Saturday, January 4, 2014

How Is Masculinity Constructed in Our Culture / Portrayed in the Media? Martin Amis on Literature

Masculinity is a set of qualities, characteristics or roles generally considered typical of, or appropriate to, a man. It can have degrees of comparison: "more masculine", "most masculine'". The opposite can be expressed by terms such as "unmanly'" or epicene. A near-synonym of masculinity is virility (from Latin vir, man). Constructs of masculinity vary across historical and cultural contexts. The dandy, for instance, was regarded as an ideal of masculinity in the 19th century, but is considered effeminate by modern standards.[2]
Academic study of masculinity underwent a massive expansion of interest in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with courses in the United States dealing with masculinity rising from 30 to over 300.[3] This has led to the investigation of the intersection of masculinity with other axes of social discrimination and also to the use of concepts from other fields -- such as feminism's model of the social construct of gender.

According to a paper submitted by Tracy Tylka to the American Psychological Association (APA), in contemporary America: "Instead of seeing a decrease in objectification of women in society, there has just been an increase in the objectification of both sexes. And you can see that in the media today." Men and women restrict their food intake in an effort to achieve what they consider an attractively thin body, in extreme cases leading to eating disorders.[29]
Thomas Holbrook, also a psychiatrist, cites a recent Canadian study indicating as many as one in six of those with eating disorders were men.[30]
"Younger men and women who read fitness and fashion magazines could be psychologically harmed by the images of perfect female and male physiques," according to recent research in the United Kingdom. Some young women and men exercise excessively in an effort to achieve what they consider an attractively fit and muscular body, which in extreme cases can lead to body dysmorphic disorder or muscle dysmorphia.
Although the actual stereotypes may have remained relatively constant, the value attached to masculine stereotypes have changed over the past few decades and it has been argued that masculinity is an unstable phenomenon and never ultimately achieved.

The driver crash rate per vehicle miles driven is higher for women than for men; although, men are much more likely to cause deaths in the accidents they are involved in.[34] Men drive significantly more miles than women, so, on average, they are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle accidents. Even in the narrow category of young (16--20) driver fatalities with a high blood alcohol content (BAC), a male's risk of dying is higher than a female's risk at the Same BAC level.[35] That is, young women drivers need to be more drunk to have the same risk of dying in a fatal accident as young men drivers.

A growing body of evidence is pointing toward the deleterious impact of masculinity (and hegemonic masculinity in particular) on men's health help-seeking behaviour.[36] American men make 134.5 million fewer physician visits than American women each year. In fact, men make only 40.8% of all physician visits, that is, if women's visits for pregnancy are included, childbirth and associated obstetrical and gynecological visits. A quarter of the men who are 45 to 60 do not have a personal physician. Many men should go to annual heart checkups with physicians but do not, increasing their risk of death from heart disease. Men between the ages of 25 and 65 are four times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than women. Men are more likely to be diagnosed in a later stage of a terminal illness because of their reluctance to go to the doctor.
Reasons men give for not having annual physicals and not visiting their physician include fear, denial, embarrassment, a dislike of situations out of their control, or not worth the time or cost.

Arran Stibbe (2004) analysed issues of a prominent men's health magazine in the year 2000, and claimed that while ostensibly being focused on health, the magazine also promoted hegemonic (traditional) masculinity. These potentially damaging male behaviors included the excessive consumption of convenience foods and meats, drinking of alcohol, and unsafe sex.