The Multidimensional Turn: Revisiting Progressive Black Masculinities
Published as Chapter 3 in Masculinities and the Law: A Multidimensional Approach, Frank Rudy Cooper & Ann C. McGinley, eds.
The original project on progressive black masculinities engaged multidimensional theory to assess whether black men lacked access to patriarchal privileges as nationalist scholars asserted or whether black men were privileged by gender and oppressed by race as certain interpretations of intersectionality theory maintained. Multidimensionality theory suggested that in some contexts black men were privileged by gender in relation to black women, and in other contexts they were oppressed by gendered racism as blackmen – one word – and one multidimensional entity. In this essay I ground the project more deeply in multidimensionality theory. I do so because I believe the multidimensional turn in intersectionality theory better situates masculine identities and practices within the matrix of socially constructed hierarchies, better explains the synergistic interplay between categories such as gender and race, and better explains the role context plays as well as demonstrating its necessity in understanding a particular interaction. As such, it is a useful tool in explaining and clarifying the gendered racial dynamics present in such phenomenon as lynching and racial profiling, as well as in understanding the justifications for the project of progressive black masculinities.
Part I of this essay defines progressive black masculinities. It also briefly summarizes the arguments that support the concept and which seek to encourage black men’s engagement with it. Part II discusses the development of the multidimensional turn in intersectionality theory in relation to masculinities studies. Part III turns to masculinities and hegemonic masculinity theory situating the insights about the patriarchal gender system and the ranking of masculinities within a multidimensionality framework. Part IV then briefly makes the argument for progressive masculinities, drawing on both multidimensionality and masculinities theory.
progressive black masculinities, masculinities, racial profiling, feminism, intersectionality, multidimensionality, black men
Gender and Sexuality | Law | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology
Athena D. Mutua, The Multidimensional Turn: Revisiting Progressive Black Masculinities, in Masculinities and the Law: A Multidimensional Approach 78 (Frank Rudy Cooper & Ann C. McGinley, eds., NYU Press 2012).