Bizzaro: “Men as Cautious Feminists” (2005)

I’m reading Calling Cards: Theory and Practice in the Study of Race, Gender, and Culture, edited by Jacqueline Jones Royster and Ann Marie Mann Simpkins, for class. Excellent book! I just read “Men as Cautious Feminists: Reading, Responding, Role-Modeling as a Man” by Patrick Bizzaro. His concern is “What kind of role model should a male teacher be to younger men in the academy” (61) — and he’s introduced me to a body of work I didn’t know existed in composition studies: men writing about teaching and being models for young men.

Bizzaro covers this work, summarizing the ways feminism has influenced it:

For [Robert] Connors, […] feminism does not offer a viable identity to men for their efforst in working with other men. [Tania] Modleski is concerned about men’s appropriation of the political power women have amassed in the profession and the potential disappearance of women from feminism altogether. (63)

Bizarro desires to work from a “middle space BETWEEN Connors and Modleski [that] is well suited to a male feminism” (63). He follows John Flynn, who challenges his own gendered reading of student texts, in “wish[ing] to claim my pedagogy as feminine and women as my teachers” (Flynn, qtd. in 66). Bizzaro then discusses Patrick Murphy, who stresses being transparent and holding conversations with students about pedagogical choices in order to promote self-critique, process, and de-centering of male authority (67).

Bizzaro then writes, “A man must consider what it means to read and teach as a man and, in a classroom dialogue with his students or in an essay intended for other members of the professional community or if necessary in the public sphere, explore the patriarchal biases he as been taught by culture” (67, emphasis original). He goes on to discuss other perspectives on teaching as a man; Gerald Graff’s concept of being somewhere between a wimp and a bully; the necessity of questioning how manhood is a construction imposed on us; and how academic professions “[have] institutionalized masculine approaches to problem solving and ways of thinking about the profession as a career” (74).

I’m excited to see that this body of literature exists. I would have liked to read more about Bizzaro’s teaching and what he does in the classroom, though he does share personal experiences from outside the classroom, which was helpful.

Bizzaro, Patrick. “Men as Cautious Feminists: Reading, Responding, Role-Modeling as a Man.” Calling Cards: Theory and Practice in the Study of Race, Gender, and Culture. Ed. Jacqueline Jones Royster and Ann Marie Mann Simpkins. Albany: State U of New York P, 2005. 61-74.

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2 Responses to Bizzaro: “Men as Cautious Feminists” (2005)

  1. Lani says:

    Or one could refuse to be a man altogether (Stoltenberg).

  2. Michael says:

    Thanks, Lani. That ran through my mind a bit as I read, and I almost commented about it as I wrote this post. I certainly believe there’s a need to have male students identify with me as a male teacher in some ways, but Bizzaro seems pretty invested in manhood — in that he’s not, a la Stoltenberg and others, willing to break the male bond.

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