Taking It Like a Man: White Masculinity, Masochism, and Contemporary American Culture

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Overview

"Taking It Like a Man combines cultural analysis with psychoanalysis to examine masochism and the production of masculinity in the postwar United States—a challenging and provocative strategy that yields exciting, insightful readings of a variety of materials."—Susan Jeffords, University of Washington

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Covering a spectrum of masculine imagery that embraces everything from John Wayne and Rambo to Tony Kushner and gay S&M, Savran (Communists, Cowboys, and Queers) traces the rising fortunes of the white-man-as-victim in recent American history. At first isolated and alienated in the margins of the 1950s Beat generation, the American White Man as a type was "feminized" at the center of the '60s radical discourse before returning as a reconstructed concept in an array of backlash movements in the '70s, finally establishing itself as a cultural center in the '80s and '90s. Despite Savran's wide range of accessible sources and broad canvas, however, his demanding, psychoanalytically informed prose, dense with wordplay, parentheses, and jargon, makes for tough going. Moreover, the sheer volume of material hereamong the genres surveyed are poetry, fiction, literary criticism, drama, political discourse and filmsometimes becomes overwhelming; the same case might well have been made with fewer examples. Yet the author's argument is worth pursuing, and a number of readings are acute and original. In the movie Twister, for instance, he finds both a post-Cold War fear of terrorism ("a new and unpredictable monster that may strike at any moment, destroying property, killing innocent people, and uprooting families") and a renewed spirituality (the awful, and awe-ful, monster twister as "the finger of God"). Not for the uninitiated, but valuable for those with the stamina to push to the end. (May)
Library Journal
A professor of English at Brown University who has published widely on American theater and culture, Savran draws on earlier journal articles and research to take a critical look at the white male as a victim of contemporary society. He observes the changing model of masculinity in post-World War II America, examining the social and sexual milieu that has created that model and scouring literary, film, and journalistic material to lay bare the foundation for the self-destructive, feminized, masochistic, and victimized American white male of today. Noting the differing social and power status of men and women, Savran argues persuasively that white masculinity has been a casualty in the battles fought by the Civil Rights and women's movements. His well-written, scholarly study is for academic and larger public library cultural studies collections.Michael A. Lutes, Univ. of Notre Dame Libs., IN
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691058764
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/30/1998
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.16 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ix
INTRODUCTION 3
PART I 39
CHAPTER ONE The Divided Self 41
CHAPTER TWO Revolution as Performance 104
CHAPTER THREE The Sadomasochist in the Closet 161
PART II 211
CHAPTER FOUR Queer Masculinities 213
CHAPTER FIVE Man and Nation 240
CHAPTER SIX The Will to Believe 293
NOTES 321
INDEX 365

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