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This chapter examines how the authors of the Mahābhārata, India’s great epic, seek strategically to edify real human warriors and kings through a set of martial tropes and expectations. Specifically, nine chapters of the epic’s twelfth book, the Śānti Parvan (MBh.12.96–104), present in religious and ritual terminology a clear set of ideals, which kings can use to convince warriors that fighting and dying in battle is the right thing to do. For example, the paradigmatic model for the courageous behaviour of human warriors is the śūra (‘hero, champion’). In contrast to his heroic exploits, acting like a ‘coward’ (bhīru) is the single most abhorrent thing a warrior could do in social and cosmological terms. What is more, warfare is reconceived in ritual terms and thus dying in battle is elevated to an act of ritual sacrifice which will secure the fallen warrior everlasting heaven with its promise of sexually eager nymphs. Consequently, these chapters provide kings with a coherent masculine ideology to ensure the loyalty of troops, whose willing death in battle will secure martial victory and ultimately protect the kingdom.
Imperial Chinese society accepted and even lauded certain types of violence. Ideas about sanctioned violence developed largely in response to ideas about masculinity. In ancient China’s prevailing honour culture, elite men often used violence to win public approbation. They undertook hunting and warfare in order to construct a positive masculine identity. Up through the medieval era, the elite considered vengeance a legitimate response to shame. This value system fostered instability, so the government strove to limit sanctioned violence to representatives of the state. Over time, Chinese society reassessed traditional ideas about violence. Officials and thinkers deliberately sought to curtail violent behaviour in order to reduce the threat of chaos. Instead of glorifying bellicose heroes, historians reserved the highest praise for rulers and officials who fostered ethics, order, and harmony. From the tenth century onward, literati became China’s primary administrative class. These educated men prized scholarship and high culture, and they belittled violent behaviour as demonstrating a person’s embarrassing lack of self-control. The political and cultural pre-eminence of refined literati caused Chinese to further question the legitimate role of violence. Over time, Chinese behavioural norms became increasingly benign.
In the period 1600–1868 Japan shifted from incessant civil war of the Warring States period (1467–1600) to an era of extended peace that lasted more than two centuries. This early modern experience, defined as it was by the absence of warfare, is quite remarkable in world history. It was a peace, however, imposed by a large-scale military aristocracy, the samurai (6–7 per cent of the population), who disarmed other social groups (commoners) below them in the social hierarchy and forbade them from carrying weapons. Although this created a type of garrison state, samurai were constrained legally in their ability to freely use their weapons, a long and a short sword. Moreover, the extended period of peace resulted in two currents of tension related to samurai identity: a dynamic tension between the civil arts, or the arts of peace (bun) and the military arts (bu); and a tension that arose from the lack of opportunity for samurai to demonstrate their martial skills and valour on the battlefield, resulting in a hypersensitivity in defending their honour. This chapter explores how a culture of honour violence developed among male samurai during the centuries of the Tokugawa peace and considers its importance in the construction of samurai masculinity.
Sexually-violent practices and ideologies have varied dramatically over time and geographical region. There have also been important shifts in the weighting given to its two components: “sexual” and “violence”. Sexual violence is deeply rooted in specific political, economic, social, and cultural contexts. In exploring these issues on a global-scale the first question to ask is: who is entitled to label something as “sexually violent”? Despite the incredible personal suffering inflicted on victims of sexual assault, under-reporting is pervasive: victims routinely struggle to find words for their pain. Cognitive distortions about gender, sexuality, and violence have left legacies of abuse that are difficult to counter. Perpetrators of violence are often presented as victims and, in the context of mass rapes during wartime, international law has been sluggish in responding. The chapter concludes by evaluation the attempts by victims of sexual violence, feminists, politicians, lawmakers, police, and community activists to resist and eradicate sexual violence not only in their own societies but also globally. Rape thrives in situations of structural inequality. Although women act in sexually aggressive ways (and there is some evidence that the proportion of female aggressors is increasing), in the final analysis, political attempts to reduce and finally eliminate sexual aggression must start with the main perpetrators. Eradicating rape requires a radically different conception of agency and masculinity.
