What is the plural sense of statistics

Images of men

Walter Hollstein

To person

Dr. phil., born 1939; Retired professor for political sociology, founder of several men's projects, Council of Europe expert on men's issues. [email protected]

In our eyes, the German boy of the future must be slim and lean, nimble as greyhounds, tough as leather and hard as Krupp steel! ”[1] This is how the highest representative of the National Socialist state formulated his image of men, which then became fascist for twelve years Rule was also the general one. The consequences are well known: destroyed landscapes and cities, millions of deaths at home and abroad, high blood tolls, especially among younger men, long-term hatred and distrust.

A processing of what happened under the keyword of "coming to terms with the past" was initially only hesitant and at best in moral categories, since the pragmatic coping with everyday life required all strength. The necessary reconstruction focused the energy outwards and thus also promoted the reactivation of classic masculinity qualities such as strength, Achievement and discipline. This development was later accused of being referred to as the “inability to grieve”. It was not until the student movement at the end of the 1960s that a critical examination of the generation of fathers began. In connection with this, "heroic", soldierly and finally generally traditional concepts of masculinity were also gradually problematized. The first comprehensive presentation on this topic appeared in 1977. [2]

Traditional masculinity

The traditional male role consists primarily of success, performance, toughness, power, distance, competition and struggle. James M. O'Neil, who once reviewed and summarized hundreds of studies on the male parenting process in the United States, concluded in 1982 that men are socialized, competitive, performance-oriented and competent. Eight-year-old boys had internalized this maxim and knew that they had to fight, make an effort and work and that they should not be weak and passive if they wanted to become men. [3]

As early as 1976 Robert Brannon summed up the prevailing expectations of being a man in a particularly vivid form: First, the boy and later man must avoid everything in his socialization that has the appearance of girlish ("no sissy stuff"). Second, only those who are successful are a real man. The path to success leads exclusively through performance, competition and struggle ("Be a big wheel"). Third, the boy and future man must be rooted in life like an oak tree. He has to defy every storm, tough, tough and unshakable ("Be a sturdy oak"). And fourth, the boy and future man dare everything. He is a winner per se ("Give’ em hell "). [4]

Manhood has to be fought for. The great Berlin sociologist Georg Simmel (1858–1918) used this understanding to describe femininity as "being" and masculinity as "doing". "Which role each played in the division of labor between men and women was actually only intended by nature for women (...) This lack of a natural activity content indicated (the man) creative freedom, makes him the bearer of the division of labor." [ 5] This masculinity is a societal definition of specific values, behaviors and beliefs that has been handed down over centuries and millennia, which works through a complex dynamic of institutions: family, school, training, work, military, religion, sport, mass media and social relationships.

The individual man has to find his own way of life of masculinity and reinterpret it again and again. The individual degree of freedom is limited by tradition. First of all, it is irrelevant whether the justification for these traditions is judged to be false or out of date today. Rather, it is crucial that this tradition exists and that it also determines our present through a multitude of social constraints and interests. The images of masculinity that our ancestors passed on to us is a given reality to which we orient ourselves and which we internalize in our upbringing. This internalization determines our view of ourselves and of others; moreover, it structures our experience and is thus in a certain way our reality, which also makes change - contrary to all cognitive insight - so very difficult.

Altered masculinity

Since the late 1960s, masculinity has been in the process of fanning out differently than in previous centuries. This not only affects positions of economic, political and cultural power, it goes much deeper. Androcentrism is hit, that is, the absolute matter of course that men rule, make the laws, explain the world and everyone listens to it. Man has long been the undisputed ruler of the outside world. Economic changes cause this development.

