A Swallow Press Book
"Disarming Manhood is one of the most important books of our time. David Richards brings a novelists eye and a psychologists questions to the lives of men who have notably challenged the linkages between manhood and violence. He traces the roots of their resistance to a close relationship with a loved mother or maternal caretaker, whose ethical voice they carry inside them. This is a book for all mothers of sons—for everyone invested in human survival."
Carol Gilligan, author of In a Different Voice and The Birth of Pleasure
“Professor Richards offers an illuminating study about how … traditional beliefs can be disarmed to produce new, democratic manhood.”
International Journal of Intelligence Ethics
Masculine codes of honor and dominance often are expressed in acts of violence, including war and terrorism. In Disarming Manhood: Roots of Ethical Resistance, David A. J. Richards examines the lives of five famous men—great leaders and crusaders—who actively resisted violence and presented more humane alternatives to further their causes.
Richards argues that William Lloyd Garrison, Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi, Winston Churchill, and Martin Luther King Jr. shared a psychology whose nonviolent roots were deeply influenced by a loving, maternalistic ethos. Drawing upon psychology, history, political theory, and literature, Richards traces a connection between these leaders and the maternal figures who profoundly shaped their responses to conflict, often on the basis of an original interpretation of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
The voice of nonviolent masculinity has empowered ethical transformations, including civil disobedience in South Africa, India, and the United States. Disarming Manhood demonstrates that as Garrison, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Churchill, and King carried out their various missions, they were galvanized by teachings whose ethical foundations rejected unjust violence. Accessibly written and free of jargon, Disarming Manhood will interest a wide audience as it furthers the understanding of human nature itself and contributes to the fields of developmental psychology and feminist scholarship.
David A. J. Richards is Edwin D. Webb Professor of Law at New York University. He is the author of eleven books, including Conscience and the Constitution: History, Theory, and Law of the Reconstruction Amendments, and Women, Gays, and the Constitution: The Grounds for Feminism and Gay Rights in Culture and Law.
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One of South Africa’s most serious problems is the large number of youths in the black townships who have been exposed to an incredible depth and complexity of trauma. Not only have they lived through severe poverty, the deterioration of family and social structures, and an inferior education system, but they have also been involved in catastrophic levels of violence, both as victims and as perpetrators. What are the effects of the milieu? What future is there for this generation?
“Africa is no more prone to violent conflicts than other regions. Indeed, Africa’s share of the more than 180 million people who died from conflicts and atrocities in the twentieth century is relatively modest.… This is not to underestimate the immense impact of violent conflicts on Africa; it is merely to emphasize the need for more balanced debate and commentary.”
The outbreak of numerous and simultaneous violent conflicts around the globe in the past decade resulted in immense human suffering and countless lost lives. In part, both results were aided by inactivity or by belated and often misplaced responses by the international community to the embattled groups.