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The Multidimensional Turn: Revisiting Progressive Black Masculinities in Multidimensional Masculinities and Law: Feminist Theory Meets Critical Race Theory

25 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2012  

Athena Mutua

University at Buffalo Law School

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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.

Keywords: progressive black masculinities, masculinities, racial profiling, feminism, intersectionality, multidimensionality, black men

Suggested Citation

Mutua, Athena, The Multidimensional Turn: Revisiting Progressive Black Masculinities in Multidimensional Masculinities and Law: Feminist Theory Meets Critical Race Theory (2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2104406 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2104406

Athena Mutua (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States

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