascinating. And gave me a different vantage of Gilman--one I never learned in feminist theory.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Susie Meister

    Bederman draws a connection between race and gender and argues that one must dissolve the racist/sexist discourse on both ideas in order to change either of them. At the end of the 18th century, middle-class Americans were explaining male supremacy in terms of white racial dominance and male power. These Progressive Era men used ideas about white supremacy to produce a racially based ideology of male power. Bederman argues that gender is a historical, ideological process. At this time, men were Bederman draws a connection between race and gender and argues that one must dissolve the racist/sexist discourse on both ideas in order to change either of them. At the end of the 18th century, middle-class Americans were explaining male supremacy in terms of white racial dominance and male power. These Progressive Era men used ideas about white supremacy to produce a racially based ideology of male power. Bederman argues that gender is a historical, ideological process. At this time, men were claiming certain kinds of authority through a particular type of body. Bederman describes "civiliation" as denoting atributes of race and gender. Ultimately, the discourse of civilization linked both male dominance and white supremacy to a Darwinist version of Protestant millennialism. This millennialist fight against evil was challenged by Darwinian understanding of random conflict (rather than conflict shaped from the hand of God). Protestants reconciled Darwin and Protestantism by assuming the goal of the conflict was to perfect the world (through the white race). Whiteness and civilization = manly.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I'm re-reading this for what must be at least my 10th time. I assigned in to one of my classes this semester: History of Sexuality in 20th c. US. I worried about assigning it because it is a 1990s book, but I still find it so compelling. I love the way she gets at sexual ideas and behavior via discussions of gender, civilization and race. Very clever. Jack Johnson, Ida B. Wells, G. Stanley Hall, Teddy Roosevelt and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, along with her study of Chicago's World Fair are all te I'm re-reading this for what must be at least my 10th time. I assigned in to one of my classes this semester: History of Sexuality in 20th c. US. I worried about assigning it because it is a 1990s book, but I still find it so compelling. I love the way she gets at sexual ideas and behavior via discussions of gender, civilization and race. Very clever. Jack Johnson, Ida B. Wells, G. Stanley Hall, Teddy Roosevelt and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, along with her study of Chicago's World Fair are all telling case studies. There are parts of every chapter I would excise, but her intention in this book is different from mine as a reader and teacher. So - not really a fair criticism. Students like it. I think. I remember reading it for the first time as a graduate student and being appalled and fascinated by G. Stanley Hall's struggle to fit into social conventions re. sex and gender.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    Takes information widely known about the era and shows the narratives in the discourse of the time involving manhood, race, social Darwinism, ideas around the enervating and effeminate effects of civilized life and a mix of toxic ideas that probably made a toxic cocktail as the bloody 20th century wore on. Based on what came before ideas on sex and race are constantly mutating and evolving but never losing grip on the minds of the populace. Very interesting perspective on an ugly undercurrent to Takes information widely known about the era and shows the narratives in the discourse of the time involving manhood, race, social Darwinism, ideas around the enervating and effeminate effects of civilized life and a mix of toxic ideas that probably made a toxic cocktail as the bloody 20th century wore on. Based on what came before ideas on sex and race are constantly mutating and evolving but never losing grip on the minds of the populace. Very interesting perspective on an ugly undercurrent to our culture.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Niral

    A fine set of case studies, this book elucidates Foucault's often opaque method of discourse analysis. Some of the analysis got repetitive, but for the most part the histories were fascinating, especially those of Jack Johnson, Ida B. Wells, the Columbian expo in Chicago, and G. Stanley Hall. The author demonstrates convincingly how the discourse of "civilization" interacts with the discourses of gender (i.e., manliness/masculinity) and of race, as well as how that interaction evolves over time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Courtney

    Milenialism (not the generation, it's a religious idea) and social Darwinism collide in an explosion of shifting ideas of what it means to be masculine and manly. As the times change, so do meanings. I am entirely too exhausted to elaborate more than that. Loved the book, Bederson is a great storyteller. Her conclusion wraps up amazingly well with a synthesis of all areas mentioned in previous chapters and Burroughs' "Tarzan."

