Manliness in the Twenty First Century with James Doyle

WebMD Live Events Transcript

What does it mean to be a man in the new millennium? Join James A. Doyle, founding editor of the Journal of Men's Studies, for a discussion about masculinity and the growing academic field of men's studies.

Event Date: 6/01/00.

The opinions given by Dr. Doyle are his and his alone. If you have specific questions or are concerned about your health, please consult your personal physician. This event is for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Hello and welcome to WebMD live! Our guest today is James Doyle, PhD. A professor of psychology at Roane State Community College in Tennessee, Doyle is founding editor of the "Men's Studies Review" ( www.men'sstudies.com) and the author of  The Male Experience and co-author of Sex and Gender.

Today, we're talking about masculinity and the Twenty-First Century, or, "What does it mean to be a man in the year 2000?". Thanks for joining us, Doctor.

Dr. Doyle: I'm pleased to be here.

Moderator: If you don't mind, I'd love it if you could tell us a bit about yourself and your background in all of this.

Dr. Doyle: Sure. My background, basically, has been in psychology. I took my undergraduate degree, and took that in Aquinas University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. From there I went to Ohio, where I took my master's degree in clinical psychology. From there, I headed north to Minnesota to begin a counseling department at St. Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota. I spent two years there, and then traveled to Canada, where I pursued a doctorate in social psychology. I finished my education in 1973, and came back to the states to Pennsylvania, where I taught at St. Francis College for five years, then moved to Tennessee, where I've been for the last 22 years, again, teaching psychology. That's my background in education and teaching. My involvement in men's studies began with my doctoral dissertation, where I did a study dealing with male attitudes and what we used to call "psychology of the self-actualization model"; I looked at the male role. Since that initial interest, I've been writing and doing further research which culminated in the early 1980's, when I wrote my first text book on men's studies entitled The Male Experience. From there I became involved in a number of academic groups that were developing during the 1980's, bringing academics together that were interested in issues of masculinity and men's lives, and have been involved ever since, in some facet, with various groups. In 1992, I founded the first academic journal that was publishing original men's studies research titled the Men's Studies Review. We've been doing that ever since. That's my academic background, and in the area of men's studies.

Moderator: So, Dr. Doyle, let's start with the big question: What does it mean to be a man in the year 2000?

Dr. Doyle: That is the big question. Probably the answer is no longer as simple as it would have been for my father or grandfather, some 20, 30 or more years ago. In many ways, our fathers and grandfathers had a straightforward, or dominant, male model that they could emulate with their behavior, and in so doing could be fairly comfortable in knowing they were acting out in a true male fashion. That dominant male model, or what one men's study calls it, the Hegemonic male model, has really come under tremendous fire or scrutiny in the past 20 years. For most men today, there is no one model that they can use to inspire or emulate. There's this variety. So if anything, the man of the early 21st century is going to be many men. As I say, while we're in this transition from a single male model to many models, probably the most interesting aspect of men's lives is the confusion that many men feel, because the rules that governed what their grandfathers and fathers needed to be like to be considered men, those rules have been shunted aside, if not completely dismissed. There's been few models that have come forward that men can hold to. It's almost as if it's every man for himself now. That can be very scary.

Moderator: Would you mind giving us a brief history of men's studies?

Dr. Doyle: Sure. Men's studies came again pretty much out of the interest in women's studies that were present during the late 1960's and early 1970's. Most of the early men's studies scholars were involved in women's studies in some form or fashion. Probably if there was one theoretical seed bed for men's studies, it would have to be feminism. Most of the early men's studies scholars came out of that perspective, addressing the issue of the imbalance of power in our society between women and men. Thus, when they were looking at issues of interest to women, the collateral group, men, also demanded attention. If men, in fact, were the basic power within a society, then what did having power do to men? Many of these early men's studies scholars started focusing attention on men and their lives during these early days, and in focusing not on men as the generic model for the human race when we would talk about mankind,  they started arguing, "let's look at men as men, as half of the human race."