2023 Abstracts Stage 2

Exploring the Role of Masculinity in the 21st Century: Has the term ‘masculinity’ evolved too far and does the popularity of books such as Fight Club prove a yearning for the reinstatement of traditional masculine values?

It’s difficult to highlight an exact point in history at which the role of masculinity changed. In the 19th Century masculinity, along with being male as a gender, also connoted physical attributes such as strength, confidence, and the ability to provide for one’s own family. This was accompanied by the idea that, on an emotional level, they must appear emotionless and strong in times of fear and jeopardy.
During the early 19th Century, Great Britain participated in two world wars, in which it was expected that healthy male adults should join the army and protect their country against the threat of Nazi Germany. This, perfectly, epitomises the role of males in the period, as it exemplified the role of masculinity and protectors, as women and children were expected to stay at home and help the war effort in different ways, such as the manufacturing of weapons and artillery.
Whilst the refashioning of what the term ‘masculinity’ denoted was gradual, there were key historical points which helped redefine the term. Hence, following the war, however, in the 1960s and ’70s traditional gender roles were challenged following the influence of the feminist movement.
This thesis will look at the history of masculinity in Great Britain since the 19th Century; explore how it has changed following the rise of feminism; and how the role of books such as Fight Club (1997) and American Psycho (1991) have appealed to the modern man desiring for ‘old-fashioned’ masculine values to be reinstated in society.

2021 Abstracts Stage 2

The Essence of Masculinity and its Presentation in Film

Essentialism is a widely debated facet of philosophy, often focused on the role of women in society. However, not often is research concerned with the role of masculinity within essentialism. To see the effect of and on social influence I will be reflecting the concepts of masculinity and essentialism onto film. This is not previously reflected upon categories, and overall the way that feminism can reflect onto masculinity is something that can be helpful to both genders. I will approach this question through an analysis of the films Billy Elliot (2000) and Dead Poets Society (1989) as a microcosmic story of society’s values. These films will enable me to see complete storylines. Also, I will refer to The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Goldfinger (1964), and Skyfall (2012), from the Bond franchise as influential storylines for the viewer. It will be approached under the guise of three methodologies, analytic, interpretive, and historical. Between these, I will proficiently examine the argument of essentialism, the idea of masculinity in relation to this, and finally, the way film can illuminate the way we view masculinity. This will be with specific reference to Diana Fuss’ book Essentially Speaking (1989) to frame the essentialism argument; also using Andrea Waling’s discourse around ‘toxic’ and ‘healthy’ masculinities. The addition of Locke’s idea of ‘nominal’ versus ‘real’ essence and Luce Irigaray’s input on feminism of difference all integrate to form a coherent basis from which to analyse and interpret the selection of films and draw conclusions. The concluding finding is that film is an integral lens through which we can view society and the demonization of femininity that evolves from the negative masculinity we continue to idealise. This is important to explore as previously the literature has fallen short of showing the practical ends film can lead to, and the importance of delineating the way we view essence even if it is a foundational part of knowledge.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Toxic Masculinity In Young Males: A Possible Explanation Through Hobbes and Lacan?

This project is centered around the idea of toxic masculinity, and attempting to understand the prevalence of it in young males with reference to the philosophical and psychoanalytical ideas of Hobbes and Lacan.

-Toxic masculinity is the exhibition of certain antisocial behavioural tendencies predominantly performed by young males, including, homophobia, misogyny and violent physical or verbal behavior to one another. This behavior is rampant throughout society, with the behaviour of young males being especially indicative of this toxic way of acting. Lad culture has become simply sexism with and alibi. To show the existence of toxic masculinity within young males I researched different journal and website articles detailing examples, as well as conducting an interview with a female Newcstle university student. I will also be looking through the primary texts and identifying at what points their ideas contribute to the discussion. These texts are Hobbes Leviathan and Lacan’s Ecrits.

2017 Abstracts Stage 2

Free Internet Pornography and The Under Eighteens

An investigation into how ideologies within Ancient Greek philosophy may pre-empt the impact of negative influences within free online pornography on the large number of under eighteens who regularly consume it.

The aim in engaging with the material I have chosen it two fold. Firstly, I intended to further my understanding of pornography within my society and not only that but to further expand upon my own understanding of the philosophies proposed by Plato and Aristotle. Secondly, I intended to better my ability in applying philosophical concepts and attempting to find solutions to real world issues.

The object of this project is free online pornography and the messages and attitudes that are resembled within in. The issues raised by pornography is the masculine ideology portrayed in the videos that the younger consumers are likely to adopt themselves. I will be looking for solutions to this problem within Plato’s idea of a good education and Aristotle’s idea of virtue.

I will make direct references to Plato’s The Republic, Aristotle’s The Nicomachean Ethics, and finally, Robert Jenson’s Getting Off: pornography and the end of masculinity.

2008 Abstracts Stage 2

Rationalizing and Comparing “Fight Club” through the Theories of Sigmund Freud and Thomas Hobbes

One of my main sources links Fight Club with an article by Omar Lizardo named ‘Fight Club, or the Cultural Contradictions of Late Capitalism’, which I found in the Journal for Cultural Research. I chose this because it places quite an original perspective in that it is a reaction to arguments that tend to emphasize Fight Clubs relevance for the study of contemporary representations of gender and masculinity. Lizardo argues ‘that Fight Club can be seen as an attempt to deal with the evacuation and exhaustion of the original form of value-rationality from the realm of production in service work. Basically it contemplates whether class-consciousness in the modern capitalist state has left man with a sense of lost virility, and whether or not Fight Club is a reaction to this. I have chosen to link this with Thomas Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan’ which talks of the state of nature and how man gave up his freedom and violent, barbaric ways to conform to civil society under social contract. Sigmund Freud served more as a psychoanalyst and sociologist than a philosopher in this project as I used his work ‘Civilization and its Discontents’ to analyse the possible reasons for the narrator’s breakdown. Many of Freud’s ideas already appear quite blatant and self explanatory in the film, however Freud covers much more material that is not evident at all. I chose to use the film ‘Zeitgeist’ by Peter Joseph as I felt this would be both very interesting material and also would place a very original comparative to Fight Club. I was in complete awe, shock and amazement when I first watched this extremely powerful and scary film and am very passionate about spreading the word about it. It will prove highly relevant to some of the material in Fight Club, and is something that I feel everyone should know about.