With reference to Brett Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (1991) and Jackie Kay’s Trumpet (1998), this essay explores the multitude of expressions of masculinity within and between cultures.
Contemporary theorists of masculinity have increasingly noted the idea of a post-feminist male identity (Burr 1995). There is a perceived backlash towards advances in feminism over the last quarter century that posits male identity in direct opposition to feminism. In books such as Backlash and Stiffed, Susan Faludi has identified a crisis in masculinity and a resultant wave of males attempting to reassert traditional identity constructions. She discusses ways in which men have lost significance in modern society. Writers such as Benjamin Brabon have discussed the appearance of such expressions of masculinity in cultural artifacts such as the film Falling Down, arguing that the white-male main character is acting out in the film because his previously dominate social position western society has been dislocated in the new millennium (Brabon 57). Other writers identify the normative standards that underline many expressions of male masculinity and explore the resultant backlash (Barker 2008).
These interpretations of ‘post-feminist man’ has incorporated the violent outbursts of males in contemporary society and films as extensions of phallus emasculation experienced as a result of these feminist advances. In fact, statistical research has shown that over the last twenty-year period woman are more than twice as likely to report being attacked by a significant other (Hatty 5). In terms of patriarchy, Thomas Byer argues that:
Perhaps the major – function and driving force of patriarchal narrative is the attempt to re-member a masculine body whose member has been “dissed” Thus sadism and violence directed against women are not in themselves synonymous with narrative; rather they are among the most common, and most virulently misogynist,