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Instituting Masculinity shed great light on the history of the legal profession in this country. The reference to law becoming the nation's “civil religion” and judges becoming the “nation's priestly class” seemed of significance, considering that when framed in that perspective, it somewhat still seems true today. We live in an extremely litigious society, and people tend to threaten court as the end all be all with respect to right and wrong. As a former court reporter, I would see people walk out of courtrooms feeling vindicated or relieved and other times completely distraught. Working closely with judges for so many years allowed me to see their humanity, flaws, and personal lives altering my perspective and ultimately proving to me that sometimes verdicts really just came down to the judge on the case and their personal beliefs and practices. In “Institutionalizing Masculinity,” Grossberg highlights the process of associating the legal system with masculinity, tying masculinity in as a piece of “American legal consciousness.” Regulations, both institutional and informal, were placed and revised in order to shape an image of masculinity as tied to the legal system and vice versa. As the legal system became increasingly formalized, a more complex hierarchy was established by placing greater significance on different niches of legal practice. Women were excluded from different areas of legal practice, thus reinforcing and serving to continue to establish the masculinity and higher admirability/respectability of certain kinds of legal practice like corporate and patent law over divorce and mediation.

It was interesting how Grossberg mentioned that in post-Civil War America when the lawyer career was shifting to include corporate lawyers and law firms. This questioned the aspect of masculinity within the law field because there was concern if lower-status men would be able to obtain the great position of working with the law. There was an idea that a lawyer was a “manly advocate” and some were worried that through the change in organizational structure, this aspect would dwindle or not properly be represented in the changing climate. This part of the reading helps the audience understand that there was not only a gender basis of division but also a class hierarchy. -Savannah Alexander

I found the author's discussion of the traits that were ideal for finding success in the profession of law to be very intriguing. “Fearless”, “Manly” and “Independent” were the terms that helped define those who found success in the antebellum-era practice of law. “A man's admission to the bar and professional success depended on his conforming to these masculine values.” These deep-rooted ideas and values as to what made a proper lawyer, allowed for the exclusivity of who was admitted into the profession to remain rigid for years. The author goes on to mention how Abraham Lincoln has been viewed by many historians to have personified these ideals to a tee. - Joey Welch

I found it interesting how the law was seen as a Fraternity, because of the way that they behaved outside of work with each other and how these masculine traits continued and made it difficult for women to become lawyers. Deon Satchell

As we had discussed in class, lawyers became a more respectable and noble job position, especially in comparison to ministers.Lawyers were the philosophical thinkers. -Moe Cushing

I think starting off this text with discussion about the cautionary tale was a good way to include women in what is being studied here as a way to see this situation from other angles. If women were being known to not be able to handle intense positions and be “out on their own” then who would be doing these positions? The men of course, and women were apparently great helpers especially when involved in enhancing the family income which we see as she marries someone who works in law and uses her skills as a helper to his business. I think she is seen as much healthier and happier in this position, outlining the expectations for women in the work place here, as well as the expectations for the men. — Ruth Curran

It looks like this “new ideal of the lawyer” as described on page 136 is all about not just knowing, but knowing what to do with the information and taking appropriate action. It is more intense, there is the need to be able to handle a lot, and to be aggressive enough with the information to be successful. This all keeps it a highly masculine position for them in this period. 136. — Ruth Curran

grossberg_institutionalizing_masculinity.txt · Last modified: 2023/03/24 18:34 by