Evolution of Masculinity: Family Dynamics and Societal Changes

Masculinity is changing not just in the United States, but worldwide as well. The processes for masculinity are changing because, in part, the institution of family is itself transforming. In traditional societies, the family system tended to take the form of the extended family. In extended families, more than two generations of the same kinship line lived together, either in the same residence or in nearby dwellings. All adults in these extended families shared responsibility as a whole but the centrifugal force always stayed within the capacities of the patriarch.

Then, during the Industrial Revolution, the nuclear family became the most common familial system, at least within the Western nations. In the modern world, the smaller nuclear family structure held many advantages over the traditional extended family. Nuclear families helped to promote geographical and social mobility. Smaller families also tended to spend less money simply because there were fewer individuals to provide for. This important social change would have profound effects on how man would be looked.

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While the nuclear family offered increased economic feasibilities, the man and wife- who now had to raise the children on their own- sometimes found child rearing to be exhausting and a burden. In addition, the children- to a considerable extent separated from most other family members- would sometimes find themselves alienated from these extended family members. In many respects, the nuclear family engenders a sense of loneliness within offspring. This had a fundamentally derailment of the male offspring psyche.

In the last few decades, the number of “non-traditional” families has skyrocketed.

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These family structures include single-parent families and reconstituted families (nuclear families in which at least one member is a survivor of divorce). These “non-traditional” families pose special problems for children and particularly for the male child who needed support that is more moral during the growing period. Often, the head of the household in single-parent families does not possess the financial resources to take care of the offspring properly.

In addition, some heads are so busy with work and other adult responsibilities that they cannot provide adequate supervision for the offspring. Reconstituted families face the difficult challenges of creating appropriate relationships among stepparents and stepchildren, between the children of one spouse and the children of the other spouse, and between various new half-brothers, half-sisters, and the existing children. From the parameters of grown-ups, Men and women experience the effects of divorce similarly in many respects.

Men and women both experience shock during and following the separation procedure. Divorce painfully frustrates long-held habits. Many times during the day, former habits must be faced consciously. For most, they provided comfort and happiness, and when the relationship ends, these old comforts and sources of happiness abruptly evaporate. Obviously, established sexual patterns are disrupted, and the disruption can be jarring for many people. Often, it triggers sexual abnormalities.

Some divorced persons become sexually repressed (at least for a time), while others engage in promiscuity. Divorce, for both men and women, can entail ambivalence toward the partner and oneself (Leslie and Korman, 1985). Divorced individuals also experience at times severe stress as they somehow seek out new friendships, new sexual partners, and above all, new lives. The attempt to adjust to the separation is usually accompanied by varying amounts of frustration and emptiness. Economic disruptions also impair mental hygiene for both men and women.

There are, however, some important general differences in how men and women respond to marital separation. Sociologists have noted that, often, men are the first to desire divorce, but that women are generally the first to suggest it. However, these are not hard-and-fast rules. Other sociologists have suggested that women tend to be more emotionally resilient in response to divorce. They are less likely to become reclusive and less likely to assume dangerous, self-destructive behaviors such as smoking or substance abuse.

It can be stated that all these aspects shaped the basic psyche of a modern man and masculinity changes with it at the same time. This is the prime aspect of emotional dependence that a man craves and this would be relevant while discussing the films. THE FIGHT CLUB The film’s narrator, Jack symbolizes the American search for meaning. America may promise freedom, especially to the white man, but Jack's life is not free. He is bonded in chains to his corporate office job and his IKEA catalogues. He is “on a spiritual train straight to nowhere.

” (Uhls, 2000) The cancer support group gives Jack what he needs – emotional attention. Here people "really listen" and he can cry and feel for the first time. Fight Club is a profoundly dark look at America's problems of meaning (e. g. slavery to capitalism even where people are supposed to be born into freedom, violence in a land offering justice, consumerization and the distance between have and have nots in a land of community, meaning in a post-modern reality that understands all meaning as a relative cultural and perpetually changing context).

