Contending Masculinities in Early America
This chapter summarizes the book's main themes. The preceding chapters show that early American conditions produced multiple standards of masculinity as men of different classes, “races,” and cultures contended with one another. Under such conditions, a single aristocratic ideal of manhood could not dominate or even endure unchanged. But these competing standards of manhood were not born equal. They organized power and access to resources along racialized and class lines: the full privileges associated with preferred manhood were available only to some, not all men. The chapters demonstrate that war and the exigencies of imperial state-building defined and redefined the meaning of honorable and dishonorable manhood. They also highlight America's gender frontier: the porous zone of gendered interactions between indigenous and settler societies and between Europeans and Africans.
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