By Maurice Berger
This anthology takes us past the prestige of masculinity itself, wondering society's and the media's normative suggestions of the masculine, and contemplating the level to which women and men can go beyond those stereotypes and prescriptions.
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Additional resources for Constructing Masculinity (Discussion in Contemporary Culture)
The coalescence of the anonymous voices within Male Homosexual reveals stories of strength and determination, in conditions of oppression and denial. Their strength lies not only in considering their honesty and bravery, but also in their collective voice representing a hidden community. At the same time, issues of concealment and containment are foregrounded. An older gay man tells us in Male Homosexual: Oh I live two lives; I live a private life and the public life. There is this pressure of make believe, all the time.
This may be seen not only in the multifarious ‘pulp fiction’ works, mostly prominent in the 1950s, which discussed the inversion and the problem of gay and lesbian life (see Dyer, 2000 [originally 1993]), but also in the general subordination of sexual diversity in traditional literature. My intention is not to criticise early literature as lacking in substance, as incidences within the Roman and Greek classics, the works of Shakespeare (Drake, 1998; Woods, 1998), the Enlightenment novels (Drake, 1998) and many others offer groundbreaking depth in imagining the historical identification of sexual nonconformity.
However, rather than delivering this in purely emotive or expressly personal terms, Vidal frames this within the philosophy of Michel de Montaigne (1533–92). Gore Vidal (2006) opens the chapter by discussing Howard’s death: ‘I now must surrender to Montaigne’s request. How do the living die and what do they say and how do they look in the end? Howard has now quietly entered this narrative, as he remains permanently present in my memory’ (p. 77). The foregrounding of Montaigne in a chapter which discusses Howard’s last days with Gore is significant, not only in relation to how the narrative should be conveyed, but also with regard to the philosophy of same-sex relationships.
Constructing Masculinity (Discussion in Contemporary Culture) by Maurice Berger