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Feminism, racism, clash of civilizations. A history book that feels frighteningly relevant today. (And for the academic types: it's a really brilliant set of illustrations of the way sexual or gender claims in the U.S. context are raced from their inception.)

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rohma

    Perfection.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jorge Bucho

    Great book. As a hispanic from a country colonized by souther european catholics that didn´t prohibit miscenegation, I was impressed by all the bs that whites thought about themselves and about others in the US. Roosvelt´s ideas about masculinities were so fucking surrealistic and bizarre to the point that I started laughing. I was also schocked to read all the upheaval that ocurred when the first black boxer defeated a white boxer: riots, killings, beating, laws in the congress were passed and Great book. As a hispanic from a country colonized by souther european catholics that didn´t prohibit miscenegation, I was impressed by all the bs that whites thought about themselves and about others in the US. Roosvelt´s ideas about masculinities were so fucking surrealistic and bizarre to the point that I started laughing. I was also schocked to read all the upheaval that ocurred when the first black boxer defeated a white boxer: riots, killings, beating, laws in the congress were passed and at the end Jack Johonson had to go into exlite because the police wanted him in jail. His crime? Defeating a white boxer!! What a barbaric time for America. Fortunately a lot of things have changed, although there are still a lot of remnants of the old white small penis complex.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Rohn

    This book explored the wide range of ways that the racialized discourse of civilization shaped conceptions of gender between the collapse of reconstruction and the first World War, providing five main case studies that are examined in detail on their own and compared against eachother in order to show the evolution of though across this period. My main complaint is that it is difficult to gauge the relative popularity of different ideas presented in the book when they come into conflict with eac This book explored the wide range of ways that the racialized discourse of civilization shaped conceptions of gender between the collapse of reconstruction and the first World War, providing five main case studies that are examined in detail on their own and compared against eachother in order to show the evolution of though across this period. My main complaint is that it is difficult to gauge the relative popularity of different ideas presented in the book when they come into conflict with eachother and how these ideas interacted with American public and foreign policy at the time

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rifat Islam

    Easy-to-read writing but don't let that fool you into thinking it doesn't pack a punch. The writing can feel repetitive at times, but it's all to hone in the author's thesis.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Barnes

