Stern, Barbara B. (2003) “Masculinism(s) and the Male Image: What Does it Mean to be a Man?” in Sex in Advertising


Men’s studies developed as a response to feminism and women’s studies.  It began with the publication of The Liberated Man by Warren Farrell in 1975.  Men’s studies challenges the concept of the ideal male as powerful, strong, active, a breadwinner, straight etc. and allows for many forms of masculinity.  There have been 8 major popular movements relating to men’s studies:

  1. Conservative:
  2. Pro-feminist:
  3. Men’s Rights:
  4. Socialist:
  5. Spiritual (Mythic) “Iron Men”:
  6. Gay Rights:
  7. African-American Rights:
  8. Evangelical Christian Movement (The Promise Keepers):

“Men’s backlash against women has been–and probably will continue to be–triggered by feelings of powerlessness summoned up by a failure to recognize themselves in the powerful male images exposed by feminists.  Although men collectively may still recognize a sense of superiority to women, individual men are becoming increasingly doubtful” (219).

Depiction of men in advertising  – focus on the muscular body and padded underwear creates an expectation that few men can live up to.  The only real man is a manly-man.  Ads that depict near naked men reverse the gaze so that women can objectify men based on their appearance.

Men’s studies is still an emerging discipline that requires further study on issues ranging from health and body image to media and queer studies.

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