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Befria mannen: idéer om förtryck, frigörelse och förändring hos en svensk mansrörelse under 1970- och tidigt 1980-tal
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies.
2007 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The point of departure of the present thesis is the Swedish men’s movement that was formed in the mid-1970s. In the wake of the second wave of the women’s movement and its success, an increasing number of men started to question their own position in society. Men formed men’s groups and went to men’s camps. In 1978 the society Befria mannen (‘Liberate the Man’) was formed, whose goal was to contribute to abolishing gender roles and at the same time support the women’s struggle. This society is the main source of the thesis. Other important actors that are studied are Riksförbundet för sexuell upplysning (RFSU ‘the National Swedish association for Sexual Information’) and independent debaters about the male role issue. The theoretical point of departure of the thesis has been taken from theories about hegemonic masculinity, unmanliness and heteronormativity.

The thesis analyses the men’s movement’s development from a chiefly pro-feminist orientation to a movement assuming an antagonistic attitude to the women’s movement. In parallel with this development there was also a change in the view of masculinity. From having embraced gender role theory, in which gender roles were seen as culturally constructed and dysfunctional, the men in the men’s movement went on to assert the importance of their own masculinity. They had thereby adopted the ideology of gender difference, an ideology that had had become increasingly common throughout society in the 1980s.

Concurrently with changes in the men’s movement, a change in the reception of the movement is also discernible. The initially enthusiastic reception in the media changed into a critical and sometimes disparaging attitude. By questioning hegemonic masculinity ideals, the men’s movement had challenged the existing gender order. The men were more and more often stereotyped and characterized as “unmanly” and “feminine”. This gave rise to a fear of not appearing as a “real man” at the same time as norms for what was the right and natural way of being a man were produced and reproduced.

The men’s movement’s statements and practices may on the one hand be considered subversive. Merely by acting differently, they showed that it was possible to exist in different ways and that masculinity was not a stable and unchangeable phenomenon.

But the criticism against them and the definition of them as unmanly also gave rise to fear. The fear of being labelled as a velour daddy and softy may therefore also have served to consolidate the norms for masculinity and for who should be regarded as a “real man”.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
h:ström - Text & Kultur , 2007. , 294 p.
Serie Akademi, ISSN 1653-9575 ; 4
Keyword [en]
masculinity, men’s movement, gender, hegemony, social movement, heteronormativity
National Category
History of Ideas
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1000ISBN: 978-91-7327-009-0OAI: diva2:139948
Public defence
2007-02-22, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå, 10:00
Available from: 2007-02-12 Created: 2007-02-12Bibliographically approved

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