The Rhetoric of Masculine Citizenship: Concepts and Representations in Modern Western Culture

TitleThe Rhetoric of Masculine Citizenship: Concepts and Representations in Modern Western Culture
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsClark, Anna
EditorDudink, Stefan, Karen Hagemann, and Anna Clark
Book TitleRepresenting Masculinity: Male Citizenship in Modern Western Culture
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityNew York

This essay argued that masculinity is a useful metaphor for authority because masculinity is so often associated with power and dominance.  However, as conceptions of the proper use of power change, so do notions of masculinity.  It focuses  on masculinity in three different realms: early modern sovereignty in Britain and France; class in nineteenth century Britain and France; and imperialism and manhood in the British empire in nineteenth century India.  As is well known, political philosophers justified absolute rule by comparing the king to a father.  Conversely, masculine sexuality could symbolize excessive, illegitimate or dangerous power.  This was a debate about gender, but it also concerned profound differences in the sources of political authority: was it divine or inherited, or did it stem from the social contract.   In contrast, liberal and republican thinkers based derived political authority from the social compact of masculine citizens, using the rhetoric of fraternity.   The rhetoric of patriarchy or fraternity often excluded working class men, or colonized men, from the status of full political manhood.  However, at some political moments, governments could use such rhetoric in order to appeal to men's common masculinity across the boundaries of class or race.  Yet these gendered rhetorics sometimes failed. 

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