The popular opinion that modern feminism was the first to dissolve traditional masculinity is erroneous. As early as the 1950s, the beats lived new masculinity in the USA. The literature, especially by Jack Kerouac, documents this as well as the works of Allen Ginsberg and Alan Watts. In Germany, a few years later, the so-called bums tried something similar. Outwardly, they differed from traditional masculinity with their long hair and deliberately unkempt clothing. In their view of life, they consciously disengaged themselves from the "male" performance society and invoked "counterproductive" values ​​such as idleness, disorder and spontaneity. Federal Chancellor Ludwig Erhard promised at the time: "As long as I rule, I will do everything I can to destroy this mischief." The NPD demanded "finally measures (...) to solve the whole problem (...) radically and in the sense of the healthy public feeling". [6] A short time later, the hippies radicalized the bum's life plan. Their clothes were colorful and "feminine", men also wore jewelry. Criticism of the "masculine society" and its forms, such as the war in Vietnam, intensified. [7] In contrast to these and other protest movements such as the Dutch Provos or the English underground, the women's movement and feminism focused primarily on the power-political criticism of masculinity and its effects on war, the destruction of nature and sexuality.

The changes mentioned are documented, among other things, in various surveys. In 1975 the sociologist Helge Pross undertook the first "representative study of the self-images of men and their images of women". [8] The claim to democratically divide housework and gainful employment between the sexes was hardly popular at that time valued the fact that they were continuously cared for; the ideal was the maternal woman. When it comes to sexuality, most men insisted on the male right of initiative and a female duty of passivity. Masculinity was seen as significantly more valuable than femininity, from which a claim to power over women was derived. which holds one's own male role in itself were hardly noticed. However, the attitude towards the "leadership ability of women in politics" had already changed; the old double standard of indulging in pleasures as a man that women are not allowed to be eroded.

Ten years later the "Brigitte Study" appeared. The change in women had consequently led to a greater change in attitudes among men: "They are insecure (...). But the new man is still a small minority. ”[9] Housework was still considered a woman's business, but the number of men helping out increased steadily. The importance of female employment had increased and was also valued by men. In terms of sexuality, "consideration was given to the partner". [10] In general, the study noted a "development towards' gentler‘ men ". [11]

In 1988 the study "Gender Roles in Change" was published, which was carried out by the Institute for Applied Social Science (infas) on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Family Affairs. [12] This study initially noted in detail the "gain in ground for women in education and work". Nevertheless, the "male role - with its high priority for work - remained comparatively stable." The German man increasingly participated in housework and upbringing, "Decisions about the use of financial and time resources in the household are made together." the partnership had almost disappeared. Both genders, however, still agreed with the traditional view that "male self-realization without a job is difficult to imagine" and that men's gainful employment has "the highest value". [13]

The Berlin male investigation of 1990 documents that the world of men was meanwhile in great motion. [14] The men's image of women and the assessment and recognition of women had changed in a positive way. The man's help in the household and in bringing up children had clearly increased. The image that men make of themselves had also "softened". Men had become, above all, more soulful, more cooperative and better listeners. What was noticeable and to this extent frightening, however, was a general dissatisfaction of the men with themselves and their situation The male role was now also viewed more critically.

Studies around the turn of the millennium and afterwards show that these trends have stabilized. "Men on the move" is the headline of a survey from 1998 and shows an increasing proportion of "new men". [15] Different masculinity can now be lived. Traditional masculinity has lost its binding one-dimensionality. This not only applies to sexual preferences, but also to role models such as househusband, part-time father and others. But this development should not be overestimated. Masculinity remains a tightrope walk between that hardware-Maleness as it is officially still lived, and one software-Maleness, as it is now required in certain milieus. But the expectation to be high-performing, successful and combative remains the measure of profession and career. In private, however, a masculinity that is cooperative, emphatic, flexible and somehow feminine is increasingly required. This is especially true for the middle class milieus. Both are difficult to live with, especially when they are asked to do so at the same time. With this in mind, William Pollack noted: "We demand that our boys embody the sensitive New Age man and the cool guy at the same time." [16]

However, to conclude that traditional masculinity is now obsolete would be negligent. It is also a misconception to assume a changed socialization. Empirical studies state that the code of conduct of traditional masculinity is still binding when dealing with boys. [17] The cultural historian George L. Mosse demonstrated that traditional masculinity has asserted itself despite all social changes and assumes that it will continue to do so. [18]