Masculinity and Authoritarianism: First Response

In the first reading, by Claudia Bruns, she outlines some of the interesting discussions that were happening in Weimar Germany surrounding the ‘acceptability’ of male homosexuality in some, largely academic, circles. Homosexuality at the time was heavily tied to deviance from societal norms in a way that also played into conceptions of race and the nation. Because homosexuality involved sexual deviance, white gay men were viewed as undermining the genetic makeup of the nation since they would not procreate. At a time when eugenics were a common belief, this was a big deal. Some gay men, including Bluher, advocated for ‘acceptable’ homosexuality by separating themselves from effeminate gay men and women. If they were masculine, they were still exhibiting proper behaviour for their gender and should therefore be embraced, as the argument went. Do you think this sort of thinking about ‘acceptable’ queer people can be found today in queer spaces? Bruns provides examples in modern Germany media where gay men are viewed as undermining the state when they are in leadership roles and how male political leaders are still mocked using femininity. Can you think of examples of this thinking today? How do these viewpoints impact women in politics?

The second reading, by Rio Otomo, is a very interesting look at how the Japanese state and corporations tied militaristic and nationalist narratives to their athletes. “By encouraging citizens’ self-governance of their own bodies, state power can operate more efficiently and thoroughly without manifesting itself as an oppressive authority” is a key quote from this reading and efficiently explains the thesis of the reading. Narratives of self-control, overcoming your own body and nationalist pride in victory were heavily present in how Japanese athletes spoke and were spoken about. These narratives are theorized to have replaced earlier militaristic narratives about the state in Japan and used as tales of ‘folk heroes’ to deal with the vast amount of change happening in Japanese society at the time. Women athletes in particular are described as training through their period and working through the cramps, in a way that feels like they are ‘overcoming’ their limitations that are viewed to come from a female body.

Finally, there is Valentin Sandulesco article. This one fully outlines how fascist societies in Romania had an ideological vision of a ‘new man’, fully masculinized and able to reform their ‘corrupted’ society. These groups put mechanisms in place, such as training schools, that would create this ‘new man’ at the end. These had the effect of diverting revolutionary feelings among the youth after WW1 towards their vision of a new society. How does this mirror masculinist movements nowadays? In feminist theory, this could play into the idea of a constant “crisis of masculinity. Is this accurate?

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