‘Violence’ is a term that has no counterpart in medieval Japanese. Instead, the epistemology of “disorder” that destabilized the Confucian notion of Heavenly order governed the newly graphic images of mutilation, injuries, and death emanating from the fourteenth-century War of Northern and Southern Courts (ca. 1330s-90s). In this war, instigated by an emperor – the supposed keeper of Heavenly order– instead of a warrior, the dismembered male body came to articulate the symbolic weight of discord, epitomized by a form of self-mutilation, seppuku (disembowelment), described en masse for the first time in The Tale of Grand Pacification. The precisely measured and recorded cut flesh of the male body also represented the calculable cost and benefit of the war, by serving as the legible evidence of “loyal military service” that could accrue reward. All forms of cut flesh, whether narrated in the tale or inscribed in administrative records of loyal service, belonged to the male body, whereas the female body, with its womb (the same word as the men’s “bowel”-to-be-cut), was typically shielded and ritually excluded from the combat space. This war, more than any other, determined the descriptive language of masculine dismemberment, which would serve as a model for future writings.
Much scholarship on food blogs has turned attention to new forms of domesticity. This chapter focuses instead on men and masculinities, examining how US bloggers navigate gendered dynamics of power on food blogs, particularly when they approach a highly gendered genre: dude food. After defining and situating this genre within the broader US foodscape, this chapter analyzes the text and visuals on four dude food blogs: the professionally produced Men’s Health food blog, two amateur blogs written by men (Dude Food and Buff Dudes), and one female-authored blog (Domesticate Me!), which includes a “Dude Diet” section. This chapter examines the different ways that these bloggers communicate the culinary characteristics and paradoxical concerns of dude food through a variable set of authorial personae and narrative styles fashioned through prose, recipes, and food photography. Whether produced by men or women, calorie-laden or macronutrient-centric, oriented positively or negatively around fat and muscular male bodies, dude food – and dude food blogs – demonstrate the contradictions of performing masculinity in the twenty-first century, in the blogosphere and beyond.
The eighteenth-century Irish gentleman was, according to Samuel Madden, an ‘amphibious animal … envied as an Englishman in Ireland, and maligned as Irish in England’. This sense of ambiguity had repercussions on the gendering of Irish men, as manly norms were increasingly defined by British imperialism. This chapter analyses the representation of Irish masculinity, using William Chaigneau’s The History of Jack Connor as a case study which negotiates gender, nation, and political relations. If Jonathan Swift laments the toxic effects of army morals and English effeminacy on Ireland’s political class, Chaigneau invokes patriarchy and paternity to explore and to ramify the affective bonds between the two nations. Analysing Chaigneau’s representation of a cosmopolitan Irish soldier, this chapter examines how the novel creates a modern martial masculinity which legitimises the authority and potency of Irish Protestants, creating an imaginative dynastic filiation between Britain and Ireland.
The concept of citizenships, in the plural, reflects different research traditions in citizenship theorizing: citizenship as legal status in a sovereign state, as a bearer of rights and obligations; citizenship as participation (civic republicanism); and citizenship as social membership. Each of these enhances capabilities of individuals to become participants in political, economic, and social spheres of life. Citizenships as a concept also embraces practices: how these aspects of citizenship are experienced in everyday encounters and the relationships of power – in families, workplaces, welfare offices, social movements – and their variations in institutional contexts.
Sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) to treat prostate cancer. Men are likely to experience erectile dysfunction, low libido, ejaculatory problems and penile shortening. This qualitative study explored men’s perceptions of sexual dysfunction, including factors such as self-perception, relationships and information and support needs.
Semi-structured interviews were carried out with n = 8 men living 18–30 months after EBRT ± ADT. The interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis was carried out.
All men experienced sexual dysfunction following treatment. The main themes arising were: (i) priorities—sexual issues were not a priority when making treatment decisions, (ii) information and support—men described a lack of information and support about sexual dysfunction and (iii) impact—sexual dysfunction impacted on their self-perception and relationships.
Men undergoing EBRT/ADT for prostate cancer may be affected by post-treatment changes in sexual function in a range of ways. This study suggests that they would benefit from early and wide-ranging information and support on sexual dysfunction, even if they do not consider it as a priority. Candid discussions about self-perception and relationships, as well as physical changes, may equip them to cope with post-treatment changes.
