Masculinity Over Time.

February 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

The two essays we read read on masculinity had some interesting differences.  One man Mr. Staples  describes himself as being shy in combat and attempting to constantly be as non-threatening as possible.  The other Mr. Kriegel describes his youth in highly aggressive terms, using words related to war or combat.  His role models were the most masculine of men.  This says interesting things about the time and place they grew up in.

Mr. Staples “came of age” in the 1960’s living in a “small, angry, industrial town”.  The 1960’s were a time of intense racial tension.  The representations of young aggressive african american men that he would have been exposed would have been predominantly negative.  Society was encouraging him that the ideal for him was to be passive and to adopt white culture.  He conformed to this in his own way.  But he did still conform, he is highly concerned about the feelings he creates in others and goes out of his way to create an image that is non-threatening as possible.  He talks about seeing friends and family who did not conform going to jail or dying.  This definitely had a role in reinforcing who he was becoming.

Mr. Krigel was diagnosed with polio at age 11 in 1944.  This means he would have been a young child during world war two.  This would have constantly presented him with images of aggressive, young, white men.  These images glorified this warrior persona as noble and heroic.  This carry’s over into the role models he chooses for him self.  Boxers, aggressive dramatic baseball players, and the action movie heroes of the time.  He talks about there respective battles as proxys for his own war with disease.  They are all also professions that his disease had denied him.

I think it is an interesting comparisons of how strongly the events of the world at the time can have such disparate effects on how someone embraces their masculinity.

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