Representations of men

When Arthur Schlesinger wrote the essay The Crisis of American Masculinity in 1958 he articulated a set of concerns about what masculinity is which ushered in a way of thinking about masculinity that has informed debate since then[182]. This is the idea that masculinity is in ‘crisis’ because perceived ‘traditional’ male roles are no longer respected or required.

The concept of ‘hegemonic masculinity’ is a key idea in this area. This is the notion that gender inequality is maintained through ideals of a culturally dominant (hegemonic) form of masculinity: the strong, brave, aggressive, rational man[183]. In addition heterosexual masculinity is defined in opposition to both femininity and gay masculinity[184]. Concerns in this area have focused on the potential impact of a ‘crisis’ of masculinity on men; upon perceived increasing sexualization of men’s bodies and pressures around body image for men; and on continued sexism in media aimed at men, for example in ‘lads mags’.

182. Schlesinger Jr, A. (1958). The Crisis of American Masculinity. Esquire, November, 63-65.
183. Connell, R. W., & Messerschmidt, J. W. (2005). Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept. Gender & Society, 19(6), 829-859.
184. Gough, B., & Edwards, G. (1998), The beer talking: four lads, a carry out and the reproduction of masculinities. The Sociological Review, 46(3), 409-435.