Introduction: Creating “the MAN”: Re(de)fining Masculinity, 1660–1775
Women writers come to the question of masculinity with a necessarily different agenda than their male predecessors and counterparts. The beginnings of a new kind of masculinity can be seen in Sir Richard Steeles play The Conscious Lovers, with the virtuous Sir Richard Steeles Mr. Bevil. David Kuchta asserts that modern English masculinity is a conspicuously political and conspicuously public creation and the political nature of masculinity and gentility can be nowhere more clearly seen than in the civic humanist thought that dominates eighteenth-century politics. While they are integral, as in Samuel Richardsons formulation women must embrace their own subjection in order to fashion the type of masculinity Rousseau advocates. Enlightenment stadial theory, which attempted to account for the progress of societies from savagery to civilization, considered women to be both bearers of culture and civility and as indicators of a given societys level of civilization.