Loughborough University
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Feminism and theories of masculinity in contemporary France

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posted on 2010-12-03, 14:13 authored by Gill Allwood
This thesis examines theories of masculinity produced by feminist activists and intellectuals in France. These theories are situated, firstly, within the context of a history of the French women's movement and the production of feminist theory and, secondly, within the context of a broader debate on masculinity which is currently taking place amongst journalists, men's groups and non-feminist intellectuals. Two specific areas of French feminism, in which a growing interest in men and masculinity can be identified, are examined in detail. These are academic feminist theories of gender and feminist activism around the problem of male violence. The research demonstrates why feminists active in these areas developed an interest in the study of men and masculinity, and analyses the theories which have resulted from these developments. It shows that gender theorists have placed an increasing importance on both terms of the relation between men and women, and on the nature of the relation itself. It explains the growing awarenessin recent years of the necessity to study men as gendered subjects, no longer considering them as a gender-neutral norm from which women are seen to differ. Certain trends are identified in the way French feminists have approached the problem of male violence, including a shift in emphasis from the victim to the perpetrator. The current interest in the prevention of male violence necessitatesa n analysis of its causes, which involves a consideration of the links between violence, masculinity and male power. As well as considering the contributions made by French feminists to the masculinity debate, this thesis argues that, despite media assertions of the 'death of feminism', there is still feminist activity in France; that the term 'French feminism' is attributed very different meanings in and outside France; and that the split between the women's movement and feminist research, as well as the lack of exchange between French and Anglo-American thought, could be hindering the development of feminist theories of men and masculinity.



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  • Politics and International Studies


© Gill Allwood

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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