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What it means to be a man?
April 23, 2012 10:08 PM   Subscribe

What are some changing trends in how masculinity is defined?

I am researching masculinity in popular culture. I specifically want to know what the general consensus is on how masculinity is defined in pop culture, and how it has changed over recent years (the last two decades or so). I'm having trouble finding reliable sources/articles... most stuff seems to be bias-laden drivel. Can anyone help point me in the right direction?
posted by nurgle to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have anything scientific, but I did see that this documentary is coming out soon. Maybe it can help kick start you.
posted by OrangeDrink at 10:26 PM on April 23, 2012

You could try the Good Men Project.

Or this recent book: Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men by the psychologist Roy Baumeister. It seems very thoroughly sourced, and it has index entries for "masculinity" and "manhood."
posted by John Cohen at 10:32 PM on April 23, 2012

Not to be nitpicku, but masculinity is relative from culture to culture. Are you asking this as though masculinity is being viewed through the lens of North American pop culture?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 10:46 PM on April 23, 2012

posted by nurgle at 10:49 PM on April 23, 2012

Masculinity: Bodies, Movies, Culture, edited by Peter Lehman and Hard Bodies: Hollywood Masculinity in the Reagan Era by Susan Jeffords.
posted by mlis at 10:53 PM on April 23, 2012

I've heard good things about "The Male Body: A New Look at Men in Public and in Private"
posted by andoatnp at 11:16 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly [version] 4 (2010) is mostly focused on the media's representation of women, but it also has a section on masculinity. From my recollection of it (I showed it in class a couple of months ago) she addresses recent changes in how masculinity is portrayed.

Sociological Images also has many posts in its "gender: masculinity" category. They're a terrific resource.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:18 PM on April 23, 2012

Possibly this: Warrior Dreams: Violence and manhood in post-Vietnam America by J. William Gibson.
posted by hegemone at 5:40 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm sure you can find some academic sources and basic data about women becoming primary income-earners in families, and also men taking on housework and making that a masculine thing. With higher unemployment some men find themselves at home with the kids while their wife hangs onto her job.
posted by belau at 5:46 AM on April 24, 2012

I have noticed an increasing awareness of body image issues in men - men becoming more likely than before to have cosmetic surgery or diet, men's fashion stores echoing the quick stock turnover that womens; have had for years. Eating disorders are on the rise amongst men. I'd be interested to know if there is strong variability between gay and straight men on this issue.
posted by mippy at 6:56 AM on April 24, 2012

Michael Kimmel is one of the most popular authors on this topic.
posted by anya32 at 7:32 AM on April 24, 2012

Paul Solotaroff: "If you were born anytime after the release of Conan the Barbarian in 1982, it may shock you to learn that as late as the 1970s, Americans were repelled by the sight of brawn.
posted by K.P. at 8:43 AM on April 24, 2012

I specifically want to know what the general consensus is on how masculinity is defined in pop culture, and how it has changed over recent years (the last two decades or so).

Do you mean by "defined" the processes which result in definition, or the paradigms of masculinity themselves?
posted by clockzero at 8:58 AM on April 24, 2012

Look at who the "heros" of popular TV are. Used to be Sam Malone, Tom Seleck, and Rockford Files. You probably aren't going to be seeing many Burt Reynolds on a bearskin rug kinds of looks from current examples of popular masculinity.
posted by gjc at 9:54 PM on April 24, 2012

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