This paper explores shifting notions of Algerian masculinities during the Dark Decade (approximately 1991–2002) as articulated through humor. Both in the period leading up to and during conflict, Algerian cartoonists and joke tellers played with socially accepted norms concerning male behavior. In the armed struggle, however, comedy reflected how the terrifying and random violence that characterized the conflict may have disturbed local gender relations and definitions. The conflict prevented men from practicing masculinity in preestablished ways, most notably through the protection of self, family, and community. The present article contributes to the broader literature on gender during the armed struggle as well as in the Middle East and North Africa more widely, to argue that humor, a critically under-considered aspect of the cultural lives of Algerians and men across the region, provided civilians with space to navigate changes in gender issues brought about by the harrowing circumstances of the Dark Decade.
This chapter argues that Australia and New Zealand versions of the invasion novel crystallized an indigenized, militaristic settler masculinity that soon proved adaptable to other geopolitical contexts. Novels such as George Ranken’s The Invasion (1877) and Kenneth Mackay’s The Yellow Wave (1895) defined settler masculinity by valorizing character qualities previously associated with indigenous colonial resistance. The global circulation of that formal logic, spurred by the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), can be seen clearly in the work of Erskine Childers: alongside editing a history of the war’s guerilla phase, he reworked the invasion novel in The Riddle of the Sands (1903) to imagine countering a threat of metropolitan conflict with a colonial mindset. In World War I, the Australian and New Zealand role in the Dardanelles Campaign was also celebrated in texts such as John Masefield’s Gallipoli (1916) as a settler invasion of Europe. Casting militarized settler masculinity as “surplus value,” highly valuable and yet disposable, constitutes one final intersection of political economy and literary form, colony and metropole, arising from the Victorian settler empire.
Access to indigenous commodities and artefacts produced new fashions and codes of conduct in London. Unlike global trade more broadly, colonization imbued Atlantic objects with specific meanings that involved a politics of appropriation that relied on both the presence and erasure of indigenous peoples. The social spaces of the metropolis fostered environments that encouraged gentlemen to behave like colonizers, from the private gatherings where they read verses that glorified conquest often fuelled by the actual intoxication of tobacco on the senses to court performances where gentlemen adorned themselves with feathers and danced in masques that advanced imperial agendas. Examining clusters of consumption involving globes, pearls, and tobacco pipes alongside verses, portraits, performances, and commonplace books offers evidence of how gentlemen presented their masculinity in ways that reflected their growing ambitions in the Americas. The Inns of Court, where gentlemen were encouraged to debate the political realm in creative and often daring ways, were particularly influential in bringing colonial interests and commodities within provocative redefinitions of civility. The strong sense of virtue and moral responsibility that developed alongside wit and conviviality created a distinct vision of how gentlemen fashioned themselves in an imperial polity.
Renaissance thinkers affirmed that also in terms of justice and friendship the relationship between the human couple reflected what it was that held together the citizens in the city. This chapter examines the immense importance of thinking about friendship and love for political reflection, and it shows the relationship of civic concord and friendship with the domestic sphere, and particularly with the conjugal relationship. This chapter studies early modern commentaries on Cicero’s De officiis as well as celebrated works of the ‘civic tradition’, namely Leon Battista Alberti’s Della Famiglia and Matteo Palmieri’s Della Vita Civile, showing that the learned Aristotelian tradition we have so far studied found its echoes also in the Ciceronian tradition as well as in the volgare. These commentaries and vernacular writings serve as part of the context necessary to understand more fully Niccolò Machiavelli’s thought on family, friendship, and sociability, which has so far not found adequate attention in historical scholarship. Re-examining some of the ways that Machiavelli constructed masculinity and femininity, and setting them into their intellectual context, this chapter aims to show that Machiavelli’s political thought was characterised by a remarkable openness towards the idea of women as dominant agents in the political sphere and by a sense of what we can term, in a postmodern manner, ‘fluidity’ of gender conceptions, in which ‘biology’ was certainly no determining factor. The chapter thus contributes to the question of the nature of Machiavelli’s stato.
This essay explores father figures who meditate on their relation to a dominant late nineteenth- early twentieth-century construction of active masculinity, or figures who often find themselves uncomfortably far from the era’s gender ideals. Seeing their own lives as “limited” and constrained, or akin to the era’s fears of masculine “overcivilization,” these figures find solace in an imagined trajectory of masculine accomplishment. Their sons, however, appear to them as promising to restore the family’s depleted vigor, for the younger generation appears as more self-determined and more manly, especially in professional matters. Such meditations on manhood lead to a belief in the developmental potential of the next generation, which promises to supply a long-absent manliness. Not only are the young more active men, engaged in innovative fields that were not available to their elders, but they also seem poised to recover the kind of familial masculine distinction that their elders fear that they forfeited, both for themselves and for their families.
