Professors of anthropology, religious studies, and presumably the hard sciences are working on creating a new academic discipline, male studies. According to a piece by Jennifer Epstein in Inside Higher Ed, future male studies experts held what may be their first academic conference. Male studies is apparently different from men’s studies. As the article (sort of) explains:

Scholars of boys and men converged Wednesday at Wagner College, in Staten Island, N.Y., to announce the creation of the Foundation for Male Studies, which will support a conference and a journal targeted at exploring the triumphs and struggles of the XY-chromosomed of the human race — without needing to contextualize their ideas as being one half of a male-female binary or an offshoot of feminist theory. Organizers positioned themselves in contrast to men’s studies, which is seen as based on the same theories as women’s studies and is grouped together with it as gender studies.

Men’s studies dates from the 1970s, mostly as a critique to the largely reactionary men’s rights movement that emerged in response to feminism. Men’s studies is usually taught, if at all, within gender studies departments and is, in many ways, a subdiscipline of women’s studies.

Well male studies appears to be pretty hostile to women’s studies and feminism in general. “I am concerned that it’s widespread in the United States that masculinity is politically incorrect,” explained American Enterprise Institute scholar Christina Hoff Sommers, who once wrote a book called The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men. Rutgers University’s Lionel Tiger, a professor of anthropology, characterized feminism as “a well-meaning, highly successful, very colorful denigration of maleness as a force.”

Rocco Capraro of Hobart and William Smith Colleges explained that that “men are both powerful and powerless. Today’s discourse on individual men is not a discourse of power — men do not feel powerful in today’s society.”

The president of the American Men’s Studies Association, Robert Heasley, declined to speak at the Wagner event, saying that male studies as an intellectual discipline was unnecessary and “kind of a Glenn Beck approach.”

“Their argument is that they’re inventing something that I think already exists,” Heasley said. Men’s studies came out of feminist analysis of gender, which includes biological differences.” And this is, according to the Epstein article “the very thing male studies says is different about its approach.”[Image via]

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer