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  • 1. By Monique Fearon
  • 2. Representations of Masculinity Masculinity is a concept that is made up of more rigid stereotypes than femininity. Representations of men across all media tend to focus on the following: Strength - physical and intellectual Power Sexual attractiveness (which may be based on the above) Physique Independence (of thought, action) Male characters are often represented as isolated, as not needing to rely on others (the lone hero). If they capitulate to being part of a family, it is often part of the resolution of a narrative, rather than an integral factor in the initial equilibrium. It is interesting to note that the male physique is becoming more important a part of representations of masculinity. Serious Hollywood actors in their forties (eg Willem Dafoe, Kevin Spacey) are expected to have a level of buffness that was not aspired to even by young heart-throbs 40 years ago (Connery in Thunderball 1965).
  • 3. Representations of Masculinity Increasingly, men are finding it as difficult to live up to their media representations as women are to theirs. This is partly because of the increased media focus on masculinity - think of the burgeoning market in mens magazines, both lifestyle and health - and the increasing emphasis on even ordinary white collar male workers (who used to sport their beergut with pride) having the muscle definition of a professional swimmer. Anorexia in teenage males has increased alarmingly in recent years, and recent high school shootings have been the result of extreme body consciousness among the same demographic group. As media representations of masculinity become more specifically targeted at audiences with product promotion in mind (think of the huge profits now made from male fashion, male skin & haircare products, fitness products such as weights, clothing etc.), men are encouraged (just as women have been for many years) to aspire to be like (to look/behave in the same way) the role models they see in magazines. This is often an unrealistic target to set, and awareness of this is growing. Whilst some men are concerned about living up to the ideal types represented in magazines, others are worried by what they perceive as an increasing anti-male bias in the media. There is growing support for the idea that men are represented unfairly in the media