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From Chivalry to Terrorism: War and the Changing Nature of Masculinity

  • Broadcast in Psychology
Secret Lives of Men

Secret Lives of Men


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Which comes first--war or masculinity? The complex and shifting relationship between the two is the subject of this provocative selection, which reads as both military history and an exploration of gender. Leo Braudy is interested in what it is to be a man, particularly in wartime, and how the technological evolution of warfare has altered what makes a male a man. Understanding masculine sexual identity is the key, he argues, particularly in the early modern period, when stirrings of female emancipation led to fear of impotence and inadequacy, while gunpowder simultaneously blew battlefield honor into new forms. Pirates, cowboys, adventurers, and sports figures all emerge as the modern world's masculine archetypes, and manliness in combat becomes a new way of coping with the madness of war.