This essay has two aims. First, drawing on themes in the book Men, Law and Gender: Essays on the ‘Man’ of Law (2010) it explores how an engagement with masculinity has developed in the field of legal studies. The essay argues that particular ideas about men and masculinity have been constituted as distinctive kinds of “social problems” for law at different historical moments, in ways that have served to shape debates about law and gender across a range of areas of social policy in the UK.
Second, building on a recently completed study of fathers’ rights groups and on the book Fragmenting Fatherhood: A Socio-Legal Study (2008), the article explores these issues about law and masculinities in the context of debates about fathers’ rights politics. It argues, via examples, that studies of fathers’ rights and masculinities have much to gain from incorporating a more complex and multilayered account of the gendered male subject and the interconnected nature of the personal lives of women, children and men.