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


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


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

© 2024 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at