Power through knowledge: Ignorance and the 'real man'

Merran Toerien, Kevin Durrheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this article is to show that tensions between conflicting accounts of masculinity need not only be 'resolved' by individual men, but can have a collective 'resolution We argue that the 'real man - by drawing together the 'macho' and 'new man discourses - represents one such 'integrated' discourse of masculinity available to men Our argument is based on a discourse analysis of 15 editions of Men's Health, a South African magazine predominantly aimed at white, middle-to upper-middle class, heterosexual men We also investigate how such integrated discourses may be collectively produced, arguing that the 'real man is the product of a rhetorical question-answer strategy that moves men from ignorance to knowledge Focusing on the rhetoric of masculine ignorance, we argue that the knowledge produced in answer to this ignorance serves to 'resolve' a current dilemma for men how to maintain an essential masculinity while distancing oneself from criticisms of men as traditionally macho We conclude by exploring, from a feminist perspective, the political implications of the 'real man discourse as a collective 'resolution'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-54
Number of pages20
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Discourse
  • Identity
  • Knowledge
  • Masculinities
  • Rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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