"[T]He Very Worst ... the Oldest, Deepest Fear": Masculine Anxiety and Male Responses to Emasculatory Threats in Martha Gellhorn's Point of No Return (Essays) (Critical Essay)

By Atenea

  • Release Date - Published: 2008-06-01
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: Atenea
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"[T]He Very Worst ... the Oldest, Deepest Fear": Masculine Anxiety and Male Responses to Emasculatory Threats in Martha Gellhorn's Point of No Return (Essays) (Critical Essay) Atenea read online review & book description:

The turn of the century, writes Christopher Breu, "marked a gradual but decisive shift in the cultural ideology of what constituted a valorized male identity, moving from the older discourse of manliness to a newer celebration of an active, exteriorized, and more violent conception of masculinity ... " (6). In opposition to the Victorian model of manliness as genteel, intellectual, and moral, twentieth-century American constructions of manhood came to emphasize physical attributes over interior qualities. Accordingly, the male body became integral to cultural conceptions of masculinity and with "the late nineteenth century and the rise of the physical culture movement, the body itself important to definitions of masculinity" (Jarvis 5). Additionally, with the body as a vital component of manhood, athletic prowess, strength and appearance became the litmus test for manhood. This incipient conception largely emerged in response to threats against masculinity perceived in changing socioeconomic circumstances, especially the enervated status of masculinity precipitated by the Great Depression--in which many men lost their breadwinner status--and the rise of commercial culture and technology (Jarvis). While efforts were taken to remedy damaged models of American masculinity, it was not until the Second World War that major transformations to conceptions of manhood transpired. With the United States's full-scale mobilization surfaced representations of males as "physiologically intact, well-muscled steeled entities" (Jarvis 87). As Michael Kimmel and John Adams note, World War II, for many, represented an opportunity for masculine regeneration, a proving ground in which men could regain their identities as "providers and protectors," and revive the breadwinner image weakened in the unmanning Depression (Kimmel 147). But the insidiousness of war betrayed any optimism for the rejuvenation of American manhood, and the concept of a physically tough, machine-like masculinity collided with the challenges of battle (Adams 66).

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"[T]He Very Worst ... the Oldest, Deepest Fear": Masculine Anxiety and Male Responses to Emasculatory Threats in Martha Gellhorn's Point of No Return (Essays) (Critical Essay) book review "[T]He Very Worst ... the Oldest, Deepest Fear": Masculine Anxiety and Male Responses to Emasculatory Threats in Martha Gellhorn's Point of No Return (Essays) (Critical Essay) ePUB; Atenea; Language Arts & Disciplines books.

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