Notes on Trafficking in Men

Gutmann, Matthew C.1997. “Trafficking in Men: The Anthropology of Masculinity.” Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol.26, pp.385-409.



This article was about Masculinity and how it is defined and explained in Anthropology. The study of masculinity is fairly new to Anthropology.

Conceptual Issues:

– Anthropologist have developed four ways to define and explain masculinity.

1. Anything that men do

2. Anything men think and do to be men

3. Some men are inherently or by ascription considered “more manly” than other men

4. Emphasizes the general and central importance of male – female relations (Masculinity is anything          women are not)

– Herzfeld wrote that in a village there is a distinct difference in being a good man and just being born a male. This statement means that it is one thing to be born a male, but to be a good male you have to show your worth and do so by performing manly task.

– In certain cultures masculinity is only obtainable by men. There can not be a masculine female in these culture because their definition of masculinity is directly tied to the biological makeup of the person.

– The first major study of manhood was conducted by Brandes in 1980.

+This study revolved around how male identities develop in relation to women.

+ Brandes felt that the presence of women is huge in helping men understand what it means to be a male.

-Most males compare their identities with female identities.

The Historical Male in Anthropology:

– Unmanly men and  manly women becoming more present in society along with the women’s right social movement is said to have caused more studies on masculinity because gender divisions were being tested.

-In the past masculinity and femininity were viewed as biological traits. It was thought that you were either born masculine or you were not masculine.

The Cultural Economies of Masculinity:

– Cultural Economies of Masculinity

+Definitions on masculinity and manliness vary between cultures and regions.

+ Certain task and qualities are viewed as more important and completion of these tasks and having of these qualities determine how masculine some one is. The catch is the values change from culture to culture so a man may be viewed as very masculine in one culture and then be viewed as merely a average man in another culture.

– Gender Division of Labor

+ Jobs males have and roles they play in society contribute to their masculinity.


-Males are viewed as the providers they are not viewed as the person in the family who sits around the house watching the children.

– Male bonding: Men need situations and times when females are not present and not influencing how the act.


– Power is viewed as very important when discussing masculinity. The male is viewed as having power over women. There is a power inequality between women and men.

– An example of this can be seen in a quote that says men give life and women merely give birth to the life.

+The man views his power to create life as being very manly.

Women and Masculinity:

-For a long time masculinity and the definitions of gender have been solely based on males interpretation of the issues. Starting in the 1970;s people began to study women and see how important they are in defining what is masculine.

– Women’s role when it comes to developing masculinity has been under-discussed and studied.

– Women actually play a large role in defining what masculinity is


– Masculinity can be defined in many ways whether it be by society of biology.


About bradhelmick

I am currently a senior at ODU.
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