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The term masculinity comes about through gender roles, which throughout history have determined male and female roles within society.

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Introduction

Osh Rice "...men are discouraged from expressing their emotional needs by a socially constructed dominant masculinity which emphasises aggression and competition, and are forced to 'prove' their masculinity by competing with other men. This need to prove one's 'manhood' spills over into male sexuality and sexual behaviour." (Extract from Kirby et al, 2000, p718) To better understand this quote, it is necessary to look back at the traditional views on masculinity. The term masculinity comes about through gender roles, which throughout history have determined male and female roles within society. The role of the male was greatly influenced by his routines, for instance: finding food, providing for a family, providing warmth and shelter. To be capable of these tasks it was necessary for these male 'hunter gatherers' to be strong, healthy, knowledgeable and able to fight with other males for possessions, food and territory, similar in many ways to the apes from which we descended. This view is strengthened by the work of Dr Desmond Morris in his book The Naked Ape, in which he describes early human males as "akin to monkeys and gorillas in many ways". From this early background, gender roles were established and a patriarchal system began to emerge; and still exists to this day. ...read more.

Middle

A modern day example of the changing face of masculinity is the style and career of the footballer David Beckham. Football has traditionally played the role of the masculine working class sport. The dominant view of football has been of a very masculine, tough sport however, what Beckham has done, is to change the gritty image of the game into an image conscious, glamorous game where footballers are no longer sporting hero's but cultural and style icons. Beckham has been influential in this, through his glamorous marriage to Victoria Adams, a high profile pop star in her own right and his love of designer clothes which stray away from the mainstays of previous generations i.e. suits and sports wear and into high fashion and cutting edge clothing which, as little as five years ago would have been perceived as 'gay'. A poststructuralist approach to the changing face of masculinity would be to say that it is not just the media and advertising that has had such an effect, but also an increase in disposable income and increasing dominance of the women in the workplace combining to create an environment where masculinity has to adapt to a changing world where male values and the patriarchal system are no longer as strong as they once were. ...read more.

Conclusion

A criticism that could be made of the a lot of theories is that they base their findings upon high fashion and middle class culture when in actual fact, a large proportion of people come from working class backgrounds where 'hegemonic masculinity' is still a very large part of what it is to 'be a man'. Whilst the effects of the masculine revolution may still be trickling down into these groups, they are still dominated by an ideology, which is distrustful of acting in a feminine manner and losing the respect of their peers. This attitude is still the dominant one throughout male society, despite the advances made throughout the last twenty or thirty years. The quote from Kirby really encapsulates the masculine ideals, which have been influenced by social change but are still stuck in a state where they are biologically determined to act and interact in the way they have been programmed to throughout the centuries. To compare masculinity 200 years ago and now, it is clear that although a lot has changed, even more has stayed the same. Males still compete with each other, there is still an overwhelming need to prove one's manhood at every available opportunity and there is still a patriarchal system in place ensuring that males who are willing to fight and compete to keep power. ...read more.

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