What Do Men Want? Masculinity and Its Discontents

Nina Power, 2022.

A book review by Finola Laughren.

“Nina Power’s intellectual and political allegiances are hard to pin down. Power’s first book, 2009s One Dimensional Woman, repudiated the then popular notion that women had reached the heights of emancipation. Instead, Power argued that feminism had been co-opted by and become complicit with capitalism and as a result faced an existential crisis. Surveying woman’s situation, Power saw an incredibly depressing state of affairs. With the mass entry of women into paid employment and the shift from manufacturing to service-based industries, Western society had undergone a ‘feminisation’ (Power 2009, 20). No longer systematically excluded from the public sphere, women now faced an inverse problem – they could no longer find reprieve from the public sphere. Even their private lives were being infiltrated by a process of hyper-marketisation. In a context where it was believed that the road to liberation was paved with consumption and that to be ‘empowered’ women had to make commodities of themselves, Power argued that serious feminist political thought had all but disappeared. Feminism had found itself at a crossroads. For Power, if feminism continued along its current trajectory, it would lose completely what it had already been largely evacuated of – its radical potential. Was feminism destined to become yet another discourse on which capitalist markets could parasitically feast?”

Read Finola’s full review here:

Finola Laughren (2022) What Do Men Want? Masculinity and Its Discontents, Australian Feminist Studies, DOI: 10.1080/08164649.2022.2095613.