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Masculinity and Femininity Essay

By and large, the stereotypes of Australia at home and abroad are inherently masculine. Whether it's romanticising a craggy (all-white) settler in Australia's interior, or valorising the alpha male in Australia's cinema classic, , these origin stories have never really accommodated perspectives which subvert our heteronormative stories. But here's our paradox: they also serve to articulate how our cultural narratives can also be read as queer.

Donaldson, Michael. ‘What Is Hegemonic Masculinity?’ Theory and Society 22.5 (1993): 643-57.

Popular culture provides an intriguing space to explore social constructs of masculinity. This imagery has the potential to both influence and reiterate contemporary narratives about masculinity. This paper uses a qualitative content analysis approach to examine four contemporary, Australian-edition and/or produced lifestyle magazines that are for men, about men and targeted at men. This analysis includes Australian editions of international magazines such as For Him Magazine (FHM), Zoo Weekly (ZW) and Men’s Health Magazine (MHM), alongside the locally produced Ralph Magazine (RM). These magazines reflect contemporary ideas about appropriate performances and embodiments of masculinity through the process of consumption, and demonstrate the shift from traditional ‘Aussie’ notions of masculinity towards more banal, globalised and commercialised forms.

Young men, masculinity and violence | Raewyn Connell

Cohen, Theodore F. Men and Masculinity: A Text Reader. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Thomson Learning, 2001.

In unpacking narratives of masculinity in Australian media I am using a socio-constructionist approach, in which masculinity is understood not to be an essence with which men are born (Moynihan, 1072; Singleton, 43). Rather, masculinity is embedded through the performance of social interactions that are signified by beliefs, norms, cultural practices and behaviours associated with men. These ideologies are meant to stand in opposition to expressions of femininity and female gender roles (Buchbinder, 43; Moynihan, 1072; Singleton, 43). Throughout this paper I use the term ‘appropriate masculinity’ as a way to encapsulate what Cohen maintains is the notion of an idealised masculine narrative congruent with social norms (5). Ideals concerning displays of masculinity are formed by ‘the shared beliefs or models of gender that the majority of society accepts as appropriate masculinity or femininity’ (Cohen, 5). As Alexander maintains, gender ideals are constructed to specific historical and cultural contexts, changing over time, and warrant continued investigation (537). The work of Hermes (26), Crewe (9), and Holmes (510) in their theoretical approaches to the qualitative study of magazines provides the framework for my analysis. The implications of these findings suggest that despite Australia’s emerging multiculturalism regarding race, gender, class and sexuality in city centres such as Sydney and Melbourne (see Jayasuriya, 27) where multiple narratives of masculinity exist, the average Australian male is still depicted as white, heterosexual and expected to subscribe to a hierarchical model of masculinity.

Although there is an abundance of scholarship about social constructions of contemporary masculinity within Australia (e.g. Connell, The Men and the Boys 25; Drummond, 85; Stedman, 79; Walker, 40; Waitt and Warren, 353), there is a lack of focus on contemporary narratives of masculinity evident in Australian lifestyle magazines. Contemporary magazines such as ZW, FHM, RM, and MHM are valuable sources regarding how contemporary Australian masculinity is presented, leaving the question of what kinds of masculine narratives are depicted, how race, sexuality and class influence these representations, and whether these narratives retain any traditional aspects of Australian masculinity. Furthermore, they reflect the process by which a particular masculine narrative is idealised and perpetuated, thus requiring a critical examination of their material. I argue that these four magazines present three distinct narratives of masculinity available for consumption by Australian men. These narratives are significant as they demonstrate emerging tensions between these classed masculine identities while maintaining that whiteness and heterosexuality remain the key defining aspects of an appropriate, Australian masculine identity.

men and masculinity - Essay Example

Whitehead, Stephen. Men and Masculinities: Key Themes and New Directions. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2002.

Edwards, Tim. ‘Consuming Masculinities: Style, Content and Men’s Magazines’. Men in the Mirror: Men’s Fashion, Masculinity and Consumer Culture. Ed. Tin Edwards London: Cassell, 1997. 72-85.

Boni, Federico. ‘Framing Media Masculinities: Men's Lifestyle Magazines and the Biopolitics of the Male Body’. European Journal of Communication 17.4 (2002): 465-78.

Stibbe, Arran. ‘Health and the Social Construction of Masculinity in Men’s Health Magazine’. Men and Masculinities 7.1 (2004): 31-51.
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, and my first essay on men and masculinities was published in ..

This article has examined contemporary narratives of masculinity found within Australian editions of lifestyle magazines. Past scholarship regarding masculine narratives and constructs of masculinity within lifestyle magazines have focused on the discourses of bodies, health, objectification and sex/sexuality. This article has addressed the lack of research on narratives of masculinity within Australian-produced or editions of lifestyle magazines. While lifestyle magazines are in the process of being, or have already been replaced with online versions, the narratives they promote still require exploration and unpacking. I have argued that three major narratives of masculinity emerge, linked by two threads of commonality. These narratives are typified by a particular set of qualities and product consumption that are then marketed to appeal to men as an idealised masculinity.

Feature Article on Australian Masculinity

The decision to focus on personal narratives is one of the strengths of this book. Meyer shows that although there are potential problems with using such narratives, such as the extent to which any narrative can be held as representative of a mythical unified ‘war experience’, common threads of understanding nevertheless emerge from these sources which enable a greater understanding of the effects of war on representations of male identity. The chapters in Men of War focus on different textual sources and proceed chronologically, allowing Meyer to reflect on the role of memory in shaping narratives of war. The first two chapters deal with wartime material (letters from the front and wartime diaries); a chapter on letters of condolence bridges the wartime and post-war worlds; and the final two chapters on letters from disabled ex-servicemen to the Ministry of Pensions and war memoirs deal with soldiers’ attempts to negotiate the world after the war. There are occasional problems with this structure: soldiers appear to have recorded many of the same concerns in diaries and in memoirs, and although there is clearly a point in comparing the subtle differences in these narratives, the material on horror (for example) seems repetitious in places. For the most part however, the structure highlights both the particularity of different types of sources and the diverse arenas in which martial masculinities were acted out. It has the benefit of showing not only how soldiers constructed their own masculine identities, but how these varied with intended audience, and how others (mothers, military superiors, pension officials) contested or supported these constructions.

masculinity of Australian life” in an essay …

These narratives engage with some traditional traits of Australian masculine tropes that have been altered or reappropriated to appeal to Australian men as idealised representations. Future research could determine what Australian men and women have to say about the depictions of masculinity within these lifestyle magazines and whether they acknowledge these as accurate representations of their everyday lives. What is significant about these narratives is that they continue the perpetuation of idealised, Australian masculinity as white and heterosexual, allowing little deviation from this. The classed tensions that emerge between these narratives demonstrate that ‘appropriate’ masculinity continues to be conceptualised in varying ways that are in conflict with each other, reinforcing a hierarchical model of masculinity that Australia men are encouraged to subscribe to.

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