Purely sociologically, Jack may represent the establishment of American patriarchy. Jack's masculinity has been reduced to tears shed on things he actually does not empathize with – however much he wants to. If Jack is not allowed to express his creativity as a "movie god" or "rock star," he can create his own god in the theater of his mind that will grant him permission to feel in a more lasting way. Carl Gustav Jung’s findings seem to suggest that each individual psyche has the potential for two opposing personalities: ego and shadow.

Ego controls the psyche, but when ego is disrupted (through Tyler's cutting frames into the film) or weakened through insomnia or an emotional void (as is evident in Jack's case), the shadow creeps in to take control. The ego is constructed around societal norms and the desire for behavior, which "fits into society. " However, Post-Modernity challenges these social norms. The destruction of Jack's ego also parallels the destruction of American hegemony. (Kar, 2006) In accordance to Marxist Feminist models, the economy is a prime dominant feature of a patriarch.

(Chaudhuri, Shonhini, 2006) THE FULL MONTY A new style of film making developed in England during the early 50’s reflecting the social and sexual changes slowly beginning to be felt as a post-war generation came to maturity. The Full Monty can be said to be influenced by this British New Wave movement in the 1950s–1960s. The product of a post-industrial marketplace and post feminist anxiety, the film depicts the consequences of corporate downsizing while expressing a political viewpoint concerning the plight of Britain's growing number of unemployed steel workers.

Serious and comic elements of the plot converge thematically to confront the issues of working-class alienation and the confusing demands of modern masculinity. The Full Monty is set in Sheffield, an industrial city in the north of England. The opening of the film establishes the economic status of the city’s past. The promotional short opens the film, which makes a direct link to the location. Sheffield is shown to be a thriving place, but it is clear from the cinematography that this was supposedly shot some time in the past.

Much of the action takes place in an old, disused factory, redundant because of a decline in the steel industry. The factory serves to highlight the present situation of the main characters in that a working life is part of their past and, like the factory, they too are redundant. Sheffield has become some sort of a semi-slum with the only visible increase in anything being the amount of layoffs from steel-factories a once flourishing industry. (King, 2006)

Gaz spends most of his time in the Worker's Club, a sort of place where jobless people sit around to wait for job offers. He and his friend Dave as well as former supervisor Gerald have been sitting around the club for months without any "call for duty. " What seemed like a bad break for Gaz has transformed itself into desperation when he cannot afford the 700 pounds of child-support money to his ex-wife. Suddenly facing the possibility of losing custody o f his son, he goes on to concoct an enterprising wild-idea to get the money he desperately requires.

Gaz manages to get the support from the others and they manage to get a few other jobless men to join in their gag: to perform a strip-act at the local pub. Here is a plain struggle to exist rather than the Nitztchiean search for meaning in The Fight Club. Dave and Gerald too have problems their own. There we have it, people with real problems and a not-so-practical solution for them. However, as well as being focused around ‘work’, the film is more to do with identity away from the workplace, as the men search for a way of asserting themselves as individuals now the traditional roles have been eroded.

The Full Monty seems to imply that attempts to reconfigure the relationship itself are as foolhardy as trying to posit an alternative ending to a story that has already been written and filmed. This pessimism carefully weaves itself into the logic of the story. (Lamb, 2004) In tone and premise, The Full Monty denotes a willful deconstruction of the myth of genders to arrive at a positive solution. It has a progressive outlook compared to the dark pessimism of The Fight Club. References: Chaudhuri, Shonhini, 2006, Feminist Film Theorists Mulvey, Silverman, de Lauretis, Creed, New York, Canada, and London: Routledge

Kar, P; (2006); History of Silver screen Economics and Related Applications; Kolkata: Dasgupta & Chatterjee King, H; (2006); Principals Today; Auckland: HBT & Brooks Ltd Lamb, D; (2004); Cult to Culture: The Development of Civilization on the Strategic Strata; Wellington: National Book Trust Leslie, Gerald R. and Korman, Sheila K. (1985). The Family in Social Context (Sixth Edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press Uhls, Jim; 2000; Fight Club, "The Shooting Script"; Wellington: Herbert Press

Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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Evolution of Masculinity: Family Dynamics and Societal Changes. (2016, Aug 29). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/crisis-in-masculinity-essay

Evolution of Masculinity: Family Dynamics and Societal Changes essay
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