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The Identity of Masculinity: A Changing Construct

The association between masculinity, identity and gender as social constraint has transformed over different periods in regard to the social understanding of masculinity. Initial effects drew heavily on ideas of gender role and its discrepancies towards men. Hence, sociologists debate that gender role theory is insufficient for discovering the power of a man and fell short fully acknowledging variances between males and females. The influence of post-structural studies of masculinity, with particular attention to the work of Foucault, suggests a method to link the identity process to social action and the relationship of power, with the understanding that power is an unchanging structure, inspired by ideologically.

From a post-structural point of view, identity is believed to always be in development and is never complete. With regards to this there is no fundamental, focused, or static sense of self, rather an always changing arrangement of several themes which together provide the ability for the individual to achieve an understanding of identity. The importance of masculinity, in the holds of identity work, can surrender to one’s changing self-identity. In accepting that there is no fundamental self, then being a male, through socially dominant forms, can provide to be an adequate way by which boys and men can demonstrate gender and a sense of individual identity.

In association with these specific cultural practices, males attain a kinship with other males. They also find variations between them and other males who appear different, as well as differences from women. These differences can be seen in their sexual orientation, cultural personification, ethnicity, and other changes to their manly routines. Without biologically fixed identities, a sense of self manifests through achieving a sense of belonging in the community. Belonging is not automatic. However, to be accepted within any specific community, a "manly" performance is key to that acceptance.

It is the need to belong that creates both the individual sense of self and the gender role. As described by Bell, “identity is the effect of performance and not vice versa.” This type of information doesn’t imply that males are submissive in the task of self-discovery; nor is this a case of the mighty gender socialization. This shows that all persons are capable of forming their identities within the limits of their cultural social experience, with regards to aspects that are continuously open to change. Men and masculinity are closely related to a broader set of social and cultural transformations of the western countries.

There has been an assumed crisis of masculinity of late modernity. Once again, the question of masculine identity has arisen as one of the main concepts in the rethinking of cultural social change. It’s proposed that socio-cultural transformation is made clear by the breakdown of older social collections. Social class with a complementary awareness in identity and subjectivity can increase the fluidity of social relationship. More precisely, there has been an emphasis on the disarticulation of identity and social awareness.

The notion of identity is a solid term that is used in an assortment of ways under varying contexts. Demonstrating the practicality of the perception of identity, investigating its emphases, which are pertinent to the understanding of masculinity. This is clearly illustrated in the socialization case, the reality construction model, and masculine crisis theory. Sociologically, the abstract of identity occurs when it has involvement within a community on new individuals.

Statements on how men and masculinity are continuously in crisis are enthusiastically expressed yet what these crises could be are very ill-defined and vague in nature. The impression that masculinity, in one form or another, is in profound crisis has become commonly accepted as true. Is there any truth to these statements or is it more an assumed based on repetition of it being true? If there is a crisis in masculinity there are a few possible explanations; the crisis is unique to the times, if the crisis had existed previously it was in a different form, or it is constitutive of masculinity itself.

For a long time, men have been in the spotlight with regards to violent crimes, absentee fathers, employment concerns, and academic success or failure. Cowards compiled a list of some opposing issues that would create a crisis in masculinity. This list mentions that men are more unwilling to respond to physical and psychological problems than women are. Men will encounter deep depression when they lose the breadwinner role in their family. The loss of this status is regarded as one of the crises of masculinity. Cowards goes on to illustrate men face the threat of unemployment, constant job role changes, and other daily job-related stressors.

Redundancy in the work force has resulted in companies downsizing with less than 50 per cent of men aged 55 and over working. Many men who are not working seem to lose their livelihood, their sense of purpose, their masculinity and die prematurely. Many men face a challenge in acknowledging and expressing their feelings. They find they are stuck between an old-school “put-up or shut-up” mentality and a more nurturing new-age set of mannerisms. Start adding these conflicting ideals up and you find some of the crises faced by men in today’s society.

Masculinity has been traditionally understated and has become almost unfashionable more recently. The crisis of masculinity seems to stem from a reversal in the values of male and female dominate traits. Being competitive, logical, rational and disciplined are seen as the stigma of deviance now. These, however, were the exact traits that elevated masculinity and which once pointed women out as 'weaker' and more emotional. However, emotionality, expressiveness, spontaneity, intuitiveness, compassion, and empathy are now seen as markers of maturity and well-being. For Clare, “at the heart of the crisis in masculinity is a problem with the reconciliation of the private and the public, the intimate and the impersonal, the emotional and the rational”. This is a dilemma that men have in common with women, protecting your social identity against the impositions and continuously changing social demands of a culture.


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