Contemporary Masculinity

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Contemporary masculinity is, according to some, in crisis and, to others, in a state of redefinition and reformulation. The previous, or earlier, images of masculinity are somewhat outdated insofar as they placed tremendous emphasis upon the dominance of the male, the male as the breadwinner, the male as the unquestioned authority, and the male as the heterosexual.


It is, thus, that images of masculinity and the implications of the concept are a topic of debate and academic research, questioning and exploration. Despite the stated, however, there remains a persistent tendency towards the maintenance of earlier images of hegemonic masculinity. Indeed, a review of Connell's notion of hegemonic masculinity will reveal the extent to which contemporary images of masculinity are being overtly countered and contested by the concept of hegemonic masculinity. Following a review of Connell's concept of hegemonic masculinity, this essay will argue that Connell's concept serves to shed invaluable light on the extent to which contemporary masculinity is experiencing crisis. This crisis, as briefly touched upon in the preceding, is a direct outcome of the dominant culture's refusal to accept changing notions of masculinity and its determination to maintain the gender status quo.
Hegemonic masculinity is predicated on the longstanding notion that distinct gender differences exist between men and women.1 Hegemonic norms are accepted because "mass culture generally assumes there is a fixed, true masculinity beneath the ebb and flow of daily life,"2 where men are expected to be strong, independent, competitive, risk-taking, aggressive, powerful, display sexual prowess, be emotionally distant, and be ...
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