Forks in the Road of Men’s Gender Politics: Men’s Rights vs Feminist Allies


How do men respond to feminist movements and to shifts in the gender order?  In this paper, I introduce the concept of historical gender formation to show how shifting social conditions over the past forty years shaped a range of men’s organized responses to feminism. Focusing on the US, I show how progressive men reacted to feminism in the 1970s by forming an internally contradictory ‘men’s liberation’ movement that soon split into opposing anti-feminist and pro-feminist factions. Three large transformations of the 1980s and 1990s – the professional institutionalization of feminism, the rise of a postfeminist sensibility, and shifts in the political economy (especially deindustrialization and the rise of the neoliberal state) – generated new possibilities. I end by pointing to an emergent moderate men’s rights discourse that appeals to a postfeminist sensibility, and to an increasingly diverse base for men’s work to prevent violence against women.
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Published: 2016-06-01
Pages:6 to 20
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How to Cite
Messner, M. A. (2016) “Forks in the Road of Men’s Gender Politics: Men’s Rights vs Feminist Allies”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 5(2), pp. 6-20. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.v5i2.301.

Author Biography

University of Southern California
 United States
Michael A Messner is Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. His most recent book is Some Men:  Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women (Oxford University Press).