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Slow Motion pp 88–111Cite as

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Competing Masculinities (I): Manliness — The Masculine Ideal

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Abstract

‘Being a man,’ we learn from Norman Mailer, ‘is the continuing battle of one’s life.’2 Like the Arthurian knight at arms, forever at war, with oneself, with women, with honour, the contemporary guardians of true manhood still believe that living one’s life as a man involves toughness, struggle and conquest. Man is forever at war because, as Mailer once again informs us, he ‘can hardly ever assume he has become a man’.3 To understand men’s contemporary anxieties over manliness, it helps to locate them historically. The interplay between power, labour and desire, which we looked at in the last chapter, are themselves historically constructed and historically changing. Recently, Western historians have begun to show a new interest in charting the history of modern concepts of ‘manhood’, looking back to the nineteenth century as ‘the crucible in which our contemporary understandings of masculinity and femininity were forged’.4

Keywords

  • Late Nineteenth Century
  • Masculine Ideal
  • Separate Sphere
  • Authoritarian Personality
  • Autobiographical Writing

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

‘Masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ are constructs specific to historical time and place. They are categories continually being forged, contested, reworked and reaffirmed in social institutions and practices as well as a range of ideologies.

Leonore Davidoff and Catherine Hall1

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Notes

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5 Competing Masculinities (II): Manliness–The Masculine Ideal

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© 2007 Lynne Segal

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Segal, L. (2007). Competing Masculinities (I): Manliness — The Masculine Ideal. In: Slow Motion. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230582521_5

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