Masculinity is a set of qualities traditionally inherent to males. However, these features change through time. Some experts mentioned that the original idea suffered severely from the development of consumerism in 90s. Men were turned from the so called Caveman Masculinity to other behavioral patterns that would make them buy more goods. Levant and Kopecky are examples of authors who thought masculinity is in crisis. Like they mentioned in their book: “raised to believe that “real men” don’t feel fear, sadness or much of nay other emotions, we’re now told we should not only feel these emotions but also express them” (2). Authors also provided several basic features of masculinity, like avoidance of femininity, self-reliance, strength and aggression. These and other qualities appear in varying degrees in different types of masculinity. Term’s categories depend up source. For example, some experts allocate four basic archetypes of masculinity: King, Warrior, Magician and Lover. Other sources demonstrate more diversified lists based on direct characters or popular social behavioral patterns. This essay will be focused on three of them.
“The gentleman is suave, urbane, polite and respectful to all, both to inferiors and superiors” (McKay and McKay). It is a good-looking, sleek man with good communicative skills. He can talk about many topics, like culture, arts or current events, and easily can convince opponent with words, not aggressive actions. Cary Grant in his films is a good example of Gentleman’s Masculinity of 40s-50s. In the movie “Notorious” he was presented as an intelligent and handsome government agent Devlin who easily convinced female character to become a spy. Grant conforms not only to Gentleman’s type, but also basic features of masculinity mentioned by Levant and Kopecky. In the “Notorious” and other works the actor demonstrated courage, strength and self-reliance. He did not show too many emotions and any feminine traits. Gentleman’s masculinity demonstrates the man can be a man even if he looks after himself and does not act aggressively.
Gentlemen have similarities with dandies and metrosexual, which existed before and appeared after them respectively. While these social movements were accused of destroying masculinity, Gentleman fits into this term.
THE LONELY WOLF
This type can also be called “Strong and Silent Man”. It is a classic type of masculinity that often appears in action movies and westerns. Lonely Wolf is “taciturn and mysterious, he doesn’t care for cultural rules and conventions; he is the rebel who blazes his own path” (McKay and McKay). This type can be treated as an example of the “original” masculinity. While Gentlemen can be “blamed” in circumstantial feminine traits, like interest to art or love to talk, Lonely Wolves or silent Men do not have these “disadvantages”. They do not talk, they act. This type shows one of the highest levels of emotions’ restriction and self-reliance. Clint Eastwood’s characters in movies filmed in 60s and later are the perfect example of Lonely Wolf type.
Lonely wolves show how advantages of traditional signs of masculinity become its main disadvantages. For example, self-reliance is treated as a good trait for men. It is true that they should “never count on no someone else to get the job done [or] be able to make his own way in the world” (Levant and Kopecky 12). That is how Lonely Wolves act. However, self-reliance make it difficult to ask for help when it is really needed. Emotions’ restriction can cause problems in forming connections with others and lead to depression.
This type combines men with different appearance. While Gentlemen are sleek and Lonely Wolves can be a little scruffy-looking, Romantic Stalkers can prefer different clothes styles and have different body constitution. They are united by behavior that correspondents to the 6th standard sign of masculinity “Strength and Aggression”, mentioned by Levant and Kopecky. “Men have always considered strength, courage, and aggression to be among the most valuable of the many manly virtues” (12). There is also a connection with 4th sign “Pursuit of Achievement and Status”, which mentions it’s important for men to have goals and make efforts to achieve them. While Romantic Stalkers fail in restriction of their emotions, they show other signs of masculinity, like self-reliance, courage and strength that make it possible to refer behavioral pattern to this term. Noah (Ryan Gosling) from the movie “The Notebook” (2004) is a good example of Romantic Stalker. The character made huge efforts to get in good with upper-class girl who was not interested in him at first. This behavior can be spin off into a separate type of masculinity because of the focus of main goals. It is also quite a dangerous type, because “When the media tells us it’s OK for a man to risk his life – and those of everyone around him – by climbing an amusement park ride to chase a girl who doesn’t want you, audiences are more likely to accept these actions as appropriate, too” (Lang).
These three types show that masculinity’s traits can be seen in men with different behavior and life attitude. They also demonstrate that different types of masculinity can coexist. Both Gentleman and Lonely Wolf types are masculine, in spite of their huge differences. The third example demonstrates that theoretically good traits like self-reliance can lead to potentially dangerous behavior.
Lang, Nico. “The guys who won’t hear “no”: Movies, masculinity and the toxic myth of the romantic stalker”. Salon.com. 7 Feb. 2016. 13 Feb. 2016.
Levant, Ronald F; and Kopecky Gini. Masculinity reconstructed : changing the rules of manhood- at work, in relationships and in family life. New York N.Y. : Dutton, 1995. PDF.
McKay, Brett, and McKay Kate. “The Different Types of Manliness”. Artofmanliness.com. 13 Sept. 2009. 13 Feb. 2016.