Rereading Man's Conquest of Nature Skill, Myths, and the Historical Construction of Masculinity in Western Extractive Industries

Citation:

Quam-Wickham, Nancy. 1999. “Rereading Man’s Conquest of Nature Skill, Myths, and the Historical Construction of Masculinity in Western Extractive Industries.” Men and Masculinities 2 (2): 135–51.

Author: Nancy Quam-Wickham

Abstract:

Writers, folklorists, historians, and others have long highlighted the gendered heritage of the American West, a region that one popular scribe has called the “He-Man Land.” Male workers in the West's extractive industries participated in the construction of these masculine ideals, but did so in ways that emphasized the acquisition of skill in the work-place. A manly worker was a skilled worker, one who could demonstrate the experience, ability, and ingenuity needed to accomplish a job. Occupational language, shop floor culture, rituals, storytelling, and folklore all reflected workers' belief in skill, not brute strength, as the defining characteristic of their manliness.

Keywords: manliness, skill, work culture, mining, oil, lumbering

Topics: Development, Extractive Industries, Gender, Men, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Livelihoods Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 1999

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