“No Plots for Old Men” argues that aging raised a problem for Charles Dickens’s literary project: the novel’s difficulty of representing temporal continuity over long spans of time. For the old man, the meaningful plots of the nineteenth century—such as the bildungsroman or the marriage plot—are behind him. An object of little narrative interest from the perspective of these plots, the old man is continually activated in Dickens’s novels, setting up a competition between the natural death he staves off and the closure of the narrative in which he is enmeshed. By examining three of Dickens’s early novels, this chapter shows how old men are excluded from the youthful plot of development central to the progress of a modernizing society. No longer the subject of the plot and yet bound by ambition, the elderly male engages in a narrative compulsion that underlines the imaginative power of what has been left behind by both the realist novel and the modernity it represents. By doing so, the old man serves as the site through which Dickens addresses an impasse of the novel form, where its duration is marked by its inability to faithfully represent the texture of passing time.
Contemporary dance in Senegal emerged and thrives at the interstices of the local and the global. Multiple expectations and values, of which gender and sexuality are no small part, converge at the site of creation and production, enlisting choreographers to navigate oftentimes conflicting ideologies. Based on ethnographic research, this article examines three works by Senegalese men that employ gender and sexual transgressions alongside the artists’ seemingly contradictory verbal articulations of their work. Using the local-global entanglement as an analytical framework, I argue that these works offer ambiguous assemblages of masculinities that challenge conventional masculinity in Senegal, thereby elucidating the potentiality for contemporary dance to transcend singular meaning-making capacity.
This study examines the masculinity of Chinese male migrants who earn their living as “dance hosts.” Dance hosts partner middle-aged women in dance halls, sell experiences of intimacy and engage in ongoing romantic relationships with their female clients. This article seeks to capture an intimate and “up-close” portrait of (heterosexual) male dance hosting, and then further addresses dance hosts’ masculine subjectivity by examining the coping strategies they use to overcome the stigma attached to their profession and to assert their masculinity. Ultimately, the article argues that the process of masculine subjectivity formation in the case of male dance hosts is structured by dominant norms of Chinese masculinity. Although seemingly highly subversive, the relationship between dance hosts and clients in fact fulfils conventional gender ideals and encourages the perpetuation of traditional gender roles in China's patriarchal society. This work seeks to offer an understanding of traditional gender norms (or ideals) through the lens of normative Chinese masculinity within the context of a stigmatized occupation.
Murat Öğütcü focuses on Shakespeare’s Henry V (1599), a play which, with its charismatic male monarch, has been too often associated with or set against the late Elizabethan period. As a result, the significance of its performance at the Jacobean court in 1605 has been overlooked. Locating the play before the Jacobean court, Öğütcü compares the dramatised monarch and the real one, while reminding us that no other history play was performed at the court of James I, probably because it traces the ascendancy of a king rather than his decline. The performance of Henry V at the court was in fact more than a reminder of recent Jacobean victories. Yet, while the monarch tried to fashion himself as an Anglo-Scottish Henry V, some members of the audience possibly interpreted Prince Hal as James, who indulged in spending time with his favourites and leaving most of administration to his subjects. The Jacobean Henry V analysed by Öğütcü is thus a problematic performance of idealised masculinity meant to highlight the crucial issues of the time: dissimulation, treason, royal favouritism, war and peace, and a united Britain.
We examine which Americans were likely to believe that American society has grown “too soft and feminine,” a concept we have characterized as gendered nationalism, and how such gendered nationalist attitudes influenced voting behavior in the 2016 presidential race. Our analysis shows that party, gender, education, and class shaped attitudes about gendered nationalism: Republicans, men, and members of the working class were more likely to support gendered nationalist views. We identify a strong, significant relationship between gendered nationalist attitudes and the probability of voting for Donald Trump, even after controlling for partisanship, ideology, race, religion, and other factors. Moreover, gender differences in candidate support were largely driven by gender differences in beliefs that the United States has grown too soft and feminine. Our research adds to the growing scholarly evidence indicating that gendered beliefs are likely to have a bigger impact on American political behavior than a voter's gender alone.