Image of Man Essay

This essay has a total of 1574 words and 7 pages.

Image of Man

The Image of Man Essay

Throughout the past few centuries, man has been notorious for his masculinity. However,
masculinity was labeled by the changing societies and ideals, creating different aspects
of manliness. By objectifying human nature, people began to stereotype. By stereotyping,
it mad it easier for people to understand by perceiving and to a great extent passing
judgment on another human being.

The stereotype of masculinity seemed to arise somewhere in between the second half of the
eighteenth century and the nineteenth century. With the beginning of the modern age,
Europe started to enter a more visually oriented age, therefore making the formation of
the male body become key. Europeans began to homogenize, or look at man as a type, rather
than an individual. They believed that there was no reason for individual change and
wanted the men to accept measure up to the ideal of masculinity. Masculinity was
strengthened due to the positive stereotyping, however for those that did not conform to
this label or fit in with the ideal, were negatively stereotyped. Nationalism and
masculinity went hand in hand. As masculinity became adopted as part of the national
stereotype, they initiated their growth together. Mass stereotyping was bourgeois
orientated. At first, mass stereotyping was for intended purposes of being and open ended
process, yet it eventually turned into a distinct ambition. Women, during this period,
projected chastity and innocence. While men and women were thought of as not equal, they
were thought as to compliment each other. Racism, especially towards the Jewish and
Africans, became clear and developed from the judgment of masculinity. Because the ideal
had already been set and put into play, the counter parts, Jewish, Africans, or others,
had no room to advance. The ideal of masculinity started to sway as the Enlightenment
approached and came. The model was of humanistic spirit, rather than the anatomy and
returned to the ideas of socialist men such as Max Alder. However, this shot at changing
the normative male stereotype failed.

The bourgeois was the main component in shaping the “modern man”. But, there were
previous contributing factors to the molding of this masculine stereotype. Medieval
ideals lasted well into modern times. Chivalry was a main factor and to be called a
coward was a great insult. The duel had been a ritual since the sixteenth century and was
fought for male honor. Aristocratic ideals consisted of the linkage of blood, or lineage
and descent. Theses ideals were primarily based on warrior caste. The ingredients in
forming this modern masculinity, was through the combination and adjustment of both
aristocratic and bourgeois classes. This merging of classes started to reflect in the way
society saw man. By the end of the eighteenth century the standard of masculinity was
measured by looks, appearance, and behavior. In Germany, the bourgeois male code of honor
was used as a status symbol. Jewish people were gradually excluded. And the elite
fraternities would have male dueling. In France, the duel was not to kill, but to display
manly qualities. By the end of the nineteenth century, the emphasis was basically pointed
at justice and equality. “If a man defends his honor for sole purpose of appearing
honorable, the honor code ceases to fulfill its original function and becomes a travesty.
(20, endnote #21) This justice and equality began when the duelers would handshake at the
end of a match. Duels went on and became a form of exercise and meant not only moral
toughness, but physical as well. The duels along with other undertakings started to set a
standard, which becomes known as the new masculine modern stereotype. The masculine ideal
valued the physical, moral, and visual perceptions, and became a symbol of society and
nation. The Enlightenment focused on the joining of the body and spirit. Johann Kaspar
Lavater’s theory comprised of seeing people through their physical, such as their color,
nose, eyes, and bodily structure. He stated that the Greeks were more beautiful than the
people of today and if a man could base his beauty on the Greeks then they would attain
moral posture. This general principle was derived from actual concrete evidence such as
engravings and statues. With the turn of the nineteenth century, came the gymnastics
ideal, which was the beginning of the sculpted body. Sports and gymnastics ranged from
swimming, dancing, fencing, skating, riding, and marathons. Guts Muth, who had later
followers in France and Italy, pronounced, “A fit beautiful body indicates a noble soul.”
Unlike other countries, such as England believed in team sports to portray manliness.
These organized sports gave the impression of a “truly chivalrous football player”, and
regarded sports as a manly virtue. Men also could not be seen without a women, or be in
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