Masculinities and Culture

Masculinities and Culture

Masculinities and Culture

Masculinities and Culture

Synopsis

• What is 'masculinity'? Is 'masculinities' a more appropriate term?
• How are masculinities socially, culturally and historically shaped?
• How are particular masculinities created, enacted and represented in specific settings?
• How can masculinities best be researched and theorized?

Masculinities and Culture explores how 'masculinities', or ways of 'being a man', are anchored in time and place; the products of socio-historical and cultural circumstances. It examines the emergence of a masculinity fit for Empire in the mid to late nineteenth century and, by way of contrast, the more recent media-driven, commercial New Man and New Lad masculinity. The author considers some of the media discourses shaping masculinities today, and the formation of specific masculinities in specific settings (such as prisons, hospitals and schools) which both define, and in turn are defined by, strongly held conceptions of acceptable masculine behaviour. He concludes by reviewing a range of ways in which masculinities might be researched, from fieldwork and auto/biographical and life history approaches through to semiotics and the use of both film and literary texts. This lively text provides a comprehensive introduction to contemporary debates concerning masculinities as gendered constructions, along with the means of researching and theorizing them.

Excerpt

The urgent need to challenge the cultural construction of masculinity has long been an organizing imperative of feminist and gender-sensitive research in cultural and media studies. Frequently singled out for particular attention by researchers, amongst other concerns, is the extent to which media representations help to reproduce (and thereby reinforce as normal) cultural configurations of femininity and masculinity as being naturally determined by sexual difference. This kind of essentialist language and imagery typically works to privilege ‘masculine’ discourses about the world (deemed objective, rational and unitary) over and above ‘feminine’ ones (held to be subjective, irrational and fragmented) in ideological terms. For these researchers, then, seemingly common sensical media representations of masculinity need to be interrogated in ways which avoid tacitly reaffirming as legitimate or appropriate what are patriarchal assumptions about gendered and sexualized identities, subjectivities and experiences.

In seeking to further extend a critical understanding of the cultural politics of masculinity, John Beynon’s Masculinities and Culture makes an exciting intervention into current debates. His dicussion centres from the outset on the tensions engendered between discourses of ‘maleness’, based on a conception of physiological difference, and those of ‘masculinity’ as a complex set of cultural constructions. At issue, in his view, is the need to examine masculinity as it is inflected in culturally specific ways so as to better account for how it is shaped by such factors as class, ethnicity, sexuality, age, nationality and so forth. Here Beynon makes key distinctions between ‘masculinity-as-experienced’, ‘masculinity-as-enacted’ and ‘masculinity-asrepresented’, the latter referring primarily to depictions of what it is to be a . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.