Critical Positive Masculinity

Tim Lomas


Although theorists like Connell (1995) have emphasised diversity in men and masculinities, there remains a tendency to present masculinity in singular terms as an assemblage of toxic traits, constructing men as ‘damaged and damage doing’ (Mac an Ghaill & Haywood, 2012). However, an emergent body of work suggests men are able to resist or define traditional norms to negotiate a more ‘positive’ construction of masculinity, e.g., conducive to health. Thus the present article makes the case for introducing a new perspective within the study of men and masculinities: Critical Positive Masculinity. Influenced by the field of positive psychology, this perspective draws together work showing the potential for men to find more constructive ways of doing masculinity, including a series of articles on men adopting new masculine practices through involvement with meditation. However, drawing on the Critical Studies on Men approach, the new perspective still seeks to problematize men and gendered power relations, as even ostensibly ‘positive’ forms of masculinity can have deleterious consequences for marginalised groups. Critical positive masculinity offers a fresh perspective that is neither fatalistically negative nor naively optimistic about the possibility for positive change in men.


masculinity; health; meditation; behaviour change

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