The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity

TitleThe Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1998
AuthorsMosse, George L.
Number of Pages240
PublisherOxford University Press

In this volume, the author provides the first historical account of the masculine stereotype in modern Western culture, tracing the evolution of the idea of manliness to reveal how it came to embody physical beauty, courage, moral restraint, and a strong will. This stereotype, he finds, originated in the tumultuous changes of the eighteenth century, as Europe's dominant aristocrats grudgingly yielded to the rise of the professional, bureaucratic, and commercial middle classes. The author reveals how the new bourgeoisie, faced with a bewildering, rapidly industrializing world, latched onto the knightly ideal of chivalry. Indeed, in the nineteenth century, the idea of manliness appeared in so many areas of life and thought that it was accepted as a social constant, a permanent endowment granted by nature. the author shows, however, that it continued to evolve, particularly in contrast to stereotypes of women and unmanly men--Jews and homosexuals--all considered weak and fearful, unable to control their passions. The author concludes that socialism also made use of this stereotype, while in the twentieth century Fascism took this process to its extreme expression--mass political rallies glorified the fearless storm trooper as outsiders were stigmatized and persecuted. 

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