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From Panthers to Promise Keepers

Rethinking the Men's Movement

Judith Newton

Written for a general audience, From Panthers to Promise Keepers draws on years of readings about, interviews with, and intimate observations of the men and networks who were involved in what some have called 'the men's movement.' Focusing on the decades between 1950 and 2000 in the U.S., From Panthers to Promise Keepers places networks of gay men and of black men (and women) at the center of its investigations, exploring some of the unexpected ways in which these seemingly marginal networks were precursors to, rather than mere followers of, the white and heterosexual men's groups that followed and that became the objects of media attention. This study also demonstrates that networks with radically different positions on important social issues nonetheless shared two related activities—criticizing individualist, self-making values and attempting, through surprisingly similar ritual practices, to construct ideals of masculinity that were more expressive of vulnerability, tenderness, and care. Men's politically varied efforts to refashion masculine ideals during the last 50 years have contributed to a different global climate with respect to masculinities. Near the end of the 1990s, agencies such as UNESCO helped the reform of masculine ideals become more widely seen as a necessary component of movements for social justice and a 'culture of peace.' Current efforts to revive a more aggressive and force-based masculine ideal, a 'masculinity for a culture of war,' are one of many testaments to the cultural resonance of what has been called 'the men's movement.' « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 304Size: 6 x 9
978-0-8476-9129-6 • Hardback • December 2004 • $99.00 • (£65.00)
978-0-8476-9130-2 • Paperback • November 2004 • $39.00 • (£24.95)
978-0-7425-8096-1 • eBook • December 2004 • $37.00 • (£24.95)
Judith Newton is professor of women and gender studies at University of California, Davis. She is the author and editor of many books, including Women, Power, and Subversion: Social Strategies in British Fiction, 1778-1860 and Starting Over: Feminism and the Politics of Cultural Critique. She is currently head of the Consortium for Women and Research at UC Davis.
Chapter 1 Introduction: Close Encounters
Chapter 2 Men, Masculinity, and Mourning on the Mall: National Manhood and Male Romance
Chapter 3 Revolutionary Men: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Reconfiguration of Black Masculine Ideals
Chapter 4 A Circle of Loving Companions: Radically Gay
Chapter 5 Reenchanting (White) Masculinity: The Profeminist Heritage of “Men's Liberation”
Chapter 6 Iron and Ironing Johns: Being Born Again in the Mythopoetic Movement
Chapter 7 Fathers of Themselves
Chapter 8 Reinventing the Husband
Chapter 9 Doing The Work of Love: Promise Keepers on Work, Marriage, and Fathering
Chapter 10 Beyond a Focus on the Family: Love Work As Race Reconciliation
Chapter 11 The Politics of Feeling
Judith Newton's years of research on men's networks, along with her insight into the complex ways that gender relations are intertwined with race, sexualities, and nation, have resulted in an important and provocative book. From Panthers to Promise Keepers moves men of color and gay men from the margins to the center of analysis, and the result is a ray of optimism: When we de-center white, heterosexual men from our analysis, Newton shows us, we see that men's collective efforts to develop ideals of manhood based on care and connection with others may yet contribute to the development of a more peaceful and egalitarian world.
Cheng Chen, University of Southern California

This profound, original, and engaging book leaps boldly and imaginatively across disciplinary fences to tackle the ultimate feminist riddle: what do men want? Drawing upon ethnography, literary criticism, psychoanalysis, and historical and sociological analysis, From Panthers to Promise Keepers plumbs the sources and meanings of contemporary men's movements from urban guerillas and mythopoetic drum-beaters to charismatic Christians and queer activists. The mystifying terrain of contemporary masculinities has no more sage or sympathetic feminist oracle than Judith Newton.
Judith Stacey, New York University

Newton takes seriously recent calls by scholars to bring emotions back to the study of social movements. Her book should prove of substantial value for collections in social movements and gender studies. Highly recommended.

Newton does an impressive and welcomed rethinking of the 'men's movement.'...[and] provides a vary valuable study that teases out the similarities and differences of various networks of men who gather together in various ways, often using aspects of male romance, to enhance their emotional lives and their relationships, which also benefits women, children, other men, and families of whatever configuration.
Men and Masculinities

Judith Newton has produced a pioneering work that connects African American social movements of the 1960s to men's movements of the 1970s and 1980s. Her approach is innovative, weaving together a sophisticated theoretical argument with personal narrative. This well-grounded book adds considerably to our knowledge of how ideas and ideologies spill over to other social movements.
Belinda Robnett, University of California, Irvine

Many past accounts of “the men's movement” have characterized it as mainly white, middle-class, and heterosexual, have been critical of its focus on “emotion work,” and have suggested that its interest in gender equality has been minimal. While From Panthers to Promise Keepers (FPPK) acknowledges the partial truth of these charges, it also revises the story in several ways.

1. It dispenses with the term “men's movement,” as do most recent studies, since the very concept obscures the efforts of gay men and men of color to reinvent masculine ideals.

2. It puts networks of gay men and men of color, most particularly black men, at the center of its account and explores some of the unexpected parallels and differences between these marginalized and subordinated networks and the more dominant white and heterosexual ones. These groups are usually put at the end of a book as separate phenomena.

3. The trend in profeminist readings of these groups is to dismiss “emotion work” as mere therapy or as apolitical. FPPK gives more value than many prior studies to men's “emotion work,” their efforts to invent masculine ideals that validate the open expression of vulnerability, tenderness and care, and that encourage greater emotional closeness to other men, to childre