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By Lisa Jean Moore
While today marks the end of the weeklong TFW Forum on Masculinities, the reverberations of the impressive, brave, and breathtaking collection will ricochet through conversations, classrooms, and communities for some time to come.
I, for one, intend to make this forum required reading for my gender, sexuality, and social theory classes and will encourage others to similarly weave it into their curricula. It could also be used as an incredible intervention into the life of a curious teenager or a neighborhood book club. After 17 years of teaching, I have at last found a collection of work that rigorously and honestly engages with masculinity as it intersects and becomes enmeshed in class, race, ethnicity, ability, sex, sexuality, culture, memoir, religion, history, family, friendship, urban life, athletics, physical violence, surveillance, bullying, fatherhood, and boyhood.
The range of pieces includes social commentary on current events, cultural analysis of performing arts, interviews, poetry, and visual arts. Significantly, the use of narrative, typically referred to as a feminine form of expression since the birth of the novel, is prominent in many pieces here. The Feminist Wire has created a safe and welcoming space for a multiplicity of men to share their deeply personal relationships with the processes of becoming masculine.
Contributor, visual artist, and scholar John Jennings created a powerful image that plays with the struggle of embodying the contradictions of masculinity. Masculinity, as a normative structural and socio-cultural construction, is, as Jennings puts it, “extremely limiting.” As the artists, writers, scholars, and activists featured in the forum demonstrated day after day that once freed from the limitations of the normative, rigid performance and interpretation of masculinity their critiques and reparations lead to an expansive masculinity.
These courageous dispatches reclaim the standard and limiting definitions masculinity and, in so doing, remind us that through critical and creative engagement we can realign the masculinities we dream of with the realities we hope for.
The pieces are listed here in the order of their appearance in the forum: