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Men Writing Men

  • Avril Horner
  • Sue Zlosnik

Abstract

Such was the impact of second wave feminism that the 1980s saw the invention of the term ‘crisis in masculinity’. However, as Michael Roper and John Tosh have pointed out, the phenomenon is not new: ‘Masculinity is always bound up with negotiations about power, and is often therefore experienced as tenuous’.1 One of the effects of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s was to focus the spotlight on gendered social practices and on sexuality. Thus by the 1980s there was a growing popular understanding that gender was not synonymous with the biological body, that gender and sex are not synonymous. This is nicely illustrated in a comic vein by the popular satirical television series, Spitting Image, which portrayed the then prime minister, Mrs Thatcher (otherwise known as ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘Attila the Hen’, to quote two of her more repeatable nicknames), dressed in a man’s suit. Topped with the three-dimensional caricature that was the latex head of the Spitting Image puppet, this representation of Mrs Thatcher became equally as familiar to the British in the 1980s as the dulcet tones and gentle visage of ‘the lady’ herself.2 Along with similar puppets, ‘she’ was manipulated to participate in scenes of public and private life in which her weaknesses and strengths alike were ruthlessly satirized. In addition to adopting male dress, ‘Mrs Thatcher’ was shown behaving in a far more masculine manner than her male Cabinet colleagues.

Keywords

Gender Identity Sexual Desire Masculine Manner Country House Wave Feminism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Michael Roper and John Tosh (eds), Manful Assertions: Masculinities in Britain since 1800 (London and New York: Routledge, 1991), p. 18. Roper and Tosh cite the experience of male office clerks in the late Victorian period and the development of the Boy Scout movement in 1908 as other example of the modern era.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (London and New York: Routledge and Chapman Hall, 1990), pp. 146–147.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Arthur Brittan, Masculinity and Power (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), p. 4.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Cyndy Hendershot, The Animal Within: Masculinity and the Gothic (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1998), p. 4. Hendershot goes on to say: ‘While reactions to this fragility vary, the Gothic is preoccupied with the precarious alignment of the whole male subject and the fragile, individual men who attempt to represent the male subject. From Ambrosio’s loss of his position as whole and untainted monk to the depletion of the vampire hunters’ blood supply to Kurtz’s loss of his European ego to Rochester’s maimed body, the Gothic continually reveals the gulf between the actual male subject and the myth of masculinity.’Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    Chris Baldick, In Frankenstein’s Shadow (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), p. 154.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Iain Banks, The Wasp Factory (1984; London: Abacus, 2000), p. 59. All quotations which appear hereafter in the text are from this edition.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Berthold Schoene-Harwood, Writing Men: Literary Masculinities from Frankenstein to the New Man (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000), p. 104.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    See, for example, the description of ‘obnoxious insects’ and ‘reptiles’ that crawl over the body of Agnes and her dead baby in The Monk (Matthew Lewis, The Monk [1796; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995], p. 415.Google Scholar
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    Judith Halberstam, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995), p. 162.Google Scholar
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    Bradford Morrow and Patrick McGrath (eds), The New Gothic: A Collection of Contemporary Gothic Fiction (New York: Random House, 1991), p. xiv.Google Scholar
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    Patrick McGrath, Blood and Water and Other Tales (1988; London: Penguin, 1989), pp. 172, 173.Google Scholar
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    Lyn Pykett, Engendering Fictions: The English Novel in the Early Twentieth Century (London: Edward Arnold, 1995), p. 30.Google Scholar
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    For two recent essays on masturbation in Gothic fiction see Diane Mason, ‘“A very devil with the men”: The Pathology and Iconography of the Erotic Consumptive and the Attractive Masturbator’ in Gothic Studies 2/2 (August 2000), pp. 205–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. and Robert Mighall‘“A pestilence which walketh in darkness”: Diagnosing the Victorian vampire’ in Glennis Byron and David Punter (eds), Spectral Readings: Towards a Gothic Geography (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1999), pp. 108–124.Google Scholar
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    Patrick McGrath, The Grotesque (1989; London: Penguin Books, 1990).Google Scholar
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    Anne Williams, Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1995), p. 95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 36.
    ‘The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there’ (L.P. Hartley, The Go-Between [1953; Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1970], p. 1). McGrath’s Spider (1991) and Asylum (1996) are both set in the 1950s and Dr Haggard’s Disease (1993) is set just before and during the Second World War. Martha Peake (2000) is an exception to these mid-twentieth-century settings, the action taking place in the 1770s.Google Scholar
  18. 37.
    Matthew Lewis, The Monk (1796; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 415.Google Scholar
  19. 39.
    Allon White and Peter Stallybrass, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986), p. 44.Google Scholar
  20. 41.
    ‘So-called “homosexual panic” is the most private psychologized form in which many twentieth-century western men experience their vulnerability to the social pressures of homophobic blackmail; even for them, however, that is only one path of control, complementary to public sanctions through the institutions described by Foucault and others as defining and regulating the amorphous territory of “the sexual”’ (Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Between Men [New York: Columbia University Press, 1985], p. 89).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Avril M. Horner and Susan H. Zlosnik 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Avril Horner
  • Sue Zlosnik

There are no affiliations available

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