1st Edition

Challenging Myths of Masculinity Understanding Physical Cultures

By Lee F. Monaghan, Michael Atkinson Copyright 2014
    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    214 Pages
    by Routledge

    Many myths surround male bodies and associated bodywork, especially when such bodywork is labelled culturally or socially atypical or 'problematic'. Bodybuilding, for example, has been explained in terms of gender inadequacy and an 'Adonis complex' akin to reverse anorexia, while men electing to undergo aesthetic cosmetic surgery are deemed 'too concerned' about their appearance and thus woman-like. Myths also discredit men and boys who do not engage in appropriate bodywork when this is expected. For instance, amidst public health concerns surrounding a so-called 'obesity epidemic', men and boys who resist physical activity and/or attempts to promote a 'healthy weight' are deemed ignorant, apathetic and in need of correction. Drawing on extensive field research conducted in North America and Britain over a twenty year period, this book challenges such masculine myth making. Mindful of a rich sociological tradition that seeks to understand the social world as lived and experienced, the authors provide insights that are likely to challenge common perceptions of various groups of men and boys, their diverse physical cultures, shared ways of being and identities. Presenting empirically grounded understandings of diverse bodily practices and discourses including bodybuilding, cosmetic surgery, dieting and nightclub security, Challenging Myths of Masculinity will appeal to scholars of sociology, geography and cultural studies, with interests in gender, embodiment and masculinities.

    Introduction From Myths to Empirically Grounded Understandings: Researching Men’s and Boys’ Physical Cultures; Chapter 1 ‘Postmodern’ Muscle: The Embodied Pleasures of Vibrant Physicality, Lee F. Monaghan; Chapter 2 Cosmetic Surgery: Men Who Walk/Erase the Gender Line, Michael Atkinson; Chapter 3 Burly ‘Bouncers’, Cardboard Cutouts and Physical Violence: An Ethnography of Nightclub Security Work, Lee F. Monaghan; Chapter 4 Masculinity on the Menu: Body Slimming and Self-Starvation as Physical Culture, Michael Atkinson; Chapter 5 Challenging the Obesity Myth: Men’s Critical Understandings of the Body Mass Index, Lee F. Monaghan; Chapter 6 Schoolboys, Physical Education and Bullying: ‘Hey, Leave Those Kids Alone!’, Michael Atkinson Methodological Appendix;


    Lee F. Monaghan is currently Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Limerick, Ireland. He is the author of Bodybuilding, Drugs and Risk and Men and the War on Obesity: A Sociological Study. He is the co-editor of Key Concepts in Medical Sociology and Debating Obesity: Critical Perspectives.

    Michael Atkinson is Professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is the author of Tattooed: The Sociogenesis of a Body Art, Deconstructing Men and Masculinities and co-editor of Boys’ Bodies: Speaking the Unspoken.

    'From bouncers to cosmetic surgery patients to schoolboys in gym class, Challenging Myths of Masculinity addresses contemporary masculinities through an examination of the lived experiences of men and boys. In a time when many perceptions about masculinity remain anecdotal, this book questions many of these received ideas and asks the reader to reconsider practices that are too often dismissed as deficient masculinity. This book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to reconsider contemporary masculinities.' Niall Richardson, University of Sussex, UK

    'By exploring the myths of masculinity, Monaghan and Atkinson are able to challenge many taken for granted assumptions that predominate within Western society about the existence of real or authentic forms of masculine expression. Their book provides a welcome contribution to a growing literature that seeks to provide counter-arguments and resistance to uncritical thinking about ways of gendered being.' Ian Wellard, Canterbury Christ Church University, UK

    'Monaghan and Atkinson have long been at the forefront of masculinities research. Once again they have justified their standing with this book, which synthesises the major issues associated with men, masculinities and the body into one coherent text. It is certainly a must read for any academic, researcher, or interested person in men and the body. Well done to the authors.' Murray Drummond, Flinders University, Australia

    "The book is likely to be of great interest and value to policy makers, educators, psychologists and health practitioners who seek to better understand the circumstances in which men live out their embodied lives. I was particularly impressed with how insightful the analysis in each chapter is, not just challenging widely endorsed myths about the nature of masculinity, but also offering concrete understanding of, for instance, why it is that many men reject medical definitions of ‘healthy’ weight, or how to build a more inclusive physical education curriculum." - Dr Duane Duncan, School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences, University of New England, New South Wales