Rethinking Masculinity: Men and Their Bodies
Rosalind Gill

Seminar Introduction

imageIs masculinity in crisis? The idea that masculinity is mired in crisis has long dominated any account in the media, which attempts to address issues of gender and masculinity. Figures for divorce, unemployment, performance in school and the decline of manufacturing are regularly cited as evidence for this. Crises in masculinity make for good news.

Rosalind Gill, lecturer in gender and media studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, argues that the idea of a crisis in masculinity is a lazy label for a range of different trends, which might well be unrelated. She argues that such variables need to be examined individually and in detail. Until recently, however, there have been no empirical studies about how men actually felt about various issues.  Against this backdrop of a lack of empirical research, Gill and  two colleagues, Karen Henwood from the University of East Anglia at Norwich and Carl McLean, also from the London School of Economics and Political Science, decided to set up a research project to thoroughly investigate and locate men's sense of self against the backdrop of changes in economic and social life over the last century. Interviewing 140 men throughout the UK, they touched on issues ranging from boyhood and relationships to body-image.

In this seminar, Rosalind Gill,  introduces and explores some of the pioneering  research and conclusions concerning men's relationship with their bodies. Set in the context of the history of the representation of men in the media,  the seminar provides a detailed understanding of men's responses to their bodies, an opportunity to hear the empirical voice of masculinity and an opportunity to judge from these responses to what extent masculinity really is in crisis.

Sessions:

Learning Objectives:
  • Describe the changes in representations of masculinity and men's bodies over the last few decades.
  • List the social, economic and cultural factors that have affected men and representations of men over the last century.
  • Identify the means through which men assert their identity and masculinity.
  • Explain the impact of feminism and psychology on men's self-conceptions.
  • List and explain the different responses men have to representations of men in the media.
  • Describe the arguments for and against masculinity being in crisis.
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