    It's truly an interesting look at how manliness and masculinity worked to with ideas of civilization in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    This is one of the better explorations of masculinity and US history, although it has its limitations as well. Bederman set out to discuss "the ways in which middle-class men and women worked to re-define manhood in terms of racial dominance, escpecially in terms of 'civilization'" in the period 1880-1917. To do so, she picked four case-studies: Ida B. Wells, an anti-lynching activist, G. Stanley Hall, a professor of psychology, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a women's rights advocate, and Theodore R This is one of the better explorations of masculinity and US history, although it has its limitations as well. Bederman set out to discuss "the ways in which middle-class men and women worked to re-define manhood in terms of racial dominance, escpecially in terms of 'civilization'" in the period 1880-1917. To do so, she picked four case-studies: Ida B. Wells, an anti-lynching activist, G. Stanley Hall, a professor of psychology, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a women's rights advocate, and Theodore Roosevelt, Republican President of the United States. She then proceeds to give what is essentially a discourse analysis (her indebtedness to Foucault is acknowledged in the intro) on each, providing historical context for their arguments and noting the ways in which the tropes of primitive masculinity and civilized manhood are utilized by them. Bederman does not argue that manhood/masculinity are fixed concepts, but rather sees them constructed by the flux of discourse of a given era, and is interested in the ways in which they are negotiated through reference to commonly-accepted norms and conflicting ideas. Interestingly, she is skeptical of the idea of a "crisis in masculinity" which many authors on the subject base their arguments around, to the point where one (I forget which) has argued that masculinity is nearly always in crisis. Rather, she claims that gender "implies constant contradiction, change, and renegotiation," an observation with which I would tend to agree, although there may be certain points when such change causes a certain amount of panic and defensiveness for those who perceive their gender-identity as "dominant" and thus at least the perception of crisis. Overall, however, I find Bederman's theory to be sound, and somewhat more well-developed than a lot of the masculinity scholars one could name. The weakness of the book is grounded more in her case studies, which are rather arbitrary (probably chosen because of the availability of sources) and questionably representative. It's hard to prove anything with discourse alone, as many historians have come to see in the years since 1995, and this is an example of a book that rest on little else. Further, if manliness was in a process of renegotiation, why should we look at such limited examples of the process of negotiation. Each of these examples is, arguably, a "success" in using gender for their own purposes, but what about the many failures? What about those who didn't quite "get" the argument, or who turned it against itself? Of course, these could be subjects for future study, but are four examples really enough even to prove anything about a dominant narrative, or are they just selective ways of reinforcing a pre-determined argument? That may be the weakest point of the book, it simply doesn't cast a wide-enough net to really prove its argument, although the argument, and the book, are challenging and interesting in their own right.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    This book is a tightly woven argument for how masculinity has been intertwined with race and gender through narratives of civilization. Bederman demonstrates that modern conceptions of masculinity emerged in the late nineteenth century, along with racialization movements driven by a kind evolutionary millennialism. Different people "synthesized" race, gender, and civilization in different ways to make sense of social phenomena, like lynching, women rights, adolescence, and American imperialism. This book is a tightly woven argument for how masculinity has been intertwined with race and gender through narratives of civilization. Bederman demonstrates that modern conceptions of masculinity emerged in the late nineteenth century, along with racialization movements driven by a kind evolutionary millennialism. Different people "synthesized" race, gender, and civilization in different ways to make sense of social phenomena, like lynching, women rights, adolescence, and American imperialism. I'm particularly impressed at how Bederman uses the novel Tarzan in her conclusion to show how all these narratives work together in a popular text. Needless to say, many of the discourses she identifies still play important roles in how masculinity is constructed today, even if some of the foundational ideologies have seemingly disappeared. This would be an excellent book to use in a gender studies class or even a cultural studies class. That said, the clarity of Bederman's argument and fascinating primary sources makes this a good read for anyone who wishes to expand their knowledge of turn of the century America or develop their sense of gender.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tristan Bridges

    A little redundant at times, but it's a really interesting history of gender. What I liked about it is - unlike a lot of histories of masculinties - she doesn't conceptualize masculinity as a "thing." She considers it a "discourse" (a la Foucault) and charts the transition from a discourse of "manliness" to one of "masculinity." Google Ngrams support her idea - that masculinity gradually replaced manliness around the turn of the century. But, to illustrate how and why that happened, she uses fou A little redundant at times, but it's a really interesting history of gender. What I liked about it is - unlike a lot of histories of masculinties - she doesn't conceptualize masculinity as a "thing." She considers it a "discourse" (a la Foucault) and charts the transition from a discourse of "manliness" to one of "masculinity." Google Ngrams support her idea - that masculinity gradually replaced manliness around the turn of the century. But, to illustrate how and why that happened, she uses four really interesting case studies (the best, IMO is Ida B. Wells). Good read.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mindy King

    From an academic point of view, this book has it's good points and it's bad. Bederman really supplies example after example. Unfortunately the examples are undocumented, and sometimes complete assumptions about how things might have been. However, she puts forth an interesting idea about Mankind as prey leading to the "Man's War" mentality of today.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Very interesting work, more of a school type but still some fun parts about Teddy Roosevelt and the first black boxing Champion, Jack Johnson...very good stuff on him. I do not however believe many of her ideas, but her research is sound.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    Really interesting book, and responsible for my senior thesis. Presents a whole different interpretation on the way history is learned and our masculine heroes are worshipped.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Classic. Must-read for anyone studying 20th century American history.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Great example of the "linguistic turn" in women's history, with the emphasis on how we come to know and understand gender. Overall great, but I thought Jack Johnson deserved his own case study.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    i'm reading this for my independent study and it is great! it is a great read even for those who are not history nerds...

  23. 4 out of 5

    AskHistorians

    Groundbreaking study of masculinity and its relation to race in the United States.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andres A Tapia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Enron

  26. 4 out of 5

    Denise Wright

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Asuma

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shira

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sharone

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.